All posts tagged Pokemon

Learning Strategies: It’s Super Effective!

Another thing that games teach us is to use the right technique, element, tool, weapon, or strategy for the job. In Pokemon, why do we use water-type techniques against fire-type pokemon and avoid using them on grass-type pokemon? Because it’s super effective! This same kind of mentality can and should be applied inside of the classroom.hqdefault

Students are encouraged almost every day by their teachers to study right or to study harder; however, many students may still lack the correct study skills to succeed in a specific classroom where a specific teacher is trying to teach to a specific standard or objective. Often enough, these learning skills can be more practical and transferrable than the actual content.

Learning skills can be divided into different categories. Ormrod (2011) divides them into overt and covert learning strategies. She defines overt learning strategies as strategies that are “readily apparent” and observable by the teacher and covert learning strategies as “only mental activity” and thus not directly observable like overt learning strategies. Many times, these strategies overlap to assist one another in teaching students. For example, a strategy that Dr. Ormrod suggests to improve writing is creating summaries while one of her covert strategies is to regularly monitor one’s own learning.

I recently did an experiment for a project in one of my classrooms, dividing my classmates into three separate groups while an expert performed a simple kata (a set of specific, chronological motions in a martial arts style). I instructed each group to use a different learning strategy-taking notes on what they saw, summarizing what they saw, or actively shadowing what they saw. The groups were immediately given time to practice for two minutes before demonstrating what they learned to the classroom, and the vast majority practiced by moving their physical bodies in an attempt to reproduce our expert’s maneuvers. These college students were practiced in adopting the most appropriate or effective learning strategy and using it to accomplish their goal (reproducing the martial arts motions).

Imagine the difficulty that they would have had if their practice time had been limited to only reviewing their notes or summaries while the physically practicing group could continue to use the strategy found to be most effective.

Students have developed varying strategies through their academic careers before stepping into each teacher’s classroom, and they are limited by the strategies that they currently have and their ability to distinguish between effective versus ineffective strategies. As teachers, it’s important to recognize that our students don’t walk around with strategy guides in their back pockets with the best way to tackle every new concept, assignment, project, or test that we throw at them. Therefore, it’s important to understand what they do bring to the table and what techniques we bring to the table to help them be super effective in our classroom and classrooms that follow.

Shiny Badges

The world seems to fall in and out of love with the concept of badges in education at an astonishing rate. One minute they’re claiming they represent something tangible that showcases hard work and dedication. The next they claim that it cheapens the process of learning. “Why strive for a badge when you can strive for knowledge?” they scream. 

I’ll tell you why. Because many students don’t make that connection between learning and knowledge. As crazy as that sounds. Learning is what you do at school, and for most students school is a chore. They’re there because they have to be or because their friends are present. Learning is hard and knowledge is nice, but it’s not something that is easily presentable to your peers or parents. You can know loads about a certain subject and be completely in the dark about another. Sometimes kids just need that little piece of flair to enhance their confidence and show others what they know.

It’s like the sticker on a test. Or a test on a fridge. It’s proof. Proof that you learned and proof that you’re proud of it. Most students won’t display a test or a sticker or a badge because they think it’s really cool looking, it’s because they want others to take notice. Look at my accomplishment! Isn’t it great? I’m proud of myself.

Sure, it’s blatantly extrinsic to promote kindness and hard work with badges, levels and experience points, but these are the things students like. Learning to learn is a very hard concept to wrap your head around when you are at a young age. I didn’t want to learn chemical symbols, I wanted to learn how to beat that darn Water Temple. Why? Because it’s fun to succeed and even more fun to show others that you made it. Everyone likes rewards and pay offs. Lots of people love their jobs, but that doesn’t mean they would keep working them if you stopped paying them. As much as humans hate to admit it, we love shiny badges. We love the things that motivate us.

Badges are great for another reason. They may be extrinsic, but they lead to intrinsic thinking. Children may start their quest to learn because there is a reward on the line, but as they mature they realize that knowledge is a reward. The ultimate reward. Getting students to learn, in fact getting ANYONE to learn, by using incentives should not be frowned upon. Hold your badges up with pride and say, “Look at what I did, world. Look at what I know.”

Overhead Perspective – Parents

Sorry I haven’t updated the blog this week, being a track coach is adding quite a few hours to my work week. Good thing I love it.

ClassRealm is a system made for three parties – teachers, students, and parents. Of those three the one it caters to least is parents. This isn’t to say parents weren’t in mind when I was building ClassRealm initially, but out of the three they are the least involved. If ClassRealm was a movie, teachers would be the directors, students would be the actors and parents would be the audience. We want to please all involved. If ClassRealm was a sacred relic the these three mighty powers would make up a triforce!

Many people have asked me how parents have reacted to ClassRealm since its introduction in my classroom more than a month ago, and the truth is they haven’t really reacted much at all. The few remarks I have gotten from parents are very positive. They love the creative aspect and that their student is motivated to learn or be a better person, how could they hate that? Most parents haven’t even mentioned it. Im sure a good chunk of the parents haven’t even visited my classroom site to view their child’s progress, but that’s ok. It’s great if parents want to check in and see how their child is doing, but if they don’t I don’t blame them. Being a parent is hard and adding a whole new set of data to check up on isn’t exactly lighting the load.

When ClassRealm launches later this year (assuming the Kickstarter is successful) we will have a strong focus on making parents feel welcome in our world. We NEED teachers and students for ClassRealm to work, but pleasing parents is one of our top priorities. We promise to make the ClassRealm site one that parents can use with ease to check on their students progress and school related happenings. I hope we don’t run in to parents who won’t let their children participate because ClassRealm has fantasy elements and is “satanic” or something bizarre. I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it, but know this parents – we are on your side. We want to see your student excel just as much as you do. Give them the chance.

Innovation in Motivation: Part One

Why do gamers play video games? Why do gamers beat video games? Why do gamers buy video games? Motivation. But what motivates gamers to do these things?

Pride – When you complete a game all you get is a virtual trophy, a high score, or possibly an alternate ending. Even though these rewards aren’t physical they still push players to obtain them. Achievements in video games are a source of pride. Sure, it took you hours and hours to get that one achievement, but you can show it off to all your online buddies. I caught all 150 original Pokemon in the late 90’s, and I told everyone I knew, even if they didn’t care.

Competition – Video games are usually more fun in a group. I am an avid Super Smash Bros enthusiasts, and let me tell you, it’s more fun with friends. Hundreds of games, from iPod to Playstation 3, feature online play or online leader-boards. Friendly competition is best of all, because you get to share in your friends victories.

Fun – Another reason gamers game is purely for entertainment. It’s fun! I love my life and everyone in it, but it’s still exciting to step in to Link’s boots and rescue Zelda. I can’t run around with a sword slaying enemies and collecting rupees in real life without the local police getting involved, so I pick up a wiimote and escape in to the world of Zelda. Many students don’t want to be at school. They may not hate it, but they’d rather be elsewhere. Why not make school a place where students want to be? Learning can be fun, but so can just about every other aspect of school. Even when the material is less than desirable in the students eyes you can still make them strive to learn.

ClassRealm is about motivating students. Rewarding them for good deeds and hard work. Making them want to learn. They will gain achievements and experience points that only exist in ClassRealm. You don’t have to bestow a crown on them or honor them in parade, they get a virtual medal that they can be proud of. Like gamers, most students like the feeling of achievement and strive to reach their personal goals, whether they be athletic, social, or educational. Take yourself back to 6th grade. You just got all A’s on your report card! You also earned the “Ultimate Badge of Awesome Excellence”! Which one of those are you going to brag to your friends about? ClassRealm puts a fun and magical face on normal classroom rewards. Whether students are pushed by pride, competition or fun is up to them, the important aspect is that students want to learn and they continue to learn. Making school attractive to students is one of our biggest goals.

Look for part two later this week where I will delve in to “Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic” motivation.

Welcome to the Realm!

Hello there! Welcome to the world of ClassRealm! My name is Ben. People call me the Pokémon Prof! That last sentence was a lie…

Here at the ClassRealm Blog I will be updating you hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly on any ClassRealm advancements or news. I’ll also be featuring other gaming, education and gamification findings. Have a great story about how you used gaming concepts in your classroom? I’d love to read about it! Send me anything and everything gaming and education related at

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