Test Preparation: Make it Legendary

We’re just about halfway through the fall term, which means one thing: test preparation. I’m sure you can already hear your students groaning.

There is good news for your students! One of the most popular ways to use Legends of Learning is to review content before a test. Building a playlist of games and assessment questions is like creating an animated study guide: you choose the content for students to review, and they see it in action. Meanwhile, realtime analytics let you evaluate how well they understand the material.

Let’s take a look at an example. Say you’re preparing for an upcoming test on photosynthesis.

Once you’ve started a new playlist draft within the Photosynthesis Learning Objective, click on a game and review its “Game Curriculum” tab before dragging it. That way you can quickly vet which ones best highlight your concepts of focus.

The discussion questions here are great for asking your students, whether for individual or group review. They challenge your students to think critically about the topic by situating games in the proper educational context, leading to a rich, engaging experience in the days before a test. Many teachers who use Legends of Learning love discussing these questions with a group of students. When students collaborate and get excited about learning through games, knowledge retention increases.

 

 

Placing assessment questions before and after gameplay give you great insight into how well your students comprehend the material. In this example, Ms. Rose and Photosynthesis! discusses the conditions necessary for photosynthesis to occur in plant cells. By comparing your students’ pre and post game answers, you immediately see how much further review students’ need on this concept.

Assessment question analytics are broken into both individual and class-wide data, so the scale of concept comprehension is apparent. If it appears from the post game questions that the entire class is struggling with the conditions surrounding photosynthesis, you have the ability to pause everyone’s games and discuss points of confusion. Class time is more efficient with your instruction becoming more targeted to the concepts that need more review.

 

 

The view below further illustrates this test prep tactic. In this example, only 30% of the students have correctly answered a question about where the energy for life on earth comes from, so you know to emphasize that concept more in future review.

 

 

After a playlist ends, all of its question data is automatically saved. Teachers use this feature to examine which topics individual students struggle with and curate upcoming review to meet their individual needs. Completed playlists can easily be cloned and adjusted to build upon past review. For optimizing individualized test preparation, teachers love to create multiple tracks within a playlist.

As an example, if one group of students has a solid grasp on the material, assign them to a track that only contains a couple of games and assessment items and leaves more time for free play of games within the learning objective. For other groups that need additional reinforcement, build tracks that include more directed games and assessments.

Playlists are a powerful, flexible tool for any stage of review. Use Legends of Learning for superpowered test preparation and watch as student performance improves by leaps and bounds.

Log in and take a fresh approach to science reviewing!

Five Questions Answered About Legends of Learning Playlists

This year, wow your class with game based learning by creating the perfect Legends of Learning playlist. Much like a DJ, teachers have the ability to deploy their “set list” of games and assessment questions to students. But playlists can do much more than that.

To illustrate the power of this feature, we decided to answer teachers’ five most frequently asked questions.

1.  How can I make sure I’m selecting the right games for my student playlists?

Selecting the right games based on student interest or academic level is easy with the detailed game modal window. Simply click on any game from within the learning objective screen and the game modal window displays a game overview, teacher ratings, curriculum suggestions, and the option to play the game yourself. When you’ve determined which games are the right fit, click the “Create a Playlist” button and drag the games into your new playlist.

Game Modal Window

Create a Playlist

2. How do I customize my playlists?

There are several ways to customize playlists for your students. First, name each playlist and add it to your saved playlists section for future use. Next, try dragging games into your playlist and then moving the games around by clicking and dragging. Finally, use the time slider to shorten or lengthen the amount of time students can play.

Customizable Playlist: Name It, Rearrange It, Time It

3. How do I launch my playlists to students?

When you launch playlists to your students, you give them an engaging gameplay experience while following their progress in real time on your live teacher dashboard. You can even launch different games to different student groups and create a personalized gaming experience while ensuring they all master the same content.

To get started, locate the dropdown menu under each playlist, which gives you the option to launch to everyone or to a specific group. To create a class or group, navigate to the students page and click the “+” button next to the word “class”. Type in the name of your class or group and press save. You can then click the dropdown next to each student and add them to their group.

Click the back button on your browser to return to your playlist. The names of your classes and groups will appear in the dropdown menu at the bottom of the playlist. When you launch your playlist to a specific group, only the students in that group will have access to the playlist.

Launch to Everyone

Create Your Class

Launch to a Class/Group

4. How do I know students will be asked questions during game play?

Assessment packs are valuable if you are playing games that are activity based and contain few questions. Click on the assessment icon next to the game list to add assessment packs to your playlist.

You can control the number of questions in each assessment—from 1 to 99—by clicking the arrows. Then, click and drag to place the assessment pack before, between, or after the games. Use multiple assessment packs and create a pre-test/post-test to gauge student mastery.

Assessment Pack Icon

Assessment Pack as Pre-Test/Post-Test

5. How do my students sign in and start playing?

Students sign in to your playlist by navigating to login.legendsoflearning.com and clicking the students icon. Students are then prompted to enter your teacher launch code, located in the upper right hand corner of your playlist.

Teacher Launch Code

 

Students sign up using their first name and last initial, or sign in with their previously created username.

Student Login Page

Once you launch your playlist, each student’s dot appears in your live teacher dashboard. Individual student answers to game and assessment pack questions are recorded inside student dots.

Live Dashboard with Student Signed In

Legends of Learning strongly values the feedback of teachers and welcomes any questions you have on our playlist feature. Login today to create your perfect playlist. Have a great summer and happy gaming!

16 Ways to Study the Total Solar Eclipse in Your Classroom

On August 21, 2017, we’ll see something the country has not seen in 38 years: a total solar eclipse. The day will excite students and science teachers alike. The below resources introduce students to eclipses, both lunar and solar, and prepare them for the solar eclipse.

These 16 resources compliment the Legends of Learning series of eclipse games and lesson plan that can be found in the Eclipses and Seasons Learning Objective.  Legends of Learning published a lesson plan for this Learning Objective, too, and on July 10 will offer two of its games — “Walter’s Travels” and “Bubble Eclipse” — publicly on its Alpha Games page as a public service.

Websites

 

Interactive Media

  • Eclipse2017.org App. Go mobile with the Eclipse2017 app. With it, students will learn about eclipses and how to find the best location to watch “totality” occur. (Available on iOS and Android)
  • Eclipses and Seasons. Encourage engagement and solidify learning objectives with Legends of Learning’s seven games about eclipses and seasons. If wishing to cross into other science subjects, look at the “The Sun, Moon, and Stars: Patterns of Apparent Motion” games, as well as “Our Solar System.”
  • JavaScript Solar Eclipse Explorer. Eclipses are historical events, and this web-based calculator provides data not only on past eclipses but also future ones.
  • NASA’s Extremely Accurate Map for August’s Total Solar Eclipse. Use this tool to combine geography and science. Students can use the tool to identify the best states for solar-eclipse watching on August 21, 2017.
  • SpaceMath. Show students how mathematics applies to real-world scientific studies with this in-depth resource from NASA. The page features numerous math activities designed to present eclipses and astronomy in a “different light.”
  • THE GREAT AMERICAN ECLIPSE. With this resource, your classroom can watch the total solar eclipse in real time. Discover’s Science Channel will cover the eclipse as it happens, then follow up with a one-hour special during primetime.
  • Total Solar Eclipse Animation. Prepare students for the eclipse launch date with PBS NOVA’s animation. For additional classroom resources, check out PBS’ toolkit, webinar, and videos.

Classroom Activities

  • Build a Sun Funnel. Spend the first few weeks of August with a collaborative science project, the Sun Funnel. While inexpensive, the funnel takes some time and expertise to build, so you may want to practice building one at home before introducing the project to the classroom. For simpler versions of the concept, consider using the Exploratorium’s instructions for building a pinhole camera from a UPS shipping container or SPACE’s shoebox concept.
  • Create an Eclipse in the Classroom. Styrofoam and cardboard possess magical properties, becoming anything from molecules and atoms to planetary systems. Follow the guide to help students create Earth-Moon-Sun systems and explore how solar and lunar eclipses work.
  • Exploring the Solar System: Solar Eclipse. This instructional tool uses an inflatable Earth to teach students three curriculum-based learning objectives. Provided by the National Informal STEM Education (NISE) Network, the tool includes resources for English- and Spanish-speaking students.
  • How to Film or Photograph the 2017 Solar Eclipse Like a Pro. Unite the arts and sciences with SPACE’s instructions on how to film or photograph the solar eclipse. Warning: This resource features some advanced photography and film techniques, so you’ll either want to use it with advanced photography students or adapt the methods to your particular classroom.
  • Yardstick Eclipse Activity. This classroom activity from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) caters to the older crowd that may be less than pleased with cardboard and Styrofoam projects. You can create the activity from scratch or purchase a pre-made kit for $35.00.

Other Resources

 

Have you taught about lunar and solar eclipses before? What are your favorite lesson plans, activities, or resources? Share your thoughts in the comments or start a thread in the community forum.

Lesson Plan: Eclipses and Seasons

On August 21, 2017, we’ll see something the country has not seen in 38 years: a total solar eclipse. The day will be an exciting one for students and science teachers, alike. Let’s make it educational, too.

People across the country are looking forward to watching the sun completely disappear behind the moon. The total solar eclipse will darken skies from Oregon to South Carolina, an extremely rare event that for some locations on earth may occur as infrequently as every 1,000 years!

Legends of Learning has developed a lesson plan for the Eclipses and Seasons Learning Objective that you can use with your students. With it, we’re offering two of our games — “Walter’s Travels” and “Bubble Eclipse” — publicly on our Alpha Games page.

Complete with digital edgames playlists, assessment questions, and a visual eclipse simulation, our lesson plan has everything your students need to learn about this rare phenomenon. Check it out below, or download the PDF version!

 

Learning Objective: Eclipses and Seasons

NGSS Standard DCI: MS-ESS1.B-2. – This model of the solar system can explain eclipses of the sun and the moon. Earth’s spin axis is fixed in direction over the short-term but tilted relative to its orbit around the sun. The seasons are a result of that tilt and are caused by the differential intensity of sunlight on different areas of Earth across the year.

Objective:

Students will be able to:

  1. Explain why solar and lunar eclipses occur
  2. Explain why Earth has seasons
  3. Draw and manipulate models of solar and lunar eclipses
  4. Draw a model of Earth’s location during various seasons

Time Required: 75 minutes

Materials Needed:

  • Small beach ball (or other similar sized ball)
  • Ping pong ball tied to a string
  • Flashlight
  • Teacher computer with internet access
  • Projector/Smartboard
  • 1 computer/laptop/iPad per student with internet access
  • Eclipses and Seasons handout (attached)

Teacher Preparation:

  • Create Playlist 1, a 30-minute playlist in Legends of Learning with the following games found in the Eclipses and Seasons learning objective (in order):
  1. Science Fair: Eclipse and Seasons
  2. Volleclipse

  • Create Playlist 2, a 10-minute playlist in Legends of Learning with 5 assessment questions from the Eclipses and Seasons learning objective
  • Make copies of Eclipses and Seasons Worksheet (1 per student)

Engage (10 minutes):

Lay the flashlight on a table and place the beach ball approximately 24 inches in front of the flashlight.

Turn off the lights in the room and turn on the flashlight.

Holding the ping pong ball by the string, place the ping pong ball between the flashlight and the beach ball.

Ask for student observations regarding where they see the light hitting the beach ball and where they see shadow.

  • Answer: Light hitting the ping pong ball and beach ball. Small shadow on front of beach ball as well.

Continue holding the ping pong ball by the string, move the ping pong ball so that it is behind the beach ball.

Ask for student observations regarding where they see the light and shadow in this position.

  • Answer: Light hitting the beach ball fully, no shadow on the beach ball. Full shadow on the ping pong ball.

Explain to students: “I just demonstrated a phenomenon called an eclipse. Today we will learn about types of eclipses and also review why we have seasons. Think about this demonstration during today’s lesson as we will refer back to it at the end of class.”

Explore (30 minutes):

  • Have your students sign in to Legends of Learning and enter your teacher code.
  • Launch Playlist 1 to your students.
  • As students complete Science Fair: Eclipse and Seasons, students should fill out the Eclipses and Seasons Handout.
  • Assist students as needed during game play, pause playlist if you need to address content or questions to entire class.

Explain (20 minutes):

  • Review answers to Eclipses and Seasons Handout by drawing diagrams on board or using Smartboard.
  • Relate student knowledge to demonstration at the beginning of class.
    • Which item represents the sun? (flashlight)
    • Which item represents the earth? (beach ball)
    • Which item represents the moon? (ping pong ball)
    • Who can demonstrate a lunar eclipse using the items? (ping pong ball held behind the beach ball)
      1. Have student explain why
    • Who can demonstrate a solar eclipse using the items? (ping pong ball held between the flashlight and beach ball)
      1. Have student explain why

Elaborate (5 minutes):

  • Explain to students that although they experience seasons all the time, they are less likely to experience a lunar eclipse, and the opportunity to experience a solar eclipse is even more rare.
  • Show this timelapse video of what happens on Earth during a solar eclipse: https://vimeo.com/53641212
  • Ask students to describe what they are seeing in the video.
    • Answer: It is broad daylight then goes dark like nighttime, then back to broad daylight very quickly. The sun is completely blocked out for a while.

Evaluate (10 minutes):

  • Launch Playlist 2 to your students. When they finish the assessment questions, any time left is freeplay.
  • Analyze student results to determine what concepts need to be a focus for reteaching.

Seasons and Eclipses – Worksheet

Name: _________________________________

Directions: While playing the first game in Legends of Learning called Science Fair: Eclipse and Seasons, use what you learn to complete the diagrams and answer the questions below.

 

Seasons

Label the seasons in the Northern and Southern hemisphere at each location.

Circle the correct answer –

Question 1: It is summer for the hemisphere that is pointing (away from, towards) the sun.

Question 2: It is winter for the hemisphere that is pointing (away from, towards) the sun.

Question 3: When a hemisphere is pointing towards the sun, the sun’s rays are (stronger, weaker) on that part of earth, making it (hotter, colder).

Question 4: When a hemisphere is pointing away from the sun, the sun’s rays are (stronger, weaker) on that part of earth, making it (hotter, colder).

 

Draw the location of the sun, moon, and earth during a lunar eclipse and during a solar eclipse. MAKE SURE YOU LABEL THE SUN, MOON, AND EARTH!

Five Reasons You Should Teach with Games

Adults love games. Kids love games. Both groups of people work in classrooms. So why aren’t classrooms filled with game based learning?

Some teachers have resisted gaming because they see it as a chance for students to goof off rather than focusing. In their minds, games do not truly teach content and thus do not provide educational value.

Over the past few years, learning games have evolved to include content of real value. Meaningful learning games are now easily accessible for teachers. Legends of Learning offers 900 science curricula games for middle school.

Take it from this teacher. Game based learning is not only fun for students it makes teaching easier.

Five Reasons to Use Games in Your Classroom

Teacher showing child tablet

1. Students Love Games – Most students already spend free time playing games online with friends, watching other gamers play on YouTube, and bragging to each other about who’s the best gamer.

Introducing games into your class is a natural extension of what your students already like. With so many games available that teach content, its the perfect fit for your classroom.

2. One on One Time with Students – Imagine getting to walk around a room of 30 students and having meaningful one on one conversations with each of them. Because students are so engaged, off-task behavior with game play is minimal, in turn giving you time to work with the students who need your help most.

3. Curricula Games Mean Learning – Games are effective because students have so much fun playing the games they don’t even think about whether learning is taking place. When students are engaged, they learn significantly more content and remember more of what they learned. This leads to higher test scores and more confidence taking on complex tasks in the classroom.

4. Struggling Students Feel Included – When students struggle, they often stay quiet or act out. Because games are fun and teach content without shame, struggling students engage and learn at their own pace.

It’s common to see organic conversations about content crop up during class. Students who never raise hands show eagerness to participate. Games remind you that all students want to learn, they just need the right vehicle.

5. Personalized Learning – Games let students take control of what they learn. Students teach themselves new material or review existing knowledge via engaging gameplay. Teachers facilitate learning, gently guiding students through game play, and helping them think critically about decision points. This is the 21st century classroom.

As you consider your lesson plans for the school year, imagine the possibilities games offer as an everyday part of your instruction. Simply put, game based learning can transform your classroom. Want proof? Try Legends of Learning science games for three weeks and watch student achievement take off in your classroom.

Aryah Fradkin is Manager of Teacher Outreach and Engagement for Legends of Learning. Prior to joining the Legends, he taught middle school for six years in Baltimore City Public Schools.

Summer Learning Day: Last Chance for $300 Game Trial

National Summer Learning Day is just a month away! What are you doing to celebrate? Legends of Learning is extending its $300 trial offer until July 13 to help teachers and students better enjoy summer learning.

Students enrolled in summer class need a break from the daily routine, and Legends of Learning middle school science games are a great tool. Games offer kids an opportunity to enjoy summer school a little more, while simultaneously improving subject mastery. Original research backs up the impact of games!

Summer is a critical time for students to stay on track and close achievement gaps. Strengthening learning programs can give districts, teachers, parents, and students a much-needed boost. For more information, check out our summer learning white paper.

The National Summer Learning Association reports most families not participating in a summer program say they would if one was available, but the average cost of these programs is $288 per student per week.

As part of its launch, Legends of Learning provided teachers who signed up on its platform $300 worth of edgames for free. After July 13th, initial trial coins will be reduced to $100 for free.

Sign up for free games today!

Legends of Learning in the News

1. District Administration – Science-focused platform and game content to be released
In March 2017, Legends of Learning released its educational games (edgames) platform in 100 middle schools across the country. The games meet the standards for middle school science curricula, and CEO Vadim Polikov conducted a 1,000-student study in partnership with Vanderbilt University to demonstrate the games’ efficacy and ability to engage students.

Polikov will facilitate additional surveys and studies to provide more evidence in support of the Legends of Learning methodology in the near future. He explains, “Educators’ time is at a premium now, so providing them with something that is demonstrably effective and easy to use has a far greater chance of being implemented.”

But don’t take his word for it. Talk to one of the hundreds of teachers in the Legends of Learning Ambassador program, or better yet, start using the platform and become an Ambassador yourself!

2. DC Inno – Oregon Trail-Inspired Startup Wants More Video Games In Schools
“Who would’ve thought that one day Oregon Trail would inspire someone to start a company?” asked Samantha Sabin, staff writer at DC Inno. She was amazed at how Legends of Learning co-founders Josh Goldberg, Geoff Livingston, and Vadim Polikov formed their educational technology (EdTech) company.

The three men hypothesized curriculum-based edgames could engage kids in learning, and tested the theory in conjunction with Vanderbilt University researchers prior to establishing the company. The study showed vast improvements in test scores for students who played the games. Once the results were in, Legends of Learning launched their edgames platform in March 2017.

3. USA Today – ‘Spotify for learning games’ coming to classrooms
On March 27, 2017, Legends of Learning launched its edgames platform, an easy-to-use interface featuring 900 middle school science games for today’s classrooms. The company calls the platform “Spotify for learning games.”

Game developers, or “artists,” create standards-based games for “listeners”—teachers, administrators, and students. Teachers can earn free access to the platform in exchange for providing the developers with feedback.

Additionally, schools can pay about $10 per student for a learning management system (LMS) that measures student progress in the games. USA Today calls the platform “an all-you-can-eat menu of games,” and teachers like Rebecca from upstate New York agree – students playing the games are hungry to learn!

4. Getting Smart – Innovation in Education Is More than a New Approach
CEO Vadim Polikov writes that Legends of Learning brings a new strategy to education innovation: academic research. He hypothesized that edgames could improve student engagement in the classroom and put the theory to the test with help from Vanderbilt University.

The study provided Polikov with the evidence needed to establish Legends of Learning, a company that provides an online edgames platform that teachers use to bring games into their classrooms. Polikov’s work also contributes to the broader academic literature, with potentially massive implications for the future of education.

Another huge point of emphasis is ease of implementation. With an idea like this, Polikov says, “When it is easy and obvious, the barriers to widespread acceptance are much lower.” Legends of Learning achieves this with its intuitive platform, which is easy to use for students and teachers alike.

5. WTOP – DC startup Legends of Learning aims to be ‘Netflix’ for educational games
Legends of Learning provides all the ease and entertainment of Netflix and Amazon with its online edgames platform, amplifying productivity, engagement, and learning in the classroom. The platform hosts 900 games and counting, all of which are based on curriculum standards – NGSS, TEKS, SOL, and more.

The Legends of Learning platform is free for teachers as long as they provide feedback to help developers improve the games. Schools have the option to track student progress for a low-cost subscription fee.

6. EdTech Mag – Q&A: Vadim Polikov’s Startup Brings Game-Based Learning to Science Class
EdTech Magazine asked CEO Vadim Polikov what inspired him to form Legends of Learning, an EdTech company that provides curriculum-based games for classrooms across the country. He replied with his own childhood experience, stating, “To this day, I don’t remember what I learned in eighth-grade history, but I am a history buff because I played Civilization.”

Polikov’s background as a research scientist led him to explore why the game impacted him so. He partnered with Vanderbilt University to assess how edgames affected students and learned that games truly do, qualitatively and quantatively, increase engagement and test sores.

7. Baltimore Sun – Legends of Learning raises $9 million for expansion
In April 2017, DC- and Baltimore-based EdTech startup Legends of Learning announced it had raised $9 million from investors, including the Baltimore Angels. Legends of Learning will use the funds to expand the platform and related services, such as analytics and tracking. The company will also add employees to grow its library of games into other school subjects and grade levels and to serve more schools.

8. Baltimore Business Journal – Former Astrum Solar exec raises $9M for edtech startup
Legends of Learning, a new EdTech startup in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, closed a successful seed funding round totaling $9 million. The company offers an online platform for edgames – 900 of them, so far – supporting the middle school science curriculum. The seed money will be used to expand into other subjects and grade levels and to hire new company employees.

9. Potomac Tech Wire – “Today’s top story: Edtech Startup Legends of Learning Raises $9 Million in Seed Round”
A DC- and Baltimore-headquartered startup, Legends of Learning, reported $9 million in seed funding for its online education games platform. The platform features 900 games across the middle school science curriculum. The seed money will allow the company to expand into more grades and subjects, as well as conduct additional studies on game-based learning and its impact on student engagement and achievement.

10. DC Inno – The DC Inno Beat: NEW MONEY
Legends of Learning, a DC EdTech startup that offers learning games based on Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), is poised to grow. Thanks to a strong $9 million round of seed funding, the company will grow its staff from 14 employees to 30. It will also develop games for other grade levels and school subjects.

11. Technical.ly – DC edtech company Legends of Learning has raised $9 million in seed funding
In March 2017, EdTech company Legends of Learning released its online platform containing 900 middle school science games for the classroom. At the same time, it raised $9 million in seed funding. The funds are earmarked for growth; the company will be hiring new employees in the spring and summer to expand into subjects across all K-12 grade levels.

12. EdWeek – Do Digital Games Improve Children’s Math Skills?
Students in Florida’s Hillsborough County schools are showing improvements in math after using classroom games such as TiViTz. In addition to higher achievement, teachers are reporting increased enthusiasm among students playing these edgames.

A 2014 study showed that nearly three quarters of K-8 teachers nationwide are using digital games in their classrooms. Related studies, like the one conducted by Legends of Learning founder and CEO Vadim Polikov, have demonstrated strong positive correlations in student achievement – and enjoyment – with the use of digital edgames.

13. EdWeek Market Brief – K-12 Dealmaking: EVERFI Raises $190 Million; Legends of Learning, Marco Polo Raise Funds
Legends of Learning, a new edgames company that launched in March 2017, raised $9 million in its most recent round of seed funding. The company brings research-driven, curriculum-based games to schools.

Its 900 games cover a variety of middle school science topics. With the new funds, Legends of Learning will expand to more subjects throughout K-12 curricula.

14. EdSurge – New Research Proves Game-Based Learning Works—Here’s Why That Matters
In order to successfully implement game-based learning (GBL) in classrooms, edgames must engage students while also supporting curriculum standards. Prior to founding Legends of Learning – an education startup with a curriculum-based GBL platform – Vadim Polikov led an academic study with Vanderbilt University researchers to determine the efficacy of the company’s approach.

The study found that students who played edgames were more engaged in the classroom, and performed significantly better on standardized tests, than those who didn’t play. Polikov has a second, larger study in the works to continue to examine the efficacy of GBL. Research like this is critical in adopting of new, innovative techniques in the classroom, and advancing education in America.

15. EdSurge – How to Roll Out Game-Based Learning—and Boost Engagement—in Your Classroom
Before launching Legends of Learning, an EdTech startup that provides GBL content for classrooms, CEO Vadim Polikov teamed up with researchers at Vanderbilt University to conduct a control study with more than 1,000 8th grade student participants. Students who played the edgames demonstrated stronger understanding of classroom subject matter and scored higher on standardized tests than those who didn’t play. Teachers also reported that students – including those who were normally less engaged in class – had more organic conversations about the subject matter while playing, and had fun doing it!

16. EdSurge – Classroom Gaming Should Be Engaging, Tied to Curriculum—and Not Require Teachers to Code
In order for edgames to be effective, they must be easy for teachers to implement. This can only happen when the games supplement lesson plans with engaging, curriculum-based content.

New education startup Legends of Learning focuses on efficacy, delivering easy-to-use games that adhere to NGSS curricula and fit into short class periods. Before founding the company, Vadim Polikov partnered with Vanderbilt University researchers to conduct a large-sample control study.

The results were promising for both teachers and students, and led Polikov to launch Legends of Learning in March 2017. The company’s platform hosts 900 edgames, and teachers who use it say students are showing improved classroom engagement and better grasp of difficult concepts.

Creating a Blended Learning Culture in Your School

Excerpted from Eight Steps to Successfully Implement Blended Learning in Your Classroom. Download it today.

Having technology in your classroom can be a fantastic thing. It has the potential to expose your students to a world of information, hand’s on projects and game based learning, like our middle school science games. In order to maximize your classroom experience with blended learning it is critical to have a school culture that supports technology integration.

Getting Administrators and Parents On Board

Catlin Tucker, co-author of “Blended Learning in Action,” shares the importance of a shared vision in her article, “Sharing the Journey to Blended Learning.”

Making the shift from traditional learning to blended learning is daunting and impacts every stakeholder in a school community, including leaders, teachers, IT staff, students, and parents. As a result, the journey from old to new, from traditional to blended, must be a shared journey—one in which all stakeholders are engaged and all voices are heard.

For a blended learning initiative to be successful long-term, decisions cannot be top down or device driven. Instead leaders must carefully consider why they want to make a shift to blended learning and how that shift will benefit members of the school community.

To get administrators and parents on board, use these two approaches.

Administrators

Administrators may hesitate to invest in blended learning because of cost or lackluster results. Overcome their concerns with detailed research and data that show blended learning’s past successes and your plans to implement the teaching model in the classroom.

Administrators also want hard numbers about projected academic performance. They prefer financial documents, implementation plans, and blended learning examples. The more data and documentation you can provide, the more likely your blended learning proposal will receive approval.

Parents

Parents care about academic performance on a more personal level—everyone wants their child to succeed. They want to know how their child is performing academically, and what you’re teaching in the classroom. They also desire to learn how to help their child improve test scores and study habits.

To reach parents, talk through how blended learning will motivate their student to learn and excel, they will back the initiative. Your conversation could prompt them to become advocates on your behalf and secure support from administrators, other teachers, and peer parents.

Establishing a Blended Learning Culture in the Classroom

http://www.schooltechnology.org Photos of elementary students using iPads at school to do amazing projects. student_ipad_school - 235

Blended Learning Universe marks the importance of culture in blended learning success. The organization states:

Blended learning can sustain a bad culture or help create a new one. Culture is especially useful — or toxic — in blended programs because blended learning goes hand in hand with giving students more control and flexibility. If students lack the processes and cultural norms to handle that agency, the shift toward a personalized environment can backfire.

As such, your blended learning culture sets the tone for classroom instruction and assignments. It fosters the right attitudes in students, inside and outside the classroom. Culture can affect parents, too, causing them to encourage, rather than frustrate, their students’ blended learning activities.

To establish culture inside the classroom, begin with clear and honest communication with your students. Set expectations for your blended learning program, whatever it encompasses—classroom projects, edgames, student teams, at-home assignments, et cetera.

Also employ “TRICK,” an acronym suggested by Esther Wojcicki and Lance Izumi, authors of “Moonshots in Education: Launching Blended Learning in the Classroom.” The acronym stands for trust, respect, independence, collaboration, and kindness. When your classroom embodies those five traits, students learn, grow scholastically and personally, and desire to help their fellow students.

Outside the classroom, you should also focus on communication, this time with parents. Just because you got their initial buy-in doesn’t mean your work is done. Let parents know how their kids are enjoying and improving thanks to your new blended learning environment.

Remember that some parents may not be familiar with digital technologies and tools, especially if you teach in a rural or underserved area. Share basic information about blended learning with these parents, and offer opportunities for them to experience it in the classroom. Showing parents how blended learning works can better convince them than a letter sent home.

Finally, aim to spread your blended learning culture across the school campus. Your own success with the initiative often sells itself, but you should talk about it, too. Sharing results and personal testimony invites other teachers to participate in blended learning and make a difference in their classrooms.

You can download the whole white paper Eight Steps to Successfully Implement Blended Learning in Your Classroom here on the Legends of Learning site.

Teacher Appreciation Day: Here’s to You, Teachers

Tuesday, May 9th, is Teacher Appreciation Day (sponsored by the National Education Association (NEA), a moment in which we stop to honor the incredible commitment of our nations’ teachers.

The day coincides with the National Parent Teacher Association’s (PTA) National Teacher Appreciation Week, held during May 8th-12th.

Teachers should be recognized for their hard work and service.

Throughout the week, parents and students make cards and deliver candy. District administrators typically provide a catered lunch or breakfast for teachers and staff. This year, the PTA increases the fun and excitement with its #ThankATeacher contest. Federal, state, and local governments get in on the action, too, with teacher of the year awards like the one managed by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).

Teachers Should Be Celebrated All Year Long

These things are wonderful. However, teachers should also be celebrated throughout the rest of the year. Teachers play a vital role in the lives of young people, imparting the skills and knowledge students need to reach a bright future. But teachers far exceed that role—they often are surrogate parents, therapists, sales people, and legends.

As Donald Quinn, a former educator, tells it:

If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs and some whom didn’t want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher’s job.

This year alone, more than 3.5 million teachers across the country will teach 55+ million students. That equates to billions of graded papers, lesson plans, student coaching, calls to parents, teacher-parent conferences, field trips, and more. A teacher’s job is never done, not even when the bell rings and school lets out for the afternoon.

The average teacher works 12-16 hours a day and spends about $500 of their personal earnings on school supplies every year. Their take home pay averages around $49,000. One thing is clear about the teaching profession: Teachers aren’t in it for the money.

Teachers Share How to Celebrate Them

So how can we appreciate teachers every day? Teachers provide an answer. They want to be listened and responded to. Teachers are the keys to success of any school. When they feel empowered by the district administration and supported by the community, they achieve the impossible in their classrooms.

At Legends of Learning, we know the theory as fact because we quite literally listen to teachers. Their feedback and ongoing conversations with our game developers and Ambassadors affect the games we publish. For us, listening is a way to simultaneously honor teachers, create a product that impacts the classroom, and change education for the better for everyone.

Here are some examples of the great things our teacher Ambassadors are doing with the Legends of Learning edgames platform.

Shanda Seibel, 5th Grade Teacher, Prarie Creek Elementary

Shanda gets her students excited about human impacts on Earth’s systems with games including The Big Picture Hosted by Zedd: Animal Agriculture and Skunk Dunk: Increasing & Decreasing Human Impacts. “Legends of Learning games give students the opportunity to learn their science skills and vocabulary in a fun and engaging way” says Shanda. “Students are in a generation of gaming. I found this year that Legends of Learning brought as much engagement as my science experiments.”

Kerrie Seberg, 7th/8th Grade Science Teacher, Walter G Byers School

Kerrie reviews the structure of the atom with her students in the game “Escape is Elementary.” “They love how the game is like Mario!!” says Kerrie. “Personally, I loved how they were overheard debating the definition of ‘subatomic particle!’”

Mariana Garcia-Serrato, 7th/8th Grade Lead Science Teacher, Adventure Program

Mariana discovers that students love test review, especially when it means choosing their own edgames. For test prep in 8th grade, I displayed the complete list of LOL learning objectives,” said Mariana Garcia-Serrato, a middle school science teacher in California. “Having that list of discrete learning objectives proved an easy way for them to decide what to study!”

You can log in and play these games today on the Legends of Learning platform. To become an Ambassador, visit our site and fill out this simple form.

We hope you have a fantastic Teacher Appreciation Day. Thank you for all you do inside the classroom and out!

Game Based Learning and the Blended Classroom

Game Based Learning (GBL) and the blended classroom have become increasingly popular instructional options as teachers strive to improve teaching and learning. These two instructional forms complement each other well. Both serve the 21st century classroom by engaging students in their education and giving them opportunities to develop not only basic curriculum mastery but also critical thinking and problem solving skills.

GBL uses games to aid students’ learning. Although GBL can drastically transform instruction, as in the case of using World of Warcraft to teach humanities, GBL can be as simple as playing Jeopardy to review materials before summative assessment. Both applications involve games to complement or replace more traditional instructional methods, such as lectures, Q&As, and worksheets.

Most teachers employ some form of GBL. However, we must be careful not to confuse GBL with gamification. In gamification, a teacher incorporates the mechanics of game play and game design into the curriculum. Teachers who espouse GBL take a very different approach. They infuse the curriculum with games, and the games become primary methods to introduce, explore, explain, and reinforce material.

Blended Learning

Blended learning fuses online and traditional “brick and mortar” instruction. Some teachers assume using technology equals a blended classroom; however, blended learning should be viewed as more of a spectrum between traditional “brick and mortar” instruction on one end and online-only classes on the other. Most truly blended classrooms feature 1) students who access some class content and instruction online outside of the traditional time and space of the classroom, and 2) a Classroom Management System (CMS) such as Edmodo or Moodle.

Game Based Learning and Blended Learning in Practice

GBL fits seamlessly into a blended instructional model. Games can act as bridges between the physical, face-to-face environment and an online classroom in at least three ways.

First, a student could play games independently, outside the regular class time and setting. Sites like Quizizz and Quizlet have popularized this method. For this to be successful, teachers must possess some way to track student progress and learning. This usually occurs in the form of tracking time spent on the game and assessing students’ answers and feedback to questions.

Second, a teacher could meet with students in a virtual environment. Examples of such environments include Minecraft: Education Edition and Second Life. With this method, the teacher schedules a time to meet in a virtual space within the game. Students and teacher are therefore in different places but meeting at the same time. The mode of instruction varies depending on the virtual environment and game limitations. A lecture is possible in Second Life, for example, but not Minecraft.

Third, a student could meet and play with other students in a game environment without teacher supervision. The situation arises when students are assigned collaborative Minecraft projects or asked to compete against other students in some games found on ABCya!.

GBL perfectly suits a blended classroom framework. With it, teachers meet students’ expectations—today’s students already “game” with other students. Teachers also overcome challenges found with typical homework assignments and assessments.

Games can reduce testing anxiety and increase student motivation to engage and learn. In fact, some teachers see students playing games outside of class sheerly for the joy of it. For those reasons and many more, game based learning will become a more common mode of instruction that extends learning beyond the classroom.

Scott Beiter teachers science at Rensselaer Jr. Sr. High in Rensselaer, New York. Follow his blog, Full Sail Science, to learn more.

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