Adventurer or Voyager

This post has been baking in the thinking-oven for near  on a year now, following a 2015 TES post – Summer homework assignment went viral. The original assignment had many interesting challenges and a really good balance of creativity, reflection and education and back in August when I read about it, I save the article and put a challenge reminder in for a week before the broke up for summer.

A good deal is different since last August. Not least that I have moved counties and the summer holidays started a week early. Nevertheless, up popped the reminder and I set to work on the “2016 Summer Challenge” over the weekend. I have tried to retain that light-hearted balance, reusing a good handful of the original challenges, however I have switched out a fair few challenges as well to promote our school ethos, extend school learning from this academic year or in preparation for September. I have also added one of my favourite maths tasks, weighting, measuring and cooking American style pancakes. Second, as I now work in an all-through school, I designed two sets of overlapping challenge programmes – Adventurer or Voyager crossing the Year 4 – 7 and Year 6 – 9 year groups. I have not proscribed included the target audience on the challenge sheets, rather left it up to students to select which sheet they want to attempt (glass ceilings and all that jazz). Lastly, I have added one additional twist. Given our ability to auto-schedule posts on our website I have scheduled the release of five additional challenges. Look, lets be honest, John Hanke (Niantic CEO) does not see me as a threat however I do hope that our students and summer-holiday-weary parents will enjoy themselves. I know the students enjoyed the American style pancakes homework.

Editable 2016 Summer Challenge

I do think that it is important to personalised both the challenges and challenge sheet, marrying them up to your school, hence I have made the editable document available. If you swing back in September and I will tell you how it went.

John Hanke, Niantic CEO, creators  of Pokémon Go” developer Niantic, likes it.



The catalytics are coming

Back in October 2012 I show cased three catalytics, real time response systems, that were front and centre.

This time let me share with you ExitTicket.

It is a little more sophisticated than the earlier catalytic systems and of course relies on wifi, the availability of wifi connected devices and of course staff confidence.

Of course, the benefits of catalytics are there for all to see. The teacher fans of mini-white boards will a test to that. However, you will have seen from the promo that ExitTicket offers a whole lot more, notably sophisticated calculations and reporting.

exitticketIf you know instantly, at any given time in a lesson, what each and every students know (or at least can recall) or has yet understood, then your teaching practice will be altered quite drastically. Exit Ticket is most definitely disruptive.

Yes, there will be time invested in writing effective questions, there always should be, though this investment must be significantly outweighed by the time saved in marking and feeding back, leaving you plenty of time to invest more time in planning high quality questioning and differentiating support the students.

A little digging revealed that Exit Ticket has gone through some significant piloting, with a report for the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (Dr. Louise Bay Waters and Dr. Patrick Lee) summing up their key findings.

  • Real time feedback and check for understanding:
  • Immediate interventions
  • Preview/review options – ExitTicket results can be used to inform areas for review or preview in the same lesson, the next day’s lesson or subsequent lessons.
  • Polling
  • Competition – streaks of right answers, growth, and overall performance, a form of gaming like structures in learning
  • Student ownership – students enabled to monitor their own progress and correct errors in real time.
  • Error analysis – error analysis, enabling teachers to identify common patterns of confusion among their students and to address them with the entire class or individual students, as needed
If I were working in a 1:1 school or had a class access to a set of laptops, I would be giving this service through its paces.
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QuotesCover for your classroom or corridor

If you were looking for a quick way to dress your classroom, then Quotes Cover turns any ordinary saying texts or quotation (searchable by keyword) into a relatively attractive classroom or corridor poster. Add a little emphasis with an carefully placed asterix before Flicking clicking through various text font and colour combinations, add photo effects and within minutes you done.

Timeline_Cover_doNotRename42 Timeline_Cover_doNotRename79

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Alan Wake – bringing it together (part 5)

It has been a busy few weeks and the project development has slowed down a little. On the plus side, Kelvin has managed to make real headway with the 4 station Xbox cabinet with the help of some sixth formers…

… the XBOX station designed and built by students. We used different materials: wood for the case, 3D printed brackets for the monitors and speakers and metal for the monitor bracket pivot.

With the forethought that this literacy course may be best employed as an intervention, I decided to write the resources as an online course, through GameLab® – a quest-based learning platform where teachers and students play, design, and share quests and badges to personalised learning.

CaptureSomewhat ironically, given we are using an Xbox title, complete with episodes and achievements, Gamelab operates in a similar way. By earning experience points, rewards, and achievements, players “level up.” The course is designed in such a way that access to the Xbox is governed by your rank. Rank is achievement by successfully submitting great literacy quests, which earn you experience points, and we all know what points make…

It is a really exciting platform and a powerful motivator, as well as a great tool for moderating access to the Xbox.

Move forward two weeks and few late nights, we now have 80+ learning assets or quests written, ranks and rewards defined (badges, achievements and awards). There are a wide range of skills explored, reading (reading the script, reading the instructions, researching, reading the in-game text), writing (descriptive, scripting, creative, marketing), and speaking and listening (listening to the game, explaining to others), the Alan Wake literacy project on Gamelab is ready for launch.

Exploring literacy through Remedy’s critically acclaimed psychological action thriller, Alan Wake on the Xbox 360.

Students will play, explore, reflect,  on their game experience and the games  design and creative narrative. With this experience and knowledge they will write, design and create a range of Alan Wake quest responses.

I estimate approximately 60-80 hours depending on the level of the student. I have even managed to get one or two guinea pigs students to test the first rank of quests.

Last night I went through the maths behind the course.

There are 8 categories, introduction and episodes 1-6 to coincide with the six Alan Wake episodes and one category, ‘Anytime’ which are released on set XPs totals. These focus more on the technology behind the game, and act as ‘extra-lives’ in case students fall short of a marker.

7600 XPs for the Quests

350 XPs for Badges – mainly for cooperative work.

1420 for Achievements, somewhat back loaded. Recognising progress in the game, with a 800 for submitting quests and a whopping 500 for reader the Alan Wake Files (a book about the game, written by one of it’s characters)

1380 XPs for Awards, the arbitrary points.

Rank Name Points
Private 0 – 299
Corporal – Ep1 Nightmare 300 – 1199
Sergeant – Ep2 Taken 1200 – 2199
Officer – Ep3 Ransom 2200 – 3199
Lieutenant – Ep 4 The Truth 3200 – 4499
Colonel – Ep 5 The Clicker 4500 – 5999
General – Ep 6 The Departure 6000 – 9999
Field Marshal 10000 +

The final hurdle may look like a significant task, and it is, but there are some big rewards on offer, for some tough but very rewarding Awards. I am looking forward to getting started.

Just remember…

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