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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How Do You Adapt Your Curriculum?

Hi everyone. Are you tired of hearing your admin say, “The reading curriculum is just a tool. Use the material anyway you want.”? Really, REALLY!!

How many of you have heard this phrase? Is it true? I’m not sure. We all change the lessons to meet the needs of our children. But what happens when you have to rewrite the whole damn curriculum? I’m sure many of you have done just that. The schools pay all of this money for a curriculum and we have to spend all of our time to create lessons that actually work.

You might be wondering which reading curriculum I am using. Well, I don’t know if you have heard of the awesome Pearson company (I almost feel like they are the Evil Empire!) In NYC, Pearson seems to have had a monopoly on curriculum for the past three years. Thankfully, Pearson is SLOWLY starting to leave the NYC schools. This was the last year the NYS ELA and Math tests have been created by Pearson.

So we are told to use ReadyGen as a tool. So everyday I rewrite the curriculum and teach the skills or lessons how I want to and in the style that will most benefit my kiddos.

I started to teach each lesson focusing on a 15 minute mini-lesson and then small group work (which is definitely not in the program. :() I incorporate the science or social studies text books or articles on the topics. I added in A LOT of writing because there only seems to be response to literature in ReadyGen’s writing component. Although, there updated curriculum now includes shared writing with more informational writing…the material and expectations are way above grade level.

How else can I make this curriculum just a tool? I started to make interactive notebooks for the books that we have to use in our lessons. The only part of ReadyGen that is ok are SOME of the trade books used.

Last week we read A Chair for My Mother. I absolutely love this book, but if you follow the curriculum it is boring and basically kills any enjoyment of this wonderful book. So I introduced the interactive notebook for A Chair For My Mother and my kids loved it.

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Then I had my kids design their own comfortable chair. Just take a look at some of the chairs that my kiddos created! 🙂

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Besides designing and building a comfortable chair to go along with the story, “A Chair for My Mother” students also had to write about how they created their chair and why they decided to create that chair.

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My students had so much fun with the interactive notebook, designing their comfortable chairs and their writing assignment.

My students loved using the interactive notebooks so much that I started to create them for the different trade books that we use as part of the 2nd grade ReadyGen curriculum. You can check them out by clicking here.

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Thanks for stopping by and reading my rant. 🙂
How do you use your curriculum as just a tool?

Rachel