Final Reflection

My final project was a great experience. We had a mix of established teachers and some of us that had not yet started our careers as teachers. The experience of the established teachers was a great insight on past experiences for our current project. Both teams did a great job with their different approaches to “why use games in the classroom”.

Reflecting on my experience as this semester, our main thought was “Why games in Education?” I agree with Michael Matera, Gamification in the classroom is all about creating something to motivate students. There is no better way to inspire motivation in students then through games. Games are engaging, they make learning fun, and students respond positively to them. Challenges and puzzles can create strategic thinking without the students realizing the effort.

I do believe that my very first class in this degree plan started focusing on effective tools in the classroom. Dr Lee Graham introduced critical thinking and the growth mindset to us. These concepts followed me in the following classes. I would think about the concepts long after class and ponder on what tools I will use in my classroom one day.

Gamification is an emerging technology. The possibilities are endless to educational games. The anonymity that avatars bring can help ease the social anxiety of one student. In addition, the Differentiated Instruction DI can allow a small Alaskan classroom to teach different grade levels in one room. Educational games are instrumental.

I grew up in the 80s and 90s, a time before the PC technology. Board games and other physical games is what we look forward to. Paper flash cards are so old school compared to Quizlet or Kahoot. However, the idea of being able to play a game after a long study session inspired us to push forward. Being able to take this gamification concept to the next level with PCs in the classroom I think helped make the connection to student-centered learning.

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Week 10 Reflection

How do you currently infuse play into your class? How might you change this as a result of some of the ideas you have encountered?”

 

Play is an important part of a student’s development. Play is very social and enjoyable. This week we talked about how we would use play in our classrooms. I read many posts about how play is used as a reward system, a learning tool, and a way to cut loose. I think that play can create a bond among students and give them an outlet.

 

Play is where Gamification can be used as a tool in the class. By incorporating games in the classroom, students are able to express themselves in the characters, take risks, and can even be accessed. Games are a way to reward students with free time.

 

 

I learned from my peers:

  • Erika talked about how free time is something that all students should have
  • Amanda introduced all of us to Band Karate
  • Sam talked about how she used our class project into your real world classroom

Week 10

How do you currently infuse play into your class? How might you change this as a result of some of the ideas you have encountered?

 

Play

 

Play is the first way that the young children learn, so it is no surprise that students still enjoy play. I am not yet a teacher, but I can predict that play would create a connection between students. I can remember in my day; we would role play certain scenarios. The simulation helped making hard topics like being offered drugs easier to talk about.

 

I would use one the of the methods below in my classroom:

  1. Adapt old-school games for classroom use. Scavenger hunts, bingo, dice games, Connect Four and Scrabble have been around for decades and can be adapted for classroom learning. Put vocabulary words on bingo cards and see if students can match the words after hearing the definitions. Working in groups, students can play Scrabble by spelling out answers to content-specific questions. Using the app Goose Chase, create digital scavenger hunts by sending students off to take pictures, create a video, or search for an answer online related to a specific topic.
  1. Play digital games. Students love playing Kahoot!, Quizizz and Quizlet. These free platforms allow teachers to create multiple-choice questions that players answer on their own devices. Teachers can also choose from the thousands of quizzes already shared on these sites or create content-specific questions to use as pre-assessments, quizzes or exit tickets. Breakout EDU also has a collection of digital games, puzzles and ciphers that promote critical thinking.
  1. Create a quest. A quest is a mission with an objective. Every year my students participate in an adventure quest based on the weekly current events reading. Students who correctly answer a specific text-dependent question earn points. The student with the most points after six weeks wins a prize. I post additional questions on Remind and Twitter to allow students to earn extra points. Quests can also be independent projects or activities for the students who have finished their work.
  1. Battle it out with a boss battle. In gaming, a “boss” is a villain who the hero must defeat to save the day. Think of the monster at the end of each level in the original Super Marios Bros. who must be defeated before moving to the next level. On the gamification platform Classcraft, teachers can create their own boss battles using questions from any content area. Teachers can also create boss battles using Google Forms or Google Slides, creating their own unique fictional boss.
  1. Earn a badge for mastery. The Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts recognize mastery and achievement with badges. Teachers can do the same by rewarding student accomplishments and mastery with badges, which go beyond grades because they represent more than just academic achievement. Students work toward completing different badges to show mastery of a concept, standard or skill. Badges can be presented digitally using Classbadges or can be displayed for all to see once students have earned a specific badge.

 

I think using one of the methods above would create: engagement, collaboration and learning. Quizlet for example, is one of the games that I use to help prep me for a test. My kids love the quiz format which helps them with memorization by repetition. And who doesn’t love playing games?

 

 

Resource:

Matera, M. Explore like a Pirate. Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc. 2015

https://www.iste.org/explore/articleDetail?articleid=884

Week 9 Reflection

 

This week we talked about how our game mechanics will be useful in our classrooms. I think that it is always important to tie back our exercises to what we can bring back into our classroom. Always forward thinking about how to implement new classroom ides is key to why we learn new strategies so that we can build on what we know and what we learn.

 

This week, I learned from my peers:

 

  • Erika talked she is not yet teaching this year as well. I like hearing how she is able to use the weekly themes into what will be her classroom ideas.
  • Cherie talked about ClassDoJo, which I love. The app has different notification outlets as well as a game that appeals to young students.
  • Sam used our class text for her weekly post. She also talked about Classcraft which is a successful classroom tool.

 

 

Week 9

EQ: Which aspects of story and game mechanics will be useful in your class and how might you use them?

 

TeamWork.jpg

 

The rewards and tracking system really appeal to students. I have thought of trying to even implement a reward game like the one my team project and I are using at home for my two boys. The game is fun and tracks all progress. Students can be competitive with the rewards. I like the forward thinking involved, they students think of ways to excel at the game when they are not playing.

One of the first things that an instructor must recognize is the difference between an individual working as part of a group and an individual working as part of a team. Below is a list of the differences that exist between these categories. After reading through the list, it should be clear what the difference is and which one would be ideal in a classroom and the workplace.

 

Individual Teams
  • Individual members work independently and they often are not working towards the same goal.
  • Team members work interdependently and work towards both personal and team goals, and they understand these goals are accomplished best by mutual support.
  • Individual members focus mostly on themselves because they are not involved in the planning of their group’s objectives and goals.
  • Team members feel a sense of ownership towards their role in the group because they committed themselves to goals they helped create.
  • Individual members are given their tasks or told what their duty/job is, and suggestions are rarely welcomed.
  • Team members collaborate together and use their talent and experience to contribute to the success of the team’s objectives.
  • Individual members are very cautious about what they say and are afraid to ask questions. They may not fully understand what is taking place in their group.
  • Team members base their success on trust and encourage all members to express their opinions, varying views, and questions.
  • Individual members do not trust each other’s motives because the do not fully understand the role each member plays in their group.
  • Team members make a conscious effort to be honest, respectful, and listen to every person’s point of view.
  • Individual members may have a lot to contribute but are held back because of a closed relationship with each member.
  • Team members are encouraged to offer their skills and knowledge, and in turn each member is able contribute to the group’s success.
  • Individual members are bothered by differing opinions or disagreements because they consider it a threat. There is not group support to help resolve problems.
  • Team members see conflict as a part of human nature and they react to it by treating it as an opportunity to hear about new ideas and opinions. Everybody wants to resolve problems constructively.
  • Individual members may or may not participate in group decision-making, and conformity is valued more than positive results.
  • Team members participate equally in decision-making, but each member understands that the leader might need to make the final decision if the team can not come to a consensus agreement.

 

In the midst of making these game-specific decisions, kids will also be challenged to learn general team-based life skills such as emtional self-regulation, negotiation, problem solving, compromise, and patience.

I will also implement challenges with teamwork. In games, you have a lot of solo players. However, I think that group effort should be utilized in some challenges. I think that players can go so far, but every checkpoint, the students must work together to help other players get to the same level. These situations can be life lessons later, where a student that would not normally team up – must join forces to complete certain missions.

 

Teamwork2

 

Characteristics of Effective Teams.

The following are eight characteristics of effective teams the were identified by Larson and LaFasto in their book titled Teamwork: What Must Go Right/What Can Go Wrong (Sage Publications 1989).

  1. The team must have a clear goal. Avoid fuzzy, motherhood statements. Team goals should call for a specific performance objective, expressed so concisely that everyone knows when the objective has been met.
  2. The team must have a results-driven structure. The team should be allowed to operate in a manner that produces results. It is often best to allow the team to develop the structure.
  3. The team must have competent team members. In the education setting this can be take to mean that the problem given to the team should be one that the members can tackle given their level of knowledge.
  4. The team must have unified commitment. This doesn’t mean that team members must agree on everything. It means that all individuals must be directing their efforts towards the goal. If an individual’s efforts is going purely towards personal goals, then the team will confront this and resolve the problem.
  5. The team must have a collaborative climate. It is a climate of trust produced by honest, open, consistent and respectful behavior. With this climate teams perform well…without it, they fail.
  6. The team must have high standards that are understood by all. Team members must know what is expected of them individually and collectively. Vague statements such as “positive attitude” and “demonstrated effort” are not good enough.
  7. The team must receive external support and encouragement. Encouragement and praise works just as well in motivating teams as it does with individuals.
  8. The team must have principled leadership. Teams usually need someone to lead the effort. Team members must know that the team leader has the position because they have good leadership skills and are working for the good of the team. The team members will be less supportive if they feel that the team leader is putting him/herself above the team, achieving personal recognition or otherwise benefiting from the position.

 

Stages of Team Growth.

It is important for teacher and students (the team members) to know that teams don’t just form and immediately start working together to accomplish great things. There are actually stages of team growth and teams must be given time to work through the stages and become effective. Team growth can be separated into four stages.

  1. Stage 1: Forming. When a team is forming, members cautiously explore the boundaries of acceptable group behavior. They search for their position within the group and test the leader’s guidance. It is normal for little team progress to occur during this stage.
  2. Stage 2: Storming. Storming is probably the most difficult stage for the group. Members often become impatient about the lack of progress, but are still inexperienced with working as a team. Members may argue about the actions they should take because they faced with ideas that are unfamiliar to them and put them outside their comfort zones. Much of their energy is focused on each other instead of achieving the goal.
  3. Stage 3. Norming. During this stage team members accept the team and begin to reconcile differences. Emotional conflict is reduced as relationships become more cooperative. The team is able to concentrate more on their work and start to make significant progress.
  4. Stage 4. Performing. By this stage the team members have discovered and accepted each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and learned what their roles are. Members are open and trusting and many good ideas are produced because they are not afraid to offer ideas and suggestions. They are comfortable using decision making tools to evaluate the ideas, prioritize tasks and solve problems. Much is accomplished and team satisfaction and loyalty is high.

 

Since working as part of a team can improve learning and is a much needed skill in today’s workplace, some team exercises should be included in the classroom. With well planned out tasks, careful guidance, and close observation, instructors can make team exercises extremely valuable learning experiences.

 

Resources:

Matera, M. Explore like a Pirate. Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc. 2015. Print.

https://www.nde-ed.org/TeachingResources/ClassroomTips/Teamwork.htm

Week 8 Reflection

This week we talked about the language of learning, which is a student centric focus. Matera explain characteristics that are common in successful people. As I mentioned in my post, children are sponges – they reflect our behaivor, lanauage, and actions. If we have a bad attitude, then they will too. Positive attitudes, encouragement, and praise are keys to a successful classroom.

 

This week, I learned from my peers:

  • Erika used an analogy of a growth mindset when we believe that we don’t have limits and can achieve anything, then we will be successful.
  • Amanda used this week’s topic in her classroom. I think it is a great when I see my peers exercising what we learn.
  • Sam talked about how praise and encouragement are keys to a successful classroom.

Week 8 The Language of Learning

Essential question: How do you or might you use language to change the way that your students think about learning in the classroom?

 

In Matera’s book, Explore Like a Pirate, he talks about the ten qualities highly successful people have in common: Confidence, Creativity, Enthusiasm, Effort, Focus, Resilience, Curiosity, Dependability, and Empathy. I think he is a “glass is half full” kind of person. The traits that he mentions are strong qualities that affect people in a positive. That type of positivity can grow on a person; they will gravitate toward those characteristics.

 

We can take these same type of qualities and implement them in Gamification.

  • Confidence – shows when students can take risks in the game that they would not normally take in real life
  • Creativity – is acted out when a student uses critical thinking to solve problems and might have to taken several different angles until they find one to complete a challenge
  • Enthusiasm – is shown when a student fails at a challenge but their growth mindset drives them to continue until they complete a challenge
  • Effort – is the energy required to complete a challenge
  • Focus – is the motivation required to complete a challenge
  • Resilience – is when student’s bounce back from failing a challenge but continues
  • Curiosity – interest needed to complete complex challenges
  • Dependability – is being able to trust your team member
  • Empathy – the understanding that is needed with team work

 

“Kids start to adopt this language and take it on their own. For me, that’s the mind-blowing thing, when kids start to apply purpose-driven learning in their own responses, without that being required of them. When they start talking, in a student reflection, about how they’ve seen over the course that they’ve developed their own confidence in themselves and in their talents. They see that it’s about applying themselves, it’s about putting focused effort toward a goal. It’s about being dependable and bringing their best to class every day. I think that’s just mind blowing, when students use this language, and it’s become internalized for them” (Matera).

Children are sponges, they adapt to their surroundings. Therefore, it is no surprise that Matera would state that kids adopt to this language. Show a young student a dance, new slang, or a new way to draw a bunny – they will master the task and add their own spin. This is what the author is trying to tell us. My thought is that when students are in a classroom setting that feels comfortable, accepting, and engaging – they will bloom even if the subject is a new complex math topic.

We can roll this concept into the games that we are creating. We should give the students opportunities to use the qualities that Matera discusses and praise students that master the challenges.

 

 

Resources:

Matera, M. Explore like a Pirate. Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc. 2015. Print.

http://www.coolcatteacher.com/e186/