Lord of the Flies is a classic piece of British literature. And while many students in modern-day US students might not be able to relate to the plights of Piggy, Ralph, Jack, and Simon, there is a way to hook kids into the book.
Just like the boys on the island experience a myriad of challenges to survive, my students also participate in a survivor-type team challenge as we read the book. Throughout the unit, my student teams work together on assignments and compete against one another on challenges that demonstrate their understanding of the novel. Teams earn points for winning challenges, and the team points are displayed on the board throughout the entire unit.
The first thing I do is divide my students up into equal teams. I choose to have six different teams of about 5-6 students each. To make the teams as fair and as even as possible, I divide the teams by current class grade to make sure that every team has some strong members.
Once I have my teams, I explain the challenge to my students. Essentially, they compete in a series of challenges relating to the novel, and the winners of each challenge receive points. At the end of the book, the team with the most points wins. Usually, I bring in bagels or donuts for the winning team. Also for particularly difficult challenges, I like to reward my teams with a small prize that day.
Challenges can be anything that you decide. Many of my challenges are small class activities or assignments that would ordinarily be a part of the class.
- Quiz Challenges – For quiz challenges, I average the scores of the teams’ quizzes, and the highest team earns points.
- Kahoot! Challenges – For these challenges, I either have my students pair up and share devices in team mode, or they complete the Kahoot review individually. Either way, I enable podium mode, and the top three earn points.
- Map Making Challenge – My students loved this challenge. As we read the first three chapters of the novel, I had my students keep detailed notes and dialectical journals about the setting. Then, I had them work together for two class periods and create detailed maps of the island that included textual citations as a reference. Since there are so many pictures of the map on the Internet, I did my best to limit Internet and phone access during class. My classes voted on which maps they felt were the most detailed and most accurate.
- Mask Making Challenge – After reading chapter 4, I gave each of my students a blank mask template and asked them to create a mask that best represents the symbolism of the novel. Each team selected what they felt was the best mask to present, and all of my classes (even different sections) voted on the one they felt was the best representation of the novel.
- Mid-Novel Review Escape Room – Quite possibly one of the most fun challenges was the mid-novel escape room challenge. My students worked together in their teams to crack the secret code by sorting strips of paper containing events from the novel into chronological order. This day is always so much fun because there is so much engagement.
- Essay Brainstorming Challenge – I recently added a new challenge to this game. To prepare for the final argumentative essay that asks students to argue as to who or what is responsible for the demise of the island, I had my teams work together to find as many quotes as they could. Each group shared a different color marker, and the challenge was to get as many meaningful quotes that could be used for the essay as possible. I have four large whiteboards in my room, two on each side of the room, and I posted a long piece of butcher paper across each set of boards. I then taped the brainstorming sheets from my essay unit onto the paper. This distinction helped students determine where to write each quote. This challenge was a hit. Every single student was engaged and working.
INCENTIVIZE THE GAME
There are plenty of ways to incentivize gamifying your Lord of the Flies novel study in your classroom. One way you can do this is by awarding points to the first team who is ready to go at the beginning of the class period or to the team who completed all of their work, or to the team who demonstrates kindness and compassion while playing the game.
I’m still working out the details in my game, and I will probably add in some modifications next year. However, my students love turning this novel study into a game. They have so much fun with it, it increases engagement, and it helps hold the students accountable.
Lord of the Flies teaching resources: