It has been an amazing and busy month (yes, it has almost been month since my last post!). So much has happened.
The Game: We rolled out the game on a Friday to allow a cushion for us and for the kids. I started the class with a simple announcement of the game and that it started today. I then had all the kids get up and stand in front of their peers to receive their house assignment. Most just shrugged or rolled their eyes. Some smiled. I was not encouraged.
After everyone was settled sitting with his/her houses, I did a very quick introduction slide show highlighting where the idea came from and showing the Lausanne video explaining their house system. I'll admit it. I think they were all slightly bored during this part of the distribution of information--I was too, but it's okay because I had a team building activity waiting for them.
At the end of the video, I explained a few more rules (Ms. Walters can change the rules/game at any point, no one gets to be mean--ever). The last slide was an explanation of tasks stating that not all XP would come from grammar. Some would come from non-curricular tasks, and one of those tasks was secreted in a folder I had placed on the desk before they started.
That's when things got exciting!! Each house had a task in order to "find" their codes to allow them into their house course in Schoology. I had kids looking under chairs (they had to solve a riddle to get to the word "chair"), I had kids going through the areas of the room where I had put their codes. I promise you, this was the best part.
Once they got into their digital houses, they had a list of tasks to complete in order to propose house names, officers and official colors. There were only a few groups we had to encourage to sit together as a "family" and work. Most groups worked hard to include all the members, so that was very nice to see.
I did this on Friday and deployed all the software for the "game" the next Monday. That next Thursday I invited all the students who volunteered for house leadership meet with me. I handed them all the data collected about house name, color and leadership and had them compile a Google Form with the top three choices from each category. This was a two fold endeavor. I was watching for which students would actually work and lead AND I was saving time by not compiling the data myself (which was my first inclination). The students shared the forms with me and I deployed them into Schoology for voting. The next day (Friday), the students came in, accessed the forms and did their final votes.
When Monday morning rolled around, I had all the results loaded and ready to view. It was one of the best class starts I've ever had because as soon as they came through the door, they all grabbed their iPads and went searching for the results to the house votes.
The house that is in the lead wins privileges for the week. This week's winner (House Wonder) chose the ability to listen to music. One of the cool parts of that is that every day after that, students would come to me and ask if I had recalculated scores to see who was in the lead now. This was after I had told them that I was only calculating scores once a week.
Then, on September 23rd, we hosted our first Boss Battle in the library computer room. I chose Quizlet's "Gravity" so that it would involve a form of race against the clock; however, the software is slightly tricky and only takes exact answers. I chose to release the test 24 hours before the battle so that students had time to work on the exact issues for the battle. I was beaten twice during the "Boss Battle" game. Once because my computer froze (hey, it's part of the game!) and once when a student beat me by 500 points!
The most interesting facet of the battle was the fact that kids wanted to battle again after they had taken their turns. I added one XP for each house that chose to take me on for the "hard" setting. We were hopping up and down and smack talking (politely) and when the bell rang, I had three students I actually had to shoo out of the lab!
So far, it's been successful and the kids have had fun. I accidentally erased all the formative data from the capitalization unit; so, I don't have firm numbers yet. I am working harder to get the data from next unit (on punctuation) so that we will have some real numbers to discuss next post.
I'm an 8th grade English teacher in Bellevue, Nebraska, and I'm excited about technology in the classroom.