Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Setting the Stage: Preparing Students for Gamification

My goal for this quarter is gamifying our blended reading groups. Gamification is incredibly motivating for students, and I am already beginning to see the benefits of using Classcraft with my learners. Before beginning though, there were a number of foundational skills and experiences that my students needed in order to find success while learning independently in a blended model.

Online Learning Skills

I remember learning last year that we read online text much differently than we read print text. It stands to reason that students need specific skills to learn independently online. I applied what I learned about creating online content and then taught my students a few specific skills to prepare them for their online learning.

First, I had to teach students the difference between watching videos for entertainment and engaging in video content for learning. It seems obvious, but students need practice engaging with media by pausing, taking notes, making sketches, asking questions, and finding connections.

Second, I’ve helped my students develop visual literacy skills through graphic novels so that they can effectively learn information from visual sources. Third, we have spent quite a bit of time self-assessing our work this year using rubrics and learning progressions. As a result, students have developed a self-awareness of their learning tendencies and self-monitoring skills needed to learn independently online.

Experience with Tools

I have been intentionally been using a variety of technology tools in class this year. From our district learning hub, student blogs, Storybird, Pixton, Blabberize, Google Classroom and Flipgrid, we have been learning and demonstrating our understanding in a variety of different ways. When creating online learning tasks, I mostly use tools my students are familiar with so that they can successfully complete independent tasks.

When introducing each new tool, I encouraged my students to explore a little bit before I modeled using the tool for our learning. I did this to allow students the opportunity to discover new tools, not just “use an app.” I want my students to know how to learn about a technology tool without me directly by their side. That way they have confidence in their tech skills when learning on their own.

Quest Support

I learned last year that it is critical to have students solving their own technical problems. My goal is to teach small groups while students are learning independently online, so I can’t continually provide tech support. This year, I have identified four students who excel at problem solving. These kiddos are able to help their classmates when they run into problems. My quest support students are also available to explain learning tasks when students are struggling, freeing me up to teach guided reading groups.

A Note on Managing Personalized Blended Learning

Part of what makes using Classcraft so great is that students can work at their own pace to complete tasks and objectives. While this is great for my students, it poses a challenge in managing the learning of my 33 students. For that reason, I created our Classcraft board. It serves as our main form of communication for the tasks were are learning.

Student have a magnets with their picture next to their team shield. When they finish a task that I need to check, they move their picture to the scroll. Once I check their work, I move their picture to the treasure chest or book to show that they have moved on to the next task or need to go back, review the feedback I left for them, and try again. This board also helps limit how many tasks students can finish in one week so that my learners are encouraged to complete work well rather than rushing to try to get ahead.

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