Monday, November 28, 2011

Cross curricular gamified learning


Over the next 2 weeks I will be using a collaborative working plan based on the story of Santa being lost as part of my gamified learning in the classroom. I started the plan using Google Docs and posted a link to it on Twitter, within half an hour the plan had grown to 5 pages of cross curricular ideas and activities. You can acces the doc and add your own ideas to the plan here.

To begin the week I used the following presentation. The first slide takes time to work out but my class got there after a few questions and answers. One thing you must try to do is to take a step back, do not rush in with answers. Let the learners find the solution, give them time. Let them finish their ideas and accept every idea as part of the solution because even incorrect answers will help find the correct one. I decided to put ( ) around the 2 numbers and that did the trick, immediately a lot of voices told me the numbers must be coordinates. So off they went to find were the coordinates would lead to. They found Santa was on Henderson Island part of the Pitcairn Islands , located in the South Pacific Ocean. It's very remote so Santa truly needed their help. The next slides let them think first about what items they would take from the list to help Santa survive. They had to discuss with each other why they would take certain items and I listened in to many interesting suggestions e.g. Santa really needs to take the chocolate because he can not only eat it, he can make a drink out of it so that's two out of one! Many of the children automatically wanted to build rafts but after looking closely at their Google Map they thought it might be better to sit tight on the island until help arrived.

Searching formed a huge part of the challenge, children had to use search strings to find specific information that could help them decide what to do to help Santa. Wikipedia articles were quickly scanned for important information and shared with the groups. Each group went off on different though flows to begin with and even after collaborating with each other, many stayed on their original courses with just a little variation. One group is convinced that Santa can survive a journey by raft to Pitcairn Island so tomorrow my additional challenge to them is working out how long that journey might take.

Towards the end of the morning one group hit on a fantastic idea. They had been using the Google Map to decide if using a raft would be a good idea but then hit on staying on the island until help arrived. Why? I asked. One girl in the group called me over to demonstrate how she had used Google Maps photo layers to discover that there were quite a few photos taken of the island by visitors on boats! She quickly came to the conclusion that the islands were actually not as remote as first thought and used another search online to discover visitpitcairn. It was an exciting moment as it was one area of Google maps that I had not shown to the class but obviously one learner had. She quickly demonstrated her skill to others and very soon everyone was using the photos plugin of Google Maps to view the photos themselves.

A mystery awaits
View more presentations from Kevin McLaughlin.


Every day I use the gamified approach I am more convinced it is a wonderful method of inspiring children's curiosity and develop their creative problem solving. With today's emphasis on assessments for learning, testing for league tables, 'playing the game' to stay off Ofsted's radar, gamifying your learning may be risky to some but it is certainly worth it.