Going on the same tangent as my last post I wanted an engaging way to remind students of particular expectations that I have for the classroom. When searching the net I came across a couple of sites where teachers had used meme generators to create a visual reminder of such expectations. So I decided to have a go for myself and I came across a very simple one called:
This app has two main features that I liked. The first is that it is free, but I will admit it's free at a price as you do have to put up with advertisements for other games. However, these are easy to get rid of with a click of a button. The second is that it is a very easy format to follow with lots of graphics to choose from and examples to get you started. I would suggest for anyone interest go and have a play. Here is what I came up with ... let me know what you think.
Term 4 is going to be an interesting time for me as I will be taking over for another teacher who has just retired. After spending some handover time with them, I can see some issues arising due to differing teaching and classroom management styles. All understandable but it still begs the question of how I am going to deal with these issues in a bid to ensure that learning takes place in a collaborative environment (in this sense ‘collaborative’ means both the students and myself working together). Firstly, I know that anything I am going to implement is not going to be an overnight solution as so late in the year a lot of behaviours and attitudes have already been established. However, I believe that even though may be established we can still rock the foundations with some different and unique strategies. Hence, I have spent the last few weeks researching a classroom management game called ‘Classcraft’. This program is part of the movement that promotes ‘gamification’ in the classroom. Nina Ellis Frischmann from Pikes Peak Community College explains 'gamification' as ‘the application of game mechanics to non-game activities. Its underlying idea is to increase engagement.’ She goes on to say that its success lies in identifying key elements that are valuable to the students so that both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation can be initiated.
From a personal perspective, there are several dominant elements fuelling my desire to give this a go in the classroom. The first is that it creates a safe space for students to make a mistake; to me making mistakes, and then moving forward from those mistakes, is a central process in any learning. The next couple is based on the normative gaming mechanics of ‘immediate feedback’ and ‘manageable goals’. Within games, the feedback is normally given immediately; with the sole aim of helping the player fix 'or improve on previous performance.' For some reason, in this scenario, students’ openly accept this type of feedback when in some traditional classes it can be seen as secondary to a defining grade or score. The cycle surrounding 'feedback', actually, underpins the goal of the game and that is ‘beating the game.’ Players don't become overwhelmed by the game because the path to its completion is punctuated with mini goals; where players are given the opportunity to get 'feedback' that lets you know how far along you are and how well you are doing.
With all this in mind, why choose ‘Classcraft’? For me, it was a choice that came from wanting to positively change student behaviour, in a way, that they want to come and participate in class. OK, the next question is what is Classcraft? Classcraft is a piece of educational software that can turn the classroom into a large role-playing game. At the moment, Dan Crawley believes that there are 7,000 kids in more than 25 countries participating in the game; resulting in the successful creation of numerous collaborative and supportive learning environments. He credits this success to three factors which increase student engagement; 'the offering of significant rewards, providing a continuous feedback cycle and encouraging a classroom dynamic rooted in collaboration.'
Here is an introductory trailer for the software. Check it out and tell me what you think?
There are many things which have to be considered and dealt with before I make a final decision about the use of 'Classcraft'. The ones that seem to be most prominent in my mind centre around the facts that some of the rewards on offer can be, and are, outside the normal rules for a school as well as acknowledging that it is still only a tool and a tool is only as good as the user.
When starting to put together the clips and slideshows, mentioned in the last post, I made the point of ringing my daughter and letting her know the bill was coming. It can be fun to create these animations but it can also be a little frustrating when your ideas are curtailed by predetermined templates. Just recently I have developed the habit of always designing resources, lessons, programs etc backwards. To me its much easier to decide on an outcome and then have the sequence or story move towards achieving that outcome then the other way around. With this in mind when wanting to introduce vocab and the understandings that go along with it I find visual mediums one of the best formats. This is because the whole purpose is to help students make connections with what they know and what we are trying to tell them. Powtoon is great for this because everyone, no matter how old or how young, has had some positive experience of cartoons. Cartoons are a non-threatening way to pitch information to students as it allows for a childlike engagement. If you want to know a little more about this line of thought the blog post 'Cartoons improve society: 2 weird scientific facts' is a good one to read.
Like Animoto you don't have to be a technological genius to use the PowToon animation software but I do suggest going through the 'PowToon QuickStart Guide' as they are a good way to get started. Each short clip shows 'step by step' how to use the features; so if you are a visual learner, like myself, its perfect. However, I also learn from doing as I don't seem to have the patience to read large copious amounts of writing. Therefore my greatest suggestion is to just play with the software but be a aware there is a downside to this. At the moment Youtube has become the graveyard for some very sorry half finished clips that I am now presently looking at ways to delete. Anyone with ideas please put them in the comments.
Getting back to the software as you can see from this image the work area is pretty self explanatory and once again works along similar lines to PowerPoint. An aspect that I find really useful is that the styles are interchangeable and that props, backgrounds etc from one can be placed in another. In this way you do have some ways of customising the provided templates. The only thing that I have had a bit of trouble with is working out the timeline panel but as I have said earlier the only way to do it; is by doing it.
My latest clip is about 'code of conduct' and how it can be difficult to negotiate due to its vulnerability of different perspectives. Its not too bad but there are some things that I would like to add to it later on; one being a voice over (greatest deterrent the sound of my voice).
I am really interested to know if people have used the resources that I have created or done something similar. If you have please leave ideas on how you have incorporated them into your lessons. For me, I would love this site to turn into a platform of collaboration where ideas are shared and tested.
Hi, my name is Donna Stanmore and I am a secondary H.S.I.E teacher who loves all the humanity subjects. However, I have spent most of my career teaching both History and Geography.