This could be one of the best ideas I've come up with for my teenage students. I can honestly say that the interest and engagement level I've seen in the first week of this unit has been astounding to say the least. The kids cannot wait for this 10 minute portion of class each day! Welcome to Carried Off to Rapture!
Since I enjoy playing video games, I've always seen concepts, scenes, dialogue, events, etc. that I always knew could entice my teenage students to become engaged and actually want to write. Consequently, I started making little video clips of my playthroughs and creating writing activities, which correlate with various concepts pertaining to the clips.
Everybody's Gone to the Rapture™ developed by The Chinese Room, and published by Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC, presents the story of a tiny village and its community, engulfed in mysterious events well beyond human comprehension. The premise of this unit guide is allow students to investigate, infer, and look beyond what’s easily understood, to try and solve the mystery of what’s happened in this fictional world.
Before watching any of the video clips, I give the students the character handout.
Then I have them define what rapture means. There are various meaning to the word rapture; it’s important that the students find multiple meanings.
I utilize this unit as a group of mini-lessons. I show one clip per day. While watching the clip (which is hyperlinked to my Youtube channel), the students fill in any clues or pieces of evidence that they feel may help them in figuring out what has happened.
After the students watch the video clip and fill in their evidence sheets, they then take a quick quiz. I've made these quizzes to help the students comprehend some of the deeper levels presented in this wonderful game.
When all is said and done, the two main closing activities are an artistic representation inspired by some beautiful narrative and a final three paragraph essay. This essay asks the student to decide on what possibly could have happened? In the end, the overarching theme is that as a living being, we are here for a finite period of time. It’s important to realize what’s truly important before the “ocean’s swell” carries us off to wherever we go.
Come back to see how this activity plays out. I'm truly excited to see what my students make of this amazing work of art!
As noted previously, make sure to come back to get updates on what my students are making of this mystery. There's been theories galore in my classroom as my students strive to figure out what exactly has happened in this tiny English village. One interesting clue that one of my students picked up on comes from the video below (at around the 5 minute mark). I call it the Peter Pan connection.
. . . and the theories continue. In fact, each and every day there's new theories or enhancements on older theories in an attempt to make sense of what's occured in this tiny English village.
As we've neared our halfway point, theories have continue to develop, expand, and sometimes change entirely based on new clues the students have picked up on.
One of the beautiful outcomes of this unit I've created from Everybody's Gone to the Rapture™ developed by The Chinese Room, and published by Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC, is how it has encouraged my students to go beyond what we do in class. For example, in the video below, this student had written down a clue from a radio message (which was a specific date). Instead of leaving it there, he took it upon himself to research this date on his own. What he found out was not only interesting, but could possibly be a clue as to what happened to this town.
Well, my students just finished viewing and analyzing one of my favorite clips/parts from Everybody's Gone to the Rapture. It's a clip I titled "Down Here". Within the clip, my students were able to infer that this was Wendy Appleton's last experience on Earth. We also went into great discussion about Dramatic Irony. What the students found so interesting was that as viewers we know the plane strike was not there to help the village; it was to destroy everything. Furthermore, this strike was ordered by none other than her son, Stephen Appleton . . . which was an even further ironic twist. Below the provided clip, you'll see one of my students responding the the quiz questions I've developed for this particular part of the story.
In the final clip, one of my (and my students) favorite parts of the game is the beautiful narrative given by the character, Kate. One of my final assignments of Carried Off to Rapture is to visualize this narrative example.
Now, my students and I have made it through all 34 clips, quizzes, etc. They are now producing their final product. This final product is a video chat in which they must video their thoughts are various aspects of their journey through Rapture. Their video chat must include the following:
1. A synopsis of the game Everybody's Gone to the Rapture
2. Their group's theory on what happened in this tiny English village. They must also reflect back on notes from their evidence sheets to back up their theory.
3. They must choose one of the five definitions of rapture from their first day of this unit. Their chosen definition must be related to the happenings in this village; they must also allude to why this definition correlates best with the storyline.
4. The students must also tie in one or two lyrics from the song, Speed of Light, by Iron Maiden. This song has some great correlations with the video game.
5. Finally, the students must close how with a powerful quote, which relates to one of the key thematic elements of the game (i.e. afterlife, spirituality, belief, mystery, etc.)
Come back soon to see some of my students video chats!
To culminate this phenomenal experience, my students had the honor of Skyping with creator of Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, Dan Pinchbeck (all the way from the UK)! It was very kind of him to give my students and I an opportunity to talk to the brains behind the story that captivated our imaginations. Even though we experienced some technical difficulties, as one once said, "even the worst Skype beats the best worksheet."