Today I was afforded the unique opportunity to visit another district and observe a science teacher who embraced the station rotation model, but gave it a twist, and made it her own. Fortunately I was able to drag a science teacher with me to the visit, because the clouds parted and the angels sang! Ahhhhhh! We saw an amazing lesson, students who were active and participating from the time they entered class until the very last minute.
The students in Ms. Weneck’s class learned and worked at their own pace, and the majority of the students, 16 out of 18, completed all 6 assignments with time to spare to prepare for the class duel. Yes, I said duel and no I didn’t say anything about weapons, unless their minds count.
The students walked into class. The song of the day was playing. They opened the laptops (Full disclosure: this is a 1:1 district), logged into Schoology, and opened their daily plan. Their daily plan gave them their 6 tasks for the day. Following the song of the day, which was about osmosis, Ms. Weneck held a 10 minute whole class discussion at the “dinner table” in the center of the room. Loved this! Truly made it feel like home.
Then the class broke off into their groups and got to work. The unique piece of this classroom is the gamification that happens. Each student is a ninja and has a ninja made out of a toilet paper roll. I’m sure rounding up TP rolls was time consuming, but certainly inexpensive. Inside of these ninja’s the class stored their beads (think stickers on papers, or badges earned for Boy Scouts).
ALL classroom resources were uploading to her class LMS (learning management system, in this case Schoology). The students worked on each task moving a ninja game piece up a cargo net level each time they completed a task. Those students that completed at least 4 of their assigned tasks were able to earn their way into the duel. Dueling entailed competing with other pairs of students to recreate the formula for photosynthesis in the fastest time. Those students were whipping through that task. Each duel eliminated one pair of students, until only 2 pairs were left standing.
As the bell was “ringing” the last 2 pairs of students were in a duel for beads. I, for one, am glad I didn’t have to referee the game and call the winners, because never before have I seen student hands fly to complete an equation! They were smiling, cheering, and racing to complete an equation. I wish we had been able to collect some engagement data on that lesson.
So if Mrs. Weneck wasn’t leading a direct today, what was she doing? She was circulating from student to student conferencing, she was checking over homework and calling up students to assist with misunderstandings and confusion in the assignment. She was motivating students to finish their tasks, and empowering her learners to work at their own pace. At the end of the class, each of her students could meet the daily objective of recreating the formula for photosynthesis with a flourish. They could make it, tell you it, and race to complete it when given the cards.
In conclusion I would like to say that gamification of the classroom may just be the carrot that the kiddos need to engage in their learning. As adults, don’t we work harder and strive to innovate when our hard work is rewarded with an “atta boy” or another awesome incentive? Why should our learners be any different? They want to know that their learning is important, and if they feel they are recognized for their hard work, they just might work harder. If you are interested in learning more about gamification, or how to implement a rewards system into your station rotation model, please talk to me or stop in to see Mr. Warns’ class during the spring semester. I look forward to seeing his students in action as they gamify their classroom using Classcraft his semester.