We’ve made it to December, the Legendary Season of Giving! While you’re giving your students the gift of engaging science games in the classroom, there may be additional teachers out there who have yet to discover Legends of Learning. Since it is the season of giving, we decided to add to the fun and offer gifts for teachers who refer us.
Between now and December 31, when you refer other science teachers and they start using Legends of Learning*, you’ll receive the following gifts:
1 Referral – Gift: Dean Silencio Pez Head (Pez included!)
3 Referrals – Gift: LoL T-shirt & Cape set
5 Referrals – Gift: Two tickets to Star Wars: The Last Jedi (or a movie of your choice)
Plus, don’t forget, you also earn 1000 coins for every referral! That’s good for 1000 science games for your students to play.
Give your colleagues the gift of game-based learning and celebrate the Legendary Season of Giving! There’s no better way to liven up a classroom at the end of the calendar year. Start making referrals today! (Not sure how? Find out in the Hall of Knowledge.)
*In order to qualify for a gift, referred teachers need to log in and launch a playlist on Legends of Learning by December 31.
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
Test Prep PowerPoint Presentation
About Richard White
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.
Young STEM Visionaries Share their Inspiration
This November’s STEM Visions Contest featured submissions from teachers across the country, from California to Oklahoma to Massachusetts. All of the entries demonstrated how much these legendary science teachers inspire their students on a daily basis.
The contest was an overarching STEM activity for students. Teachers launched playlists of Legends of Learning science games in class, then asked how students could see themselves pursuing a career in STEM fields. Entries were posted on Facebook (and some on Google Docs).
Students wowed us with their visions for the future. The most popular ideas for future STEM careers were in the fields of veterinary science, astronomy, marine biology, and engineering.
With so many thoughtful, creative entries, it was difficult to select the winners. Ultimately, after much deliberation, we had a winning submission: Kimberly King from Green Fields School (Tucson, AZ)! Kimberly submitted 21 students’ STEM visions, showcasing an impressive array of ideas they have for how to impact the world in their future careers. View her entire album of submissions here.
For winning the contest, Kimberly will receive a $1000 grant on DonorsChoose.org, along with a full-year license for her school to use Legends of Learning!
Four more of the most impressive submissions were selected as runners-up. View their submissions by clicking the links below:
Congratulations to our winner, Kimberly, our runners-up, Veronica, Joy, Denise, and Scott, and all of the amazing educators who entered the contest! More importantly, thank you to all of these teachers for investing in the future by inspiring their students every single day.
Top 7.5 Ways to Use Legends of Learning Playlists
Game-based learning produces strong performance results and engagement. Playlists help teachers manage and deploy games for their classrooms to achieve those results. They are an incredibly versatile tool that provide strategic lesson plan architecture, real-time data and control, and performance analytics.
To help teachers we’ve compiled a list of the top seven (and a half) ways teachers can use playlists with their students:
1. Introduce science content – LoL playlists can provide a great introduction to new concepts. Each game contains a significant amount of content, so students can visualize new science concepts in a fun, interactive environment before listening to a lecture or opening a textbook.
2. Mid-unit refresh – After a few days of teaching the same topic, it can start to get stale for students. Reinforce and invigorate your lessons by deploying a playlist in the middle of the unit. Keep it fresh with a little fun!
3. Homework – Looking for take-home exercises that don’t involve a worksheet? Now you can build a playlist and set it to launch at a future date, for a set period of time. Your students might even want to do their homework!
4. Monday warm-up – It’s amazing how much students can forget content over the weekend. Use games and quiz questions in Legends of Learning playlists to ease them back into the swing of learning science for the week.
5. Assess progress – One of the best features playlists offer are assessment questions. This item lets you gage student knowledge and progress anywhere in a playlist; before, after, or in between games. You will know whether students are getting the larger lesson or not in real-time.
6. Stations – If your students are rotating through stations, between labs and other activities, playlists are a perfect addition; you can build them to last as little as ten minutes. This is a good option for classrooms that do not have one-to-one device access.
7. Test Review – Study guides, jeopardy, and practice tests help students prepare for tests from many different angles. Playlists add another element, mixing engaging gameplay with strong subject matter review.
7.5. Past unit recall – In that same vein (thus, the 7.5), if your students need to review foundational concepts you taught them months ago, launch a playlist for their blast from the past! This can be particularly useful for highlighting NGSS Crosscutting Concepts (CCC), which you can read about on our blog.
Excerpted from How to Prevent Summer Learning Loss and Close Achievement Gaps. Download it today.
By the end of May, everyone is ready for a break from the school routine. Students stop responding to the usual content delivery methods, and as a result, summer learning loss sets in.
So change up your methods.
Develop summer courses that meet learning needs and curriculum standards while providing fun and engagement. Fun and engagement can take many forms, from project based learning to field trips to digital gaming. For example, Legends of Learning science games provide an interactive learning experience for students with questions aligned to curriculum standards. The teaching methods vary but should be aligned with your district’s overarching academic goals.
To help you get started, here are six quick tips to add a little variety to your summer learning programs.
Six Tips For Your Summer Learning Experience
1) Focus on Individualized, Personalized Instruction. Limiting summer class size allows teachers and students to interact one-on-one more often. As a result, relationships develop; students are encouraged to learn and grow; and teachers guide students toward classroom lessons and activities that fit the individual student’s learning level and style.
2) Take Kids on Field Trips. Teachers demonstrate learning is fun through field trips. Such trips can occur within the community and range from the zoo to a local bottling company. If funds are tight, supplement off-campus field trips with digital ones. Google and Discovery, for example, offer digital field trips that take place in the Sahara, Antarctica, and other locations.
3) Invite Speakers to the School Campus. Students see how curriculum lessons translate to life skills when people talk about their day-to-day work. Teachers could invite civic leaders, parents, and other people into the classroom to talk about their work experiences and background. Microsoft also provides experts for the classroom via Skype. Kids can hear from environmentalists, coastal engineers, and other pioneers in the arts and sciences.
4) Turn Facts into Skills with Hands-On Projects. Students learn what they live, so teachers should find ways to turn basic concepts into practical skills. Some schools facilitate this idea with community projects, such as a garden or recycling center. Some schools, though, involve students in activities like building a greenhouse or small-scale wind farm. Others take their students to community partners where they participate in activities and projects.
5) Keep Kids Engaged Inside and Outside the Classroom with Digital Games. Kids like games. Teachers often do, too. Edgames offer chances to connect with students on their level. Kids play online games all the time, so giving them games that facilitate learning and subject mastery is a no-brainer. Plus, edgames typically allow teachers and district administrators to monitor student progress and, depending on the implementation, keep budget costs low.
6) Test New Teaching Models and Classroom Layouts. Summer provides a perfect time to pilot new teaching models, methods, and classroom layouts, says Gary Huggins, CEO of the National Summer Learning Association. Explore blended learning models, edgames platforms, and other ways to engage students and build digital literacy skills. Assess impact at the end of the summer and expand what works into an official instructional approach.
No matter which method(s) you employ, remember that students are drawn in by new experiences. If you surprise them each day with even a small tweak to your instructional methods you will see a huge increase in student engagement. Try Legends of Learning science games and you will see some very excited looks on students faces. Have a great summer and shake it up!
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.
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 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 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
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.
Personalize Your Test Prep with Science Games
Teachers, do you hear that? It’s the sound of summer. But before you get there, there is this little thing called testing that comes up in the spring. Did you know in spring testing is more common than flowers? A key to successful testing is preparing students so content is fresh and top of mind.
Nearly every school in the country is testing this week, tested in the last week couple weeks or is testing in the next couple weeks. For example, in Baltimore students are taking the PARCC exams for the next three weeks while in Virginia they will be tested on the SOL.
All of this makes testing at this time of year extremely challenging for teachers. Teachers have to find a way to keep students motivated and engaged in class so they do their best on exams.
The key to student success on exams depends a lot on how confident they feel in the material they are being tested on. That means practice. Students need to prepare for test taking in a way that’s fun and engaging so they aren’t wracked with nerves when they are taking the real test.
How can you achieve this worthy goal? By playing games of course!
It might sound crazy, but games are exactly the right tool to pull out of the tool belt right now. Think about it. Students are a little stir crazy. They can hear summer coming and spring break is either just around the corner or just gone by. Students really need some engagement, and science games offer just that.
In our pilot of short curricula games last year, our research statistically proved that when students learn with games they have higher levels of simple fact recall and are thus able to give more sophisticated answers to complex questions on tests.
But don’t take our word for it. We have a lot of teacher Ambassadors who have already thought of some great ways to use games to prep for their exams. Here are some of their suggestions:
Renee Ekhoff, Nebraska
Recently, we were studying adaptations and natural selection. We used the life science games — Walter’s Travels and Survival of the Fittest — to identify adaptations, both behavioral and physical. The students applied their practice to their review for the quiz and for the adaptation poster. It was awesome to see students using adaptations they had learned through the games on their projects! — Renee Ekhoff, Nebraska
Ann Pottebaum, Iowa
I have previewed the games and selected ones that best fit our learning objectives. I have projected the games up, and we have worked through them together to introduce the site/types of games available to study for exams.
The students thought they were great. What an interactive way to study and review as we finished our units on atoms, molecules, compounds and bonding! — Anne Pottebaum, Iowa
Caitlin Unterman, Virginia
We used the natural resources games to help review renewable vs nonrenewable sources. We also used the oceanography (weather and the ocean) to review ocean currents. — Caitlin Unterman, Virginia
Elizabeth Lewellen, California
LOL has been an invaluable tool for helping my students prepare for the state test. Students have been giving me personal requests for the topics they feel they need to review the most.
Every student is different. With LOL I just launch a playlist for the different topics requested, and in this way I’m differentiating the review practice for each student. It’s awesome. Its empowering for me and the students feel very catered to when they feel their personal needs for instructional focus are being met. — Elizabeth Lewellen, California
Mariana Garcia-Serrato, California
For test prep in 8th grade, I displayed the complete list of LOL learning objectives. Students were invited to peruse them and decide which ones each of them wanted to review.
Then I created different playlists for groups and individuals based on their perceived needs, with a couple of special invites for concepts that were covered in previous years. Having that list of discrete learning objectives proved an easy way for them to decide what to study! — Mariana Garcia-Serrato, California
If you want to play the games for yourself, sign up today on the Legends of Learning platform. To become an ambassador, visit our site and fill out this simple form (https://www.legendsoflearning.com/join-us/).
Good luck with testing and the rest of your school year!
More Than 700 Middle School Science Games Now Available!
We are thrilled to launch our game-based learning platform with more than 700 curriculum-based games for middle school earth and space science, life sciences, and physical science curricula. The science games, created by over 300 games developers, are based on rigorous academic research conducted in partnership with Vanderbilt University.
In preparation for the platform launch, Legends of Learning involved more than 500 teacher ambassadors from across the country. Their participation will ultimately build a library of 700 games by the end of spring, with more games in different subjects and grades underway. The games and platform have benefitted from direct feedback by Legends of Learning’s teacher ambassador community, resulting in games ideally suited for the challenges of today’s learning environments.
“I have been teaching science for 14 years and never have I seen a company listen to teachers and incorporate feedback like Legends of Learning has,” said Scott Beiter, a veteran science teacher from Rensselaer, New York, and Legends of Learning teacher ambassador. “It is hard to find a platform that is easy-to-use and integrates into what I am already teaching, but Legends of Learning has created one for middle school science.”
Legends of Learning founder and CEO Vadim Polikov, a research scientist, believes that research is the foundation for successful game-based learning and long-term educational reform. The soon-to-be-released controlled study in partnership with Vanderbilt University, “Substantial Integration of Typical Educational Games into Extended Curricula,” measured the performance of more than 1,000 students in seven states and in schools with differing student bodies, socioeconomic factors, and geographical locations. The study demonstrated statistically significant success, showing that academic performance and engagement increase with curriculum aligned game-based learning.
Some unique aspects of the Legends of Learning game-based learning platform include:
Short games (5-15 minutes) that align to middle school science curriculum standards to ensure content engages and helps students succeed in their studies;
An intuitive platform similar to Netflix and Amazon that makes games easy and natural to use in classrooms; and
A dashboard that allows teachers to observe student comprehension in real time, create game playlists for classes and individual students, and assess content mastery.
“I firmly believe in using original academic research to test the efficacy of new education products while at the same time making sure the classroom implementation is incredibly easy for educators,” said our CEO Vadim Polikov. “Working with a wide range of teachers and game developers has allowed us to build a unique platform that will be easy for educators to integrate and use in their classrooms.”