Joy Kirr is a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. Her 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of their learning experiences... Want to have her speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is Joy's PORTFOLIO.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Explore Like a Pirate

Michael Matera, a great EdCamp adventurer and cohort, finished his book about gamification. I have told him - repeatedly - in person, no less - that I could NOT attend one of his gamification sessions at edcamps until I was READY to implement it in my classroom. I knew, just from the type of teacher he is, that his wealth of resources and his passion for doing this in the classroom would push me over the edge and into the high seas. If I was not ready to practice my swimming all summer (planning for an extensive year-long game), I would NOT attend one of his sessions. (I did attend a TINY session at USM Summer Spark last summer - right after seeing Dave Burgess in action!)

Well... I guess he was done with me not attending his sessions.
He sent me his book!

I have read the book, marked it up, asked questions, added sticky notes, and dog-eared the pages.

Now what?!

My brain is reeling.

I'm steeped in students grading themselves this year, and still on the Genius Hour bandwagon, of course. I'm still trying to figure things out with these two HUGE ideas. And now? Now I want to offer experience points (XPs) to my students for doing side quests. I want to have a big jar of water in the room with a small target at the bottom so kids can drop pennies in. I want to have teams in the class. I want to have more...... fun.

My kids are always up for trying new things. (I think that's why we're pretty loud - we're still figuring things out.) I believe I can incorporate my first efforts when we read The Outsiders at the end of the year. I've already switched those plans to work the Whole Novels way. I know what we're doing for that unit. Just think about it - the Greasers against the Socs... Girls against the boys. I could do it up right. I have enough time to plan (??), and we could end the school year with something they'll really remember. Stay gold?? Hmmm... Golden sunsets? Blue Mustangs? There's a lot I could do here... I hope to see Michael at EdCamp Madison this February so I can pick his brain, and then again in April at EdCamp Chicago so I can update him with my progress and get tips!

Until then, I think I'll get that big jar and some pennies ready... Or should I pack the golf ball, putter, and cup? You don't have a clue why I would? Time to pick up Explore Like a Pirate... Not too intrigued - yet? Time to join the weekly Twitter chat #XPlap on Wednesday nights at 7pm CST to catch the sparks so you can ignite those ideas.

And, no. I don't get paid to review books. Michael is a caring, innovative teacher who loves to share his ideas - in person, and now in paperback.

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