Gamification: Are You Doing It, Yet You Don't Know it?
"Gamified Education" is the concept of utilizing game elements into a non-game environment; such as a classroom. From personal experience playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, Chess, Pac-man (obviously dating myself with these examples) and more recently Mine-Craft and Tetris; I'm able to write with certainty that they are exhilarating, strategically thought provoking and addictive. Because of these traits I pondered, "What if a lesson plan contained these attributes?" This can be nothing but beneficial to learning if it does.
After participating in some twitter chats that focused on this concept of "gamified learning" and then doing some research over the past year or so, I've come to a conclusion. Like many things in education, highly effective teaching and quality lesson plan development have remained a constant across the ages. Weaving in new lesson plan elements to the old and keeping pedagogical pace with the ever changing educational landscape are the main components that separate engaged learning from complacency. Twenty-one years of teaching United States History and playing a jeopardy review game before tests got me to ponder this question; "Have I been gamifying my instruction all these years?"
The answer is yes; I've been "gamifying" instruction my entire teaching career. Is 21st century gamification all about using technology or a video games to instruct students in learning? No; it's not all about that. Old school gamification is still gamification. Let me explain.
"Weaving in new lesson plan elements to the old and keeping pedagogical pace with the ever changing educational landscape are the main components that separate engaged learning from complacency."
Buzzzz -- that's the sound in class while students participate in a jeopardy simulated game to prepare for their upcoming test. Enthusiasm, ingenuity and collaboration engross the learners as they compete against classmates to attain individual badges, earn points to maintain their teams' standing and gain honor for the ages. Over the past half-decade "Gamification" of learning has trended towards the forefront of educational discussion.
Guide your students to BUILD a "Box of Learning." Each lesson and unit of instruction you plan is spread out across a wide range of mandatory teaching topics; including the necessary curricular content of Common Core State Standards (CCSS), State and local learning benchmarks, as well as, standardized tests that evaluate not just their knowledge but our teaching ability. As a result hours of time are spent meticulously managing each curricular item and learning benchmark to ensure that it's incorporated on the surface area of the instructional unit. Your plans are written, developed and these items are checked off. When it's all done your lessons cover every curricular need and learning benchmark -- proud you are and proud you should be. Your due diligence has allowed you to embed curriculum across your content. But after some careful self-reelection you realize these lesson/s and/or those of the past are missing depth or mastery of the material and are perhaps uneventful atvities. Are you tired of your lessons falling flat on their face like a piece of card board? Are you looking to expand your teaching style?
In the off season athletes are always working on ways to improve their game. Lifting weights, speed training or perhaps honing in on one particular skill to focus on in an effort to better themselves for future competition. Educators are no different. Our off season is the summer months. For teachers this is not only a time for regeneration but also a time for self-reflection and improvement. I'd like for educators to consider doing some work with screen-casting.
The recording of your voice along with capturing on video what appears on the computer or iPad screen is known as screen-casting. This is most commonly linked to, what is known in the educational world as, "flipped" teaching. Briefly, a "flipped" teaching lesson plan is when a screen-cast is developed by an educator to present a concept and it's viewed by students as homework. This allows for the subsequent class period of instruction to focus on more depth of learning by having students collaborate, think critically, create and/or present information to their peers. Fantastic; but "flipped" teaching isn't the only use for screen-casting.
On the rise, climbing quickly is an adult population in the United States that are single parents or part of a dual income household. College educated; It's a cohort that's fast paced, web-wise, tech savvy and student loan strapped. They've struggled finding work out of college but remain optimistic about what the future holds. They're having children later in life and raising less of them. This is the face of the 21st Century Parent.
Defined as those between the ages of 18 and 33 in the year 2014, the Millenial Generation comprises of 27% of the U.S. Total population. It's a group that's -- diverse; one quarter married; social media (81% on Facebook) users; nearly all are connected via a cell phone with texting capability.
As educators we need to know our constituents; we need to know how to better meet their needs; and we need to be prepared to deliver. What's the face of the 21st Century school look like? Are these institutions and it's teaching staff prepared to meet the needs of this generation of NEW parents? Most schools today use email and have a web site. But just having this capability doesn't mean it's being used to its fullest extent.
How'd you get hooked on reading? Do you remember it? Mine was life-altering and I'm willing to state so was yours. We're interested in your story. Comment back to us about a description of the spark that ignited the world of reading to you. Here's my story...
Reading wasn't my thing growing up. Or so I had been led to believe. True; I'd rather go outside; shoot hoops, toss a baseball or catch a football. I spent hours with my Star Wars action figures, as well as, playing D&D (that's short for Dungeons and Dragons). When my formative middle school days arrived I know my mother was especially concerned about my perceived lack of reading. The Nuns at my private catholic school, charged with my education, told her I was a non-compliant reader. Bam -- labeled I was (Yoda Talk).
It was the second day of the MACUL Conference, our district graciously sent us to, and my husband and I sat together at lunch viewing the Ignite Learning ~ Program and Exhibitors Guide. So many invigorating sessions; how does one decide? As I read some of the options I was interested in, one being: Pinterest in Education by Erin Klein, the Scholastic Top Teacher blogger, author, mother and the MACUL Outstanding Technology-Using Pre K to 12 Teacher of the Year, my husbands enthusiasm sparked. He said, "You have to go to Erin's session -- she is the incredible teacher who does amazing things I told you about. We've collaborated with her on Twitter; you will love her!"
Besides feeling excited that my husband knows my teaching style and was invested in my personal interest is one thing; to write that my learning was ignited by Erin Klein would be an understatement. Wow was he correct! From the moment Erin began to speak I knew I was going to take away many meaningful ideas that would enhance learning in the classroom and promote collaboration with both students, staff and parents. Erin Klein's style is authentic, personable and extremely meaningful. She connects with her audience and customizes her presentation to the people she is with. Impressive to say the least.
Who would have thought that Pinterest can be used as a collaboration tool for parents? I thought I knew how to use Pinterest but after this session I learned how to use it effectively! Erin demonstrated how to engage with Pinterest step by step in a very visual and organized manner -- the way I learn best. She walked us through each step by following excellent educators, creating lessons, themes and how to set up and manage your boards and folders by various titles; such as Math Facts Board, Mentor Texts Board, Anchor Charts, Newsletters and Monthly boards. An absolutely simple and amazing way to share ideas with parents. Ideas such as books, strategies, tools and methodology to help parents assist their children's learning.
Divide and conquer. It seemed like a a good plan but there were too many incredible venues available for these two teachers to cover in a few days. Our highlights read like a visit to the Who's Who in Education Amusement Park. We were able to learn, grow, collaborate and walk away from the conference pedagogically pooped -- as well as being able to finally meet some of the Shining Twitter Stars in our life.
Thursday we met the MACUL Outstanding Technology-Using Educators of the year... Erin Klein (@KleinErin) and Brad Wilson (@dreambition) -- Lets start by writing the titles don't do these two individuals justice. Erin Klein was info-fantastic. She "pinned" so many new ways to excite learning on us that our conference debriefing session with one another lasted an entire morning and took two pots of coffee to complete. Go to her Pinterest web page and you'll know exactly what we're writing about. The other exciting idea-item she provided is Aurasma. This allows for you to create augmented reality items from pictures... I'm totally excited to use this in my lesson planning... view the intro video and check out the app below.
What is a Pirate movie rated? Rrrrrrr. My vivacious 9 year old daughter told me this joke when she saw me reading the book written by Dave Burgess titled Teach Like A Pirate. After the joke she began questioning me about the content of the book. A lively discussion on teaching ensued. She finished by announcing "It takes a lot of work to teach well Daddy."
A captive title, a cute joke then a student-led, student-centered teaching style is what Teach Like A Pirate (#TLAP) is all about. In this book Dave Burgess has provided teachers with methods, tactics and strategies that he has found successful. To be completely forthcoming, this is the first edu-pedagogical book I've read since I was forced to do so in my undergraduate studies. Postive twitter traffic and #TLAP chatter on this book sparked my curiosity. And when gifted with an Amazon card from a student I decided to make a pirate purchase. From the time the book hit my door step I began to devour it.
Standing out, among all of the incredible teaching topics covered; that vary from passion, rapport, feedback, analysis to lesson development; is creativity. What struck me when reading Teach Like A Pirate is that some teachers brush aside innovative lesson planning in much the same way a weight-watcher client may fail to lose pounds: excuses. George Washington once wrote "It's better to offer no excuse than a bad one." Dave Burgess masterfully presents this perspective in a "six-word" paradigm that remains ingrained in my mind. He explained that a teacher once told him "It's easy for you. You're creative." Being creative, innovative, imaginative and inspirational in your practice as a teacher is hard work. Creativity, as he brilliantly demonstrates, isn't an innate attribute or talent that people are born with; one doesn't simply pick up a brush, paint and a few days later show some on-lookers their completed work on the ceiling at the Sistine Chapel. Success is determined from pursuit, dedication and effort towards mastery of a specific form of art. Creative teaching is an art form; like any form of art, to be highly effective at it, one must put in the time needed to achieve it.
Teach Like A Pirate is about sharing these creative lesson planning strategies. It's about learning how to be a creative teacher. We're all a creative genius in one form or another; but maybe our genius needs to be developed more. Dave Burgess is, within the pages of his work, essentially teaching teachers to do what it is that they do on a daily basis; he's advocating you to learn creativity. Even if you're a creative teacher this book will still open up a new world to you. It's with the highest of recommendations that AskteacherZ gives a #TwoThumbZup to Dave Burgess' book Teach Like A Pirate. Pedagogy is all about continued professional development, sharing and self-advocacy. Get yourself out-of-the-box, put on an eye patch and get into the Burgess Boat as we have; you'll be a better educator as a Pirate.
Today is the first day of yet another new year; a new chapter in the lives of us all. It's also a new chapter for the City of Detroit, as well as, its surrounding suburbs and the State of Michigan. This morning a new mayor took office to lead the financially distressed, crime filled and population dwindled metropolis. It's easy to use the narrow lens of negativity to view the Motor City, as I just did, but we have a choice look at it differently. Starting today, the first day of the year in 2014, lets use a panoramic lens to capture the positive attributes Detroit provides.
Just Friday last my family and I were was once again reminded of the greatness of the City of Detroit. All us, on a whim, jumped into the Chrysler mini-van and visited the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) for its "Friday Night Live" festivities. What a treat it was; literally and figuratively. After indulging in some family art appreciation our girls sipped hot cocoa, my gorgeous spouse and I enjoyed some wine and we all shared a stunning, massive Mackinaw Island hot fudge, brownie bottomed sundae. There had to have been half-a-gallon of vanilla ice cream on it, needless to write (well maybe necessary to write given our sweet-tooths), one was more than enough for us all. And it was only $7. The greatest treat was yet to come.
After visually absorbing the incredible art on display at the DIA, followed up by the heavenly taste of dessert and drink at the cafe we found ourselves pleasured into a blissful state of utter relaxation by the music from the piano duo of Claire Aebersold and Ralph Neiweem. Their play and orchestration of Beethoven, Bach, Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky illuminated further an already perfect evening with loved ones. It's a rarity to go out as a family and manage to indulge all of your senses in just a few hours but we managed to do so on this evening. Here's the point; this evening isn't a once-in-a-while event, it's the type of opportunity that's available throughout the year and not just at the DIA. The metro-Detroit area has a vast array of places to visit and take advantage of for a minimal cost. Here's the Fab-Five of what's out there:
Look at the City of Detroit from what it has to offer in totality. Get behind your beloved city, support its institutions by attending their functions and purchasing its memberships. You and your family will never regret buying a membership, you'll only regret not using it.
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Guest BloggerZ are welcome. Please contact us. We are Married Michigan Educators with 40+ years of combined teaching experience. One is a Elementary Educator with MA in Counseling & the other is a Middle School Principal and former U.S. History Educator for 21 years with an MA in History and Ed.S.; 17 years Varsity Football Coach; and 9 years Grade 8 Boys Basketball Coach. We are SeekrZ of Knowledge; Public Ed. Advocates; Jog-a-WalkerZ; promoters of FamilyZ being involved in school and Free Lance Writers. Visit our home page:
www.askteacherz.com Follow us on twitter @askteacherzcom. We are working to Transform Education through Collaboration by promoting Innovative, Imaginative and Inspirational teaching practices.
Guest BloggerZ are welcome. Please contact us.
We are Married Michigan Educators with 40+ years of combined teaching experience. One is a Elementary Educator with MA in Counseling & the other is a Middle School Principal and former U.S. History Educator for 21 years with an MA in History and Ed.S.; 17 years Varsity Football Coach; and 9 years Grade 8 Boys Basketball Coach. We are SeekrZ of Knowledge; Public Ed. Advocates; Jog-a-WalkerZ; promoters of FamilyZ being involved in school and Free Lance Writers.
Visit our home page: www.askteacherz.com
Follow us on twitter @askteacherzcom.
We are working to Transform Education through Collaboration by promoting Innovative, Imaginative and Inspirational teaching practices.
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