JK Rowling says, “Something magical happens when you read a good book.”
Tisha Richmond’s book Make Learning Magical: Transform Your Teaching and Create Unforgettable Experiences in Your Classroom is a book that will inspire and ignite. I first met Tisha through the weekly #XPLAP Twitter chat and was always enamored with the pictures and ideas she shared on Twitter regarding gamifying her culinary classes. I was honored when she contributed a chapter in my book Gamify Literacy (ISTE, 2017) on the culinary missions her students embark on each semester. Her passion and commitment to education is contagious. Taking cues from Mary Poppins and Mr. Rogers, she shows us that play, laughter, and fun is necessary for learning.
Make Learning Magical is filled with amazing magical learning experiences. She sprinkles joy and love in all that she creates. The seven components she writes about in her book and ones that I will continue to adopt in my own teaching include:
Memorable Beginnings – Warm welcomes, entertaining hooks, passion and enthusiasm are important in creating a classroom community. I love that Tisha has a coffee bar in her classroom and rewards students with a trip to the coffee bar for winning special challenges. Think about the vibe in your classroom and what kinds of activities you can do in your classroom to build a spirit of community and belonging.
Authenticity and Agency – Kindness, gratitude, and passion are important, even more so, giving students voice in the classroom. Teachers need to provide more hands-on activities and connect with students to personalize learning.
Gamified Experiences – Immersive learning happens in Tisha’s culinary class. She has gamified each of her classes from Masterchef and the Great American Food Truck Race. She uses Mystery Boxes and mini games to promote learning and critical thinking. She deconstructs basic games and shows you how to design them into content specific learning opportunities.
Innovation – “Thinking about things differently, shaking up the status quo, and devising new and better ways of teaching – is how we make learning magical.” It is about being open to using technology in innovative ways and adapting existing things (and even lessons) for new purposes.
Creativity, Collaboration, and Curiosity – Creating missions for students to demonstrate their learning and go above and beyond the required curriculum is another gasified element in Tisha’s classroom. She allows students to create videos and other artifacts to showcase their learning and talents.
Authentic Audience – School today is about real and relevant. The assignments that students create should help them not only get a grade in the class but also give them skills and knowledge they need to succeed outside of the classroom. Meaningful learning experiences are key. Students aren’t only creating for the teacher but for a wider audience and build connections.
Legacy – “Every day we have the power to transform students’ lives.” How do you celebrate student successes and how can you help your students realize they have worth?
The new year has just started and our resolutions are in place to be better in the new year. Transforming our classrooms into a magical space where students feel valued and heard is important in building community and making learning happen. Tisha’s book has give me some new ideas how I can adapt my current practices and games in my classroom to spark magic, play, and meaning everyday.