Every year I tell myself to Keep It Simple Silly…

Every year I get sucked into a more and more complex theme!

That is because I find myself reusing bits and pieces of previous themes and systems that really worked well and it all sort of… fits.

In the upcoming 2021-22 school year my theme will be:

  • Superheroes!
  • and a Fantasy world Multiverse


On the first day students will learn their Superhero Origin story. They were on a field trip when a mysterious stranger triggered the release of a massive amount Primary Source Power from the Declaration of Independence. This explosion of energy released their natural abilities and turned them into Superpowered People that become more powerful by harnessing the power of primary and secondary sources. They use these abilities to battle bad guys bent on twisting history to nefarious purposes. As part of the first day activities the students will select their Superhero look, write a backstory, potentially create a logo, or create bitmoji HQs. It also explains with game logic why we spend so much time searching, analyzing, and using primary and secondary sources. The superhero theme also opens the door for Bosses and Mini-Boss fights.

On the second day I am required to give a “Pre-Test” for our state SLO mandate. I have usually done this in the most boring way possible – sit and take a test through goformative. I am thinking this year though, that I will introduce our Semester 2 “Big Bad”, with a Pre-Test Boss fight. Many video games will open with a tutorial that gives the player some enhanced powers and a big conflict to introduce the battle mechanics. My plan is to use the Pre-Test as a Boss Fight with a literally unbeatable Dr. Vonn initiating a conflict as the students seek a particularly useful source. The students will be defeated and Vonn will use the source to send them into an alternative dimension.

The Multiverse

Once in this alternate universe students will need to go on a quest to learn their powers and develop content knowledge as they find powerful sources that were accidently transported into the alternative world with them. As they collect sources and upgrade their powers my role will be as guide and mentor helping them get back to the main world. This alternative world has been visited by people from our world before and the various states and locations have names like Fredonia, the United States of Douglass, and the Vesey Marches. As they travel around the board different monster types will populate different areas and their path choices will impact what types they battle in review and reflection activities. The Semester 1 Big Bad will be Ms. Arie – the woman that accidentally triggered their superpowers on that fateful field trip.

As the source released its energy she was also thrown into this world and is seeking the same sources the students are looking for in order to return to Earth and initiate a History altering event (to be determined).

Big Bad Fights (common assessments)

The first semester has 2 Units which means 2 Boss fights. The first unit will end with an encounter with a dragon.

If the class defeats the dragon then they move onto Unit 2 with no repercussions. If, however, the dragon is not defeated then they will find Ms. Arie has a pet dragon in the Unit 2 encounter. The Class will need to defeat the dragon prior to engaging with the Big Bad. If they defeat Ms. Arie at the end of Unit 2 great! The class will move onto semester 2 with no repercussions. – the class will escape out of the portal and return to Earth unscathed. If, however, Ms. Arie is not defeated they will return to Earth with a passenger (Ms. Arie) who will then ally herself with Semester 2 Big Bad – Dr. Vonn.

The Boss Fight System I had initiated in the previous semester was incredibly effective and I will continue to use that for the required common assessments.

Minion Fights

At the beginning of each class students will encounter either a minion (mini-boss) or fall into a puzzle trap that will need to be defeated. These will be review and reflection opportunities. Minion fights will be a plickers based dice battle that features mostly multiple choice questions. The puzzle traps will be more open ended and typically require adequate completion of some sort of graphic organizer or some other breakout style challenge. Each unit will be about 10 class meetings so there is not a huge amount of time to dedicate to these but it will add daily review as well as theme engagement.


As the players travel around the board they can gain allies. These allies are the equivalent of item cards. The allies will typically eliminate 1 answer choice from the board for that student during a boss fight. Allies can also be sacrificed during minion and boss fights to prevent direct damage to the players health.


As Covid restrictions will likely be eliminated in my district next year I intent to reintroduce Guilds. These are collaborative units that can join powers during a minion fight and can team up during in class activities. During the day 1 introductions table groups will become initial guilds and can make up a guild name and a banner using Armorioa – a incredibly detailed heraldry site. These guild banners will be displayed on the wall near the table group along with the avatars of the guild members.

A Few examples from the Armoria site.

Guilds could also be called STATES or Strategically Tiny Assemblies to Enhance Success if you are into acronyms…


Things change during the year, but once the Heroes return to Earth in Semester 2 they will have a chance to join “CIPHER” or “Central Investigation into Public History Educational Resources” -an organization dedicated to searching for and finding important source energy resources. As members of this unit they will run into and need to battle Dr. Vonn and his Shadow Minions.