Author Archives: aletakmay

About aletakmay

I am a teacher and Reading Specialist in a rural Alaskan village. My roles change as the needs of the school come up. Sometimes I am directly teaching while at others I am supporting teachers or coordinating testing at site.

Week 11 Blog Post EDET679: What is the game you are thinking of writing up for your classroom?

Essential Question: What is the game you are thinking of writing up for your classroom?

My game will be interrelated activities that guide students through a book and use Classcraft as a platform for collecting and using points throughout.

The book read in class blends well with the avatars in Classcraft: Spirit Animals Wild Born, by Brandon Mull 680L ages 8 to 10. In our dual language program, this book would not be used until 5th grade; they and can begin to understand the plot and characters of a novel too. Within an engaging learning context, students create their avatars (also earning clothes and powers for the avatars), earn points, level up, and help each other by working in learning groups and sharing points or powers.

As a teacher, my primary goal is increased reading, writing and vocabulary skills. I have added outside activities that tie in with these goals; such as writing a letter to the character, and gaming with vocabulary words from the text to build their comprehension, chapter by chapter, within the book.

First, students will need to learn about how earning powers work, learn about leaderboards, different types of points. This is a natural Segway for working in groups helping and sharing). A great introduction for the students will be to go to the gaming site already build for Spirit Animals Wild Born. http://spiritanimals.scholastic.com/play

At this site, students learn about the ceremony that all 11 year olds participate in find out whether they have a spirit animal; they drink Nectar as part of the process. After reading two chapters, they can put points from this game into the Classcraft platform.

Some activities will include Character Bingo, and a Wild Born Story Map Discussion Game. The game uses sets of cards; for each of the main characters and guides students to notice character differences. Meanwhile, they will be earning points to put into the Classcraft platform. Here is the scale:

The Scale will be:

HP (Health Points) 20

XP (Experience Points) 0

AP (Action Points) 30

GP (Gold Pieces) 90

PP (Power Points)

After using index cards to quiz each other, students will have reviewed chapters to answer questions. Students will use Jeopardylabs.com to ask a question that goes with the answer posed. : jeopardylabs.com/play/spirit-animals-wild-born-1

There are two ways where vocabulary will be studied by repeated use of the words, as opposed to only learning words in context. The point of extra vocabulary practice is acknowledging that our English Language Learners need multiple opportunities to practice using words from the context to learn them.

I will connect https://www.vocabulary.com/account/classes/ to the reading of the book and collecting Experience Points for vocabulary activities.

Students will join the class by using this URL: http://vocab.com/join/D3PWVD

Students will also participate in a spirit animal quest that will help them focus on why the author may have chosen certain animals for the novel. They will become familiar with how a Ram, Arax, would be able to creep along the rocky heights of mountains and why the author might add in that Arax had the power to stir up the wind. Snow Leopard Quest 1 BBC Planet Earth—(April 10, 2011) 15’  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8dBhHXPt98

When Abeke wrote to the Greencloaks at: http://spiritanimals.scholastic.com/forums/topics/1387

Students were provided with an example for how to write to a character with or without their spirit animal.

My next focus is to apply specific 5th grade Alaska Standards for the reading, writing, and vocabulary standards. An overall technology and English Language Learner (ELL) standard will tie to these activities as well.

References 

Bruder, P. (March 2015). The Education Digest, pp. 56-60. www.eddigest.com

ClassCraft: https://help.classcraft.com/hc/en-us/sections/204016697-Classcraft-101

Classcraft article. Understanding points (HP,XP, AP, GP, PP): https://help.classcraft.com/hc/en-us/articles/218406197-Understanding-points-HP-XP-AP-GP-PP-

Crawley, D. (May 31, 2014). Classcraft makes the classroom a giant role-playing game—with fermium pricing http://venturebeat.com/2014/05/31/classcraft-role-playing-classroom/view-all/

DeVere Wolsey, T., Smetana, L, & Grisham, D. L. (2015). The Reading Teacher, 68(6), pp. 449-458.

Dolasia, M. (March 30, 2014). Classcraft makes learning fun by ‘gamifying’ the classroom https://www.dogonews.com/2014/3/30/classcraft-makes-learning-fun-by-gamifying-the-classroom

Education Central (2015) by way of Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT).

Snow Leopard Conservancy in Ladakh, India: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8dBhHXPt98

Spirit Animals Website: http://spiritanimals.scholastic.com/

Vocabulary.com: https://www.vocabulary.com/account/classes

Wolsey, T., Simetana, L. & Grisham, D. L. (2015). Vocabulary plus technology. The Reading Teacher, 68(6).  literacyworldwide.org

Week 10 Reflection EDET679 EQ focus on how to use the rubric as it stands or to revise parts of it.

Aleta May

Gamification and Open Education EDET679 with Dr. Graham

Week 10 Reflection

This week I started to consider how the rubric would work for me by starting a draft of my plan. This led me to weaving two websites together for the students; the platform Classcraft and Vocabulary.com. I am still exploring the opportunities for using both.

After reading blog comments, I too realized that the story / narrative is such an enormous part of trying to pull all of this together, I wanted to find a way to tame it down. Yes, I see the importance of a storyline / narrative in that themes seem very cohesive. Yet, I believe this takes time and development through ongoing learning. Therefore, finding a way to narrow this down would really help.

Reading posts from people in class this week also seemed to bring about a great review of learning thus far. I needed this week’s blog post to help me with reviewing the various structures and importance of many elements to make a successful project.

I also noticed that coming from the perspective of a multiple subject teacher is different than that of teachers whose topics are more mastery based. Yet, there are some areas of every subject that must be mastered; so finding fun and meaningful ways to accomplish mastery as much as possible, before the spiral “waits” for another day to revisit that topic in a deeper way, is also important.

Apparently, some of the question in a gamified classroom is how much deep learning needs to take place at this fork in the road for this topic versus, how much mastery through fun practice needs to happen? There is always some overlap, but one or the other usually presides.

Comments I made to blog posts:

Kate,

I think your point about number 5 is well made. One thing I considered here when I read it though, is that we are building a gamified environment in the classroom; so the focus is not on the game only. The way you divided this up into components, mechanics and dynamics, including many examples for each, was very helpful to me. It looks like you not only summarized the entire book we read for class, but added so much more support for your points here. A point can be made for drawing students in initially by something that is familiar for them; games and leveling up; then drawing them over into quests and discussions as well.

Gerald,

In your first sentence you brought out that you really don’t care about storyline or narrative. I think you are making a good point, in that I need to reconsider different player types and what does or does not motivate them as learners in class.

One thing about Minecraft is that it has the potential for being used to express comprehension of a story / narrative students are reading about. Maybe the story or narrative is for bringing together a theme in a classroom. However, this is no small task and teachers, in my view, need time to develop this aspect as he/she tries out different gameplay elements and mechanics.

One thing I notice is that students who are using a reading program, called Imagine Learning, are filling in skills they missed and that the badges earned toward playing games that practice words they need review on. This is motivational—but would be more effective if there were units of theme that tied the different section together—especially for those game player types that do learn from the emotional and social aspects in a story line.

Mariah,

Yes, exceeds does look like a lot for being new at this. I believe that the nature of beginning small and developing connections begins with a plan. On the other hand, I also believe that a plan develops along the way as we observe student learning. Maybe gamifying a classroom can be viewed as an overarching theme that ties together centers across the classroom. Gamifying includes technology but also doing a lot of the normal activities; such as, developing think-pair-share, inside/outside vocabulary practice, and other discussion or physical movement activities that lead students toward deeper thinking.

I have struggled with many of the same thoughts you are describing. As I write, I am thinking that gamifying is one part of the story of developing student engagement. There are so many learning strategies right now coming at us as teachers; such as for sheltered instruction for English Language Learners, that we become the artist and start creating.

Genevieve,

I like that you reminded us that Matera’s four aspects of gaming are theme, setting, characters and action. This presupposes that there will be a narrative connection. Maybe the development of a gamified classroom can take another direction. When I though of a gamified classroom as I wrote my thoughts, I started to consider including more than one subject area for elementary levels.

The idea you gave to us in setting up an XP grading system is a very nice and simple framework; which students need in order to set their own goals, and teachers need in order to avoid getting too entangled in picking apart grades and discouraging students.

Heather,

It is certainly a tempting focus to think of this “final project” as something that needs many details. I considered this as I started to write a draft. This project can get very big, very fast. Maybe the rubric needs to have more generalized alternative statements—the details are helpful in many ways, but if we are also permitted to follow each section of that rubric in more general terms, we will have a framework with some details.

I do remember stories being the favorite part of one of my college classes. One teacher introduced many classes with a related story as an example to draw in in and prepare us for the following topic. My concern is that while developing a storyline, I am spending much, much time trying to pull every aspect of the gamified classroom environment together—almost as if I am writing a novelette for the class.

Initial Blog for Week 10 EDET679: Essential Question: How would you change the rubric for the final project to better reflect what is important in games?

Initial Blog for Week 10

Gamification and Open Learning EDET679 with Dr. Graham

Aleta May

Essential Question: How would you change the rubric for the final project to better reflect what is important in games?

The best way for me to think about this question is to try my ideas out by starting a rough draft of my project plan. Also, I consider in my reflective thoughts what I have learned this semester about what makes a gamified classroom environment. Then I look at the rubric points I posted below from our class. I aim for the exceptional column, yet in some areas may reach meets, since this style of teaching and planning is new for me.

Gamification Plan—Rough Draft

The book read in class blends well with the avatars in ClassCraft: Spirit Animals Wild Born by Brandon Mull 680L ages 8 to 10

Since the book I have selected is an animal fantasy, the idea of using Classcraft matches. Crawley (2014) describes it this way: “Warriors get to eat in class, mages can teleport out of a lecture, and healers can ask if an exam answer is correct.” This platform is a way to engage students, in a learning context that is supportive. Students even have the option of buying pets and gear for their Classcraft avatars—this would likely apply more to high schoolers who may have gotten an iTunes account budget given to them.

Students are motivated by leveling up in the game by earning points that add to group points; therefore, they help each other out, creating a more collaborative environment.

I like the plan of teachers being able to interact with students; but to start with, I will keep the use of this platform simple.

So far in Classcraft, I have set up students who are currently in 5th grade at our school. The Class name is Spirit Animals Wild Born, based on the book they will be reading. I decided to set up the Classcraft platform in a manner where I can send messages to class members, create characters for students on a dashboard for tracking points (badges), and manage class content.

I will connect https://www.vocabulary.com/account/classes/ to the reading of the book and collecting Experience Points for vocabulary activities. At vocabulary.com, I have access to either creating my own vocabulary lists or using ready-made lists. This site found vocabulary words for each chapter of Spirit Animals: Wild Born. Points earned can be converted to badges on the Classcraft site. This may be connected to time spent practicing vocabulary.

Students will join the class by using this URL: http://vocab.com/join/D3PWVD

When students visit the URL above, they will automatically be enrolled in the class. If they do not have a Vocabulary.com account, they will be able to easily create one. They words will be from Chapter 1 of Spirit Animals Wild Born. This site has a place to create a list called vocabugrabber.

Before-, during- and after-reading activities are important factors in learning vocabulary. “Word learning, in many ways, occurs as a result of repeated encounters with the term under study” (Wolsey, Smetana, & Grisham, p. 1).  These thoughts combine to mean that although practicing words in a vocabulary.com context is a good thing, making sure that the words are tied to the book context and discussed among students is another way. They may use sentence frames to talk to each other in small groups or pairs to practice the words after being referred to that work in context.

Here are other platforms students may use to upload audio files, images or text. Along the way, students will be asked in a quest to visit on or two of these sites and produce a way to practice words together:

www.thinglink.com/edu (sidebar)

office.microsoft.com/en-us/powerpoint/

www.prezi.com

www.voicethread.com

www.popplet.com (video without audio on YouTube)

The point is to get students more “intrigued by words and ideas, [so] they dig more deeply” (Wolsey, Smetana, & Grisham, p. 1).

If students continue to struggle with a word, they will be encouraged to visit Wikipedia. Here is an example of looking up the word apothecary from the book that has a picture description: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apothecary

A list of the words is provided and a title may be given.

The words are then assigned to a class the teacher has created.

Socially, this can be combined with another school to track progress on Leaderboards Daily, Weekly, or Monthly.

To engage students further, There is a place to build a quest at Classcraft. Of three choices, I clicked on Adventures in the Wild Boss Battles because it reflects the nature of the book I am using where the spirit animals are from the wild. There are 9 avatars to choose from called Bosses. I titled the activity as Spirit Animals: Wild Born, Chapter 1 to match the vocabulary.com title.

Next, I chose a whole number to represent a Boss HP; I chose 100. Then there is a place to ask questions of the students. Since this is Chapter 1, naming characters that match spirit animals should be included. Then a link could be added that takes students to images or sites that match with what is read, so they may answer questions.

One consideration I have made is to also include the use of OSMOS math with iPads and connect every correct answer with an opportunity to points toward build badges or XPs with names that extend the theme of Spirit Animals to math. The point here is to add in a social small group math activity that uses technology equipment for independence and motivation toward a more gamified overall classroom. The idea is to expand a theme across a class—especially since my project is an elementary 5th grade project.

Skill scaffolding will include learning vocabulary words as well as building math skills.

References

ClassCraft: https://help.classcraft.com/hc/en-us/sections/204016697-Classcraft-101

Crawley, D. (May 31, 2014). Classcraft makes the classroom a giant role-playing game—with fermium pricing

Vocabulary.com: https://www.vocabulary.com/account/classes

Wolsey, T., Simetana, L. & Grisham, D. L. (2015). Vocabulary plus technology. The Reading Teacher, 68(6). literacyworldwide.org

So far, the Rubric created below looks like it will fit my classroom gaming plan.

  1. Clear purpose that correlates with multiple learning objectives standards pertaining to coursework (20)

Exceeds  The game requires deep understanding of multiple learning objectives and provides opportunities to demonstrate higher level thinking.

  1. Narrative Context/Storyline (20)

Exceeds  Provides opportunity for the player to explore other avenues of learning/adventure. Allows the player to deepen knowledge about various aspects of the game and naturally develops a deeper understanding of the context or storyline.

  1. Well-organized, risk oriented problem solving (20)

Exceeds  Problem solving opportunities are recursive and transformative. The player is able to finish the game with an added skill set or transformed world-view. The user is able to create their own environment and scenarios that can be shared with other users. Users elicit their own discussion about the gaming experience.

  1. Engaging and Motivating (20)

Exceeds  The game is so engaging it is difficult to stop playing. The games learning environment offers an ideal mix of fun and challenging material. The game provides and excellent risk/reward system.

  1. Interactivity (Collaboration): students are able to interact with other and the game (20)

Exceeds  Interaction with others and/or with the game occurs regularly during game play. Collaboration is encouraged and allows the player to progress in the game while receiving support from other players and the game.

  1. Skill scaffolding and mastery (20)

Exceeds  The level of challenge provided by the game and player ability converges quickly. The difficulty level and pace of the game adapt to the player. Different levels of the game build upon prior learned skills.

  1. Encouragement and Feedback (20)

Exceeds  Feedback is immediate and specific, offering support for the player at least 60% of the time, allowing the player to learn from his/her mistakes.

  1. Utility (20)

Exceeds  Game play is intuitive and requires little or no administrative guidance for use. Game play encourages modification and customization, allowing for imagination and ingenuity. Examples might include: creating an avatar or some design elements like building/creating a home.