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QUEST for Literacy: How Creators Strengthens Reading and Writing Skills

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The Goal: Students Become Architects of Their Own Literacy Journey

Picture this: a classroom full of third graders with varied reading levels who are deeply engaged in listening to a story and admiring the accompanying artwork; they’re answering questions, making connections, participating in a story-based challenge, vying for points, hooked by the presenters.

The presenters: also third graders. The authors, artists, game designers: those same third graders. Group after group of students comes to the front of the room to present their original gamified story and artwork to a captivated audience of their peers. This is the world of QUEST Creators, where every student is empowered to become co-creator of an original episode of QUEST.

The Challenge: Overcoming Declining Literacy Rates and Meeting ELA Standards

With literacy scores across the country steadily declining over the past several years, engaging students in reading and writing projects can seem like a daunting task. Attention spans and enthusiasm levels make prolonged individual reading and writing time unrealistic. Younger students, multilingual learners and those without frequent access to books and read-alouds at home can feel intimidated by the texts they’re required to read during the school day.

The Path: The Role of Experiential Learning in Fostering K-8 Literacy

As K-8 students play a season of QUEST, they concurrently learn the fundamentals of character creation, world-building and challenge design to then work in their teams to craft a brand-new QUEST-style “episode.” 

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Each team utilizes their episode box - which contains everything they need to write, draw and build the components of their episode, including graphic organizers to support idea development -  along with guidance from art tutorial videos, instructional supports for facilitators and gamified literacy-based challenges.

While developing their ideas, students at all grade levels organically engage in reading, writing, oral presentation, listening and giving peer feedback - building essential literacy skills

Your Help Along The Way

The process of collaborating to create the different elements of their episode becomes a form of structured/scaffolded play for students of all ages, allowing them to apply their vast imaginative skills to tangible outputs. Framing storytelling as a form of play can help reading and writing seem more accessible to those who struggle or have previously been intimidated. 


Key Benefits of Collaborative Learning in Creators:

  • Lowering Anxiety: Collaborative writing assignments ease the stress of completing tasks alone.
  • Boosting Confidence: Peer editing and positive feedback uplifts students' confidence in their ideas.
  • Positive Impact on Varied Literacy Levels: Grouping students with different literacy abilities benefits all, especially those who might struggle.

As learners progress through their literacy journey, they not only build writing and speaking skills but also gain the advantage of writing for a real audience. With Creators, students present their completed episodes to classmates for peer feedback and even have an optional showcase event for families and community members to engage with each team’s episode.


The blend of individual and collaborative creative activities enables students to lean into their strengths and stretch beyond their comfort zones as both artists and writers. They find authentic ways to express themselves and build a growth mindset through the process of presentation, peer review, and refining.


For K-2 learners, art and writing are a dynamic duo:

  • Fine Motor Skill Development: Producing artwork, including drawing lines, shapes, and squiggles, helps develop the skills students need to begin writing.
  • Early Literacy Activities: Creators offer opportunities for young students to write sight words, their names, and even practice lettering through art activities.

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The Outcome: Unleashing Creativity Through QUEST Creators

At the end of their Creators experience, each team of students produces and presents their QUEST-style episode with a storyline, characters, a unique storyworld and an interactive challenge, showcasing their artwork, writing and design skills. The optional Creators Showcase gives parents and community members an opportunity to see, understand and engage with the work students are doing, offering an additional level of relevancy for student creators.

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Creators provides an innovative way to maximize and build upon the social-emotional learning and literacy-building that is inherent in playing QUEST, integrating art, creative writing and design thinking. The vocabulary and concepts students learn through Creators can provide a runway for understanding and engaging in literary texts during the school day. When students have had the opportunity to create characters, develop the beginning, middle and end of a story or write dialogue, they can engage more authentically and critically with their assigned reading.

Making time for creative writing and art is key to improving literacy, sparking creativity and helping students build their identities and points of view as writers and people. To help you better understand how Creators can support your students’ English Language Arts development and SEL, we have aligned the curriculum to Common Core ELA and the CASEL Framework.