Sunday, July 12, 2015

Where was your shoe? Low Tech Game-ishness In Middle School

We have had an amazing week with our game design and reflection unit!

Kevin Hodgson has asked us to reflect on implications for our classrooms.

I have a few simple offerings that we have used with some success in our alternative middle school.  In our setting, we often have to go to great lengths to "engage"! And none of these ideas uses much technology.

1.  I highly recommend the book to the left.  It was suggested to us by a professional storyteller, Geraldine Buckley, who came to our school a couple of years ago to teach storytelling.  [She is amazing, by the way.  You should have her come to your school!]

This book gives a wide variety of interactive storytelling games, with many different entry level skills, and has a naturally high ceiling.  One of the games we start with is, "Where was your shoe?" We sit in a Circle, and everyone sticks his or her shoe into the center. We then take turns telling a story about a place our shoe has been.  This could be true or fanciful.  The point is to build comfort levels.

2.  Standardized testing - my co-teacher and I make a game of district-based timed assessments.  Each time we finish a section, students get a raffle ticket to put in a jar.  At the end , we pick names for a small prize.  This keeps things moving, gives some incentive to get through the sections, and makes a horrible experience more fun for all! 

3.  BIE Collaboration rubric - we use this team-wide and I HIGHLY recommend it. Particularly now that CCSS includes standards such as, "Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions," this rubric has been a godsend in terms of breaking down the skills of collaboration and helping students self-reflect.  And actually it is appropriate for all ages, including adults with some adaptation.

4.  Gamifiying for staff planning days - When my entire middle school staff was given a planning day together, our assistant principal visited every classroom, all of whom had substitute teachers because we were planning elsewhere, and told them that the day was now a game, and the class which earned the most points that day would earn a pizza party. This simple act made the day better for all involved and gamified what could have been a very stress-filled situation. 

Preparing creative meal!
5.  When we divided the middle school up into collaborative groups to do two Chopped-style team-building days with students, planning the day as a structured game led to higher levels of student engagement.  We did this one day with cooking, and another day with constructing a bird feeder.  Staff then voted on the best meal or the most well-designed bird feeder. Having the day laid out as a game ahead of time allowed students to have background knowledge of how the day would proceed, layered on top of the advance notice we always give for schedule changes and special activities.

Presenting meal to the judges.

None of this is revolutionary, but I wanted to share a few simple game-ish things that we have found success with. While it might sound as if a lot of extrinsic reward was involved, that element actually ended up playing very little part in the successes. The game aspects simply lowered stress levels, increased fun levels, and gave an implicit structure to a set time period. All of these things typically lead to more success for our students. The game aspect also led to a natural rallying together of students who normally do not like working together and who are generally unsuccessful in teamwork. In order to "win," they put aside some of the petty differences.

Our CLMOOC unit has given me many more tools and concepts for my Game Toolbox. As I reflect more on this experience, I plan to incorporate the Makes I have seen [and done] in order to more systematically plan for and gamify my classroom. Lots more thinking to do, but thank you for all of the great ideas you have shared, including your processes and "failures" iterations!

No comments:

Post a Comment