Test Prep Webinar:
How Richard White
Makes the Most of Science Games

On November 29, STEM Certified leader Richard White delivered a Legends of Learning test prep webinar. Richard is a teacher leader at Griffin Middle School in Cobb County, Georgia, where he has worked for the past 6 years.

With December quickly approaching, many teachers will enter a review period for end-of-year testing. Richard’s webinar provides helpful tips for Legends of Learning teachers to use games for test prep as well as for enrichment, and offers tactics to deploy science games as an engagement technique for distracted students.

View Richard’s test prep webinar and associated PowerPoint presentation below:

Test Prep Webinar Video

Link to the full video of Richard White's Legends of Learning test prep webinar.

Test Prep PowerPoint Presentation

Link to the PowerPoint presentation recapping Richard White's Legends of Learning test prep webinar.

About Richard White

Test prep webinar host Richard White and his family.

Richard is passionate about teaching and learning, and believes that there is some way to reach every student that he encounters. He has presented professionally at several local conferences, and is responsible for helping to train new teachers at Griffin. Richard joined the Legends of Learning platform in November of last year as an ambassador, and began testing games with his students as soon as they were rolled out. He has also presented on LoL at local conferences.

Hear Caitlin Unterman’s
Legends of Learning Best Practices

Caitlin Unterman, a middle school science teacher in Forest, VA, is one of Legends of Learning’s most active teachers. Now you can hear how Caitlin uses Legends of Learning in her classroom during a special webinar on October 23rd at 4pm EST.

She has used the platform since day one, and hasn’t looked back. Caitlin will discuss deploying games in the classroom, building playlists, test preparation, and performance analytics. Participants will learn:

1) Implementing game based learning for topic reinforcement
2) Replacing study guides with game based resources
3) Assessing content mastery through gaming

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from one of our strongest ambassadors. Register for Caitlin’s webinar today!

About Caitlin Unterman

Caitlin Unterman was the VAST Earth Science RISE Award winner in 2016 and Lynchburg’s Teacher of the Year in 2015. She also loves horses and owns several of her own. She is an employee of Bedford County Public Schools.

Earn More Coins: Legends of Learning Community Incentives

Some teachers are asking how they can earn more coins for their game play. One way is to be an active ambassador in our Legends of Learning community (sign up or log-in).

To that end, we are happy to unveil our new incentives for the Legends of Learning Community for the 2017-18 school year. Coins earned through community actions are awarded at the end of each month. Here are the different ways you can earn coins.

In Community

  • First 10 comments and replies during the 2017-8 school year = 100 coins. Another 100 coins for each successive 20 comments.
  • Five original posts = 50 coins. Another 100 coins will be awarded for each successive 10 posts.

Social Sharing

In addition to the coins earned via in-product sharing, you can get more coins by linking to us in the following ways:

  • Blog post about us, or an inbound link via a badge from a website you control: 500 coins
  • Facebook share about Legends that tags our page on Facebook: 100 coins

Lesson Plans

We love lesson plans that include Legends of Learning games. Send us your lesson plan formatted like this, and once accepted (we peer review all student facing content), you will receive 100 coins. Send lesson plan submissions to aaron@legendsoflearning.com.

Special Missions

Game ratings: Legends of Learning is currently looking to have students rate specific games. For every game that you your class plays and rates, you will earn 60 coins. For a class of 30, that equates to two new games for playing one! If you are interested, email faye@legendsoflearning.com for a game assignment.

Teacher-Recommended Enhancements for New School Year

We are happy to announce new upgrades and enhancements to our game-based learning platform with significant improvements for the new school year. New features like schedule ahead, student information system (SIS) integration and significant increases in analytic capability focus on ease of use for teachers, stronger performance data and analytics, and increased teacher playlist functionality.

When Legends of Learning launched this past spring, we committed to creating a platform that responds to educators needs. The platform now offers thousands of games and assessment items for earth and space, life and physical science classes. The changes and updates were based on feedback and requests from Legends of Learning ambassadors and teachers.

“We set out to create a platform that is built for teachers by teachers,” said Vadim Polikov, CEO of Legends of Learning. “We have an incredible community of Legends of Learning ambassadors and educators who have shared their thoughts and feedback in order to help meet their needs. From individual game feedback to district-wide features, Legends of Learning is better for it.”

Teacher Reactions to Legends of Learning Evolutions

Enhancements to Legends of Learning’s platform are based on actual teacher usage and feedback. Teachers offer feedback through the Legends of Learning Ambassador community (sign up here) and directly through the product. Teachers have responded well to the new updates.

“I was so pleased when I found Legends of Learning,” said Bailey Johnson-Hastings, science teacher at Hastings Middle School (NE). “My students love using it in the classroom to reinforce the concepts I am teaching. I appreciate how receptive and responsive Legends of Learning has always been with any feedback I have submitted. They are truly committed to creating a student-and-teacher–oriented gaming platform. It is so great to see Legends of Learning engaging with the educator community in this way.”

“I applaud Legends of Learning for their openness and interest in hearing from teachers,” said Bonnie Hohenshilt, science teacher at Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School (NJ). “The new features reflect things I was thinking would be great to have: the ability to begin your session where you last left off, a searchable playlist and the teacher’s top 10 list are great!”

Here is a list of some of the latest features:

Teacher Accounts

  • Ability to add student rosters in the platform
  • Enhanced playlist history, including ability to easily relaunch playlists and see student performance history and content mastery by concept
  • Real-time student data on assessments using “Question Data” button on the playlist tab
  • Multiple sessions per learning objective
  • Content skipping: Move individual students to the next game or assessment if they are struggling
  • Streamlined playlist launcher
  • Dedicated teacher code: Codes are assigned to teacher instead of randomly generated
  • New games and assessment questions
  • Improved games with changes ranging from minor to major based on teacher feedback
  • Live playlist shortcut: Switch quickly between active sessions

School and District Accounts

  • Unlimited usage
  • Scheduling feature: Ability to schedule playlists to launch in advance, which can be used for homework, weekend work and substitute teachers
  • Curriculum alignment to Georgia (GSE) and Texas (TEKS) standards
  • Rostering
  • SIS integration
  • School and district dashboards for administrators to view usage, performance and teacher and student analytics in real time

Try the Games

In addition to the new features, several bugs reported by teachers have been fixed. Further, minor technical improvements, features requested by our teacher users and usability improvements have been made.

This blog post is based off a press release issued this morning.

Summer School Science Content for Free

Let’s be honest. Summer school can be a drag for students. Why not liven up the classroom with middle school science games?

With Legends of Learning’s $100 in complimentary game coins and no obligations, teachers (and schools) have nothing to lose. In a period of six weeks, a class of 30 students could play a game every school day and there would still be extra credits left over.

Science games offer kids an opportunity to enjoy summer school a little more, and play games that facilitate learning and subject mastery. Teachers address NGSS and state standards while providing fun and engagement.

There are 900 games currently available in 90 lessons spanning Earth and Space, Life, and Physical Sciences learning objectives. If you are teaching any middle school science content, there is a game for you. Log in or create an account today, and explore our library.

Make summer school a more engaging experience than the average class. Your students will appreciate it, and their test scores will improve. Just press play.

P.S. If you are looking for more ways to make summer learning a fun experience, download our white paper, “How to Prevent Summer Learning Loss and Close Achievement Gaps.”

PODCAST #5: Legendary Ambassadors Rebecca and Scott Beiter Talk GBL

Two of our strongest ambassadors in the community are Rebecca and Scott Beiter. This husband and wife tandem teach at two different school districts in upstate New York.

They share their insights on game based learning and what it is like to help Legends of Learning build its games and platforms from ground zero to market launch. In addition, Rebecca and Scott share the story of how they both got into teaching science, and the teacher conference life. Enjoy this super fun podcast!

News: Readying Launch of Several Hundred Middle School Science Games

This is a copy of a news release issued today.

Legends of Learning getting ready to launch our online platform of several hundred curriculum-based science games for middle school earth and space science, life sciences, and physical science curricula later this month. The company was founded after the results from a forthcoming research study, “Substantial Integration of Typical Educational Games into Extended Curricula,” from Vanderbilt University revealed that short, simple education games aligned to curriculum standards improve student engagement and academic performance.

 

Founded by former research scientist Vadim Polikov, Legends of Learning stands for the principle that rigorous academic research needs to form the foundation of strategies that take blended learning techniques such as game-based learning to the next level. The wide-ranging study — more than 1,000 students in seven states and in schools with differing student bodies, socioeconomic factors and geographical locations — demonstrated statistically significant success.

One year later, Legends of Learning’s content platform and games are being tested and vetted by hundreds of teachers across the country in preparation for the official launch later this month. The company will demonstrate its platform and games at the National Science Teachers Association’s National Conference in Los Angeles, March 30-April 2, 2017.

More than 100 middle schools will use Legends of Learning in their classrooms when it launches. Scores of teachers using the platform will participate in a second study to demonstrate efficacy and best practices for blended learning with curricula endgames. The second study will be conducted by researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Vanderbilt University.

“Original research is critical to our education system’s overall success,” said Vadim Polikov. “I firmly believe that proving — or disproving — hypotheses with strong rigorous research is the best way to move education forward. One of the most crucial aspects for the education sector to adapt new methods is efficacy. 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.”

Some unique aspects of Legends of Learning’s approach to education include:

  • Building games off existing middle school science curriculum standards to ensure content not only engages students but also helps them succeed in their studies;
  • Using an intuitive platform similar to Netflix and Amazon to make it easy and natural for teachers to use the games in their classrooms; and
  • Releasing a dashboard that allows teachers to observe student comprehension in real time.

Teachers interested in being part of the Legends of Learning Ambassador program can visit legendsoflearning.com/teachers. Legends of Learning will take 100 teacher ambassadors to the ISTE 2017 Conference & Expo in San Antonio, June 25-28. For more information about Legends of Learning visit legendsoflearning.com.

Make Tech Easy
for Teachers to Use

When it comes to digital education content, technology and tools, ease of use reigns supreme. If we don’t make new media and tech easy for teachers, they won’t use them in the classroom.

Good digital education tools can be tremendously beneficial in the classroom. They help teachers engage students AND reinforce the educator’s lessons. We know this. But as such, that tool must do more than simply entertain students, and meet a basic loose affiliation with curriculum topics. They must be intuitive and natural to implement.

This is a classic user experience conundrum. User experience (UX) concerns itself with making a customer happy before, during, and after using a product. Unfortunately, education content, games and tech products have been criticized for not meeting the UX bar in the past. Ease of use is one of the main culprits.

Creating a successful education UX requires understanding teachers’ challenges with technology as much as it does building great curriculum media for students. Teachers don’t receive as much professional development as they would in an ideal world. Many struggle with using the latest technology on a personal basis, much less figuring out how to deploy it in the classroom.

Content creators and developers should understand what makes a new digital tool in the classroom useful. Does the media reinforce teacher lessons, or is it a distraction? Can a teacher use the product as part of their core curriculum, or does it seek to replace them in some way? Will a teacher be able to use student data for productive analytics, or do privacy risks interfere?

“Companies often overlook the fact that younger students do not have email addresses, and that teachers are more likely to use technology if it is easier to set up class rosters with user names and passwords,” said Richard White, Science Department Chair, Griffin Middle School. “I need to be able to import CSV files and have the software generate the user names while I assign a generic password.”

It makes sense to engineer content and tools to work for the teacher as much as they work for the student. A happy teacher makes for a successful use of the new education tool.

Providing Integration

Making new tech easy for teachers to implement within larger district learning management (LMS) and student information systems (SIS) is a primary consideration. “Products need to have seamless integration within existing district technology ecosystems,” said Scott Beiter, a science teacher at Rensselaer Junior Senior High School. “A district won’t buy all new hardware just to adopt one wonderful product.”

For example, integrating into Google for Education allows teachers across the country to use digital tools. Similarly, working within other widespread and adopted education standards, both curriculum and technological, helps teachers use your tool.

“Two words: Google integration!” added Rebecca Beiter, a teacher at Bethlehem Central School District.

A Little How-to Help Goes a Long Way

Sometimes making a new digital tool work in a classroom is as much as about guidance as the actual tool itself. Not every teacher will pick up on how to implement a tool, no matter how well designed it is.

Many companies release their tools with video tutorials, webinars, professional development, and user support forums to make their tech easy for teachers. Some actively seek feedback from teachers and incorporate that feedback in their product evolutions (have you joined the Legends of Learning community yet?).

Secondary content such as lesson plans and evaluation tools can make a big difference for a teacher’s experience. Not only does the digital tool work, but the supplementary content helps teachers at least consider how to implement in the classrooms.

Going the extra mile can make all the difference for a new education tool.

Additional Teacher Insights

We asked our Legends of Learning community members what they thought about the topic, too. Several offered additional insights:

“Making tech media accessible to students on a free basis is crucial,” said Caitlin Unterman, a teacher at Bedford County Public Schools. “Also, including easy to read instructions, easy to manipulate sites, and allowing for manipulation of content, is key!”

“As an educator, companies need to follow CIPA rules and make student sign up easy and without emails,” said Bobby Brian Lewis, Bibb County Schools. “They can also make tech that can read to students to meet the needs of special needs students such as close caption. Tech companies need to be aware of the needs of students with special needs.”

“Companies should look to their local community to help schools improve their internet connections,” said Nancy Hoppa, Ingenuity Program, Baltimore City Public Schools. “Many school communities are in older buildings and just getting connected in the first place presents a no go situation. One in which we need to almost always have a back up plan just in case. Another big problem we are facing is using technology for engineering/stem based projects. We need tools to construct the projects we are designing online and training. This generation does not have nearly as much experience working with hammer, nails and saws!”

There’s no single best way to make tech easy for teachers. Doing so is crucial to enable students to succeed in the digital age.

What do you think?

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