Dreadsheets: Using Spreadsheets for Boss Battles

Over the last few months I have been experimenting with “Boss Fights”. In assessment terms the boss fight the potential to fill several rolls and in my case, I used the fights as a major formative assessment. My first attempt in this experiment was with my Standard 3: Civil War Review. We “fought” the duo of Generals Robert E. Zomblee and William T. Shermonster.

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I wrote up this first attempt here: Boss Battle: Formative Review.

It worked pretty well but it was definitely a rough draft and there was much room for improvement! I went into the revision process with several goals. The first was I wanted the students to be in control of taking the Hit Points (HP) away from the Boss. The second was that I wanted to get every group answering questions during every round. The third was that I wanted to increase the inter-dependency of the groups fighting against the Boss. Last, I wanted to be able to show real-time damage to the boss both through pictures and a score. Not essential, but a fun element students asked for was the ability to BE the Boss! I found the solutions to these issues through the use of Google Sheets.

I have taken to the term “DreadSheets” for these boss fight spreadsheets.

The boss fight spread sheet system revolves around the “Boss Sheet” which displays a picture of the boss, the boss’ HP, any “special powers” held by the boss, and each groups HP. You can see this spreadsheet in the image below on the left. The Boss Sheet is then projected so the class can see the results of the battles. This is “The Review-i-Nator” and he starts with 10,000HP. There are up to 5 possible groups that would fight this boss (Groups 1-5). For this boss fight I used an old final exam which I displayed as a PDF in the upper right hand of the screen and used a Google Timer which is on the bottom right.

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Before the Boss fight began there was some necessary prep work. Groups needed to be formed and each group needed to log into an individual “Group Sheet” that I labeled as Group 1, Group 2, etc… Each of the group sheets fed into the “Scores” tab on the Boss Sheet. The image below is an example of one of the group sheets. In this first iteration each group had a set role – for example, Medic or Warrior.

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If you look at the Boss Sheet you will see that the Group 1 has the same Medic symbol from this sheet on the Group Scores section. (I will list the group powers below) As students get a question correct the group earns the right to roll a multiple of 10 die. The result of the roll is their attack on the Boss and the dice roll goes into the Dice Roll column (column B). This column feeds into the Boss Fight Sheet “Scores” tab which then takes the damage off of the Boss both visually and in the score. If they get the question wrong they write “miss” in the column. Some powers skip a turn and they write “skip”. (3 screenshots below)

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THE GROUP ROLES

Google Doc with 5 Group Types and the Boss Powers

In my first version of the boss fight review game each group had access to all the powers. However, I wanted to promote inter-dependency. In this version, each group only has one power (or one type of power).

  • Medics – have healing powers
  • Warriors – have a Powerful Special Attack
  • Bandits – Can “Steal” missed questions which power the Boss’ Special Attack
  • Tech Wizards – Can “block” the Boss’ Attacks against any attack
  • Berserkers – can “chain” attacks for a Powerful Attack

In this first DreadSheets version each group had a specific power. Group 1 was the medics, Group 2 the Warriors, etc… Students had to select which group they wanted to join. I allowed only 4 members per group and each member had a specific role.

  1. Data Input Specialist -They control the spreadsheet and input attack and special skill information. Also responsible for “Resetting” the board after the game is over.
  2. Enforcer -Responsible for dice rolls and announcing special skill plays.
  3. Scribe – The “Keeper of the Answer Board”. I will not accept an answer accept from the Scribe. (open-ended questions on a white-board, A-D cards for multiple choice)
  4. Researcher – Only person that may look at notebook during the game.

Most classes ended up only having 4 groups so one of the special skills had to be left behind.

In my updated version I have figured out how to let each group select their own play type. So it is conceivable that the class has 4 Medics and 1 Berserker. Again, I am hoping this adds a layer of strategy and planning. The images below show the changes. There is a drop down menue in cell H1 (ex in red page) which changes the images and highlights where the special skill dice rolls are entered. (these are the blue pages).

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The Boss Group

Students were clamoring to be the boss, so I made a 2 person boss group. There was no lack of volunteers so I had student’s roll dice to see who would be the members. Top to rolls were the members. The boss has its own spreadsheet and powers which you can read on the google doc. The biggest special attacks are based around the other groups getting questions wrong, or “miss”ing the questions – When there are 5 combined misses the Boss has a chance to attack all the groups and if more than 1/2 the groups get a single question wrong their is a counter-attack special power attack.

PLAYING THE GAME

When the game begins:

  • Boss = 10,000 Hit Points (HP)
  • All Groups = 2,000 HP

The Boss Fight Sheet is projected on the board with the questions and the timer.

The teacher reads the question (can be either open ended or multiple choice) then starts the 30 second timer.

The groups must answer within the 30 seconds or the question is scored as a “miss”. I made this rule to encourage both better note taking and because some groups like to get distracted. Most groups were answering well before time was up.

If a group gets the question correct they roll a multiple of 10 die. The roll is their attack against the boss. If there are 4 groups this is a maximum of 400 HP (5 groups = 500HP max). If the question is missed they write miss in the column.

Special Skill use has to be declared before the next question is displayed. There is a risk-reward element to the special skills. For example, the Berserker chains their correct answers together for a powerful bonus. I want the group to decide whether or not to attempt to keep the chain going before they see the question.

All Groups answer the question at the same time! This was designed to avoid three groups not paying attention while the fourth group answered their question. Instead of 4 students discussing and 16 not getting the review – ALL 20 students are participating in the question.

The Boss Attacks with a 100HP attack after every turn. The attack is random based on a dice roll. This increases the tension as time goes on. I don’t know if it helps with test anxiety, but it simulates high stakes on getting questions correctly. Hopefully it encourages positive management of that stress.

The Medics, Tech Wizards, and Bandits have can only use their special skills two times. I limited this to lessen the impact of the power on the overall game play. Also, with these powers the groups could potentially receive individualized questions every turn which would remove the goal of all students answering questions.

Most ImportantlyIf one group loses all their HP, ALL of the groups lose the game. This encourages a communal effort. It also forces them to protect one another and develop a strategy for the best use of limited resources.

FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT BENEFITS

Running in the background of the Boss Fight Sheet is a simple data collection mechanism. After playing the boss fight I can go back into the data and see which topics students from each class struggled with by taking a screenshot of the dice rolls and misses that led to the boss taking damage. Since I can track which questions go with which dice roll it is possible to determine the topics where students struggled the most. As you can tell from the image below Question 3 and 6 were most often missed.

 

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FINAL THOUGHTS

The students were deeply engaged with this boss fight. I played this game in 5 classes and each played it differently which was really fun to watch. Some student’s quickly picked up on how to best utilize their group special powers. Other classes were focused on answering questions correctly. Nearly all classes developed some trash talk between the boss group and the others and the 100 HP Boss Attack after every turn raised the stakes enough for the groups without every really putting the game in danger of being over too quickly.

My classes are an about 90 minutes and the 10,000HP for the Boss meant that when there were only 4 groups the Boss was only defeated on time. Next time I intend on dropping the Boss HP to 8,000.

GOOGLE DRIVE FOLDER – COPIES OF MY DREADSHEETS (Please refer to Copy of Boss Fight Projection Template (2) for the projection sheets) Also, please make a copy of the sheets before playing with the coding.

Here are copies of my DreadSheets. There are a lot of links between the sheets (=importrange) so while I have given editing rights if you would like to do anything more than add in the dice roll scores please download your own copies and play with the import range info on your own copies. I’d be glad to show you how – just email me! If the sheets have been altered let me know as well so I can change them back. Tweet at me @MrPowley or email me at apowley001@horrycountyschools.net.

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