The Force is Strong with Open Source Template Tuesday!

It’s Open Source Template Tuesday! And The Force is strong with this one…


Hi! If you’re new to the blog, welcome! I’m John. And I’m the author of EDrenaline Rush: Game-Changing Student Engagement Inspired by Theme Parks, Mud Runs, and Escape Rooms, a new book from Dave Burgess Consulting that’s scheduled for worldwide release in just a few short days! I am RIDICULOUSLY EXCITED to share it with the world! And I truly believe that enthusiasm is infectious — so I love sharing lesson plans, classroom activity walkthroughs, and open source slideshow templates on this site whenever I get the chance.

Because great pedagogy isn’t relegated to any particular subject area. And we don’t teach content. We teach people.

I have a bunch of templates available on this site, and I wholeheartedly encourage you to adapt them to suit the unique needs of your classroom! Regardless of age, content area, or skill level — it is my sincere belief that, in the hands of a great teacher (that’s YOU!), a creative teaching tool or technique can be a total game-changer for any classroom.

So here’s where you come in!

This week, I’m hoping to post the first of what will become a regular tradition on the blog that I’m calling OPEN SOURCE TEMPLATE TUESDAY, in an effort to help readers get a clearer sense of how adapting shared templates from this site can be super helpful in saving teachers time, effort, and frustration.

Here’s how it works:

  1. For each OPEN SOURCE TEMPLATE TUESDAY, I’ll feature a guest blog from a fellow teacher who’s adapted one of the resources available on this site and used it to change the game in their classroom! I’ll also post an original copy of the template that inspired their lesson so you can see its life cycle in action.
  2. We’ll also feature a guest blog entry from the teacher who adapted each template in their classroom. This is their chance to talk about the tweaks, adjustments, and modifications that they decided to make to the original resource in order to help it be a neater fit in their classroom. It might also help inspire you to take their template (or the original) for a spin in your school! Click any of the links below or check out their Twitter handle to connect further!
  3. In the spirit of OPEN SOURCE TEMPLATES, everything that you’ll see in one of these guest blogs is designed to be shared, customized, and adapted for use in your classroom! Steel sharpens steel, right? And by paying it forward to fellow educators around the globe, the rising tide of #EDrenaline can truly lift all ships — inspiring untold ripple effects of teacher creativity and student engagement around the globe.


The Original Resource:
Game-Changing Final Assessments
(Inspired by Episode 041 of the “Talk To Mee in the Car” Education Podcast)

Today’s Guest Blogger:
Mrs. Jaime Halsey, 4th grade teacher in Roseville, California
Connect with Jaime on Twitter @mrsjamiehalsey

The Open Source Template Tuesday Transformation:
Mrs. Halsey turned what was originally designed as a year-end “Escape the Nightmare Asylum” template (end-of-year “Boss Battle” review game) into a full-blown Star Wars themed showdown against the one and only Darth Vader! The finished product is a GORGEOUS twist on the asynchronous small group activities. And the full template is below — absolutely a MUST SEE.

I’ll let Mrs. Halsey explain…

It all started with Twitter. I was in an #xplap chat [editor’s note: #xplap is the weekly online chat hosted by classroom gamification rock star Michael Matera, author of the OUTSTANDING book eXPlore Like a Pirate] with none other than John Meehan and another teacher, Josh Stock (@teachlikeaninja), who wanted some ideas for end of the year breakouts. John, being a wealth of knowledge, had something cooked up ready to share. It was his Nightmare Asylum break in.


I am a 4th grade teacher and I am in the process of finishing up my first attempt of an in-depth, no holds barred, year-long Star Wars themed game. From the first day of class back in August, Darth Vader has been wreaking havoc on our classroom and disrupting learning. Now that we are at the end of the year, ready to face the ultimate foe, I was lost. I didn’t know how to wrap it up. It had to be grand, meaningful, and it had to incorporate learning from throughout the year. I knew I wanted the kids to have our favorite Star Wars allies at their side as they faced the ultimate bad guy. When I stumbled upon John’s Nightmare Asylum, I saw the light.


I loved his idea of going deep into an asylum with characters the students have encountered in their learning. I loved the idea of incorporating a variety of engaging tasks into a summative learning experience. I love the simplicity of the game, the intrigue of the treasure cards and traps, and the randomness of the dice rolls. Most importantly, I love the accountability piece, where students had to perform well to get the most out of their dice rolls.
When I sat down to put my own spin on it, I decided that the kids would collect heroes in lieu of fighting bad guys. This was an idea I got from Will Carlson @MrCarlsonsClass, who had students rescue Marvel characters to defeat Thanos. I put together a collection of twelve of the most beloved characters from the Star Wars Universe such as Luke, Leia, Chewie, and of course Admiral Ackbar who would assist my class in beating Darth Vader. I separated the heroes into 4 levels. Each level pertaining to the difficulty of a task students had to complete to earn the hero card. I challenged myself to create a non-linear game so students could employ choice.

Students could chose the heroes they wanted to collect in any order that they wished. The only stipulation is that the students had to collect a hero from each level so they couldn’t choose the “easy way out”. Since I teach all subjects, I included tasks that incorporate math, social studies and ELA. In the interest of time, I had to simplify the tasks. Rather than creating a different task for each character, I created several tasks for each level of character.


This is where the #EggDashChallenge came into play. I simply created a list of tasks of varying degrees of difficulty to put into the eggs. An example of a Level 1 task is a series of multiple choice questions about context clues. Where a level 4 task might involve writing a short story about an historical event using five elements of figurative language. By choosing this route, I am able to randomize the task and make it so each team could experience a different game. Finally, I made some alterations to the treasure and trap cards. I customized the cards to appeal to the game mechanics my current students enjoy, such as peeking into the deck or blocking negative effects. I wanted the traps to include: traps that they could fall into, traps they could unleash onto other teams, and traps that affect the entire class. The last alteration I decided to make was to remove the timer. This was a difficult decision. I love adding the time mechanic to my games, but I need to get an idea of how long it will take my students to complete the objectives. I anticipate that I will add the time element back in to this game after it has been playtested.

I am looking forward to introducing this new game as the year is winding down. Here is a copy of my version of John’s game, called A Hero’s Journey: Quest for Vader:

Feel free to make your own copy and customize it to fit your needs.

Author: John

John Meehan (@MeehanEDU) is an English teacher and school instructional coach at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Virginia. He began his teaching career in 2010 as a career switcher through The New Teacher Project, after spending five years working in social media and event marketing. He is a 2017 ASCD Emerging Leader, and an alumnus of the 2016-2018 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Teacher Advisory Council. In 2016, he was named one of Arlington, Virginia’s “40 Under 40” by the Leadership Center for Excellence. He is a past presenter and regular attendee at educational conferences throughout the United States, including the annual conference for National Catholic Education Association, ASCD Empower19, and the Play Like a Champion Today: Character Education Through Sports summer conference at the University of Notre Dame. He’s an avid runner who’s completed more than three dozen marathons, half marathons, long-distance road relays, mud runs, and obstacle course races. John lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.

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