Mardi Himal meets English education.
Me and Annapurna South---one of the smallest in the sanctuary we hiked to in Nepal on the Mardi Himal trek.
Before I left the country back in May, I had several significant conversations with Jeff Bernadt (@JefferyBernadt) and Phillip Loomis (@TeachLoomis) about "gamifying" the districts grammar curriculum.
From my readings , It looks like what I was really talking about all those months ago was a hybrid of automated, digitalized content delivered via video instruction, gaming (rote repetition and sandbox elements here), and post tests. So, thinking that I needed help to be able to actualize my ideas, I purchased "Gamify your Classroom--A Field Guide to Game-Based Learning" after seeing some buzz about it on twitter.
The book, and the author (oh, and he teaches 8th grade so I know he's cool).
"World's Colliding"--George Castansa
Mr. Farber has done a great job laying the foundational research needed to create our digitalized grammar gaming system (I'm not sure what else to call it). One of the things in the book that struck me was a concept of "flow" from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. "Flow," according to Csikszentmihalyi, is that optimal and highly rewarding mental state. It is "the way people describe their state of mind when consciousness is harmoniously ordered, and they want to pursue whatever they are doing for its sake" (Farber 53).
I read this and thought about two things--1) that's how I feel when I whitewater kayak and when I hike something difficult; 2) how the heck am I supposed to create that in the microcosm of the classroom.
As for the first thought, I love the idea of education being structured to model the "flow" experience. Honestly, if it hadn't been for Greg Graber (@GregGraber) and #mindfulness, I don't know if I would have noticed the "flow" of teaching and living.
Hiking (more trekking) and kayaking both require immediate reaction time. It is absolutely impossible to plan too far ahead when concerning footing on the trail or line in a kayak. On the Mardi Himal trek, we were ascending and descending very steep sections that had not had the benefit of organized infrastructure (1k meters to almost 5k meters and back down in seven days). Some of the paths we trekked were five inches of mud, others were simply rock talus strewn down the jungle hillside.
As I walked and climbed, my mind could focused only on the next step. Doug and I both fell into an incredibly zen like walking meditation flow. It's how we mentally coped with the terrain and physical hardships (Note to self: 5k meters is a lot higher than it seems on the maps, and leeches are horrible, horrible creatures).
Going back to thought number two (how do I create flow in my classroom), I think to "Nacho" and it all collides and meshes with @GregGrabers' tweets and what @TeachLoomis and @JefferyBernadt are trying to do this year and I really think that I may be losing my mind.
Digitalize curriculum to save time, paper, sanity (of teachers, students and "stakeholders"), and revolutionize the way student account for their own grammar education through gaming and automation--all via "flow" and creating a holistic experience for the student.
Yeah, this sounds like fun.
I'm an 8th grade English teacher in Bellevue, Nebraska, and I'm excited about technology in the classroom.