New Monthly Twitter Chat: #LegendaryChat

If you are on Twitter and you like game based learning (GBL), you’re in for a treat. Starting on Monday, April 2nd at 8pm ET, we’re launching our monthly Twitter chat, #LegendaryChat!

Taking over the Twitter account that night will be Legendary ambassador Amanda Glover (she’s also on Twitter and has her own EdTech blog). Get in on the conversation simply by using the hashtag #LegendaryChat.

For the inaugural #LegendaryChat, our topic will be Intro to Game-Based Learning. This chat is ideal for educators from all over the GBL spectrum, from classroom gaming experts to interested teachers who have never used game-based learning at all.

Participants will learn:

  • The benefits of bringing GBL to the classroom
  • Challenges faced by teachers who use GBL, and how to overcome them
  • Strategies for making GBL as effective as possible for students

In the meantime, there are tons of other education-related Twitter chats you can check out! Here are some of our favorites:

Ongoing chats:

  • #scichat: Exactly what it sounds like. Chat with other educators about all things science!
  • #elemchat: Anything and everything related to elementary education! This one is new for us, since we’ve just released our first few games for grades 3-5.

Legends of Learning participates in the #XPLAP Twitter chat.

Weekly chats:

  • #XPLAP: Stands for Explore Like a Pirate. Yep, that’s a thing. Tuesdays at 10pm ET.
  • #games4ed: A Twitter chat all about gaming in education! Thursdays at 8pm ET (though we like to check out this hashtag all week long).

Do you have another Twitter chat that you love? Let us know in the comments section.

Save the date and spread the word about #LegendaryChat on Monday, April 2nd. We can’t wait to see you online! And don’t forget to follow us at @legendlearning.

Thank You for a Legendary 2017

Hello Legends,

A lot has happened at Legends of Learning in 2017, in large part because of teachers and educators like you. I would like to express my personal gratitude for everything that has helped make our science games a useful tool in schools across America, and around the world.

At NSTA, ISTE, and a number of state shows, we met so many incredible educators who are working to improve science learning in schools. This included many ambassadors who helped shape our games and platform.

A small convoy of legends even got the chance to witness the Great American Eclipse (at totality!) with some amazing students from Cobb County, Georgia.

Middle school science students and teachers from Cobb County, Georgia view the Great American Eclipse with Legends of Learning on August 21, 2017.
 

What stands out the most is what superhero teachers like you have done with the platform. Sharing innovative uses in the classroom and giving amazing feedback on potential improvements helps us make science classes legendary every day.

There is much to be proud of and far more to look forward to. None of it would be possible without the teachers who work tirelessly for the benefit of today’s students, those children who will become tomorrow’s leaders.

You can always reply to this email directly and tell me what you think of Legends of Learning. We are eager to help you and your science students succeed.

On behalf of the entire Legends of Learning team, thank you. Stay legendary.

Sincerely,

Vadim Polikov, PhD

Founder & CEO, Legends of Learning

Vadim Polikov, Legends of Learning Founder & CEO

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!

Five Reasons Teachers Should Use Playlists for Game-Based Learning

The new playlist feature from Legends of Learning gives teachers the ability to deliver engaging middle school science games while closely monitoring student achievement and growth. Here are five reasons to use playlists in your class this coming year:

1) Real Time Data Dashboard – The live teacher dashboard displays student progress in real time. Each student has a dot that moves along the playlist and shows their answers to the questions from the games.

Once the playlist is over, the data is automatically stored in your account. Since every playlist is saved, you can see how student and class performance improves over time.


2) Differentiated Playlists – Creating multiple playlists allows your classroom to divide into cohorts based on academic performance and play the games most appropriate for their academic level. For example, you can create three different playlists for your advanced, proficient, and basic students, or even create a unique playlist for every student in the class. Unlimited playlist creation makes personalizing content easy.

3) Total Teacher Control – Three features give you control of the gaming experience:

  • Playlist length – You can set the timer for 3-60 minutes of game play. If you want to shorten the playlist in live mode, click the stop button and every student’s game will end.
  • Dot Color – Dots turn red if your students stop playing and wander into a different tab. This makes it easy for you to know who is actively engaged in game play.
  • Pause Button – In live mode you can pause all students simultaneously. This ensures you have every student’s attention while you teach.

4) Student Voice – If you offer students Free Play, they can choose which games to play within the current lesson’s learning objective. There are two ways to deploy Free Play:

1) Launch a playlist with extra time built in after the games are completed. When the students finish their assigned games, they can pick which games to play with any remaining class time.

2) Free Play occurs when you launch an “empty” playlist with no games in it. In that case, students can choose whichever games they want throughout the time period.

Free Play Option 1

Free Play Option 2

5) Scheduling Playlists – This soon-to-be deployed feature will allow you to schedule a playlist to deploy automatically at any time. For example, on Monday you could set a playlist to launch on Tuesday at 2:00 p.m., or on Friday you could set a playlist to launch at 2:00 p.m. and end Sunday night at 7:00 p.m.

This feature lets teachers deploy playlists for homework, or provide substitute teachers playlists as an assignment.

As you think about ways to introduce game based learning in your classroom this coming year, consider using playlists from Legends of Learning. With all the features playlists offer, you can be confident that fun will translate into real academic growth. Sign up and start creating your playlists today!

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.

Six Tips for Shaking Up Summer Learning This Year

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!

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.

NSTA Teachers Participate in Legendary March for Science in DC

NSTA teachers met in Washington, DC yesterday afternoon to participate in an historic March for Science. Though it rained, our heroic teachers rallied at the Washington monument, then walked down the national mall to Congress. Legends of Learning participated, giving teachers capes, and then walking and tweeting with the NSTA along the way.

Here are scenes from the March for Science Washington, DC edition. Photos were taken by DC-based photographer Joe Newman and our own CMO Geoff Livingston.

Photo by Joe Newman
Photo by Joe Newman
Photo by Geoff Livingston
Photo by Joe Newman
Photo by Geoff Livingston
Photo by Joe Newman
Photo by Joe Newman
Photo by Geoff Livingston
Photo by Joe Newman
Photo by Joe Newman
Photo by Joe Newman

5 Earth Day Playlists to Engage Your Students

Earth Day is coming quickly (April 22nd, remember?) and it’s a great opportunity to teach students about conservation, responsibility and being part of a global community.

There are so many ways to make this happen. In addition to the many project based learning opportunities we listed on Monday, you can use games to help students engage in Earth Day.

See our Earth Day Activities and Ideas page for free games, additional resources and lesson plans!

The following is a list of Ambassador recommended playlists of games you can use for Earth Day. They drew from our 90 learning objectives, and more than 600 NGSS aligned science games for middle school that engage students in virtually every topic for Earth, Life and Physical Sciences.

We are dedicated to incorporating Ambassadors’ content suggestions on how to use games in the classroom. In addition, our own team offered an additional playlist.

Without further ado, check out these awesome recommendations and give your students an amazing new Earth Day experience this year.

 

Janessa Slattery’s Earth Day Playlist

Learning Objective: Increasing and Decreasing Impacts on Earth Systems

Games: Defender: Human Impact on Earth, The Big Picture Hosted by Zedd: Animal Agriculture, Mini City

Synopsis: These games show students the impact of human activities on our planet and ways we can build sustainably to avoid doing major harm.

Mariana Garcia-Serrato‘s Earth Day Playlist

Learning Objective: Global Climate Change

Games: Warm Planet Adventure, Escape Global Climate Change, Greenman and The Global Climate Change, Preventative Measures

Synopsis: Student learn about harmful greenhouse gases, ways to combat a warming atmosphere and environmentally friendly sources of alternative energy.

Caitlin Unterman‘s Earth Day Playlist

Learning Objective: Natural Resources

Games: Wealthy City, Resourceful Adventure, The Story of Natural Resources, Pipe Mechanic: Natural Resources

Synopsis: This playlist is great because it takes students through different games that express the importance of natural resources in our everyday lives. Without natural resources from our Earth, many of our daily activities and technologies would not be possible!

Jennifer Pendleton‘s Earth Day Playlist

Learning Objective: Greenhouse Effect

Games: Infrared Escape, Green Planet Adventure, Little Green Planet

Synopsis: Infrared Escape would be a good refresher on the greenhouse effect. Green Planet Adventure helps review more concepts about the greenhouse effect and reinforce them. Little Green Planet is a chance to apply the concepts learned to make decisions.

Jennifer's Earth Day playlist.

Legends of Learning’s Earth Day Playlist

Learning Objective: Human Impacts on Earth Systems

Games: Oscar’s World: Human Impacts on Earth’s Systems, Dam Planner, Bottles: Human Impacts on Earth’s Systems

Synopsis: These three games use a variety of methods to help students understand how their actions have a direct impact on Earth’s ecosystems. Dam Planner really puts students in the drivers seat and helps them actualize their decision making.

Legends of Learning's Earth Day playlist.
 

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.

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