Thursday, May 23, 2013

If You Can't Beat Them, Join Them

Good evening!

I've been doing a lot of reflecting on teaching and my students in general.  I've begun reading a book about kids of the Millennial generation.

I'm not very far into Millennials Rising, but the fact that this generation (1980ish to the present) is distinct from those before it is worth keeping in mind.  Being born in 1986, I am in a position to both represent and teach this generation at the same time.

It may be why I resonate with my students in ways that more experienced (yes older) teachers do not.  There's nothing to take away from veteran, master teachers, but at some point a disconnect forms.  I have found sometimes that my own thinking or experience more closely mirrors my students than my peers, and I'm hoping that this book is going to help me understand why.

For example, I have been tinkering with ideas on how to structure my classroom in a manner that most kids would understand.  I love the idea of "leveling up."  For those of you not familiar, video games such as Call of Duty, Halo, and Gears of War as well as massively-multiplayer online roleplaying games (MMORPG's) like World of Warcraft, Star Trek Online, and Star Wars:  The Old Republic do the same thing.

Leveling up requires the gaining of experience.  Experience is gained by performing tasks or completing challenges or assignments.  Sound familiar?  I figure why not use a system that already is ingrained in a lot of our students' minds?  This isn't capitulation... it's differentiation.  It's just differentiation for a generation that has lived and grown up in a world much different than the one education currently prepares kids for.

So why not?  Is this approach right for everyone?  Probably not.  But that doesn't mean that there isn't a right one out there for everyone.  Take a look around, find out more about your students.  Ask them questions.  Find out what they like.  No sense reinventing the wheel... just re-purpose it.

I am tinkering with an idea to use badges in Edmodo for a ranking system.  Kids would work up through the ranks as such:

I'm hoping that with this type of system that kids will want to work because they achieve status and prestige by doing so.  I may have to throw in some extrinsic rewards as we go, but why not?

Anyways, food for thought.  Summer break starts for my kids tomorrow.  4 years down...  can't believe it.

Mr. J.

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