This unit was the final project for my Master’s Degree (I did receive an A+ on the unit), However, it is not just theory, I have taught the unit more than once.
The goal of this unit above all other is to present students with high-interest reading in a way that maximizes engagement and fun while still accomplishes learning and asks students to do meaningful work. The unit is meant to incorporate all of the learning modalities. The unit uses common core standards for 9th and 10th grades but should be applicable to 11th and 12th as well. The unit is a multimedia event that asks students to integrate and evaluate multiple media formats. They analyze texts and conduct short research to use as evidence to make a claim, as well as read and to summarize different characters and events in the story. For the course of their work, they will be expected to use textual evidence to support their answers and determine theme and points of view in the text. The student will create substantive work and present that work to the class. Overall, at the end of the unit, the student should have increased vocabulary, reading, writing, research, as well as critical thinking skills, hopefully, while giving students a learning experience that is memorable and long lasting.
The book Ready Player One is set in the future where the world is on the edge of collapse, most people chose not to live in this dystopianesque real world and instead retreat into the virtual world of the OASIS. The OASIS is a massive online virtual reality that incorporates every fictional world and creature into it. When the creator of the OASIS dies, he invokes every user to find a hidden “Easter egg” within the virtual world winning all his fortune and control of the OASIS itself. To win one player must find three hidden keys that unlock three hidden gates, ultimately leading to the prize. The story follows a teen named Wade Watts as he tries to unravel hints and clues steeped in 1970’s, 80’s, and 90’s pop culture lore, this includes movies, music, TV, video games, books, and more.
Much of the story of Ready Player One has to do with video games old and newer, indeed most of the story itself takes place within a video game world. The unit starts by giving the students some background information on the history, import, and possible future of video gaming. This is done by using the first few classes of the unit to watch a documentary on video games. This documentary called Video Game Revolution was produced by PBS and is available on YouTube or may be purchased on DVD. During the documentary, students will be held accountable for new information by filling out some guided notes. After viewing, students will be asked to do some short writing explaining their view and ideas about games.
This unit has been devised and set up to use the audio-assisted reading method in which students follow along in the book with a narrator. This method has been proven to help struggling readers increase fluency and take pressure off students to read aloud, instead the students can enjoy and become immersed in the story (Rasinski, 2006). The unit is approximately 40 lessons long depending on how much time is given to complete the final assessment. The length of each lesson will vary depending on the length of the chapters read in the lesson and depending on how the expectations for the work are scaffolded up or down. Do students connect to the story? Yes, and for the most part they are connected to learning, but the main purpose is to excite the student and draw them into the story and the unit.
During the unit, the teacher and students will make use of the various pop culture references made in Ready Player One for different purposes. There are multiple activities and work that students are expected to experience over the course of the unit. In most cases, this is done to enhance or facilitate learning. However, in all cases, it is done to motivate and engage the students in what they are reading.
At the beginning of each lesson or chapter (depending on which the educator prefers), the class will watch YouTube videos from the different pop culture references made in the chapters. It should be explained to the students that this is done because part of the fun of Ready Player One is “getting” the reference and the students were born many years after the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, so this will help them. While this true it is also going help the teacher ensure that the students are doing their part and following along with the audio book. This is done with the Quick Check Sheet. On the handouts are a list of the references from the videos along with a blank where the student will write the page number for where the reference appeared in the chapter. On the same sheet, there are also two questions that ask the student to explain the connection between a reference and the story. After the videos, the class will read 1 or 2 chapters using the audio assisted read technique.
Every couple of chapters there will be an art sheet. These sheets ask the student to create a piece of art (in most cases a drawing) and a short explanation. In most cases, the student is asked to imagine themselves as the main character and create both an artistic and written explanation of what they would want or do in his place. The student will need to analyze the text and make inferences to complete the sheet properly.
The majority of the work done over the course will be done every 4 chapters. Students will be given a packet that has different activities covering the chapters. First off the students will be asked to define terms from the book in the context of the story. This is followed by some critical thinking questions that require students to recall, infer, compare, and make predictions about different characters and events throughout the chapters. Lastly, each student will conduct short research on numerous references made in the chapter to determine facts and background information on each one.
Throughout the unit, it is up to the teacher to keep up a sense of excitement for the book. This is crucial to motivate and engage students and will go a long way toward helping to see reading, not as a chore but fun. The main way this is done is by celebrating the events of the book. In most cases, Wade the main character of the book must play a video game to advance in the contest and gain a key or gate, as he passes these milestones the class should celebrate. The unit suggests this be done in two ways when Wade gains a key have some sort of treat such as key shaped cookies to share and by stopping class to play the game that Wade played. This can be done as a high score tournament or just giving each student few minutes of playing time. There are other ways to celebrate like watching one of the movies referenced for example. This is the easiest thing to cut out of the unit, however, it is urged that the instructor not cut out these celebrations, this will be lasting and meaningful moments that the student will connect to school, reading, and learning even if they are not the most academic.
In another effort to further engage students in the learning, their work, and the story there is a hidden contest spread throughout the unit similar to the contest played in the book. Starting with the Video Game Revolution notes, which has a QC code on the last page that if scanned pulls up a YouTube video explaining and inviting students to compete in the contest. Hidden in each packet has a code (such as binary or Morse code) that spells words to a riddle, each of the art sheets has a clue as to what the code on a particular packet is. The Quick Check Sheet content no clues or codes. Note that in the appendix there are two more sets of worksheets that contain different riddles. These can be used the next year in cases where the riddle is solved or almost solved. There is also a set of blank sheets in the appendix.
The final assessment for the unit asks students to create a Ukrainian Easter egg or Pysanka which is an egg covered in wax and dyed. The dye and wax make pictures or designs on the egg. Students are expected to make pictures and colors that symbolize different events, characters, and themes in the story. Along with their egg, they are required to write a short paper explaining how their choices represent the story. This project and paper will take between 3 to 6 days depending on how much time you plan, dye, and write. At the end of the project, students will give a short presentation, presenting their eggs and the symbolism.
NOTE: I added a traditional test to the unit, I am running out of time this year and don't think I'll have enough time for the project, so I added a test, review, and key.
39- Lesson plans
Video Game Revolution Documentary Notes
23- Quick Check Worksheets
9- Creative or Art Worksheets
10 Chapter packets (plus a “blank” set with no hidden contest, 2 alternate
10 Extra Credit Packets
ADDED Traditional Summative Assessment (Test)
ADDED Test Review
List of resources and links