I’ve noticed that a popular activity during our COVID-19 pandemic right now is scavenger hunts. My favorite scavenger hunt app is Goosechase, which I wrote about in January of this year. Although I don’t currently have students, I immediately thought of this app when pondering how I would engage my students during online learning. I considered making a GooseChase for other teachers and families to use, but a few others have beat me to the punch – and done much better jobs than I would have done.
First of all, Goosechase itself has begun a “Community Cup 2020” that is open to all to participate. It runs from now until April 3rd, with new missions being added each day. (Apparently the first day included a mission for people to do their best Batman impression, and the video compilation of select submissions is super cute.) The page describing the contest also includes a how-to video in case you are new to Goosechase. Since this is an app that asks for photos and videos of people doing (usually) silly things, please be conscious of privacy issues, especially for minors.
Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta have also created their own special pandemic-inspired Goosechase. They tweeted that they have one called, “Quarantine Can’t Keep Us Down,” which ends tomorrow, March 26th. You can download the app and do a search for that game title to participate. It has so many missions that I couldn’t count them, and it would definitely be a fun activity for the whole family. According to @BGCMA_Clubs on Twitter, this is just the first of an educational series of scavenger hunts, so follow them on Twitter if you are interested in participating in future hunts.
UPDATE 3/18/2020: I am receiving requests for access to the Google presentation from several people. It is shared publicly for editing, but some school districts have blocked Google files that are not from the same domain. Unfortunately, I cannot change anything on my end if that is the issue. Please feel free to start your own diary for your students if you are unable to access mine. Also, please see the note below if you are trying to share this with your students.
We are navigating unfamiliar territory right now as countries around the world struggle to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. As we witness unprecedented actions being taken such as extended school closures, I feel that it is important to capture the different ways that our society chooses to cope with the surreal existence that we suddenly face. Of course, we can see this all around us thanks to the firehose of social media. But, what if we took a moment to strip all of the extraneous political blustering and toilet paper hoarding away so that we could focus on the real thoughts and feelings of people who are dealing with this completely unfamiliar disruption of our normal lives?
Anne Frank’s diary gave us incredible insight into a period of history that many of us would never have understood, and compels us to learn from the mistakes of that dark time. Would social media have amplified her voice or drowned it out? So many of us have the opportunity to speak now, but have we actually increased the numbers of those who listen?
With these thoughts plaguing me deep into the night, I decided I wanted to find a way to concentrate the stream of experiences, especially of children, during the next few weeks. So, I started a collaborative Google Slides presentation to which I would like to invite any student, ages 5-18, to contribute. With so many students home from school for the foreseeable future, my hope is that those with internet access can take a few minutes to add their own perspectives to this presentation. They will be able to read what others have to say, and I will choose some to post on this site for a larger audience. (NOTE: DO NOT MAKE A COPY OF THE SLIDE PRESENTATION UNLESS YOU JUST WANT TO USE IT WITHIN YOUR DOMAIN (WHICH IS FINE WITH ME). JUST GIVE YOUR STUDENTS THIS LINK. IF THE LINK DOES NOT WORK, PLEASE SEE THE NOTE AT THE TOP OF THIS POST.)
Here is the sample slide I provide in the presentation.
I will be monitoring the slide show closely for inappropriate content, or for any private information that should not be shared. I hope that students in any country will feel comfortable adding to the slide show, although translating other languages may be a challenge. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email me, email@example.com (Also, if you are in need of educational materials regarding the Coronavirus, please see this post.)
While writing yesterday’s “Game of Phones” post, I started searching my archives and I was surprised to see that I hadn’t mentioned Goosechase Edu. So, let’s rectify that today.
Goosechase is a scavenger hunt app available on the App Store and on Google Play. Players need to download the free app. (If you are using district devices, be sure to verify ahead of time that the app has been approved for use.) Organizers need to create an account online. There is a special, educational version of Goosechase available that has different pricing tiers, so be sure to visit the Edu site rather than the one designed for corporate use.
The pricing can be a bit confusing when you are new to using Goosechase Edu. Suffice it to say that, as a classroom teacher, I found the free plan to work well for my class. This plan allows you to have 5 teams compete against each other during a game. This is in contrast to the next tier, which allows for 10 teams or 40 individuals to play at a time. You only need one device per team, although you can use more – allowing team members to separate to complete different missions.
When the organizer sets up a Goosechase game, he/she adds missions to the hunt. Each mission can be awarded points when completed, and the organizer can determine which missions are weighted more than others. An example of a mission would be the following, which I used in my Principles of Arts class when we were learning about different camera angles:
The organizer can make up missions, or use missions that have already been posted in the Goosechase Mission Bank. In fact, you can even browse the library of public Goosechases, and choose to copy an entire hunt for your own use. Each mission requires that a photo and/or video be submitted in order to complete it.
Like many online student interactives available these days, Goosechase creates a code, which participants will use to join the hunt. Teachers can determine the amount of time for the hunt, and even when missions or automatic messages will appear for participants. (When students first launch Goosechase, remind them to allow for notifications so you can get in touch with them during the hunt.)
I like to mix missions that require some, most, or all of the group to be in the pictures or videos as well as some images that are of things around campus. This way, the group has some accountability for staying together and on school property. I also go over behavior expectations before they leave the room, stressing that teams must: stay together, not disrupt any other classes going on, stay safe when taking pictures, and return on time. As students are off on the hunt, the organizer can pull up an activity feed to see the missions as they are being completed. I walk around the halls as I monitor the feed to help discourage any temptations for mischief.
With notifications enabled, you can send out a reminder to the teams when time is wrapping up. Give yourself some time to do a debrief at the end, when the class can look at the team submissions and decide as a group how to assess them before declaring the final winners. One of my favorite features of the game is that you can actually download all of the submissions to save for the future end-of-the-year slideshows or other reminders of silly learning experiences in class.
There are plenty of Goosechase games in the library related to core curriculum that you can use. Another great way to use Goosechase is in a unit on Growth Mindset. I worked with my 8th graders on this a lot last year. We talked about taking risks and solving problems, and then I sent them off to complete the following set of missions:
Here is what I like about Goosechase: students can get out of their seats, students can be creative, students can choose the missions they want to do, we can laugh together as we learn, we are making tangible memories, and even the students who are the least engaged will participate.
If you teach in a secondary classroom where phones are ubiquitous, this might be the resource for you. Amanda Sandoval (@historysandoval) recently tweeted out “Game of Phones“, an assignment created in Google Slides that she designed to help her students demonstrate their understanding of the causes of The Great Depression. You can see some of the submissions from her students on her Twitter feed under the tag #gameofphones. Of course, your class may not be studying The Great Depression, or you may just want to tweak some of the slides. In that case, you can always make a copy to suit your own classroom needs.
And here’s another amazing (and timely) resource from Amanda – a Hyperdoc on Impeachment. Be sure to follow Amanda on Twitter and/or visit her website for more digital wizardry to use in your classroom.
Stay tuned tomorrow for my post on Goosechase Edu, another way to capitalize on the power of phones and/or tablets during your lesson.
I wrote a descriptive post about Gimkit last year around this time after learning about it at TCEA 2019. This online quiz game resembles Kahoot, but has some distinct differences which you can read about in my first post.
Since last February, I’ve used Gimkit quite frequently with my students in grades 8-12. It hasn’t lost its novelty, and quite a few of my students asked for it every week. In order to do this, I had to do something that I rarely choose to do with educational resources – I decided to pay for it. (For a great explanation of why Gimkit has chosen to go this route instead of a full-featured free version with advertising, you can read this blog post.)
Why would I pay for something that is available in other versions for free? Because this game is different than anything out there. Not only do students get to “purchase” fun upgrades during the game, but those upgrades can change based on different game themes that the developer (a high school student!) provides throughout the year. For example, “Thanos” was a such a huge hit with my students last spring that when it was offered again for a limited window of time I scheduled an unscheduled review game just so they could play. And don’t even get me started on the buzz that “Humans vs. Zombies” created in my classes in October.
In the past year, the developer has:
improved importing questions from other platforms, such as Quizziz
added “KitCodes” – a mode designed to get your students moving around the classroom instead of just sitting there playing the game
bulked up its website and customer support
continued to be open to educator and student feedback (you can get a sense of this from blog posts like this)
Gimkit takes risks with new ideas constantly being rolled out. In December, the company mysteriously touted a “Winter Challenge.” I told my class we were trying it out, but that I had no idea what we would be expected to do. I hit the button, and everyone’s screens went black. The groans were probably heard downtown. But then numbers started showing up on their screens, and it was clear that this was not a game glitch, that we were supposed to do something. I had no idea what it was, but that didn’t matter. The students started talking it out, and collaborating. As they slowly figured out what was going on, it became clear that some leadership was needed. Again, my presence was superfluous. Natural leaders rose to the occasion, and with everyone’s help, the challenge was accomplished.
The Challenge wasn’t even part of my review. (That began after they completed the Challenge.) Instead of a waste of time, though, it taught my students so many things that I am constantly yammering about anyway – Growth Mindset, Collaboration, Communication, Perseverance. Multiple choice quizzes are generally not very deep learning, but this Challenge threw problem solving into the mix, and that was a huge bonus.
Some of my favorite classroom memories have been made using Gimkit in the past year: students choosing wild nicknames so their classmates won’t know who to target, kids snickering as they “ice” each other, groups gathering around a few classroom monitors because they want to see how the champions fare against each other, cheers and groans when the “Thanos Snap” lists its victims, and everyone clapping when we finally solved the Winter Challenge.
I don’t work for them, and I get no compensation for writing this post. I just really like what Gimkit does for teachers and for students.
It’s always fun to return to the classroom after attending TCEA with something new to use with the students right out of the gate. Of course, as with all things technological, it’s a bit of a risk to try something for the first time without testing how it’s affected by random things like network firewalls. Fortunately, my gamble worked with Gimkit.
Gimkit is an online student response system similar to Kahoot. It was developed by a high school student, who added in an interesting twist – monetization. Students win virtual money as they answer questions correctly. The money can be used to shop for different upgrades such as making each answer worth more money or “icing” your opponents.
Teachers can make Gimkits from scratch, a spreadsheet, or a Quizlet. The questions are multiple choice. Unlike Kahoot, the questions appear on the student devices while the teacher device streams a live leaderboard. The board shows each student’s earnings, who is ahead, and the collective amount earned by the class. I ended up setting my two different engineering classes up as opponents in a “season” so they could compete to see which class earned the most. (Hint: this keeps students from “icing” each other during the game because they will lose out on collective earnings.)
Teachers can also set a time limit, which means that questions will repeat. To be honest, I thought the students would get bored once questions started coming back around, but they begged for more time after ten minutes.
The game was such a success with my 8th-11th graders on Thursday that I decided to use it for another class I was teaching in rotation to 8th graders on Friday. Again, full engagement.
The students in my 4th rotation started getting messages that the site had just upgraded and they were suddenly bounced out of the game. I almost had a complete mutiny on my hands as they realized they would be out of the running for the class competition.
Fortunately a similar situation happened while Leslie Fisher was presenting Gimkit at TCEA. She tweeted Gimkit, and they immediately rolled the site back to the working version. I decided to try the same thing.
My students were dubious.
“What do you mean you’re going to tweet him, Miss? How is that gonna help?”
“This ain’t fair. We’re never gonna win now, Miss!”
Withing a couple of minutes, Gimkit tweeted back their apologies and fixed the issue. My students were astounded.
That class won the competition, by the way. (Free outdoor time next period.)
So, if you have secondary students, I would definitely recommend you check out Gimkit the next time you want to do something a little different for a formative assessment. It will be interesting to watch as this site expands its offerings, but hopefully it will always keep the current features for free.
The “How Learning Happens” series on Edutopia has a set of videos that show teachers in action as they model simple – but powerful – strategies for learners of all ages. One of the more recent posts is, “Inviting Participation with Thumbs-Up Responses.” This no-tech strategy where students show their thumbs-up/down answers at their belly instead of high up in the air helps learners to feel safe while giving the teacher instant formative feedback on their understanding of the lesson. Having gone from teaching where my students practically fought each other to speak to me to an environment where I hear crickets after every question, I loved watching this caring teacher show us how to encourage students to engage without fear. Student response apps are great, but sometimes we just need a quick way to gauge what our students are thinking.