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Writing Lesson: Narrative Writing Through the Lens of a Video Game (The Lord of the

Rings Online Game)

Name: Caitlyn Clayton

Grade/Level: 8th Grade General English


Overview of Lesson: This lesson aims to help students develop narrative writing skills through the use of the
online video game for The Lord of the Rings. As students play the game they will analyze the story elements
taking place. For example, students will work to determine the concept of character choice, theme, and impact of
setting. At the end of this lesson students will use what they have learned to complete a narrative writing of their


Jonathan Ostenson (2013) found that many video games “ask players to solve puzzles through in game
research and trial and error, but they [also] rely heavily on story elements that provide content for these
challenges” (para 4 p. 72). Catherine Beavis (2014) found that “there are many reasons for bringing
popular culture into the classroom, including the opportunity to tap into the evident pleasure and active
engagement often entailed, the ability to build bridges between students’ in and out of school lives, and
the rich complexity of much popular culture and the ways in which it rewards close study” (para 5 p. 434).
Studying video games as a form of narrative allows students the opportunity to develop an understanding
of the genre of writing by building knowledge using a tool that they are already familiar with. Students
have access to technology, and they often play video games via the technology they have. Asking
students questions about narrative elements as they play a game is engaging. Students that have
negative views of writing may be less reluctant to participate in this learning activity as it is of high
interest for students. Students will understand that there are multiple ways to define the term “narrative.”
Students will understand that many of the video games they play qualify as narrative as they begin to
comprehend the elements of a narrative writing.

At the end of this lesson, students will compose their own narrative writing implementing the elements of
a narrative.

Common Core Standards:

Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting
details and ideas.

CCSS.ELA – Literacy.CCRA.R.3
Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

CCSS.ELA – Literacy.CCRA.R.5
Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the
text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each and the whole.

CCSS.ELA – Literacy.CCRA.R.7
Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and
quantitatively, as well as in words.

Instructional Objectives: At the conclusion of this lesson, each student will be able to do the following:

1. Define the qualities of a narrative

2. Evaluate a text or media to determine the narrative elements it incorporates
3. Create a piece of writing that implements the elements of a narrative


Narrative Writing – Students will design a video game The writing will be assessed using the 6 Traits Writing
that implements the elements of a narrative writing. Rubric for 8th Grade Narrative Writing.


Time: Learning Tasks:


2. 15-20 mins. 2. TEACHER DEMONSTRATION/DISCUSSION: Using the Promethean Board, the

teacher will begin class by showing a Mario Brothers video clip. After the video is
over, she will lead a discussion about whether this video game could qualify as a
member of the narrative genre.

First discussion prompt: Could Mario Brothers be considered a narrative? Why or

Why not
- Using a t-chart the teacher will use one side to create a list of the reasons that
students feel the video game is considered a narrative and reasons they do not
consider it to be a narrative.

After the discussion dwindles, the teacher will ask: What are elements that we expect
to find in a narrative piece of writing?

- The teacher will write student responses on the opposite side of the t-chart for future

Last question for discussion: Do you think the video games that you play could be under the
narrative genre? Why or Why not? What are the games?

- The class will create a running list of the video games that are mentioned. This will
help to provide examples if necessary.

3. 10 mins. 3. SHARED DEMONSTRATION: The teacher will place the game Lord of the Rings
on the Promethean board. She will log-in to the game and start working through the
activities placed on the screen. As she is doing this she stops to ask students what
information they are learning as the game progresses.
Does this game have a setting? What is it?
• Who are the characters in this game (including you, the player)? What do we know
about them?
• Is there conflict in the game? Describe the conflict.
• Is there a plot in this game? How is it constructed? Will the plot of this story be the
same for every reader-player?
• How is this story similar to other stories that you’ve read/seen? What devices did
the game authors borrow from these other stories?
• How is the story told here different from what we’d normally encounter in a book
or short story? How about in a movie/film?

4. 25 mins. 4. PRACTICE: After the teacher believes students are ready to analyze the game on
their own, the teacher will instruct students to play the game themselves. As they

play the game, they will determine the narrative elements that are imbedded in the
game. They will record their responses to allow the teacher to assess whether
students can identify the narrative elements of the game.

Necessary Materials and Equipment:

Teacher Materials: Promethean Board, Computer, white board, student laptops, graphic organizer for
student responses, t-chart on white board

Links to Games/Clips: (Mario Brothers clip)
(Lord of the Rings Game)


Catherine, B. (2014). Games as Text, Games as Action: VIDEO GAMES IN THE ENGLISH
CLASSROOM. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, (6), 433. doi:10.1002/jaal.275

Jonathan, O. (2013). Exploring the Boundaries of Narrative: Video Games in the English Classroom. The
English Journal, (6), 71.

Important Note:
This lesson may need to be split into two class meetings. Students will need time to work through
the game, which may not be possible if done in one class meeting.