‘Speare is an ongoing project of the Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare Project at the University of Guelph. It is a fast-paced online arcade game that fuses gaming goals with the curricular goals of literacy promotion using the works of Shakespeare, especially Romeo and Juliet.
In the style of classic arcade games, ‘Speare launches the player into outer space on a mission to reclaim stolen knowledge (story traces) based on Shakespeare’s plays. By collecting words, phrases, and facts through game play, ‘Speare challenges its players to use information to become knowledge gatherers. Only through knowledge gathering can a player successfully complete the game.
‘Speare has been designed with a core literacy audience of youth ages 10 to 15. The game’s appeal is much broader than this, however, and it is an excellent way to introduce Shakespeare’s language to younger children as well as older youths in a non-threatening, carefully mediated, and highly interactive environment.
‘Speare addresses specific literacy goals and instruction tactics identified by educators in strategies such as the Ontario Ministry of Education’s Think Literacy document.
On June 26th, ‘Speare was tested with a grade 6 class from Edward Johnson Public School. As well as gathering feedback and suggestions from students to improve the game’s appeal, CASP tested the game’s effectiveness as a literacy instruction tool by testing students’ knowledge of Shakespeare facts with quizzes embedded in the game, one before they played and one after completing the game. The students’ pre-game score was very low at only 49%, but after being exposed to facts via in-game elements the scores improved to an impressive 84%.
‘Speare will be launched in the Fall of 2006 along with a resource guide and lesson plans for teachers with specific activities and strategies for using ‘Speare in the classroom as part of a comprehensive literacy program. Please visit www.canadianshakespeares.ca/speare.cfm for more information about ‘Speare and for news about its public launch in the fall.