June 13

Bringing Gamification to Your Classroom

Gamification has changed how I teach.  It’s a game-changer so to speak. There are many ways to bring gamification to your classroom.  Deciding to start small is often a good choice but don’t be afraid to throw yourself into a game whole heartedly.

After presenting to a group of teachers recently, the overwhelming feeling involved a sense of reluctancy.  “I’m not a gamer.  There’s no way I can bring games to my classroom.” Being a professional gamer is not a prerequisite to bringing gamification to your classroom. I had played a few video games in my time.  I’m not sure however, that my high score on Galaga in the late 80s would be helpful in this situation. Regardless, the idea is to create a meaningful learning experience for your students.  Classroom learning need not always be text book/worksheet driven.  Personally, if my room never sees a worksheet again it will be too soon. Gamification allows for creativity, problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, and most importantly, if done right, powerful situations that will allow the students to acquire the content and have it stick with them.

When my journey began a few things needed to change about my classroom.  I needed to give some of the control over to the students, and why not?  This is their education.  They needed to be in the driver seat, making choices and interacting with the game.  Once I let this go, my students became fully engaged. An engaged classroom is messy and loud.  It is full of collaboration and discovery.  It is a powerful environment to experience.  The clock moves swiftly and the days pass quickly.

How to begin?  Start small with a well known game.  I started with a garden sized Jenga game. Be forewarned, it is quite large and makes quite a sound when it comes crashing down.  The sound the kids will make however, is much louder.  Taking time to color the end of the pieces makes the game much more versatile.  We were working on a unit review.  Using a set of twenty multiple choice questions the students pulled pieces.  The color on the end of the piece was matched with a set of questions.  The students then decided which question they wanted to complete.  If we completed the entire question set without the tower tumbling, the entire class received extra credit on the unit test. The reaction of the students was nothing short of amazing.  Their level of engagement was incredible.  It was all I needed to start adding more.

As a teacher of ancient history, it is often difficult for students to understand the concepts related to the ancient world. Sid Meier’s Civilization immediately came to mind.  After purchasing the game on a rainy weekend and essentially playing for hours on end, I knew there was something to pulling my students into a simulation.  Monday morning I put the students into pre-history hunting and gathering groups and asked them to choose where they would settle on an oversized game board I created.  The discussions in their groups were phenomenal.  The geography skills they had just learned were resurfacing in their engaging conversations.  The class period flew by and the energy was contagious.

This began the process of my first game.  Each week I would outline the ideas I wanted my students to master by the end of the week.  After this, I would look at the game mechanics that would allow them to acquire that information.  Students need to move and interact with the curriculum.  They need to experience it instead of observe it from afar.  Week by week I added more to the game.  The students are an essential and incredibly valuable resource.  They feel very powerful when they add to the game.  They were often called my beta testers and carried this title with pride.

Bringing gamification to my classroom is a no-brainer.  Is it easy?  No.  Is it worth it? Yes. Kids deserve the best we can give them.  Their engagement is the payoff.  There is nothing like it.

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April 27

What Have We Done?

Recently, I had a student ask me for a review pack for our upcoming state test.

“I’m not giving review packs this year,” I said confidently knowing my time spent gamifying their content would surely payoff.  My ego was quickly put in check by the student’s pale and unnerved face.

“Wait. What?! No review packet?! I WON’T PASS THE TEST!” And she meant business. Her world was crumbling around her.  Noticing the panic in her face, I attempted to bring a little levity to the situation.

“Except the big, thick one packet you are getting tomorrow for your Social Studies test!” I said with the absolute cheesiest smile I could muster.

“OH THANK GOD! We were all talking and we just don’t think we’re going to be ready without a packet!”  Her backpack slid down her arm as her expression of relief vibrated through to her finger tips.  She bounced down the hallway, everything right in her world but I was left standing, mouth gaping and dumbfounded.

What have we done?  Learning is everything.  It is the gentle flap of butterfly wings in your stomach when uncovering new information.  It is the power of curiosity to take one down uncharted paths.  It is a continuous lifelong adventure that winds and twists with excitement.

Our classrooms should be where these adventures begin: harbors where students stockpile supplies and head out on daring journeys but may always return for safety and comfort, to restock and head out again.

Instead of instilling a passion for learning, we have created a generation that successfully maneuvers packets.  This is certainly a 21st century skill that will propel them well into the future.   The depth at which my sarcasm is running need not be quantified here.

Is it too late to rectify this situation?  Identifying the problem is the first step.  Our schools need to be design labs, rich, interactive environments where students explore their passions and are guided by us on an unforgettable journey.  This journey must by make them life long learners, individuals who are willing to search out information for the simple benefit of learning more.

Setting out to create this environment can be challenging.  There are financial stumbling blocks and perhaps even administrative deterrents.  Before you begin, know your facts.  Research is important.  Industrialized learning spaces seems counterproductive to what needs to be accomplished therefore, learning space design was the best place to start.

Research into effective learning spaces yielded an enormous change in classroom atmosphere.  Students no longer equated our classroom with their negative connotation of school, rather, they called it home.  Comfortable seating in areas called “the living room” or “the genius bar” led to increased student interaction and many authentic learning experiences.

While student engagement had increased, pieces were still missing.  How do kids authentically learn?  They learn through play and exploration.  The completion of a photocopied worksheet allows for little play or exploration.  Games, however, offer a whole new world of both. Enter game-based learning and gamification.  How this has not been identified as the Holy Grail of teaching is unknown to me.  It is content, set into a meaningful and interactive context where students, through play and imagination, acquire the knowledge and skills they need.  Often, they have no idea it is even happening!

As we look at our classrooms, we must ask ourselves an important question: are we exotic ports of call or run down docks parading as marinas?  Be the harbor master and set your course, building a port they will always return to and be inspired by.  It’s not easy but it is certainly worth it!

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April 26

Full Steam Ahead: The End of the Year

Education is the place to be.  Where else does one have the ability to inspire a group of young, malleable minds to reach beyond their wildest dreams and mold a future that holds endless possibilities?  That is certainly a tall order for 180 days.

As the year winds down, how do we keep the shiny determination and resilience of the first day of school?  It seems like just yesterday the smell of wax permeated our nostrils as we excitedly sharpened a bouquet of bright yellow pencils.  Their shavings falling to the ground like confetti on a parade route.  Flash forward to today.  The wax is just as worn as our patience.  The fresh, flowery spring air activates a hormonal switch that now only knows one position: on.  In middle school winter pants have become spring bermudas (literally) and flip flops are all the rage because shoes do not fit anymore.  One last item: it’s testing season.  All pre-service teachers should complete a practicum entitled, “Hormonal Spring: The Dawn of the Teenage”.  Please, don’t confuse this with a horror movie, new graphic video game, or water training for the Navy Seals.  For those of us who have endured it for several years, learning to surf is your best option.

What do I mean by this?  Show up each day in your Volkswagen van (because that’s how they see us), throw the door open and put on the best show possible.  Fill it with excitement, energy, and fire.  Literally, fill it with fire.  Creating a fireball in class will have them eating out of your hands.  It also really gets their attention.  They like to stare at bright shiny things.  For those concerned about the fire code:  I get it.  The chief and I are on a first name basis.  Stick to your comfort zone and put on the best show your nerves will allow.

My point?  Bring your “A” game until the last day of school.  Take every moment you have to stretch their minds and push them out of their comfort zones.  Disney and Universal are not paying us to show their movies until the end of the year.  Invoke a little Genius Hour time or set up a Makerspace.  When students pursue their own interests, the results are often powerful.  Plan a mini field trip around your campus or turn your room into a tropical island.  Use devices to go on a virtual field trip or mystery Skype with another class.

As the year ends, make them not want to miss a single second with you.  Leave your footprint in their path so that they may look back on it forever.

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March 30

Resources for Gamifying Your Classroom

I am in planning mode.  All my tools have been gathered.  Markers, paper, books, computer, and a large block of time are all at my disposal.  I may have mentioned in a earlier post that I am the Monica Gellar of organization. Give me a label maker and a few file folders and I can conquer the world.  Let’s get down to business. Where to start when building a game-based learning unit? Hands down the best resource around is Michael Matera’s Explore Like a Pirate. The book is well worth the investment and filled with wonderful ideas!  Where to go from here? I have gathered a few resources to help in the planning process:

  1. Gamifying Education by Extra Credits: These guys have created a visual guide to gamification in the classroom. Packed with insightful reasons for using games and filled with useful examples, this is certainly the best place to start.
  2. Edutopia is just about the best resource around for anything current.  This wonderful site has an entire section devoted to Game Based Learning.
  3. Why Gamify in the Classroom? Let’s face it, for some it will be a hard sell.  Is it more than just playing in the classroom?
  4. Edsurge.com offers a little more information into the whys and hows of gamification.
  5. Where would be without An Ultimate Guide to Gamification?  Edudemic does a great job of pulling this guide together.
  6. Personally, I had a difficult time with XP and how to level up.  This article was tremendously helpful in planning.
  7. Badges can also be a difficult  obstacle to overcome.  This article was helpful.
  8. The Institute of Play offers a few packs to help in the design process as well.

While this is by no means a comprehensive list of resources related to gamification, it is certainly a list that was very helpful in my personal planning.  Please add links in the comments if you know of a resource that would be helpful in this arena.  Best of luck in your planning!

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March 30

Flexible Seating in an Industrialized World

The sun danced through the windows of my sun porch as I enjoyed the first few days of spring break.  Determined to not let a serious head cold get me down, I would use the time to catch up on my reading and do a little research related to the changing learning space that sits in disarray a few miles away. Ken Robinson speaks so eloquently, perhaps it is his accent, about the industrialized nature of school systems.  Flash back to Pink Floyd and their haunting video of British school children pushed down an assembly line to the meat grinder.  This image plays over and over again in my head as I listen to Robinson talking about the state of our current schools.  Our society, our economy, and our students are no longer working towards industrialized, factory jobs.  As educators, we must realize that industrialized schooling is not what our students need and, if we continue to teach this way, we will contribute to the failing system at large.

There is a revolution brewing and churning.  A revolution fed by social media.  In the not too distant past, the only collaboration we were allowed as educators were to others in our area through meetings and the occasional conference that allowed us to feel a surge of what could be.  Like minded educators that feel the need for change and are fueled by progress and innovation can find one another and create their own personal PD experiences.  This is not just a national event but a global event.  Education is swiftly changing and for those who have not found the superhighway, time changes at the speed of light.

A mere six months ago I was the queen of my castle.  Desks were aligned into groups and lessons proceeded in my arena.  I will admit that I have always thought that anything that happens in my classroom should be an experience worthy of Disney.  Changing this idea into a truly collaborative experience for students is a whole other idea, however.  I wasn’t building a theatre on the Vegas strip for students to come see my shows six periods a day.  I wanted a learning studio that felt like home, a place where what they valued and wanted to learn about was just as important, if not more, than what I needed to teach them.  They needed to leave me with a  passion for learning and exploring and the knowledge of an amazing world.

Where to start?  I needed to learn…a lot.  Enter two incredible books.  PLEASE buy them, read them, and then read them gain. Teach Like a  Pirate by Dave Burgess and What Connected Educators Do Differently by Todd Whitaker, Jeff Zoul and Jimmy Casas.  While you are at it, I recommend the entire Pirate series.  There really is not a bad book in the bunch. My personal favorite is Explore Like a Pirate by Michael Matera, especially if you are into gamification.  After a considerable amount of reading, pondering, reading some more, and rethinking my role as an educator, there were changes that need to be made in my room.  My students have begun to call themselves “the Beta-Testers”.  I greatly appreciate their willingness to go along with me as I attempt to figure out the best possible environment for learning.

The first step is flexible seating.  Much of my time off, thus far, has been spent reading research and learning about other teachers who have incorporated flexible seating into their classrooms.  What I have found is summarized in my sketch note.

The artifacts of a dated system still populate my room like dinosaur bones on a dry desert plain.  My teacher desk, three file cabinets,  fifteen science lab tables and coordinating chairs.  Just freeing up my “teacher corner” will bring so much space into my small room.  After much consideration and research, there will be areas or learning pods in the classroom.  A living room, a cafe, a library, a studio, an idea lab, and a board room will be the new learning pods.  Where will the new furniture come from?  Currently I have a Donor’s Choose project posted and already have it partially funded! Next step, visit the local auction houses for great deals.  Through this method I have obtained a new couch for $15, a pair of leather captain’s chairs for $30 and several metal (ironically industrial) stools for less than $25. Finally, IKEA will be my last stop this week as the last items are gathered for the room redo.

Originally, I wanted to redo the room over the break and surprise the students upon their return but thought differently when I realized there is real benefit in the student’s creating the space and making it their own.  As I gather the materials I look forward to having student input the first day we return and change our room into a powerful place to learn.

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March 24

Can One Number Represent a Teacher’s Worth?

The alarm clock went off late and it was raining.  Not the spring shower kind of rain but the opening of the clouds kind of rain.  The bus was early.  The deep throttle of its engine laughed carelessly at the boy as it drove away spraying water onto the only jacket that made him feel good.  He picked the pieces of mud off the school logo as he walked back to the trailer his family just rented.  His dad had already left for work but mom was still asleep.  He would have to wake her up to go to school.  He wanted to just crawl back in bed but his teacher told him how important it was to be at school today.  It was the end of the year test.  He had to be there.  He had to show how much he had learned over the past several months in school.  He loved his math teacher and he didn’t want to let her down.

The ride to school was a long, silent ride.  He didn’t have time to change his clothes so he began to shake as the water in his shirt soaked through to his skin.  He walked into the office while his mom sped away with the door barely shut.  He had missed breakfast.  His stomach rumbled.  He felt like he was going to be sick.  That wasn’t an option right now.  He hurried to his locker and on to math class.  He knew they must have already started the test.  Everyone turned to look at him with the click of the door.  Water ran down his leg, dirty bus water.  He looked down to see his jacket covered in mud. Snickers could be heard echoing through the room.  His math teacher turned to see who had entered her class.  Her smile instantly warmed him.  She softly walked over to him and put her arm around him.  She made him laugh and gently squeezed his shoulders.  Instead of getting the laptop for him to start she pulled out a granola bar and an extra t-shirt from the walkathon.  He was still shaky and out of sorts from his morning but he would do the best that he could.

Every single child we teach has a story.  They are all puzzles with intricate pieces.  As teachers we try to control as many of those pieces as we possibly can but we do not have absolute control over the entire puzzle.  To suggest we do is foolish and irresponsible.  Yet many legislators and administrators believe that we do have a grasp on all of the pieces.  Could you imagine having 30 different puzzles, mixing up all the pieces and sorting them out to put together a whole complete, perfect student?  Impossible right?  Some pieces are at home.  Some pieces are at their second home.  Some pieces are at their grandparents house or an aunt or uncles, maybe a friends house.  And unfortunately for some kids, some pieces are lost forever.

We do our best everyday to identify their pieces and put them together, to make connections and build relationships.  On top of all that, we work to teach content. Who we are as educators is no longer defined in granola bars or smiles.  It is no longer defined in kindness.  Its no longer defined in the hours spent after school working on fractions or proportions.  It is not defined in the moment that a child finally learned all of their multiplication tables, in sixth grade.  It is not defined in the millions of tiny successes that students use as stepping stones to move forward.  It is defined in one number.  The number they earn on the end of the year assessment.  Have they grown enough to show that their teacher is a good teacher?  The circumstances of their morning or of their day does not matter.  The computer that recognizes a colon but not a semicolon does not matter.  The fact that the student could not read the question or their neighbor kept kicking them under the table does not matter.  It all comes down to one number.

This one number is defining teachers around this country.  Teachers who have been identified as wonderful, hard working, exceptional teachers are now marginalized by a percentage and put into a category.  When your life’s work is dismissed by a casual percentage your self worth declines.  One begins to question everything they do in the classroom.   Hours are taken from family and friends and depression follows.  How is this okay?  Why do we allow it to happen?  It is incredibly painful to watch talented colleagues fall lower and lower as data, small pieces of data, determine their future.

As teachers we work hard to inspire our kids and light the fire of passion in them.  Why do we not do this for our teachers?  Are we robots, programmed to teach to the test?  No, we are self driven individuals who are passionate about their work.  As teachers we know what is destructive to our students.  We know what causes morale to go down.  We know what causes them pain.  How and why can no one recognize this in us?

I started a book group in our school to help raise morale.  One of the hardest things I have ever seen is a talented, amazing, teacher beat down by the system.  We all give so much and deserve better. Our book is Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess.  My hope is that we will all find our passion again and stop allowing one number to define who we are as educators.  Let’s let our passion define us.  Let’s have our students remember us for the fire we instilled in them because it burned strong in us. Numbers do not define us. Our passion for what we do defines us.

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March 23

Simulating a Civilization

“Oh it’s about to get real!” This was a quote from a student as they walked into my class yesterday and saw the new game board on my cleared off desk.  The plastic men were crumpled into a pile as if they had already done battle and the plastic trees stood tall in the vast wilderness of the board.  A pile of odd looking die lie in the center of the board (eight sided), their multiple colors shimmering like jewels under the fluorescent lights. Admittedly, I love games so this scene would be very pleasing to me but it seemed to capture the curiosity of all my students. Even the ones too cool to take a second look.

I call my students the beta testers.  It is far better than guinea pigs.  The year started with a broader simulation where they pulled cards for either a merchant, artisan, solder, or king.  They formed city-states by making sure each group had at least one of each.  They settled into their new homes (tables) and began thinking about where they would like to settle on the map (I have attached it). The students knew they needed food, water, and natural protection.  All of these things were offered on the map with some areas being prized more than others.  Each city-state needed to choose a square to call their home.  We played Kahoot to rank the groups for choice using questions about ancient river valley civilizations.

While this worked out pretty well, glitches in the game caused a fair bit of discussion and a little reinvention.  Enter the game board.  Using our map, I sent it to Staples and they printed it out as a banner.  I needed game pieces.  I wanted something interactive, something more than simple markers.  I spent some time on Amazon looking at different figures when I came across small plastic cavemen.  Perfect for a game where we are showing hunters and gatherers settling into a river civilization.

I really wanted the students to be able to roam into the geographic area and find the spot they wanted to settle in and then form groups. I placed students in groups, assigned a “guy” with a number on his foot, to each student and began the game.  Groups came up one at a time, about five students in a group.  While they were waiting, they had a set of task cards and a long term project to work on.  Students placed their marker in the lower right hand corner as if they were moving into the region from the south.  They each rolled a die and moved the number of spaces shown.  If they landed on an octagon with orange, red, blue, or green, they picked a card from the appropriate stack.  The cards are nourishment, rule changes, hazards, and actions.  Each student uses a game card for the day to track their moves and summarize their day.  The goal for the first day was to obtain food and water. As the students worked to get to food and water, it was interesting to see their choices and how they dealt with situations presented by the cards.  Close to the end of the class, students had separated enough to form groups.  To end the class, I placed the students in groups according to where they had moved to get their food.  This was their new city-state and the land where they are going to settle.

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March 17

Reading Strategies for the Gamified Classroom

Lately, I have been hanging around Twitter talking to anyone and everyone about gamification in the classroom. The results have been phenomenal. A powerfully creative group meets on Wednesday evenings at 8:00 pm EST to discuss Explore Like a Pirate (#XPLAP). This book by Michael Matera is a must for anyone wishing to start this process in their classroom or anyone who has already begun the process.  This past week we discussed game mechanics. This can certainly be a daunting process but I would like to share with you one of the strategies that made one of the mundane tasks in my classroom much more exciting.

Reading nonfiction articles is often painful for students.  Reading about a dystopian world is one thing but reading about an ancient world is quite another. I wanted the students excited about reading and uncovering the content, digesting it for the first time.  How could I get them as excited to read as they were to play our game?

Enter Farming for Facts.  Students are given a title of an article.  They are then given fifteen minutes to research the topic using their chrome books.  During this time they can write down as many facts as they can that they believe will be in the article.  The next step is to meet in their groups and decide what is important enough to be planted in our “field” (the whiteboard).  Each group gets a row to plant the facts they think will be in the articles.  Once all facts are accounted for, the next step is to tend to the field.  As a group we decide what to keep and what to “weed”.  This is a great time to put in sweeping gestures and movement to get them involved.  We came up with a movement for letting it grow and letting it die.  The majority rules.  Any fact that should be weeded is erased from the board.  They are very careful about this selection due to more points being added if every fact on the board is correct and found in the article.

Finally, we read the passage together.  The first time I did this I was blown away by the reaction of the students. They were anxiously awaiting each sentence as I read the article out loud.  When a fact was found in the article cheers could be heard in the groups!  The students held on until the last sentence to see how many of their facts would be included.  We then reviewed the board and identified which were found (a great recap of the reading).

Why are they interested? My game has food points.  Due to this being about farming, the students were awarded food points for facts that were left on the board after the reading. Again, if all facts were included, extra points were awarded to all groups.

Its great to see kids excited about reading the articles.  They love to research the topic and come up with what they believe will be in the reading.  I wish I had this years ago.  I have attached a page that I often use for farming.  Hope it helps!

FarmingForFacts

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March 16

What Do Our Students Deserve?

I heard an interesting  story this morning.  Recently, our campus suffered a power outage.  This led to our district being closed for the day. We have a student on our team who is quite possibly the sweetest kid I have every met.  He has a wide-eyed optimism and a smile to match.  The morning of the power outage he assumed he missed the bus and decided to walk to school.  That is how badly he didn’t want to miss it.

Let me give you a little back story about this student. He lives in one of the largest trailer parks in our district.  It is also the roughest by far.  It’s a dangerous place to walk alone as an adult.  At Christmas we noticed he was wearing the same clothes every day.  Our team arranged for Santa to bring him a few items.  He struggles daily with reading and comprehension and its quite a struggle for him.  Did I mention when he walked to school on his own (he is 12), it took him three hours to get to our building and he had to walk along a major highway.

Why am I telling this story?  If a student is willing to work that hard to get here, is what we are giving him worth the journey?  Am I working that hard to give the best possible atmosphere for him to grow and become whatever he dreams to be?

As I wrap up my 21st year of education, it is now a question I will ask myself everyday.  Is my classroom a second home?  Is it inspiring?  Do my students feel safe?  Do they feel valuable?  Do they feel like anything is possible? There are no longer days when I can take a break.  Each day is important in making an impression and making a difference.  No time is worth wasting.

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March 15

LEGO in the Classroom

One of the most powerful tools I have ever used in my classroom is LEGO.  Admittedly, I am an AFOL, for those of you unschooled in the LEGO vernacular, that is Adult Fan Of Lego.  At one time I hid this about myself, after all I am a 45 year old woman.  If it is a true passion, however, it really is a commitment, and one that cannot be hid.  The bright yellow bags are a dead give away.

My second love of LEGO came when I broke my leg a few years ago and had to be immobile for almost nine weeks.  This was in the midst of the Monster Fighters sets.  My first set was the Monster haunted house. It. was. amazing.  I have never looked back.  As my city continues to grow and daily conversation with my spouse involves negotiations for the garage, I knew I had to bring this love into the classroom.

There are a lot of drawbacks to using LEGO in the classroom BUT what it brings to the classroom far outweigh the negatives.  Let’s get those out of the way.  First, LEGO is $$$$$$.  Even buying one set for each group of tables is going to set you back.  If you are fortunate enough to have a principal who is supportive and will purchase sets, consider yourself quite lucky.  I turned to Donors Choose. Creating a project is pretty easy and now that they have access to Amazon, the whole LEGO universe is at your disposal.  The great thing about Donors Choose is that they will match you for the first week.  This means technically, only half the money needs to be raised to fund the project.  It helps to send a letter out to parents and ask for small donations.  Everything begins to add up quickly.  The whole process, from writing the proposal to having the LEGO in hand, took about two weeks.

Next, LEGO pieces will be all over your room.  All part of classroom management.  My students know my expectations.  They know I am a LEGO fanatic and treat all the sets accordingly. This is the third year with the LEGO sets and they still look like they are new.  It is all in the expectations you set forth. And as I said, the positives far outweigh the negatives.

There is nothing like the low hum of ideas being swapped back and forth in the classroom while the click of LEGO pieces is heard.  Innovation and creativity are at the foundation of these wonderful days.  I enjoyed it so much that I knew I had to have a set on each table so that they were always ready to go if the mood to create struck.  This was certainly an obstacle for me. How could I organize this?  (Monica Gellar is my idol by the way, organization makes me giddy with joy.)  I am a bit of a purist when it comes to LEGO.  When people start talking about mixing brands, I am out…immediately.  Surprisingly enough, I found a case at Target on clearance for a few dollars.  The yellow cases had blue and green base plates on the top and compartments on the inside.  I bought one for each table and the rest is history.  They have lasted almost three years now.  They are readily available just like community supplies.  It has been one of the best things I have ever done in the classroom.

In addition to great LEGO sets, there is also an amazing LEGO stop motion app.  The app is TOTALLY FREE.  It is fully functional, with sound and camera effects.  The results are quite professional.  Students love this app.  It can be used to help students explain a number of concepts or any historical event.  The possibilities are endless.

If you are considering LEGO in the classroom, I recommend it highly.  Creativity skyrockets and ideas abound!

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