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Who Gets the Goodies - awesome role playing game

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Basic idea: Agatha Rich, a wealthy business woman, has just died. She did not leave any details as to who gets everything in her estate. All her friends, relatives, and basically anyone who even knew her for a day, are going to have a meeting with her lawyer(the teacher) to convince him that they should get the goodies.

Preparation:
Write up a list of what is included in Agatha's estate. You can make it as outrageous as you want. The list I had included things like a cottage in the Rocky Mountains, a mink coat, a luxury yacht, a house in Spain, a mansion...I had about 14 different things on the list.
Provide each student with a character card that shows how they know Agatha. (Ie, sister, son, ex-husband 2, neighbour, magazine reporter,business partner, crazy man from down the street who is convinced Agatha loved him, but just never said so...) Either you can create them, or the students can.
Ask the students to be prepared to answer some of the following questions: How are you related to Agatha? What is your name? Where do you live? Where do you work? Why do you deserve the things you want from Agatha's estate? What did you do for Agatha in the past? What did you do for her recently? Basically, they are creating a character with a whole story, and not just a name. I allowed them to write out their created information on a piece of paper and bring it to the meeting.
On the day of the "meeting" go over the items from the estate with the students. Have them check off three or four items that they want.
Then the fun begins. The lawyer can ask the questions that were covered in the preparation with the students, but don't limit it to that! Throw in some other questions to make them think. (ie. How much money do you make a year? Is Agatha's sister telling the truth?)The other characters can jump in any time they want to comment on what someone has said. At the end of the meeting, the lawyer will have to make his decision as to who gets what.
I expected this game to take one period, but it carried on over three periods simply because the students got so involved in their roles. We had the daughter accusing the aunt of stealing furniture, an argument as to whether or not Agatha had a dog, and a very touching performance by Agatha's younger brother who insisted that he didn't want anything from the estate - he just wanted Agatha back!

I have a very strong group of grade 12 English students this semester, but even so, they blew me away with their creativity and the language they used in this activity.

Expansion:
I played this with a group of 14 students, and it worked well with all the students playing as individuals. However, I also played it with a larger group. Instead of playing as individuals, they had to play in groups of 3-4. Each group represented a charity that Agatha had supported during her life time. They had to present their group to the lawyer, tell why Agatha had supported them, and talk about what they would do with the items in the estate if they received them. In that case, the lawyer was free to split up the estate, or give it all to one charity.
Do your best to make it seem like the real situation. I had time to pull pictures off the internet, so I created a power point presentation on the items in the estate. The teacher played the role of the laywer, and I was the lawyer's assistant who gave the presentation. We even carried out a "psychological test" on the crazy man from down the street. If you really want to get things moving, show a few students a "picture" of what Agatha looked like during her life. During the meeting, the lawyer can ask people what they remember about Agatha. It's pretty funny when only some of them really know what the picture looks like, and leads to some great conversations!
Hope some of you can make use of this game!
Sarah
English language assistant, NB, Canada
sjgiraldi@hotmail.com

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