Tag Archives: gamification

The Villains on Our Most UNwanted List

See below for the link for the full set of Genius Hour villains.
See below for the link for the full set of Genius Hour villains.

Last summer, I was playing around with ways to spice up my Genius Hour time, and decided to add some of the elements of gamification to the mix.  One of these was to create Challenge Cards.  At the beginning of each Genius Hour, students have the option to choose a Challenge Card.  The higher the level of the card, the more difficult the challenge is.  If they complete the challenge successfully, the students earn that number of points in Class Dojo (we use the points to Level Up and earn privileges) – but if they don’t complete the challenge, they will lose the points.  It’s been wildly successful with my 5th graders, and my 3rd and 4th graders are just about to join in on the fun.

One other gamification element I invented last summer happened to be a flyer that listed “Genius Hour Villains.” I mean, think about it – what good is a game without any villains to fight?  So, I thought about some of the obstacles my students had faced in the past during Genius Hour, and tried to personify them.  And that was when the “Genius Hour Villains” flyer was born.

I ran the Villains by my 5th graders when they started Genius Hour last Fall.  They have been referring to them ever since – particularly “Decoy Boy.”  When we reflect on Genius Hour, he seems to be the biggest culprit when it comes to the students making progress on their projects.  However, just the fact that they can identify the problem has reduced its occurrence quite a bit, compared to the students who worked on Genius Hour last year with me.

4th grade just started their Genius Hour time last week. I brought out the flyer, and went over all of the “characters” they should avoid during their research time.  They thought the characters were hysterical.  Maybe it was a coincidence, but this was the smoothest “First” Genius Hour I ever experienced.

The kids embraced the villains so much, I thought that maybe a little flyer wasn’t enough.  So, I went home this weekend and worked on a set of posters.  I wanted to make “Wanted” posters, but then I realized that these guys are actually what we don’t want in the classroom.  So, these are my (Not) Wanted posters.

The posters are now available on Teachers Pay Teachers for $2.

For more Genius Hour Resources, check out my page here.  There are more free downloadables, including the Genius Hour Challenges on that page.  Or, if you don’t feel like spending the time visiting each link, you can also purchase a set of all of my current Genius Hour downloadables for $5 on TPT.

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Trends in Education for the 2013-2014 School Year

Augmented Reality in Education Flipboard Magazine
Augmented Reality in Education Flipboard Magazine

I know it’s an odd hobby, but I spend a lot of time reading blogs, tweets, Flipboard magazines, etc… about education.  During the summer months, I’ve noticed some common themes in articles, and I thought I would share them with you here, along with a few resources for each.  These are all topics I think you will be hearing a lot more about during the next 12 months.

  • Genius Hour – You might see it called 20% Time or Passion Time, or something else, but the concept is basically to give time to your students to pursue topics that interest them.  You can read about my own plans for this in the upcoming year here.  I also have an entire page dedicated to Genius Hour Resources.  Also, check out the Genius Hour Wiki and Joy Kirr’s Live Binder with many other resources.
  • Online Learning – MOOCS (Massive Online Open Courses) are being discussed all over the web.   While I disapprove of educating the masses in this way, I did see a powerful example of the benefits of online learning this summer when our district piloted a program for the elementary gifted students in which they could sign up for one online course to take (for free) over the summer.  The students got to take classes in subjects that interested them with teachers who were passionate about the topics.  They met students from all over the district through the courses, and pursued their own interests.  I think it’s important to maintain the personal aspect in online courses and to never forget that it is the connection that is created between teachers and students that has the potential to make the most impact.  Human to human interaction is essential.  Using tools like Edmodo and Moodle can make this possible.
  • Gamification – I posted about this earlier this summer after watching Jane McGonigal’s keynote at ISTE 2013.  I plan to use the ideas of challenges, quests, and leveling up in my class this year.  One example of this would be the Genius Hour Challenge Cards that I created.  I also like to use Class Dojo to help me with this.  Edmodo offers badges that are great to award to kids, and allows you to add your own.  Class Badges is another site that you might want to utilize.  Here is a great article on gamification for newbies, “Education Levels Up!”
  • Online Portfolios – The most prevalent example of this at the moment seems to be blogs.  Students as well as teachers are blogging and “publishing” class work examples.  Some other ways that this can be done are through Educlipper and Edcanvas (both have partnerships with Edmodo, too).  I saw great examples of Edcanvas being used by a teacher during her online photography course this summer.  Another option, though not nearly as robust as those two, is the Artkive app.

So, those are, in my estimation, the hot topics in Education right now – the ones you can harness to “Engage Their Minds.” Some other up and coming trends: innovative classroom design, maker studios (including 3d printers), and giving teachers million dollar bonuses for every five years they teach.

Okay, maybe not the last one.  Just checking to see if you made it to the end of this article 😉

Genius Hour Challenge Cards for Levels 3-5

level5challengecardlogo

Update:  *As of 1/2/14, you can now download all of my current Genius Hour resources in a bundle on Teachers Pay Teachers for $5.  Or, you can still download them separately (for free) by clicking on the links below.

This is a continuation from yesterday’s post regarding Genius Hour Challenge Cards.  I shared the ones I created for Levels 1 and 2 in the previous post.

Here is the explanation I gave yesterday:

My students will be using Level 1 and Level 2 cards to get a challenge each Genius Hour OR they will choose from Level 3 or Level 4, which will be longer challenges designed to be used for an entire Genius Hour project.  They will earn points toward leveling up in my classroom if they satisfactorily complete the challenges – or lose points if they do not.

Because I know that many of you do not have devices for scanning QR codes, I included a set of cards that have the actual directions on them for each Level.  I also included a blank version in MS Word for each level – in case you want to make your own.

I also added a Level 5, which has some super difficult challenges.

Please feel free to visit the Genius Hour Resources page if you are interested in more information or downloadable materials.

Challenge Card Answers (PDF, Levels 1-5)

Level Three QR Code Cards (PDF)

Level Three Text Cards (PDF)

Level Three Blank Cards (MS Word)

Level 4 QR Code Cards (PDF)

Level Four Text Cards (PDF)

Level Four Blank Cards (MS Word)

Level Five QR Code Cards (PDF)

Level Five Text Cards (PDF)

Level Five Blank Cards (MS Word)

Genius Hour Challenge Cards for Levels 1 and 2

level1challengecardlogo

Update:  *As of 1/2/14, you can now download all of my current Genius Hour resources in a bundle on Teachers Pay Teachers for $5.  Or, you can still download them separately (for free) by clicking on the links below.

As I mentioned last week, I have been toying with the idea of having the students choose Challenge Cards during Genius Hour in order to throw some unpredictable problem solving in their paths.  I listed some of my ideas for challenges, and got a couple of new ones from Nancy (thanks, Nancy!) on the Padlet wall (which is still open to your suggestions).  I worked last night on creating some printable challenge cards for Levels 1 and 2.  I hope to present you with Levels 3 and 4 tomorrow.

For those of you interested in creating your own, I used Flaming Text to create the Harry Potter-ish text on the cards.  In the interest of time, I went with simple QR codes from QR Code Generator.  I had already created a Weebly site for my Genius Hour resources, so I created a page for each card’s directions, and hid the pages in the navigation menu.

My students will be using Level 1 and Level 2 cards to get a challenge each Genius Hour OR they will choose from Level 3 or Level 4, which will be longer challenges designed to be used for an entire Genius Hour project.  They will earn points toward leveling up in my classroom if they satisfactorily complete the challenges – or lose points if they do not.

Because I know that many of you do not have devices for scanning QR codes, I included a set of cards that have the actual directions on them for each Level.  I also included a blank version in MS Word for each level – in case you want to make your own.

UPDATE:  Challenge Cards for Levels 3-5 have been posted here.  Also, you can view all Genius Hour Resources here.

Level One QR Code Cards (PDF)

Level One Text Cards (PDF)

Level One Blank Cards (MS Word)

Level Two QR Code Cards (PDF)

Level Two Text Cards (PDF)

Level Two Blank Cards (MS Word)

Genius Hour Challenges

challenges

Since I have decided to gamify Genius Hour, I thought that it would spice things up to give the students surprise challenges.  I haven’t designed the cards, yet, because I am hoping that some of you can give me more ideas.  Please go to this link  to add some ideas to my Padlet wall, tweet me @terrieichholz, or add your suggestions in the comments for this post.

The idea is that students will choose cards knowing their level of difficulty, but not the challenge.  Level 1 and Level 2 cards will be challenges that could be accomplished during the hour.  Levels 3, 4, and 5 are challenges that can be accomplished during the length of one Genius Hour project.  Students who choose Level 1 and Level 2 cards must choose one each Genius Hour.  Higher level challenges can be done at the students’ discretion.

This is what I have so far:

Level 1:

work with someone new for this hour

use no computer/mobile technology during this hour

no speaking during this hour

use a non-dominant hand for the entire hour

Level 2:

use 2 completely different resources than you have been using so far

use this hour to write a blog post about your project

go to Wonderopolis, and find a way to make the Wonder of the Day connect to your project

Level 3:

interview at least one person for your project

include a timeline with at least four major events in your project

Level 4:

include a game in which the audience can participate in your final presentation

include a self-created video of at least one minute long in your final presentation

create a poster advertising your presentation

Level 5:

switch projects with someone else (my daughter thought this was a particularly cool idea!)

Gamifying Genius Hour

This is going to be one of those think-out-loud kind of posts.  If you’ve been following this blog, then you know that I am a big advocate for Genius Hour, and that I have been playing with the idea of gamifying my classroom.  Actually, I made an attempt at both of these last year with my gifted 5th graders.  The Genius Hour was pretty successful.  However, the gamifying got bogged down.  I had a whole system of levels that the students could work through, badges they could earn (that they designed), and new privileges they would gain at each level.  My method of tracking everything fell apart, though, when I could not get the reports I needed from Class Dojo, the site I was using to record the progress of the students.  Class Dojo now has those reports, so I am considering giving it another try.

I want to focus on gamifying Genius Hour, in particular.  I am working on: levels with increasing challenges and privileges, ways to “level up”, “Easter Eggs” (hidden messages they can discover), and ways to encourage collaboration and problem solving.  Just to clarify, I am not necessarily using video games in the classroom – just the attributes of video games that can increase engagement.

This year, I plan to start Genius Hour with 3rd and 4th, as well as with my 5th graders.  (I meet with each grade level once a week.)

Knowing that I have a tendency to needlessly complicate things, I thought I would put this post out there to see if anyone has used the gamification concept with Genius Hour, and to hear any suggestions you may have.  I have found many online sources, such as the infographic below, to support gamification, and several education blogs with descriptions of its use, but I have not found any, yet, that combine it with Genius Hour.  I’d be happy to receive your tweets/suggestions regarding this topic @terrieichholz or in the comments below.

Gamification Infographic

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media

Genius Hour Villains

Genius Hour Villain Flyer

Update:  *As of 1/2/14, you can now download all of my current Genius Hour resources in a bundle on Teachers Pay Teachers for $5.  Or, you can still download them separately (for free) by clicking on the links below.  You can also download (separately) a pack of Genius Hour Villain (Not) Wanted Posters for $2 here.

As I continued to work this weekend on freshening up my #geniushour resources, I decided that I want to try a little bit of “gamification”  with this project.  With that in mind, I realized that a mission must have obstacles or it doesn’t feel like a true accomplishment is achieved.  I thought about the “villains” that threatened Genius Hour last year, and wondered how I could give them a face.  After a few trials and many, many errors, I hit upon an app that I liked called, “Dibu’s Monster Maker Lite.”  I used the app (and a little bit of Photoshop on one of the pics) to create my “monsters.”  Then I loaded them onto another Smore flyer, which you can find here.  I also created a printable PDF for you that you can download below.

How will I be using this flyer?  I’m not sure yet.  I am thinking of allowing the kids to “Level Up” during Genius Hour, giving them freedom to learn and use more technology tools at each level.  Succumbing to the villains might impede their leveling up progress.  I’ll keep you posted… 😉

Don’t forget, for more Genius Hour Resources, you can click here.

Genius Hour Villain Flyer