Saturday, May 11, 2013

Choose Your Path to Learning: The Unlockable Feature

Just as we all have choices about how we get to our destinations, so too do our students' differing learning needs offer opportunities for choices in how they reach their educational destinations.  In an effort to improve the gamification concept of the Fearless Classroom, XBROX 360, in quarter 4, I have added the "unlockable feature" of "Choose Your Own Path to Learning."  Not only does this feature enhance the ICAP rotations but it allows students to have a voice in how they achieve the goal.  

Choose Your Own Path to Learning works by providing up to three choices from which students may choose to navigate their learning experience.  These choices come in the form of QR code choices, activity choices, or schedule choices.  Students are given the freedom to explore topics from a variety of angles and thus gain a unique, self-individualized learning experience.  

Behind the QR codes are secret missions through which students will explore topics using real-world applications such as designing a race car made of recycled materials that must qualify through given force and motion parameters or designing a racetrack whose frictional force requirements determine the distance and pace at which something must travel.  Or perhaps the mission asks students to create a training video on the most effective strategies for solving multi-step word problems.  The beauty of this approach is that if a student scans a code and doesn't feel confident in his/her ability to successfully produce the end result of one mission, he/she can scan another and make a choice. All codes address the same topic and skill set, but in a variety of ways.  It is a digitalized, mini-version of old school menus.

With activity choices, students are only given a topic question and given the choice of up to three different expression outlets.  Web 2.0 tools, art, or gaming, for example, are given as activity choices for answering the following sample question: How is a sphere similar to a rectangular prism?  Students can also propose new activities to challenge each other to step outside of their comfort zones.  If a student proposes a challenge that gets picked up and successfully completed, he/she earns an unlockable feature on his/her wikispace like custom colors, layout, and featured spot on the menu bar. 

Finally, with schedule choice options, students write their own work schedule.  They are given the learning objectives for the level but the AR and QR codes offer choices of where they can go next.  For example, a student might scan the first QR code after reading a selection on force and motion as it pertains to gravitational pull.  The code takes him to a Voki who offers a choice, "Go to mini-games and complete the genius minute to win it activity within 60 seconds to advance on to the next mission, OR you may select a task card from the challenge basket and complete the activity.  The choice is yours!"  One path will take a bit longer, but both advance them through the game level to the same destination.

This does take a lot of preparation ahead of time, but my second graders feel more in control and thus far more motivated and engaged in class with this new feature.  They have become pros at the game so, this is a great way to add some fresh new excitement to a game they play everyday.