All posts in Tracking

Real-Team Strategy

Did you know that “team” stands for “together everyone achieves more”?

It doesn’t really. I got that from some cheesy motivational poster that I used to have in my classroom. Though it’s honestly not a terrible way to portray the advantages of teamwork in a school setting.

For anyone who has tried the ClassRealm paper version you know how difficult it can be to keep up with all of the moving parts. XP, levels, achievements, attendance, homework and more all add to the load. It can certainly be overwhelming, especially to a new teacher.

So here’s a little secret, a real life cheat code (put down that Game Genie): ENLIST YOUR STUDENTS. It sounds like a  no brainer, sure, but many teacher don’t even think to put their students in charge of tasks they normally handle themselves.

I’m not asking you to have students submit grades or assign detentions. Just give them easy jobs that make your workload a little lighter.

“Billy, you’re in charge of attendance. Please mark those absent on this sheet.”

“Ashley, you’re in charge of XP. Whenever I tell you to add some points to a students please do so.”

And so on. Students love this. I promise you they do. The key here is not to assign duties, but to offer them up. Who wants to do this potentially mind numbing task? You’d be surprised at the number of hands that will go up.

Students (unbelievably) love responsibility, just not the kind that is thrust upon them. Homework and schoolwork is a chore because you tell them it must be done. A volunteer job in the classroom is shot at something new, something they may (and usually do) enjoy. Most students know the joys of helping others and will go out of their way to make sure their job is done well.

So the next time you feel like the amount of work you have to do is insurmountable don’t forget that you have an army of small helpful creatures at your disposure. Treat them with respect and kindness and they will crawl over each other to lend you a hand.

Ouya? Oh Yeah!

Not long ago a Kickstarter emerged for a console called Ouya (rhymes with Boo-yah!). Ouya is essentially a hackable, android based, home console. It’s also very cheap ($99!) compared to most other current gen home consoles, which retail anywhere from $200 to $350 (give or take). Needless to say it was a Kickstarter sensation, raising over eight million dollars. Slightly more than the ClassRealm Kickstarter pulled in…

The best part about Ouya is that just about anyone can design a game or app for it. The potential is staggering. As the ClassRealm team researched Ouya we had a collective thought – Why don’t we try to bring ClassRealm to Ouya? We could put ClassRealm, which is based on video games, on an ACTUAL video game console. We would be silly not to try, right?

Here are some ways that we feel Ouya could help ClassRealm (and vice versa):

1. Desirable Presentation

If you gave an elementary student the option of playing a game on the computer or playing a game on a home console which do you think they’d pick? If you said home console, you win! Home consoles represent the ultimate focus on gaming (and Netflix) for kids. If I had a console in my classroom I’d have to fend students off with a pointy stick to stop them from fooling with it. I’m sure I would be asked every day if they could play it, especially during indoor recess.

2. Data

The Ouya would be a great place for students to see their data displayed. Want to check your current level or how much XP you earned in math class today? Jump on the Ouya. Sure, you could just go online, but the Ouya is on your TV! Now your mom HAS to see what an amazing Frost Wizard you are. Imagine if a student was playing another game on the Ouya and a notification popped up saying their classmate just earned 100 XP in the ClassRealm. They would certainly be more interested in getting on the ClassRealm app and reviewing for that test tomorrow.

3. Review

Though ClassRealm is being built first and formost as an interactive tracking system for teachers, students and parents, we also want to add actual gaming elements to the mix in the near future. Every friday my students participate in Random Encounter Friday, a game where they battle each other to answer review questions the fastest via whiteboards. It would be a lot more convenient to hand the students a controller and have the console dole out questions. Heck, the console could even randomly pick the students or groups who will be battling! Not only that, but students could review during down time at home or as a fun way to recall information for an important test.

4. Affordability

Ouya is cheap, price wise I mean. Convincing the school board or the principal to let you use one in your class is a much easier sell then say, a smart board. Or say they don’t go for it, $100 out of your own pocket to help your students isn’t going to break the bank (even on a teacher’s salary).

5. Exposure 

Let’s say Ouya takes off and ClassRealm is onboard. ClassRealm gets more exposure and gains more of a fan base from gamers, educators and the general public. Let’s say ClassRealm takes off and people see how teachers are using the Ouya in classrooms to help students learn and grow. Ouya gets more exposure and gains more of a fan base from the world of education. It’s a win-win situation.

So yes, ClassRealm isn’t technically a game… yet. It’s simply a system that makes school more fun for all those involved. We are taking small steps in the right direction (did I mention we have no funding at the moment?), but we would love to see ClassRealm show up on the Ouya in the future. Maybe we’ll be lucky enough to get a dev kit for free via their #myouyagame contest on Twitter. If not, we’ll have one showing up this spring which we can fiddle with. It’s just nice to know that the possibility is there.

New Challengers Approach!

Ah. Smell that? It’s the smell of a new school year wafting on the summer breeze. Now that I’m done making you guess smells I feel it’s only fair to give you a new ClassRealm update. As I am a teacher first and blogger second I will try my darndest to update you fine folks who read this blog (all seven of you) on a regular basis. As I mentioned, a new school year is upon us and with new school years come new students. As a young teacher without many years of experience I haven’t dealt with every kind of student yet, but let me tell you – this year’s class is WAY different from last year’s.

Here’s the good part. They love ClassRealm. I introduced them to the system during the second week of school and they are having a blast. The one aspect that really seems to be driving their frenzy for XP and achievements is the new team mentality I have instilled in my paper system. Last year ts was every student’s dream to beat the others and become top dog. This year it’s all about reaching the goal together and sharing in the journey. Student’s literally applaud others for gaining levels and earning achievements. Fantastic stuff!

The two students I have dubbed “Level Trackers” keep a close eye on the combined level of the classroom and are constantly updating the other students on their advancements. Though XP was a big deal last year, it has taken an even more commanding lead with this particular class. Achievements are more like surprises this time around, which is actually a nice change.

Last year my students latched on to the writing achievement and piled on story after story. I was sure this would be the case again, but the achievement of choice this year appears to be the “Book Worm”. Students are reading constantly! It’s wonderful. Today one of my students asked if she could take home some of the ClassRealm Book Overview sheets to fill out over the holiday weekend and I told her to pick some up on her way out. But she couldn’t. Because the stack I had left there had been used up. Best. Problem. Ever.


Check back soon for more ClassRealm updates!

Bertoli out.

Keeping Track of Tracking

If there is one educational aspect that most video games are good at it’s keeping track of things. You never have to worry that you left your iron boots in the forest temple, they’re always right there in your inventory. All your weapons, move-sets, experience points, achievements, items, health and magic are only a few clicks away. Video games are made to show you what you have and what you need to get. They put everything in your world on display. ClassRealm strives to be this system in real life.

A huge part of teaching is the ability to interpret data and use it to your advantage. If your class just scored an average of 40% on your last math test, you may want to reteach the entire section. Hard data is the best way for teachers to see where they are and are not making progress. It shows students weak points, and that is extremely importnat. As a teacher, my job is to turn students weak points in to their strong points, or at least get them up to par with others in their grade. Ideally we want to make student proficient at everything! Math, reading, language arts, science, social studies, art, gym, health, music – students need to have a solid understanding of all these concepts.

Let me be perfectly honest, tracking everything school related can be a pain. Assignments, tests, attendance and participation are just some of the data teachers must track daily. It’s time consuming and some times painstakingly complicated. With ClassRealm we want to give teachers the chance to track their class data in the simplest way possible. Easy to input. Easy to access. Easy to read. A map to your world.

When implemented, ClassRealm adds experience points and achievements to the classroom mix. I won’t lie, it hasn’t exactly been a cake walk to track all of my students different achievements and daily XP. I’m doing it all on paper and then putting it in a spreadsheet, so it takes some extra time. The ClassRealm site set-up will make this all flow much smoother and even give me reports on students who are struggling or aren’t being pushed to their full potential. ClassRealm is being built to help, not hinder, a teachers daily classroom procedures. I just wish I had it now…