Saturday, August 6, 2016

Pokémon Go: Gotta Catch Them All (in the TL)

Even if you've been living under a rock, hiding in a cave, or raised in a barn (I ran out of locational clichés, sorry), you not only have heard of Pokémon Go, you have either started playing it yourself or encountered one of the millions of players strolling and staring fixedly at their phones. There are hotspots, benefiting local small businesses, that are full of Pokestops and Gyms and crowds of players helping each other out with Lures and shouts of "Squirtle is over here!" Pokémon Go is everywhere and usually accompanied by good will.

Pokémon Go is so ubiquitous, so popular, that it seems a shame not to figure out a way to exploit--I mean utilize--it (*edit: I made the same joke Laura Sexton did a week ago in her own Pokémon Go post! ignosce mihi!) to help my students re-familiarize themselves with Latin and gain a little more publicity for my program.

Almost from day 1 of its American release, I started wondering how I could bring it to my classroom. I wanted to create something that feels like the game, so Pokémon-themed worksheets were out, as were any regular class activities with a Pokémon face-lift: those would be obvious ploys. Instead, I wanted something that captures the feeling of hunting for Pokémon and "capturing" them while negotiating meaning in Latin, and I came up with this scavenger hunt approach.

Developing the Game
I named my Latin version Pokémon I ("I" means "Go" in Latin) and decided to make it volunteer-only. I don't like the thought of my students running all over campus during class, so they have to play the game before and after school or between classes. They can work in teams, and I limited the number of Pokémon to 27 for my own sanity's sake.

I looked into scavenger hunt apps, which could keep track of the team scores for me, but the free versions of each app were generally severely limited (we have 700 Latin students in our school, so even light limiting might be difficult) and the pay versions were too expensive for a one-shot event that I'd need to pay for myself. So Google Sheets will have to do for creating the scoreboard and the clues, and good old-fashioned star stickers for marking successfully "captured" Pokémon. Pokémon will be captured via good new-fashioned smartphone photography, and my current thought is that students will just bring their phones to me and show me the pictures (I have no idea how many students out of the 700 will sign up to play. If it's a ton, I might figure out a better way to turn in images).

So basically students will read Latin clues, use them to find Pokémon, take a picture, and turn in the picture to prove that they've captured them. I then mark their captured Pokémon on a spreadsheet, and the first team to "catch 'em all" wins.

Game Materials

The Pokémon. I printed these in color (for a small fee) in our media center, cut them out (without leaving the media center because I wanted to make sure they got in for lamination as quickly as possible), and had them laminated. Then I distributed them around the school, three in each Latin teacher's room (to make our students meet as many of us as possible) and in other various places as permission was given. I should add that I got permission from my principal (who is awesome) to set up the game in the first place. As I placed Pokémon, I wrote notes about each location.

The Flier. To get students started, I'm giving them a week to form teams and register with me. Since I'm planning to run the game for all five of our Latin classrooms, I created a flier that each of us can post in our rooms and advertise as much or little as we want. The flier lays out the rules of the game and registration for the game.

The Score Sheet. I created a score sheet that records the names of Pokémon, the number of points each is worth, team names, and team member names. My plan is to check off any Pokémon found by the various teams, then put a gold star in the team slots for easy at-a-glance reference and score tallying.

The Clues. I made a sample clue sheet to share with you as well as the official clue sheet (which is still being made, and will probably be in progress for much of the coming week) so you could see my eventual plan for the sheet. My clues won't be useful for you, except as examples.

The Vocabulary. This is something I'm sharing with my students as an aside, but Miriam created a Pokémon Go vocabulary list that students can use to discuss Pokémon Go in Latin, and I love the chance to involve Latin in something they do for fun on their own as well.

Feel free to make your own copy of any of these items and shape them for your own classes!

The Problem with Posting Ideas Instead of Results

I have no idea how well this will go. I'm hoping well, since I've put some real time into figuring it out and setting it up. I know that students who walked in on me cutting out Pokémon figures were intrigued and excited by the idea, and my son asked to come to the school to help me hide the Pokémon because he thinks the idea is great. But that doesn't mean it will be a success.

However, for things like this, it's best to strike while the iron is hot, and I thought some of you might want to do something similar, so it was important to offer this up when it would still be timely.

If you choose to do a Pokémon scavenger hunt, I'd love to hear how it goes for you! I'll post an update once I have results myself.