Explore Like a Pirate: Chapter 4

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Hi everyone!

Today we are continuing to read “Explore Like a Pirate”, by Michael Matera. Thanks to Rachael at Sweet Sweet Primary for putting this book linky together for us.

Today we explore chapter 4: Ahoy Mate! A New Language of Learning.

How many times have you heard…Is this being graded? Does this count as a grade? I know I can’t be the only one! My second graders are always asking me those questions. According to Michael Matera, “Layering the game over my entire course encouraged collaboration and offered a ton of self-exploration. Learning was no longer about earning a grade; it was about discovery and growth.”

There are 10 words used to define and drive Purpose-Driven Learning.
Those 10 words are; confidence, creativity, enthusiasm, focus, resilience, initiative, curiosity, dependability, and empathy.

By using these 10 words repeatedly throughout class, comments, and report cards students understand the words and use them to describe their own learning.

Confidence
When students explore, they become more confident and become risk takers. Once a child is confident, they know how to begin and are willing to begin a task without asking, “But how do I start?”

Creativity
It is important to assign open ended questions so that students can be creative in their answers.

Enthusiasm
As educators, it is our job to create work that the students can be enthusiastic about. We also need to remind students that they need to be enthusiastic about all task, challenging or not.

Effort
Students need to be taught to also put forth 100% effort. Not only effort important in the classroom, but in all areas of life.

Focus
Focusing is extremely important. We all have trouble focusing at one time or another. Students need to be reminded to focus on the task at hand and to control his or her thoughts.

Resilience
It is o.k. to fail. We want to teach our students that we not only learn from our successes, but also from our failures. When we do fail, we have to keep on going and not give up. According to Michael Matera, once students know it is ok to fail and they are not being graded on the first or second attempt, their confidence grows and they learn the material or concepts. Resilience is about adapting and overcoming challenges, not just perseverance.

Initiative
Michael Matera talks about how by using games in the classroom, students develop the habit of initiative. They become better problem solvers and overcome obstacles and challenges.

Curiosity
The more curious our students are, the more they want to learn. The more they want to learn, the more passionate they become. The more passionate the students are, the better they learn the concepts or material.

Dependability
Students learn to depend on others and that others depend on them. Students come to class better prepared because they know that their teammates are counting on them.
This helps to promote a sense of community.

Empathy
We need to establish a safe environment where students can take risks. Students need to be taught how to listen to others and how to answer other’s questions. We need to set rules to develop respect of each other and each other’s opinions.

I can’t wait to share chapter 5 with you!

Thanks for stopping by and saying hi,

Rachel

Explore Like a Pirate: Chapter 3

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Hi everyone!

Today we are continuing to read “Explore Like a Pirate”, by Michael Matera. Thanks to Rachael at Sweet Sweet Primary for putting this book linky together for us.

Today we explore chapter 3: New World, Old World.

I love how Michael Matera begins this chapter.
He states, “As an educational explorer, you have creative confidence to forge out into the unknown. Trust in the process, and believe in yourself.”
This first sentence of chapter 3 really made me think. I think one reason that so many teachers do not try new strategies or playing games because there is the fear of the unknown. I know I have definitely been there? Have you?
There have been times when I wanted to to try something new and I stopped, unsure and not believing in myself or that something would work. Michael Matera is absolutely correct when he says that we have to “trust in the process, and believe in yourself.” Without those two things, we can not begin to gamify the classroom and bring our teaching into the New World!

According to Michael Matera, using gamification in the classroom will bring us from the Old World of teaching into the New World of teaching. Instead of controlling, we have have freedom and flexibility. Instead of producing followers, we will produce risk takers. Instead of a plotted path, there will be a sense of exploration and discovery. In the place of quiet compliance, there will be creative confidence. In the Old World, there was an automations of knowledge but in the New World we have independent artistic thinkers. We will also create heroes and a sense of wanderlust, spirit, and passion. These are all ways that every teacher wants to connect and inspire their students. I AM SOLD! 🙂

Another line that stood out for me was, “We are not teaching standards, we are teaching students-children who have passions, questions, and the drive to make a difference.” Too often, teaching the standards are thought of first. How can I teach the standards? What standard does this lesson teach? We have to remember that we are teaching students first. By gamifying the classroom, students become self motivated and overcome challenges. The children are invested in their learning. What teacher does not want his or her children to be self-motivated and invested in their learning?

As I continued reading chapter 3, I realized how once the children are familiar with the game setting or levels, it is easy to make a change. Often times we learn something new in at a conference, a meeting, or at staff development and we don’t implement it right away. We say, “I’ll wait for next semester, or next year.” Once our classroom is gamified, we don’t have to wait to make a change or to introduce something new that we learned. We can do use that strategy or new material the very next day! YES! I don’t know about you…but I know I am definitely guilty of not implementing something new until the next year. Do you do the same?

I love Michael Matera’s example of his scavenger hunt while studying Egypt. I never really thought of doing a scavenger hunt. I’m already thinking about how to incorporate a scavenger hunt with my kiddos. Have I mentioned that I am STILL in school. I have 5 days left. This might be a perfect time to try something new!

Any thoughts on how I can incorporate a scavenger hunt maybe in geometry with my 2nd graders? Maybe a shape is missing to construct a building and I can have riddles for the students to follow… HMMMM.

I can’t wait to share chapter 4 with you!

Thanks for stopping by and saying hi,

Rachel

Click below to go back to read what others have to say about chapter 3.
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Explore Like a Pirate: Chapter 2

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Hi everyone!

Today we are continuing to read “Explore Like a Pirate”, by Michael Matera. Thanks to Rachael at Sweet Sweet Primary for putting this book linky together for us.

Today we explore chapter 2: Tall Tales: Dispelling the Myths of Gamification.

According to Michael Matera, before we can begin gamification in our classrooms, we must first dispel the myths. This will ensure that teachers, students, parents, and administration have a positive experience with gamification.

Myth 1: Games are just for play. There is no challenge or educational rigor.
-Michael Matera writes about how by playing games, students learn from their mistakes, practice short and long term planning , and develop informational literacy skills. It is our job to create games that are engaging and rigorous. When sitting down to create games, we must consider the 3 Cs (content, choice, and challenge.) We want to think outside the box when planning and creating games for our students. First, we must think of the content that is being taught or that needs to be taught. Choice is the open-ended game model that students love. We need to challenge the students, just like the twists and turns in video games.

Myth 2: If I give them a badge or points, my class will be gamified.
Many times, teachers play games in the classroom where the students earn points or badges as they play. We think that this is enough, my students are playing games and having fun. I have also been guilty of this. Giving points or badges is simply not enough. When planning a game, there must be a purpose, goals, micr-goals, risks, challenges, and of course socialization.

Myth 3:It’s easy for you. It won’t work for me because I teach ______________.
Let’s be honest. I hear this statement all of the time. This statement can be heard in all schools and for any topic. Whenever something new is introduced or admin wants teachers to implement a strategy, I hear teachers say, “It won’t work for me because…” Often times, frustration or being overwhelmed leads to this statement. Sometimes it is the simple fact of a teacher not having the appropriate training.
According to Michael Matera, saying that it won’t work for you because of a grade or subject you teach is untrue. Teachers should be asking themselves how to connect to their students, not can I connect to my students.

Myth 4: You need to be a gamer to gamify your class.
According to Michael Matera, you do not need to be a gamer to gamify your class. He says you should download some apps and start playing them. As you play the games, keep a notepad handy so you can write down the structure, goals, and challenges.

Myth 5: Students should want to learn; I shouldn’t have to dress it up!
I have heard many people say “Students should want to learn.” I have heard this said by teachers, parents, and by administrations. I’ve heard counselors and psychologists say that children should want to learn and shouldn’t need to be extrinsically motivated. Don’t we all wish that we had a full class of students who were instrinsically motivated. That all students showed up to school everyday ready to learn and wanting to learn. My son, who is 10 hates school. He constantly asks, “Can I stay home from school?” He hates school and completing work, but is reading on an 11th grade level. I wish that some of his teachers had read this book and at least attempted to gamifiy their classroom. I’m sure he would have been engaged and it would have made a big difference in his attitude towards school.

Myth 6: Gamification is just playing games…
Gamification is not just playing board games. When planning, you take the game elements like challenges and goals and layer them over your content and standards being taught.

Myth 7: Girls don’t game.
I don’t even think I need to address this myth. Many of my girls play video games and many adult women I know also play video games. Maybe if I played more video games I would be more relaxed, like my husband. 🙂

Myth 8: My classroom doesn’t have enough technology to make this work.
I love how the author explains how you do not really need technology to gamify your classroom. Gaming is a lot of socialization, which is tech free and costs nothing. He mentions that you can have a bulletin board dedicated to the game.

Myth 9: Games in the classroom are too much about competition.
I agree with the author when he states that a little healthy competition is good. Children learn to work together and work towards a purpose or to achieve their goal. I think part of the problem with society now is “Everyone is a winner” mentality. Children feel that they should be given something for everything they do. They should automatically get a ribbon or an award just for participating. Schools don’t want a child to feel bad because they did not win. As a result, we have children who do not know how to cope with failure.

I can’t wait to share chapter 3 with you!

Click on the picture below to go back to Sweet Sweet Primary’s blog and read what others have to say.
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Thanks for stopping by and saying hi,

Rachel

Explore Like A Pirate: Chapter 1

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Hi everyone!

Today I am really excited to be part of a new book study. We just started to read “Explore Like a Pirate”, by Michael Matera.

Today we explore chapter 1: The Call of the Explorer: Discover the Adventure that Awaits.

I don’t know about you, but I am always looking for new ways to engage my kids. I already have my students do tons of projects, partner work, group work, and play some games. But I started to think ask the question, “What more can I do?”

I have been teaching for 18 years in a New York City Public School. Over the years, I have seen curriculums, teaching methods, and whatever happened to be the fad at the time come and go. It really is heart breaking to look at your kids and see that glazed look in their eyes. That look that tells you… I am not paying any attention to you. One thing that hasn’t changed over the years is student engagement. The trick is finding what will engage your students. What worked well last year might not work this year.

This is why I turned to the book, “Explore Like a Pirate”. I am ready to really sit down and reflect on how I can better engage my students and still show my administration that the work happening in my class is “rigorous” (by the way, I really hate the word rigorous. Any time someone asks admin what it means, they can’t even give an answer.)

In chapter 1, Michael Matera speaks about how gamification is possible because all you need is creativity. We don’t have to worry about buying extra material or spending money out of our own pockets. YES! We can take our curriculum and the content we already teach and just an add extra layer to the top.

I have to be honest, I am a bit worried about the creativity part for myself and the students. I think the current education system has really stomped out any creativity. I find when I am planning lessons, I really have to sit down and think about being creative. My students…they are a totally different problem. There is very little play and creativity in our education system. Just look at our poor kindergarden students who really don’t get to play anymore. By the time they reach me in 2nd grade, the joy of learning is already on it’s way out of the door. When I tell my kids to use their imagination or be creative, they really struggle. They want to be told what to do. This is one reason that I picked up this book. I need to become more creative and engaged and so do my students.

My mind is already in a whirlwind and I have only read the first chapter. I am already thinking about how I can use gamification in my classroom in September. I am glad that I have the entire summer to read this book and reflect on my own teaching and engaging my students. I can’t wait to discuss the next chapter with you next Tuesday.

Thanks for stopping by and saying hi,

Rachel

Check out what others are saying about Chapter 1 by clicking the picture below!

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