Thursday, September 19, 2013

Module 1 Update

Tomorrow my basic skills students end the first module of the year. Together we have tackled setting up class blogs, editing sentences on iPads, writing personal code of conducts, and diving into the game worlds designated for each class. So far, I'm cautiously optimistic - the students enjoy what we are doing, and I'm seeing quality work without frustration.

One of the programs I am most excited about using is Membean. Membean teaches vocabulary using a multimodal approach. Students study a word on a page with context clues, images, videos, word maps, and root explanations. Then, they review words they have learned through fun mini-quizzes. An incorrect answer is not penalized - students are sent back to the learning page to review the word and try again.

 Membean very graciously offered to set up a classroom account for me to test with my students. After two weeks of usage, I'm a fan. Take for instance Rachel (name changed), who thinks visually and immediately connects the words to the background pictures. Or Tim, who watches the vocab videos and picks up the words quickly. These are students who would not excel with typical vocabulary workbook setups. I've observed student after student adopting new words with ease and coming to an understanding that "failure" leads to mastery of the words. If a review question is answered incorrectly, students are taken back to the vocab word page to restudy. I can see how over more time, these words will truly become ingrained in the students' everyday vocabulary. Bravo, Membean.

I am not a huge fan of the quizzes. I don't fully count the quizzes, but instead use them as a way to gauge student progress. I wish that the quizzes were more accommodating or at least modifiable. They involve 15 or so questions on one page, small print. I wish that the quizzes were given in the same format as the study questions - one per page, bright and bold. It was overwhelming for some of my students to process that much small text on one page.

Next module, we tackle pairing reading with the chosen MMOs. I know all of my students are eager to dive into the games and experience literacy in a fresh new way. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Basic Skills QUEST

A typical day in Basic Skills QUEST:

  • Navigate to class page on CCAQuest
  • Follow the link to 3DGameLab
  • Choose quests to complete... for example:
    • Spend 10 minutes practicing vocabulary on 
    • Participate in a group discussion
    • Practice grammar by editing sentences
    • Jump into an MMO, complete in-game quests, then jump out and report about the experience on the class blog
    • Practice literacy skills comparing/contrasting literature with the narrative of a game
  • Forget what time it is until the bell rings
Such fun!