Another aspect to keep in mind when playing the game with our classes is that the students need to directly know that they are playing the game. If at any point the students are getting a little lame in the suggestions, you just need to remind them about how the game is played. I did this with one of my classes today and the class really turned around. Here’s what I said:
Class, I want to remind you that we are playing a game in here. Here’s how it works. From time to time I will provide opportunities for you to supply details for our story. When I do this, you are competing against each other to see who can come up with the most creative answer. Now if I happen to not choose your answer it is because I have an overview of the story and I know which answers will work the best and which ones will not. So, if I don’t choose your answer, just think of a different one and don’t take it personal. If I happen to pick an answer that you don’t agree with, trust my decision and just go with it. Remember that I have an overview that you may not see and also that I have the best interests of the class in mind.
Of course if the class continues to disagree with your choice you can always pull the line, It’s my story. Though I must confess that I have always had trouble with pulling this off because I always felt like it was our story. Also, the students have adverse reactions when I give them this line because they like the idea that they have a say in the co-creation and to deny them of this by saying it’s my story really puts them off.
I really feel that from time to time the students need to be reminded that they are playing a game. This helps to re-focus my expectations and remind them that I do expect them to contribute. I had another hour today that had a case of the Monday’s and was not really contributing. So I simply said, Hey, you are not allowed to just sit here and do nothing. You need to contribute otherwise your grade will be lowered. Although I wish there were no grades in our classes, I still have to realize that I am in this system and most of them care about their grades. They really snapped to attention and did a lot better after that. I think there comes a point where we demand our expectations and they either rise to the challenge or not. But I am already starting to get into another topic.
If your class is not playing the game try this tactic of reminding them and see if it works.