Teacher of the year puts modern twist on classic novel

Tom Sawyer

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ANDOVER, Kansas — It might not look like a language arts class with all these computers.

Until you watch these Andover Middle Schoolers turn a 1876 novel “The Adventures of Tom Saywer” into a video game.

From designing all the objects and characters in the story to programming how they will move on the screen.

“It’s really fun, and it’s really easy so you don’t have to be a professional artist to make something really cool,” said Fiona Gridley, eighth grade student.

The students are creating a website to teach other kids about literature.

“What is conflict? What is symbolism, foreshadowing? All of those things that Mark Twain did masterfully in his novel, our students are going to explain that for children all over the world,” said Dyane Smokorowski, Kansas Teacher of the Year.

Every game on the website is based on a scene from the book.

“My group is doing the graveyard so we’re trying to do some eerie music for the graveyard while they’re walking around,” said Easton Ewy, eighth grade student.

And using a computer program came up this.

“They learn music aspects, they learn creativity and art, there’s technical. They have to use the computers. They have to use math. They have to use everything,” said Stacey Schofield, Arts Partners teacher.

And Schofield is helping teach them. She’s a digital arts instructor paid by Arts Partners and the school to lend her expertise in class.

“I mean it’s kinda the best of both worlds. I really like language arts, and I really like being on the computer so being able to mesh those together has really improved my learning experience with this,” said Matthew Nolte, eighth grade student.

The website should be done by Christmas, but their teacher hopes the lesson lasts much longer.

“Y’know I have done teaching the stuff to get ready for reading assessments, but when they create something to teach someone else, it sits right here (points to heart), and they won’t forget it,” said Smokorowski.

 

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