When I first suggested a Hunger Games Festival for World Book Day this year I was met with a variety of opinions:
“Interesting . . . how would you go about doing that?”
“Awesome! I can’t wait for that!”
“Riiighht . . .”
‘What are The Hunger Games?”
What are “The Hunger Games” indeed. For those who have been living under a rock, The Hunger Games is the dystopian trilogy by Suzanne Collins that follows the journey of Katniss Everdeen, a 16 year old young woman who volunteers to take the place of her younger sister Prim, whose name is chosen to compete as tribute in ‘The Hunger Games’. This barbaric tradition is overseen by the Capitol, a ruling class among 12 poor, subservient districts. Katniss is from the Mining District 12, the poorest of them all. She will be put in an arena with 23 other tributes and forced to fight to the death until one victor remains. Her chances look slim, but heroism can blossom in unexpected places.
So, the challenge was simple; how do I motivate over 60 staff and 800 students to compete in a two week event based on a book/film series they may/may not have read? More than that, how do I stay true to the story origins while making the competition safe and challenging (obviously we couldn’t have students fight to the death despite several staff protests).
The answer was simple; use the festival as an opportunity to promote the literacy inherent in all the subjects, as well as giving students the chance to use a variety of creative thinking skills.
To promote the event we began with putting up posters around the school to generate a buzz and gets the students talking about it (we had students volunteer to take part weeks beforehand).
Then we ran an assembly three weeks out, which included a trailer of the film, a run-down of how the points worked and a brief introduction to the challenges available.
Our academy has vertical tutor groups so we made all 32 of them their own districts for the duration of the festival. We then made 25 separate challenges across all the learning areas. The challenges also gave us a chance to promote British Values (in a challenge called ‘Panem Values’).
Each student who competed in an event would earn one point for their tutor group; the runner-up would earn two points and the victor would earn three points. There would also be a grand prize for the tutor group that achieved the highest points total and a runner-up prize for the second highest points total. This meant that it wasn’t about how many victors a district had, it was about how dedicated to participating the group was as a whole. All victors and runners-up were also able to visit the LRC and exchange a winner’s card for a prize that was Hunger Games related.
Tutor groups could track their progress during the festival on giant points trackers in the LRC (Library) window.
From there, all tutors were provided with a pack that included challenge information to be given to all students if they volunteered for that task. There was also a list to record names of students for each challenge, and a timetable of when they would be competing.
From there, 26 members of staff and 8 Post-16 students were mobilised to run all 25 events across lunch times and after school. The results were amazing. Over 400 students invested their own time and resources to compete in the games. Here is just a fraction of some of the amazing work produced by our students.
We also used the Festival as an opportunity to have an exciting author visit and provide workshops for key students in creative writing and supporting reluctant readers. We chose the charismatic and adventurous Marcus Alexander, a world traveller and former kick-boxer who has studied extreme sports across the world and uses these as inspiration for his fantasy book series, “Keeper of the Realms“. His work with the students inspired many to take their own writing and reading more seriously, and the three books in his series (‘Crow’s Revenge’, ‘The Dark Army’, and ‘Blood and Fire’) have been flying off the shelves since his visit.
At the end of the Festival we had seen a spike in reading across the academy and many students felt the event had given them a chance to develop their creative thinking and problem solving skills in a safe and positive environment. It is proof that with a little inspiration, all students can be encouraged to be excited and motivated about the Literary World.
Also, who would pass up a chance to dress up as Effie Trinket?