EDET 679 Week 7: How do you or might you use language to change the way that your students think about learning in the classroom?

Initial Post Week 7

EDET679 with Dr. Graham

by Aleta May

Essential Question: Week Seven: 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 order to set the tone for a student-centered classroom, is important to spend the first week of a semester focusing on relationship building. In contrast to relationship building, teachers usually focus on routines and clear expectations (Tucker, 2016). Although routines and clear expectations are important, relationship building should at least be the primary focus. Tucker (2016) referred to this link that is not designed for the high school classroom, but were 36 questions that gave her a great place for students to get to know each other: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/fashion/no-37-big-wedding-or-small.html . Tucker used these with index cards, one question per card, then had students pair up for “four minutes to ask and answer its question; then students rotated to different partners” (p. 87). These questions could be put in an online space where they choose two or three to answer—in writing or in an audio recording.

Another example for beginning with a student-centered classroom is using Socrative’s Space Race for group quizzes that have 20 questions common to the interest of high school students. “. . . students work to answer in groups of four. Groups compete against each other. . .” (p. 88). I found a pdf guide for socrative: http://www.socrative.com/materials/SocrativeUserGuide.pdf


Image by nicolehub.com; found at Bing—Classroom Space Race (socrative)

Next—I explored student-centered teaching (facilitating)/learning and words related to this (in contrast to tradition teaching/learning) by reading about and exploring vocabulary.com.

Vocabulary.com is an example of using an online tool to gamify the classroom (older students because of adds) in a manner that students can join the class by visiting a pre-approved invitation URL (they will need to create a vocabulary.com account as well as the teacher):  Like this–http://vocab.com/join/V9K0GC

Independent and flexible learning opportunities were effectively added to vocabulary learning that has not only an integrated dictionary, but can be developed into challenges, use a visual context (I didn’t explore that far—but maybe it can be added in by the teacher if it is purchased), repetition, context, “immediate feedback, feeling of accomplishment, and success of striving against a challenge and overcoming it” (Abrams & Walsh, 2014, p. 50). Non-examples would include look up the word in a dictionary section only or “shooting-based and time-based games [that] distract[ed] students from focusing on the vocabulary at hand” (Abrams & Walsh, p. 50). Repetition is also in this game in that a word bank of missed words is built up for practice.

I went to this site to use the trial version. First, I read the word within an example sentence. Next, I read the word and chose one from four answers, an example phrase came up. A more in depth and in this case, a more historical example for how the word could be used was included.

When I started building up points in Word in the Wild, I collected 100 points for each correct word. When I got one wrong, I did simply did not receive any points. By clicking on Word in the Wild (the word was used in a sentence) I received 50 points after getting the answer correct.

“Gamification is rooted in problem solving” . . . in contrast “edutainment feeds the player information, rather than encouraging curiosity and exploration” (Abrams & Walsh, 49). Other rewards students can earn are: “badges, like the green crown (signifying a perfect round), numbered medallions that indicate correct consecutive answers. Learning by doing is much more effective than just memorizing—Gee, 2007 was quoted in this article; Gee has conducted a lot a research about the social aspects of gaming. Students are motivated when there is interactivity and engagement. Sara is a teacher who created Vocabulary.com custom word lists, developed from class readings and used this method for all of her new ligerature units. She found that bringing her vocabulary into the game context, was “engaging her students in collaborative play for 40 minutes of the 50-minute class period” (Abrams & Walsh, p. 53).

In summary of the above article, I have compiled a list of student-centered facilitating and teaching above by making words from my reading of this article bold: independent, flexible, repetition, feeling of accomplishment, challenge, curiosity, exploration, interactivity, and engagement.

Though 15 minutes, this You Tube describes the Student-Centered learning classroom:

A student-driven learner needs to be creative, have curiosity, put in effort and willing to share in self-discovery (Matera, 2015, pp. 38-39). Even from the beginning, students need to address and overtime ask their own questions, learn how to research for answers and interpret their findings. When students take responsibility for their own learning, it becomes engaging—especially when they are allowed the freedom to take off into a direction of personal interest within site of the big goal or idea. Learning is for real-life problems. This inquiry based learning style builds or constructs from their personal previous learning. Students build learning, knowing that they can apply what they learn to their own lives—motivational and a growth mindset (Dole, et al., 2016).

Students who have not experienced this style of learning may have a fixed mindset (this is as far as I am able to learn). Therefore, “their learning must be highly relevant . . . If I try at this, will I succeed? Or will I fail again? (Nolan, et al., p. 43). Extremely important skills that go with student-centered learning include these words as well: time management, organization, self-monitoring, and persistence during independent work” (Nolan, et al., p. 44). The authors of who wrote this article suggest a blended learning environment. I believe a gamified classroom brings out the best of all of these. Matera discusses the S.A.L.L. (Second Attempt In Learning) to avoid the pitfalls of the fixed mindset. Students can redo or try another way to learn a project or answer a question in order to reach mastery according to their instructional flow range.


Abrams, S. and Walsh, S. (2014). Gamified vocabulary online resources and enriched language learning. IJournal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 58(1). International Reading Association, (pp. 49-58).

Andersen, Paul at TEDxBozeman, April 24, 2012. Retrieved 10-21-16.

Dole, S., Bloom, L., & Lowalske, K. (2016). Transforming pedagogy: Changing perspectives from teacher-centered to learner-centered. The Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning.

Image by nicolehub.com; found at Bing—Classroom Space Race http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=Classroom+Space+Race&FORM=IRIBEP

Matera, M. (2015). Explore like a pirate. San Diego, CA: Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc.

Nolan, J., Preston, M., & Finkelstein, J. (2012). Can you dig/it? Kappan.

Socrative.com User Guide retrieved 10/20/16 at: http://www.socrative.com/materials/SocrativeUserGuide.pdf

Tucker, C. (2016). Don’t waste the first week: Establish relationships, not just routines. The Techy Teacher. ASCD/222.ASCD.ORG.

This link was embedded in the article written by Catlin Tucker. Retrieved on 9/20/16 from:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/fashion/no-37-big-wedding-or-small.html

Wright, Shelley at TEDxWestVancouverED:  The power of student-driven learning: June, 2013.

2 thoughts on “EDET 679 Week 7: How do you or might you use language to change the way that your students think about learning in the classroom?

  1. agryga

    You wrote: “Although routines and clear expectations are important, relationship building should at least be the primary focus.” I agree with your statement. I always feel that the routines and procedures can be taught in the moment. As the problems/issues occur I address them and use it as a teachable moment. It is very important to build relationships with students and to allow students to build relationships in the classroom with their peers.

    1. aletakmay Post author

      Using teachable moments are an excellent way to address problems and issues that arise. In a gamified environment, behavior issues could be addressed in small group discussions and a social problem solving environment that the students address.


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