This Thanksgiving I am grateful for the personal learning community that I have. There are so many people who I have met through Twitter, at conferences, and memberships of educational organizations like NCTE and ISTE who have inspired me and influenced my teaching practices. When people share ideas through these communities, you are able to see people, as well as ideas, grow into amazing projects and activities that help students meet excellence.
This blog post is an ode to all the amazing educators who make up my personal learning network and who have helped me grow ideas. When I first started writing this blog, it was a space to catalogue activities, ideas, and insight with the hope to provide encouragement for other educators to create intellectually stimulating and engaging activities with your students. In the past six years it has evolved into so much more.
While at NCTE this past month I presented a game design workshop for teachers. One part of the workshop included a station rotation activity. For forty minutes participants moved around the room to five different stations playing games and discussing game based learning activities. I was inspired by this activity after attending a station rotation workshop in my school led by our technology specialist, Kristie Orlando @OrlandoKristie. She said that Caitlyn Tucker and Jennifer Cronk were two educators who gave her insight to build her own stations and lead a fruitful workshop. I will add that Caitlyn Tucker’s On Your Feet Guide to Station Rotation is a valuable resource. Kristie Orlando’s formatting of the station directions, cues, and food for thought was the catalyst for my own station design. I adapted two of her stations and add some of my own personal touches to meet the objectives of the game design workshop. This is one example how ideas grow.
Whereas Kristie used Headbanz in her station rotation to encourage participants to use mini-games in their classroom, I used the Heads Up game as one of my stations.
Heads Up is a game I play with my middle school students. Currently, my students are reading different dystopian novels and I made a set of Heads Up cards for them to play this mini-game in our classroom for review and check for understanding. There is a generic set of dystopian words and then sets for The Giver, The Reader, Unwind, Animal Farm, and Scythe. If you would like a copy of these cards to use with your own students, click here and print out your own set, laminate them, and have fun!
Another station that Kristie had us do was “Questions in A Jar,” students went around and answered questions about active learning strategies. This is a great activity to evoke conversation in small group and I wanted to add a little more of a game element to it. I built off the questions in a jar and added a Hot Potato to this station. Haven’t you ever seen something online and thought, “What a great idea. Now, if I add this or personalize it this way, it elevates everything.”
The questions that were utilized at this station were questions derived from Tisha Richmond’s Make Learning Magical: Transform Your Teaching and Create Unforgettable Experiences in Your Classroom (2019). Tisha’s book has great ideas about gamification as she describes how she gamified her own culinary arts classroom. Tisha also contributed to my first book, Gamify Literacy (2017). Some of these questions include: What is your favorite television reality or game show? How could you use challenges from it to create fun and educational experiences for your students? How can we harness the motivation that keeps our students up far past their bedtimes to play their favorite video game and bring it into the classroom?
A third station I offered was inspired by another awesome educator, Mandy Ellis @Mandyeellis. Mandy wrote Lead with Literacy: A Pirate Leader’s Guide to Developing a Culture of Readers (A Lead Like a PIRATE Guide) She blogged about a PD session she ran at her school that was based on the cooking show Chopped and the great ideas that emerged from this activity. Participants were given a “basket” of items that they needed to use to build a literacy based lesson. Mandy explains how she organized her stations on her blog and below are the directions to the Chopped station I adapted for this game design station rotation. I also share a link to Stefanie Crawford’s vlog how she creates Chopped style games in her classroom.
There are so many eduawesome teachers that share their brilliant ideas and motivate others.
The last two stations that were part of the game design station rotations, where two original stations I created to arouse critical thinking about gaming and game based learning. One station had teachers assess their player types using Bartle’s Inventory of Player Types and another station used speech and debate to build communication skills. This station is based off the game I Dissent.
Ideas grow, they are cultivated or a catalyst that initiates thinking into action. Sometimes ideas develop out of thin air and other times people, images, or places stir our beliefs and ignite new knowledge and understanding. As educators, we need to share our ideas so that we can continue to provide our students with the best practices they need to be champions themselves.