UCET

Had the opportunity to share a new keynote at the Utah UCET conference yesterday. You can find my presentation information at alicekeeler.com/ucet17. The topic was Summon School: What If School Was More Like World of Warcraft. Let’s be honest school is a poorly designed game, what if we looked at what successful game designers to do motivate players to better motivate our students?

Google Slides Q&A

Google Slides has this  feature where you can automagically allow audience members to ask questions to the presentation. In playing the game “Hunt for the Tiny Arrow” you will notice there is a tiny arrow next to the present button. This allows you to choose “Presenter view” which automatically supports the Q&A with the audience.
tiny arrow next to the present button

Keynote Questions

I hoped I would get to answer some questions at the end of the keynote but ran out of time. Here are some of the questions the audience at UCET asked.

Can you share your thoughts/opinion about students using their phones in schools/your classroom?

If you look at the research around personal devices, people have a love affair with THEIR phone. I was teaching a class at an inner city school where we were using Google Drawing, but this tool does not work on mobile devices. The school provided the students with Chromebooks but the students stubbornly would NOT check out the Chromebooks, they wanted to use their own device. Teaching 9th grade algebra I allowed my students to use their phones. I have a Google Voice account and would have students use their phones as clickers to send me answers to math problems. Students love it when you call out their name “Good job Mandy” “Excellent Javier” as my mobile device is going off like a slot machine. But I was then able to reply back through the Google Voice app to students who had a misunderstanding to give personal feedback and not call them out in class.

So in short. I am pro students using their devices. Many schools have excellent BYOD programs and students are more motivated when they get to use their own stuff.

My wife is a 3rd grade school teacher. Is that too young? What is the ideal grade levels for this?

Thinking about student motivation does not apply to only certain grade levels. Designing for student motivation obviously should be happening in grades K through 12. Many of us have seen the Ken Robinson video where he describes how students come into Kindergarten being super creative and we “school” the creativity out of them. Providing students choices at a young age should absolutely be happening. How are we developing creative, critical thinkers who collaborate? Lessons from World of Warcraft help us to think about how to design for that.

What’s the best way to motivate SPED student?

What motivates all students? Something that involves their interests. Hands-on active learning.

What are your favorite storytelling apps? How do you integrate these into ALL subjects?

I don’t have any favorites in particular. The focus isn’t so much on the app as to having an interesting story right! Check out Storybird, StoryboardThat, or Book Creator. There are a ton more. You can also just use Google Slides. You integrate storytelling by making this important in your lesson design. How will your lesson use a story? How will the students interact with the story? How will the assignment or activity tie back to the story?

Let me get this straight, you use the example of Warcraft to inspire games you then create for your class? Would you give kids time to play games like Warcraft in class?

Check out Lucas Gillespie and his project for WoW in Schools. He has students legitimately playing World of Warcraft to learn ELA. His award-winning curriculum is available for free on the WoW in Schools page. You can definitely use popular games like Pokemon and World of Warcraft to have students play and tie the activity to legitimate learning objectives. This was not the point or focus of my talk in particular. I am a supporter of Game Based Learning and playing Minecraft and other games at school when permissible, however, my focus is more around gamification or as my friend Bron Stuckey stays “Gameful Learning.” What do we learn from games, besides playing the game, that we apply to non game situations. For example, when playing World of Warcraft I have the ability to make choices and customize things. Rather than collecting 30 of the same thing, ask in your lesson design “what choice does the student get to make in this activity?”

How do you get kids past the, tell me how to do it attitude? Many kids just want to be told how to do it.

I am a big fan of Catlin Tucker. She has a blog post on learned helplessness you might find interesting. Kids have a “just tell me how” attitude because we have taught them to explictely follow directions and they dare not deviate from the directions. Also, there is a PERCEPTION of busywork. “Just tell me what to do so I can get my points.” You definitely have to put effort into getting students to do their own thinking. I like this research article that says students go through the 7 stages of grief when you switch to a student-centered model. Ultimately students want to be creative critical thinkers who get to make some of their own decisions, but at first they are MAD. Persevere with patience and love. Students initially hate it when you answer questions with questions but that is how we develop critical thinkers. Do not give in. Keep asking them questions to help them to figure it out. Expect that they can and should do things for themselves. The person doing the work is the person doing the learning!

I definitely agree with this, but it is very hard in practice. Some students want to be spoon fed and know that they will be. How do you encourage them to think critically more and ask the right questions to solve a very open ended question without just bluntly refusing to help at all?

We have done this by asking kids to fill out worksheets and follow directions rather than from day 1 in Kindergarten asking them to answer open-ended questions. Yes, they want to be spoon fed because we have been spoon feeding them. Stop perpetuating this. They DO come around. Be supportive, kind and keep asking higher critical thinking questions. Use your time differently. Do not use your time to instruct students step by step what to do. They can literally read that or watch a video or gosh darn it “figure it out.” I’m always amazed at what my toddler can figure out, let’s stop assuming kids can’t. Tell them you know they can. Use your words and your time to encourage students and increase critical thinking.

Are all of your ideas you are sharing available on your website as lesson plans?

No, my website is not a lesson plan repository. I do share some lesson ideas through my site, but I do not have curriculum available.

Anyone found a way to justify the new Nintendo Switch? You got admit, it would be instant engagement.

You will never get me to admit that a tool creates engagement for learning. Your lesson design does. Looking at the research on EdTech what tools improve learning. Essentially none. I guarantee you I can bore the snot out of kids with an iPad or Google Classroom. So since no tool is the magic bullet, choose something that you’re willing to invest the time into creating high quality lessons for. If Nintendo Switch is where you want to put your efforts I guarantee it is possible to create amazing learning experiences when you put your mind to it.

Do you think every student is a “gamer”?

Do I think every student wants to be engaged? Yes. What does “gamer” mean exactly? I don’t know one person who doesn’t play games in one form of another. When I was taking the educational gaming class for my masters I literally cried. “I’m not a gamer” I proclaimed. We were required to play a simplified version of Dungeons and Dragons and to play World of Warcraft. My initial thought was this was SO STUPID. It turned out to be hugely transformational in my life. I stubbornly vowed to apply these “dumb games” to my math classroom so I could get something out of this. This has ended up shaping so much of my teaching and  pedagogy.

 

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