Sentence Starters, Video Games, and Perspective

Elegy for a Dead World is a game in which players finish sentence starters to explore and write their own science fiction story. It can help students learn how to write and what sort of descriptions can forward a story in different ways.

This 25 minute lesson uses the game Elegy for a Dead World to help teach students how to write a story and what sort of perspective they can bring that will change a story.
(Estimated Running Time: 23-25 Minutes)


Students will be able to write a short science fiction story using sentence starters and the game Elegy for a Dead World.


Required materials are normal text, recommended but not required materials are italicized

Essential Question(s):

How do things change when we view or interact with them?

  • No matter how thoroughly we present information, people can take it different ways.
  • Writing is a selection process where we decide what details are most important.
  • If the goal of writing is to communicate, we need to be able to choose exactly what and how we wish to communicate our ideas.
  • The reader/viewer plays a part in what information is communicated.
  • We often cannot choose who views something or how.
  • When we are the reader, it’s important to recognize what the author/creator might have wanted and what perspective we bring to the reading that may change things.

Inquiry Exercise:

(5 Minutes)
Imagine you’re an alien from another world and you’ve come to earth for the very first time. You find yourself in your real bedroom and as you’re looking around you find an unfamiliar object. What do you find and what do you think it is? What is it really? Take three minutes to write about your object.

Introduction to New Material:

(1 Minute)
Today we’re going to be working on sentence starters and playing a game. Before we can play, though, I’m going to walk you through what sort of sentence starters to expect and we’ll try a few before you jump into the game.

Guided Practice:

(5 Minutes)
How would you finish this sentence? Display a sentence starter from Elegy for a Dead World.

Take a moment to finish it and then we’ll read a few and talk about what we like, what we don’t and why. Students should brainstorm their own end. Those that feel comfortable can share and we’ll discuss them with the following questions to give them an idea of how to finish a sentence:

  • Which ones did you really like? Why?
  • What do the good sentences have in common?
  • What do you think this person brought to this sentence?
  • What sentence surprised you most? Why?
  • What do you think could make this sentence stronger?
  • What more would you like to know about this sentence?

Individual Practice:

(10 Minutes)
Fire up Elegy for a Dead World and go to town. At the end, there’s an option to print your story. Normally, it would take at least a half-hour to play through this game and get a story, so, since this is a mini-lesson, we’ll take turns filling in the sentences. How we finish the sentences changes where the game goes, so when you have the chance to play on your own, consider what’s different each play through.

If you choose to extend this to a full lesson, have students play individually, discussing the differences in where the game goes. Additionally, collecting their stories at the end can give you a good idea of how they’re writing. Playing through again a few weeks down the line can give you a comparison for growth.


(2 Minutes)
Hopefully you’ve seen how our perspective can change the way we read and write things. Thinking about how visitors to our writing read things when we’re not clear, we can take this further and realize exactly how technology, imagery and iconography can change the meaning of our reading and writing.

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