Course 4 Final Project – Decisions, Decisions…

It is hard to believe that Course 4 is already over.  Throughout this part of the course I have been reflecting on two main ideas that I have always wanted to try in my classroom, one centered on the principles of SAMR, and the other revolving around game based learning.  I have always been especially intrigued by game based learning, but have always found it difficult when really thinking about how it could work over the course of a unit to really engage my students in their learning.  Tackling each of these ideas one by one, I will brainstorm how these two options could work in my classroom to stimulate student learning and growth.

SAMR and Creative Writing Portfolios –

Next year I will be teaching an elective course of creative writing, and I am really excited about the freedom this course will allow me to have.  I will not have as rigid of guidelines or time crunch that I experience in my DP classes, so there will be more prospects of general pedagogical experimentation.  The main aspect of this redesigned unit will be the focus on SAMR and finding a way to create portfolios which meet the standards of redefinition.  Students will use online portfolios to write, revise, provide feedback, and publish their writing.  Throughout the course of each unit, students will compose and publish their creative writings, be it poems, short stories, scripts, or any other units we will be working though.  After this initial publishing students will be required to write three comments per week on their peers work.  One comment will be providing feedback on an assigned classmate’s work, another will be providing feedback on a classmate of their choice’s work, and lastly they will need to write a comment on their own reflecting on the feedback that has been provided to them, or reflecting on changes they made in subsequent drafts.  The focus here will be on taking the writing process and reflection, making it digital, and  more accessible on the web.  I have done publishing and peer review on digital platforms before, but most times this falls somewhere in between augmentation and modification.  By taking my understandings of SAMR from COETAIL, students will use technology to come up with a product that is inconceivable on the same scale without the use of technology.

Photo Credit: mj*laflaca via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: mj*laflaca via Compfight cc

I think this would be a very good idea of a unit to redesign due to the students’ familiarity with technology and collaborative nature of this course.  Most of the students are naturally sharing information about themselves in the public domain online, and this unit would work to harness this general idea and place it in an academic context.  The main concern I have for this project is how serious the students will be with the feedback process for their peers.  In some past courses I have taken and times I have required commenting on google classroom posts, many posts came across as superficial, and the students did not put very much thought in them.  To counter this problem, it will take a good deal of modeling from me so the students can see what a good and beneficial comment looks like.

The skills and attitudes that my students will need for this new unit is a strong sense of collaboration and metacognition.  Students will be spending significant time reflecting on the nature of good writing through both peer feedback and self reflection.  This level of personal and collaborative critical thought will serve the students general thinking skills, as well as challenge them to see different perspectives.

Game Based Learning in the Classroom –

Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon via Compfight cc

The next idea I have for a modified unit would center on the idea of game based learning in the classroom.  As mentioned before, I have always been fascinated with the prospect of creating a unit based on game based learning, and there is no better time to integrate this idea into my classroom than my course five final project.  While at this stage of the brainstorming process this unit redesign is very hypothetical, I think a great unit to integrate this into would be language and advertising in my DP 2 course.  In my mind the challenge to integrating game based units in the classroom is to get the scope just right.  If it is too small, it can come across as merely a mini-lesson, and while engaging for the students, does not link as well to larger ideas or contexts you are trying to teach.  With this in mind, I would like to structure a game that would run the length of this three week unit next fall.  While I modified this unit to make it more project based this year, I would like to add more elements of gamification to increase student engagement.  The unit would center around teams creating an advertising campaign for a product that they are making up.  Badges and points would be awarded to students as they progress through different “levels” of creating an ad campaign including drafts, persuasive language use, conventions of advertisements, pitching ideas, and final publication.  This game based aspect would be supported by mini-lessons focusing on how advertising works, and how language and conventions are used to support their general appeal and success.  Students would work in teams and the team with the highest point total at the end would win a prize.  This game aspect would allow the students some friendly competition, and would work to directly connect to class content related to language and conventions.

The main challenge to this type of game based learning unit would be the authenticity.  Great care would have to be taken in how the game was constructed so that it is authentic and does not feel forced.  Since this unit would be for seniors, it is important that the game does not feel childish, but works to create a flow experience for the students.  The point and badge system would have to be rigorous enough so that it does not feel like normal home or class work, but that it is imperative that the teams work together to accomplish their goal.  The significant pedagogical shift from last year’s project based activity is that with game based learning there would be more of a competitive drive.  While the unit still holds the real world applications of the project based unit, the collaborative skills would be more of a focus due to this competitive nature.

Photo Credit: Thiane via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Thiane via Compfight cc

Overall, thanks to the many aspects of technology integration I learned in COETAIL, these two ideas will serve as a good starting point for my course five project next year.  Both of these units would serve to go beyond what is currently done in my classroom to teach vital 21st century skills like collaboration, problem solving, and critical thinking.