Teach Super

We live in a society that idolizes super heroes. Everyone wants to be super, and teachers are no different: They can teach super. An elementary school teacher’s impact on a child surpasses almost anyone else in their life, other than parents and close relatives.

Do you know how important you are to your students?

By sparking curiosity and interest in a subject like science, you can build the foundation for a future career and lifelong passion. But it takes more than just an attentive teacher; it requires making STEM fun and playful.

Just last December, Getting Smart magazine noted how important it is to make science a fun activity. “Implementing a STEM curriculum during the early elementary grades which combines play with direct instruction can lead to long-term interest in these subjects,” writes Tracy Derrell. Maintaining interest from elementary and through middle school requires engagement.

That’s where teaching super comes into play.

The Need for Super Teachers

Teachers can be super by engaging students in science lessons.

The need for super teachers is real. Only 34% of 4th grade students achieved a score of “At or Above Proficient” on the science portion of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

The United States needs its youth to take on STEM careers. The country is currently reliant on foreign workers to fulfill its STEM workforce.

So how does an educator make science fun and playful?

For starters, you can make a game of it. That goes well beyond Legends of Learning’s elementary suite of games. There are many ways to make content accessible to students.

For example, consider these eight fun resources we found to help teachers preparing science students for tests. Or find a different way to make science more interesting and applicable to students’ real lives. There are hundreds of such activities across the Internet.

When You Teach Super

Two Legendary science teachers at FETC in Florida.

Experienced teachers know success often bubbles up as singular breakthrough events that occur during the long march of a school year. Teaching can become a slog, particularly in the winter months when the days are short and the work is long.

But then there’s that student who suddenly comes alive. Or that class that really gets into a lesson. Maybe a former student comes back to visit or reaches out and thanks you for providing that spark.

Consider how these two students fell in love with science as a result of witnessing the total solar eclipse last summer. The experience infused them with a new excitement for science.

So, Legend, every day is a great day to teach super.

Let us know how we can support you.

Finding the Riches in Game-Based Learning

Using GBL to maximize enrichment benefits in the classroom

By Caitlin Unterman, 8th Grade Science Teacher, Forest Middle School (VA)

Most in the education world believe that enrichment is the most important goal of a classroom. Teachers focus on creating opportunities that simultaneously enrich and engage students. However, many fail to recognize what is actually enrichment, and what is simply reinforcement.

Enrichment, by definition, is “the act of making someone wealthier.” I like to think this is wealth in the form of knowledge. Do a simple Google search and you find another definition of enrichment: “improving or enhancing the quality or value of something”.

Both definitions apply to our classrooms. And there is no better way to enhance the value of “something” than by adding what kids love best: games.

Another simple Google search can find you the EdTech definition of game-based learning: “Generally, game based learning is designed to balance subject matter with gameplay and the ability of the player to retain and apply said subject matter to the real world.”

Put enrichment and game-based learning together by definition, and you would get “Generally, game based learning is designed to balance subject matter with gameplay and the ability of the player to retain and apply said subject matter to the real world, while improving or enhancing the quality or value of education.” As an 8th grade Earth Science teacher, that sounds pretty sweet.

Importance of Enrichment in All Content Areas

Like the majority of teachers, my enrichment efforts are based on data. Strands of weakness and complex learning concepts take priority as I work to innovate and plan creative units to convey the concepts better. Try teaching radiometric dating and half-life curves to a bunch of 8th graders who were put into a High School Credit science class… That is quite a challenge.

Game-based learning has become the Aleve to my headache in that regard. Students are far more interested in their phones than any piece of paper I hand out. So, I moved towards digital learning.

Using the game-based learning platform Legends of Learning, I created a pre-test playlist on geologic time, added an assessment pack at the end, and downloaded my students’ performance data. After highlighting the weaker strands (subcategories within the topic), I made a new playlist. I taught the concepts per usual, emphasizing the weaknesses shown in the pre-test playlist data, and then launched the playlist again after my normal teaching lessons. (For an example of how to track student performance, check out the Hall of Knowledge here.)

An enrichment playlist covering geologic time.

Much to my surprise, weak strands were no longer categorized as “weak”, moreso, “improving”. Take a look at the Vanderbilt study conducted in partnership with Legends of Learning, and it speaks for itself. Weak strands can become enhanced strands through game-based learning enrichment.

How to Implement Games to Target Weak Strands

Some may think, “All of this is great, but where do I start?” Game-based enrichment isn’t something you just wake up and decide to implement one day.

Instead, consider doing some critical data analysis, at least once, before jumping right in.

The data analysis portion of the Legends of Learning platform allows you to break down each learning objective by student performance.

Teachers can download student data to track progress during enrichment activities.

From this, identify the weak strands. Your definition of “weak” may differ from mine, but usually I emphasize those showing 50% mastery or below. Think about those weak strands in terms of what I call the 3 Vs: Volume, Value, Vocabulary. Let’s break those down:

Volume

On average, how much time do you spend emphasizing a strand? One day? One week? Strands that are only the focus of one day of class may not be as crucial as larger units you spend weeks on. Take out the strands that are “one-dayers”.

Value

Are the skills presented in this weak strand going to affect later learning objectives? Place an educational value on the learning objective. Is the concept crucial or supplementary?

Vocabulary

Is the learning objective heavy on vocab? If so, take a look at the overview and curriculum for each game. Find the key vocabulary needed, pack the playlist, schedule the playlist to run over the weekend as “homework,” and collect data on Monday. You should see improvement.

View curriculum details for each game before using it for enrichment.

The key to game-based enrichment is finding the value in the innovative learning that is taking place. Don’t just plug in games that are fun and engaging. The games need to emphasize weaknesses within the content in order for enrichment to be successful.

What are your experiences with using GBL for enrichment?

Here Come the AI Teaching Bots

A recent EdTech Magazine article advocates for the rise of AI in the classroom. Often dubbed “bots” in social media circles, these subtle software programs are using algorithms to help teachers measure student performance.

The article marks the inevitable use of AI and bots in the classroom. The education AI movement extends beyond the edtech sector and includes some of the industry’s biggest content providers, like McGraw-Hill.

Uses for AI extend across diverse subjects and tasks. Whether it’s assessments or grading or recommending next levels of content, AI can help a teacher make smart decisions about how to guide a student and/or a classroom.

Of course, the EdTech Magazine article closes with an almost mandatory, semi-comforting phrase: “We will always need teachers and human interaction in the classroom. Anything else does not compute.”

But if that’s the case, how does AI work with a teacher in the classroom?

Rise of the AI Teacher Advisor

IBM launched its Teacher Advisor with Watson AI program to help educators. The program was developed in partnership with the American Federation of Teachers.

With tests in more than 1000 classrooms, the program aims to save elementary school teachers time through formative assessment, lesson planning, and other actions. In essence, Teacher Advisor is the digital equivalent of a teaching assistant.

We like AI teaching tools like this because we know how overburdened teachers are, particularly public school teachers. Whether they have 30 students in elementary school or 120 in high school, personalizing lessons for individual students or small cohorts is challenging.

That is particularly true not just with class and non-class hours, but also during personal time. Teachers are spending as much as five to seven hours per week just looking for new and interesting content. Then they have to assess, integrate, and launch this content. Not to mention their actual grading and teaching work.

If we consider any relief or assistance to be useful, AI can make a teacher’s life much more reasonable.

But can it replace a teacher? Isn’t that the great fear?

The Diamond Age AI Lesson

Neal Stephenson’s cyberpunk classic The Diamond Age picks up this very subject. In the book, three young girls are all given the same nanotech primer to help them learn and understand subjects as well as life skills.

How does the AI primer work out for these girls? As you might expect, it works very differently for each individual student.

In fact, it doesn’t matter that the AI alters itself to meet the students’ needs. The students are unique and make different decisions based on their perspective.

While educational, the primer cannot coach the girls well or help them change their life perspective. In some ways, The Diamond Age illustrates the failure of technology to influence our humanity.

In the end, teaching is more than imparting knowledge upon students. A teacher delivers a very real human perspective, either intentionally or through abstract experience. When given the time to focus, teachers perceive a students’ needs, needs that may not be expressed through performance data.

This human interaction may never be replicated by AI. Perhaps this is why we will always need a teacher’s perspective.

What do you think?

7 Go-To Sites for Discovering Science Resources

Teachers are constantly searching for new science resources and content to diversify their lessons and engage students. Surfing the Internet is a great way to find what you’re looking for, but the Internet is a big place. That’s why some teachers spend as much as five to seven hours a week browsing for content.

If you are looking for more than games, jumpstart your search here. These seven sites can help make it a little narrower.

1) Share My Lesson

Share My Lesson is a fantastic database of science resources, featuring lessons from early childhood through high school. As the name implies, teachers log on and share their own lessons and resources. To date, those total more than 420,000, including more than 11,000 for middle school science alone! They’re all free, and searchable by grade and standards.

2) Teachers Pay Teachers

You’ve probably heard of Teachers Pay Teachers by now. Much like Share My Lesson, TpT hosts lessons crowdsourced from educators. Boasting an even bigger library of more than 2.8m resources, some free and some paid, it’s a fantastic tool for bringing together the genius of teachers everywhere. When you’re searching, you can sort by grade, subject, resource type, and price, or check out the trending topics on their homepage.

Teachers Pay Teachers hosts science resources for teachers everywhere.

3) University of Cincinnati Libraries

The UC Libraries STEM Education page links to a bunch of juicy STEM content across the web. These include science websites, lesson plan libraries, student research databases, educational videos, curriculum resources, and much more. Dig in to this wealth of material, vetted by a major research university.

4) Getting Smart “Smart Lists”

If you don’t know Getting Smart, you should. They publish articles about every education topic from policy to personalized learning. Their “Smart Lists” blog series features resource lists with different themes every month. Find lists of education blogs & newsletters, parent resources & homework help, music & art, and more. Start by checking out this STEM & Maker Resources list from September.

Getting Smart hosts tons of science content, including Smart Lists which feature great science resources.

5) Teaching Ideas

Teaching Ideas is a British site that lists an eye-popping amount of resources for teachers. Along with science, teachers can find inspiration for English, “maths” 😉 , computing, art, music, history, PE, you name it — so go ahead and share it with your non-science colleagues! If you’re looking for lesson plans, projects, videos, games, it’s all here, with a search functionality and many levels of filtering.

6) Tes

Tes is an education giant, claiming “the world’s largest online community of teachers” with almost 8 million registered users. Like Share My Lesson and TpT, Tes hosts a marketplace where teachers can share all kinds of resources, free and paid, from pre-K through high school. Their marketplace also features a bunch of discussion forums, as well as resources for exploring the teacher job market (focused on the UK). They also publish a magazine, and publish tons of education-related news. Talk about a go-to education site!

Tes has thousands of science resources, from lesson plans to news articles.

7) Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative

Out of the University of British Columbia, CWSEI mainly focuses on research related to science pedagogy in higher education. However, their site lists a wide variety of resources, including tools that can be used in the classroom, but also a plethora of reference books and articles for everything you want to learn about education. The Initiative’s stated goal is to build “a more scientifically literate populace… able to make wise decisions, informed by scientific understanding, about other complex issues” — a mission we can all get behind!

If you’re looking for new science resources, this list is a good place to start. These websites complement the depth and breadth of the thousands of science games and assessment items teachers find on the Legends of Learning platform.

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!

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!

27 Tips to Set Up Your Blended Learning Classroom

Blended learning offers amazing benefits to the classroom, with ISTE reporting it meets many of the organization’s Standards for Students and Teachers and leads to a “more rigorous, challenging, engaging, and thought-provoking classroom.” While true, blending learning has to be implemented correctly to provide engagement and teach classroom lessons.

In its simplest definition, blended learning integrates digital content, like Legends of Learning educational games (edgames), with face-to-face learning. The more technical definition says blended learning integrates digital content with traditional teaching methods; typically requires the physical presence of the teacher and students in a classroom; and gives the student some control over their time, space, and learning path and pace.

To create a blended learning classroom, use some or all of the following 27 tips. The tips can be categorized into three areas: planning, implementation, and improvement. As such, you should find a relevant suggestion for wherever you are in the blended learning journey.

27 Blended Learning Tips

1. Redefine your role in the classroom. You, the teacher, perform a critical part in encouraging deeper learning. However, the role is evolving, particularly in blended learning environments. TNTP, a nonprofit organization dedicated to positive change in public schools, says teachers who employ blended learning should learn to see themselves as people with three distinct responsibilities. These include research and development, integration, and guidance. The three responsibilities may be owned by an individual teacher or shared amongst a team.

2. Start with a description of the curriculum. Writing down what the next two weeks or semester will cover often identifies learning goals, objectives, and outcomes. The description also ensures your familiarity with the curriculum content and helps pinpoint potential digital resources, such as edgames, online quizzes, and videos.

3. Outline your goals. Goals strip a curriculum description of the fluff, leaving you with a clear focus and targets to hit.

4. Determine learning objectives. Learning objectives quantify goals. Set these so that you can measure classroom and student performance in real time and at the end of a learning block.

5. Define learning outcomes. Outcomes define how students will achieve objectives and demonstrate competency in the subject matter. Specific outcomes could include classroom participation, online assignments, oral presentations, et cetera.

6. Choose a blended learning model. Once you have a clear picture of what you want to teach and desire students to achieve, you can choose a blended learning model. The common models number six: face-to-face driver, rotation, flex, online-only, self-blend, and online-driver. Most of the models contain nuances. For example, the rotation model spans rotation stations, lab rotations, and individual rotations. Another common model includes the flipped classroom, in which online content and instruction is delivered online and at home. Students then come to a brick-and-mortar school for in-classroom projects and practice. Some teachers use one or more models to make their classroom content more engaging and rigorous.

7. Explore different teaching methods to complement the model. Different models and teaching roles sometimes mean changing up your teaching methods. Some blended learning classrooms, for instance, use team teaching.

8. Use the right technology tools. Software changes often, so it’s important to set down the fixed matters first. Goals, learning objectives and outcomes, blended learning models, and instructional methods should dictate the technology choice, not the other way around. In addition, remember that you may need more than one tool. Students learn differently and have unique needs. It’s unlikely that one edgame or digital resource will work well for all.

9. Aim for relevance and fun, not one or the other. This tip relates to technology in that the tool should be relevant AND fun. That is, the digital content should complement learning objectives and achieve outcomes. If it doesn’t, the tool is irrelevant and ineffectual. The tool, though, also needs to be fun. Students won’t use a tool they don’t like.

10. Design the classroom as a blended learning environment. Layout and aesthetics affect student morale and the ability to learn. Plus, if you use a specific learning model, you may need to move desks and chairs around. You don’t necessarily have to do the work on your own; Mark Philips, a teacher and educational journalist, notes in an Edutopia article that student involvement in classroom design and layout can “empower them, develop community, and increase motivation.”

11. Know the traditional and online content. To build trust with students, you need to know the content inside and out. This means revisiting the curriculum content, as well as testing digital content and edgames. You want tools that cement knowledge, lead to application and critical thinking, and motivate learning, not ones that sabotage your efforts or frustrate students.

12. Create individual and collective learning goals. You established overarching learning goals earlier. Now, combine them with individual learning goals. Students work at different paces and may be on another learning path than another student. Learn to incorporate that information into your blended learning planning to see success with students and the classroom as a whole.

13. Develop a classroom culture that embraces blended learning. Esther Wojcicki shares her process for creating a blended learning culture in the book “Moonshots in Education: Launching Blended Learning in the Classroom.” She uses the acronym “TRICK,” which stands for trust, respect, independence, collaboration, and kindness. With those values embedded in the classroom, students want to learn, grow, and help out their teacher and classmates.

14. Set expectations. Students achieve when given goals, so set expectations. Let them know how to succeed in the classroom and at home, and they will.

15. Share an overview of classroom activities, projects, playlists, and outside resources. With overall expectations set, share daily and weekly assignments. The process might not look all that different from standard homework tasks except that they involve online content and opportunities for in-classroom game play. Sharing additional resources for study can be a good idea, too, especially if you claim a couple of high performers or students who need to skip around assignments to stay engaged with the classroom content.

Young students in grades 3-5 using science games in the classroom.
16. Provide clear instructions and routines for game play. Students need to know to log out of an application and turn off computers or tablets before moving to a different classroom activity. The specificity is important; students probably don’t have to log out at home, so they won’t think to do it in the classroom.

17. Give students control over time, path, place, and pace. It can be hard to relinquish control, but students excel when given the chance to direct their learning. They become more engaged with the content because they have a personal stake in their success.

18. Encourage collaboration in the classroom and online. Collaboration gives students the chance to work through complex concepts and to help each other learn. It also offers opportunities for dialogue, which teaches students to position their points with facts and hard evidence. Collaboration should occur in the classroom and online; quieter students, for example, could become extremely vocal online. If you need more reasons to employ collaborative learning, the Global Development Research Center lists 44 of them.

19. Incite curiosity, imagination, and critical thinking. Students start wondering and thinking when you ask, “What if?” You can raise that question through traditional teaching methods and online content. And, the more you ask open-ended and thought-provoking questions, the more students will seek out answers.

20. Challenge students to learn and grow with authentic, relevant tasks. Nothing’s worse than busy work, and even a fifth grader has an antenna finely attuned to it. Give students real, curriculum-based, challenging assignments, and they’ll complete and compete to finish them.

21. Review classroom and online content regularly. Online content supplements other teaching tools. As such, you should go over both pieces of content to ensure students’ basic comprehension and deeper understanding.

22. Measure individual and classroom progress. Blended learning leads to real impact when it’s measured. The work should be fairly easy to do since you already decided on goals, objectives, and outcomes. The Legends of Learning edgame platform simplifies the work further, providing real-time performance reports via an easy-to-use dashboard. Combine its information with your grade book to track and assess progress.

23. Analyze classroom impact to balance traditional teaching time and student game play. Every classroom is different, so take some time to find the right balance of traditional teaching methods and digital media. Many Legends of Learning teachers start with a 50/50 blend and work from there.

24. Identify new goals and objectives, and repeat. Once you measure progress and impact, you may discover that learning goals need to change. That’s a good thing. Goals should change over time. However, that change means you’ll need to continually adjust teaching methods and digital content to see continued success with blended learning.

25. Communicate with everyone. A blended learning classroom requires communication with everyone—students, professional peers, administrators, and parents. Blending learning works best when everybody shares a belief in the vision for it.

26. Remember the parents. On a related note, not all of your parents will get technology or edgames. They may work multiple jobs to make ends meet, so they don’t have time to learn how the internet works. Help them out with an evening class or individual meetings. By interacting with them on a personal level, you’ll see interest, buy-in, and participation grow at home and in the classroom.

27. Be patient. Finally, remember that it takes time to succeed with blended learning. Don’t give up if you don’t see the results you want within the next two weeks. Blended learning works if you’ll just be patient with it a little while longer.

Ready to start your heroic journey into blended learning? Try these 27 tips, then check out what you can do in the classroom with the Legends of Learning platform! Have any tips to add? Please add them in the comments section.

PODCAST #4: Chris Aviles on the Ethos of Game Based Learning

Chris Aviles is a teacher in New Jersey who is actively bringing game based learning to schools. He describes himself as http://www.techedupteacher.com/about-chris-aviles/

Game based learning is an ethos, not a tool that you buy, said Chris in our podcast. Still we pressed him for some recommendations. He also shared his insights about smartphones in school, and why banning them is a mistake.

Also a blogger and thought leader online, too, Chris is a great follow. Be sure to check out his profiles and chat with him.

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