Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Crafting...as motivation to practice

I've read a lot over the last year about trying to get kids to continue their learning after they've left school for the day, week, or year.  It is an especially difficult problem here in Kuwait, as a lot of the families that I have interacted with seem to think that learning stops when the kid leaves school and time at the house is meant for being with family.  I'm not knocking family here, but if a child doesn't continue to work on the learned skills at home than they will quickly become stagnant and useless to them.  The trick, I suppose, is getting that student to want to keep learning.  Sometimes that type of thinking seems like a lot of alchemy, but as educators we have to at least try.

So, my solution for next year comes in a package I'm calling crafting.  I am not the first person to think of this term or idea as it relates to education (and gamfiication of education), but I honestly can't remember all of the places I've seen it mentioned.  I'm not taking sole credit for the concept, let's put it that way.

Since my grade eight class is themed around medieval fantasy, I thought that calling the motivated extra-learning system crafting was a good place to start.  Simply speaking, I'm going to keep a few folders of extra work based on concepts and skills we've developed in class.  Students can choose to try these extra bits of work without the fear of failure, but with the hope of achievement.

As an example, let's say that we've worked on using present and present progressive verbs in class.  I will select around 10 pieces of bonus work based on present verb tense that the students can do at their leisure.  If they finish class work early or if they want to have some extra practice over the weekend, the students can choose to take on these extra challenges.  Every one they complete moves them closer to becoming a MASTER CRAFTER in that particular area.  Once they have finished, with correct answers, the ten practice sheets, they can try to take the Master Crafter challenge quiz.  If they get 90-100% on it than they will earn the Master Present Tense Verb (or just Master PTV) achievement badge.  They can keep retrying the test until they do reach the pass threshold.

From my perspective they are solidifying core concepts, and from their perspective they are achieving recognition for being very good at something.  I would, of course, have a variety of these crafting categories based on the learning we do in class.  If they get a hold of 5 badges, I might set up another reward.  It is a bit of intrinsic and a bit of extrinsic.  The students will want the badges, but a lot of that desire comes from achieving in the eyes of their peers.  An award certificate would be another great way to show their achievement.  My soon-to-be wife has made some awesome end of the year ones for her grade 2s (and for K-6).  She's got them on sale now on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Any other ideas for this sort of system?  Any thoughts about the Themed Year in general?  Leave a comment!

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