Let's look at what other teachers are doing in the classroom. I will use three different case studies to explore ways in which other teachers are successfully engaging students in learning through the use of technology. All three case studies are live-linked. Take a look at them yourself if you'd like to learn more!
AccorEpic Fail or Win? Gamifying Learning in My Classroom
A professor in Teacher Education used a series of game-based learning strategies to help students master skills and processes. She used the 3Dgamelab and Gradecraft to help implement her strategies. Students could choose "quests" that took 20-25 minutes each to earn badges and experience points. I was drawn to this case study because I currently use a game-based learning app, Classcraft to work on classroom behavior issues, but do not use it to teach and track learning.
The piece I am most interested in pursuing in terms of augmenting my own use of classcraft has to do with how to use the software to personalize learning.
According to the article: "Personalizing Learning
The software provided large amounts of data on each student, allowing me to identify skills they were working on, how long they spent on a quest, badges earned, and standards met, as well as reading their feedback on each quest. All this data was used to further personalize and scaffold learning paths."
I know that Classcraft has a quest function and I would like to explore that option further. I like the idea of taking the attention off of grades and more on learning and this approach seems to help with this. The professor knew that students were learning when they completed the quests set forth for them.
Per the professor's own words, "I gamified my classroom in the hopes that students would no longer ask about their grades. Ultimately, students did focus more on academic and grit skills (especially when I began returning quests instead of simply assigning low grades to mediocre submissions). "
I found this article to be very helpful with tips, tricks and very specific recommendations on how to gamify the classroom. I rate this article 4 out of 5 even though it was more of an article than a case study.
Social Media: Making Connections Through Twitter
In this video, there were many different ways that social media was used to create connections, from teacher to teacher within a school district, students to student within the district, connecting students globally and locally, and connecting students to experts in their fields of study.
There is clear evidence of learning happening on so many levels with social media. For example, one student tweeted a question to an astronaut and to NASA.
"Can you see the night and day line from space?" a student asked Thornton when they were studying night and day. They both responded. They answered not only that question but others as well, and tweeted back a picture."
Students are excited to see that people are engaging with them, and that they can get responses from experts, like NASA. "They do appreciate the fact that people are responding to what they do," one teacher says.
When a teachers's class was studying simple machines a few years ago, one of his students asked, "What about a straw? Would a straw be like one of the simple machines?"
To aid their class discussion about the materials they were using, on teacher called attention to the drinking straw by tweeting out, "Would the straw be an example of one of the six simple machines?" This sparked an online debate between scientists around the globe and the students in that class were able to see that online conversation unfold.
I think the most exciting piece of this process has to do with students' questions being valued, heard and answered so quickly from a variety of experts. It lends a sense of authenticity and reward that is often missing when questions arise in class. I know that, in my Digital Media classes, we often have technical questions that come up.
Just last week, as students were submitting their game board projects to thegamecrafter.com to send the game to print, a handful of them encountered problems with uploading their files. The sizing of the files was off by a pixel and no matter how they tried to fix it, they were not getting results. Frustration was clearly mounting. I went on with a few students and entered the chat room on thegamecrafter and asked for help. Not only did we get our questions answered within seconds, but, about five professional board game designers became very curious as to what we were doing in class. It opened up conversations in ways that seem to blow the walls off of schools and I'm very excited to try more of this with Twitter.
Next time an interesting question pops up, I am going to stop what we are doing and open up the discussion to the rest of the world through social media. I like the idea of deepening the discussion, lending credibility to the original question and creating outside relationships with experts in their industries. This can be implemented tomorrow in my classroom and I think that will be my plan!
I rate this case study 5 out of 5!
In this study, not only where students asked to teach the class an important concept, but they were also asked to make sure that they addressed many different learners buy presenting a slide show, coupling that with handouts or notes that require some fill-in-blank spots to keep students engaged and creating a place for students to process the information through pencil and paper. Then students were asked to create some kind of engaging activity such as a crossword puzzle, word search, game or other interactive approach.
I personally love when my students are asked to bring something new to the class to learn and share that knowledge with us all. Last week I had one student teach about Bartyl's Taxonomy in Game play and one student teach about how the brain learns when we play video games. Both of these talks were highly engaging and seemed to keep the attention of ALL of my game design students.
After looking at this case study, I think I would like to more formally introduce this idea of students bringing their own lessons to the class and have them think through their presentation more deeply. I did notice that after both presentations, there was a lively discussion about the subject matter that seemed to engage most of the students in the class. It was a pleasant reminder that we ALL can benefit from taking on the teacher role and that asking a student to do more than just get up and talk asks them to stretch themselves as teachers and learners. I know I can put more structure in place in my classes to support this concept and allow students to shine. It's a very authentic way of assessing and practicing Oral Communication. I just wish I had videotaped both presentations. They were so good and shared information that I knew nothing about! It's so awesome to learn something new from my students!
I give this case study as 4 out of 5.
Lisa Gottfried is a CTE teacher with 20 years experience as CEO of her own Video and Motion Graphics Production house. She currently teaches Intro to Digital Media, Video Production and Game/3D Design. She loves her job and her students!