Getting students excited about editing can be a challenge. Meghan Connelly, sixth grade teacher at Mercer Elementary (Cincinnati, OH) found a way to combine current cultural relevance with conventions. When The Hunger Games movie debuted, Meghan combined her students’ interest in the story with the idea of a convention competition.

Her class was finishing a large assignment and ready for peer editing. To motivate students during this step of the writing process, Meghan invented “The Editing Games.” To create competitive groups, she separated the class into Districts like the divisions of the post-apocalyptic Panem (North America) in the book. She gave them name tags with their Districts on them and let them make up their own nicknames. (Many chose characters from The Hunger Games.)

To win the games, students were asked to look for errors in their peers’ writing. Meghan mapped out five main categories for editing and reviewed each briefly:

  1. Punctuation
  2. Spelling
  3. Grammar
  4. Paragraph indents
  5. Capitalization

A different colored pen was assigned to each convention skill. For instance, misspelled words were marked with a red pen.

To determine which team members were to edit for which skills, Meghan made the pen acquisition more challenging and exciting, too. She mirrored the book by placing the pens in a cornucopia centrally located in the classroom. In The Hunger Games, when the teen contestants entered the Arena, a giant, golden Cornucopia held supplies and resources the competitors would need to survive. In “The Editing Games,” students also hurried to access particular pen colors before others grabbed them.

With each team member assigned to a particular skill area, students were to edit all the writings in their group for that single convention. At a signal, perhaps a “gong,” groups switched their writings with one another.

Throughout the game, Meghan pretended to be from the Capitol (the ruling district of Panem) and walked the room awarding or removing points based on student behavior and correct editing. At the end, students tallied the number of mistakes marked on their papers. Team scores were written on the board, and the group with the lowest number of mistakes won. (Unlike The Hunger Games, everyone survived these games! Even the “losers” gained by learning more about their own errors and editing.)

It was a huge hit! All of Meghan’s students were into it, and the competitive nature of the game made them want to edit. What a great way to connect the fervor of a popular movie with an often unexciting stage of writing!

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