Friday was a long day for me. Luckily, I had the Stuff You Should Know Podcasts to keep me company. Unluckily, they would trigger within me the bigger questions surrounding this experiment with gamification.
Scientific observation starts out with a question, proceeds to background research, and then romps off towards hypothesis. I started wondering what mine were for this experiment.
In an almost cliche type of way, grammar has always been a big question in curriculum. How much is assessed? How is it assessed? Are they making them pick out past participles or grading it as part of a writing sample? Is it a drag and drop test? (more on these later) All of these questions have guided my approach to grammar instruction. I'm pretty sure that up until this year, the question of "How can I get my kids to enjoy learning grammar?" never bubbled to the surface.
Nebraska is in a strange spot right now with testing. Unfortunately, it's a spot I've been in before in other districts. The assessment for our curriculum has changed. For my district, this change has come during the second year of our newly remodeled and hotly debated pacing guide/curriculum map.
What that means to teachers is--the test on which we're graded just changed--time to study the test and see what changes to my approach I can make to guarantee my student's success in a largely unknown testing environment.
Looking at what is provided by the state in the way of exemplars, the limited scope leaves a teacher's imagination swirling with possible teaching scenarios. "How can I make this real life? How can I prove the value of this skill in the real world?" and thousands of other concerns swirl like a waterspouts
There is very little information about the upcoming test; what we do know shows that grammar will be assessed by writing. When this is the case, the best way to teach grammar is by writing (and not by multiple choice or drag and drop or some other means).
All this culminates to provide this year with a curricular tabula rosa, as it were. We are sailing off into unknown waters and have no proven path to success under our belts. Although it's scary, it's also invigorating making our way on the edge of the map. Adopting innovative new resources to help us along our journey is going to be more and more appropriate as we move forward--We MUST change the way we teach to best address the coming changes.
#Gamification is a hot topic educationally right now. There's all kinds of books, hashtags, discussion groups, and conferences on using elements of game play in the classroom to achieve learning objectives.
This all boils down, at least in my mind, to the fact that the time is right for my cohorts and I to rock the educational boat a bit and weigh anchor to see what's on the other side of the horizon.
I'm an 8th grade English teacher in Bellevue, Nebraska, and I'm excited about technology in the classroom.