Can You Handle the Open Source Vector Force?

It’s Open Source Template Tuesday! Check out this game-changing science “Surprise!”


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. 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!

Each week here on the blog, we celebrate 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:
Gamified Syllabus

Today’s Guest Blogger:

Jim Justice (@justiceVVHS), high school Physics teacher in Surprise, AZ

Here’s the Story…

In less than a month school will begin. I started the summer excited about planning for this year’s game in my high school physics classes but time has flown by. The realization is setting in that I have much to do and little time to do it!

I was inspired, like many others, by John Meehan’s gamified syllabus and quickly decided that this was the perfect way to begin my year. I took his original slides and spent a few hours adapting them to fit my classroom game, Vector Force. The game’s premise is that my students are “everyday heroes” who use their developing knowledge of physics to battle villains. The overall narrative is still being developed (remember, lots to do still!) but I want to capture a “sci-fi” feel in the game. So, students will visit 10 stations in order to gather their inventory items. Once complete, they will be earn a copy of the formal Syllabus and will complete a Scavenger Hunt to ensure they have read the information carefully. Then, they will be ready to go out and begin defeating our villains.

After reading EDrenaline Rush by John Meehan, I began re-reading eXPlore Like a Pirate by game master Michael Matera! He discusses in Part 3 about Onboarding. The introduction to the class game is really important for building excitement, creating student buy-in, and setting the tone for the rest of the year. Onboarding was something I could have done better last year. So, I have developed a “Division Challenge” for the students to complete (each class period is a Division of the Vector Force). I soon realized that this would be a more powerful on Day 1 followed by the gamified syllabus activity on Days 2 and 3. After writing a letter to each Division welcoming them to the VF and some fighting with my wife’s Cricut machine, my students will be given a set of clues and will have to find a hidden message. They will then have to crack another code to finish the message, and then send a messenger to retrieve a final clue to complete the day’s task. Then, on Days 2 and 3, the Division will break into teams, or Sqaudrons, and complete the gamified syllabus stations in true Meehan-style to complete their initial training as part of the Vector Force.


The first week of school is only four days, so another squadron challenge will be happening on the fourth day so students can continue developing relationships with their fellow Cadets while building their trust in me to take care of them. I am looking forward to this first week. I am sure it will be a rush!

Click here for a copy of the Vector Force slides

Hi! John again. HUGE thank you to Jim for his contributions to this week’s Open Source Template Tuesday offering. Absolutely love it when teachers outside of the humanities classes get in on the game-changing action, and this scientific skin swap on the gamified syllabus is a fantastic example of how teachers of any course or content area can add a major dose of excitement to their classroom using a pedagogy that’s designed to get our students fired up to learn! Way to go, Jim.

Thanks for reading this week’s guest blog!

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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