Thursday, February 11, 2016

How Classcraft Changed My Classroom Management

I am a huge fan of video games and am no stranger to the fact that my students are too. So when I heard about a program called Classcraft that is basically gamifying your classroom management system, I was all for trying it out. I pulled up the website and started looking over tutorials to see if it is right for my students and I to use. 

The initial setup is a bit cumbersome, but once you get it done, the rest is easy. The thing I love about this game is that it is fully customizable. You make the rules, the rewards, and can add to the game as it goes on. It really is ever evolving. 

The first thing you do before even playing the game is have your students sign the Hero Pact. This pact says that they agree to play the game all semester (or year) without quitting and understand that the rules of the game can change at any time. Once that is signed, they will need to create characters (or you can do that for them) and customize them. The students will pick what class they are (Warrior, Healer, or Mage), male or female, and a skin tone. Once those are chosen, let the game begin!

At my school tardies are a big problem. So when one of my students comes in late, they get docked 10HP (Health Points). They also lose health points for disrupting class, not working on assignments, etc. Throughout the semester they do get chances to restore their health and gain additional XP (Experience Points). So far, my kids love this game! They are all about what they can do to get additional XP. 

Now for the big question. Does it work? In the first week that I introduced the game to my class, I went from 10 tardies through the day on Monday to zero on Friday. For a school where tardy policies are often adapted to make them more effective, this is a huge victory to me. As a whole, I have seen a marked improvement in my classroom. Behavior is better, kids are being held accountable by their teammates, and they are getting to class on time and staying engaged. 

I would absolutely recommend Classcraft to anyone looking to improve their classroom management. The greatest thing about it...There's a free version! The free version is a bit limited on what you can do, but it is still effective for class management. If you upgrade your account, you can give quizzes or boss battles on the game and also give your students assignments that will earn them XP. The full version is only $8 a month and $6 a month if you have more than 3 teachers sign up together.

I will be honest, maintaining the game and managing the adding of XP and subtracting of HP does add a little bit to my workload, but it really is worth it. You can even manage the game from the iPad app if you don't want to use a computer.

If you want to check out Classcraft for yourself, you can do so here.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

TCEA 2016 - Day 4 Wrap Up

Day 4 at TCEA was a bit slower paced for me than the previous days this week, but just as educational. The first session I went to today was Creative Coding with Games and Apps. This course has changed my life! I now know the basics of coding, and look forward to learning more with Microsoft Touch Develop. I also got my hands on the Creative Coding curriculum, which I can't wait to incorporate into my class.

I also visited the Microsoft booth today in the expo hall and learned about Sway. Sway is a Microsoft product that allows you to basically tell your story in a cross media outlet. You can use videos, pictures, words, and more. The best thing about Sway is that you can access it from computer, tablet, and phone. There's even an app for it.

This afternoon, I went to the Meet Your Area Director session. Anyone who has attended one of these will tell you the best thing about going is that you have a good chance to win prizes, and amazingly enough, I actually did! In the session I did learn a couple of things, and I won a Google Chromecast.

I am so excited to take back all the things that I've learned to my classroom and see how I can use it to inspire my students.

TCEA 2016 - Day 3 Wrap Up

Wednesday, I started out with presenting my very own session on Broadcast 101: How to Create a Successful program. This was an amazing experience! When I walked into the room to set up, I was shocked by how many people were already in the room waiting. The presentation went very well and I actually got quite a bit of feedback. I left my session with a sense of purpose, as I had so many people asking for my help on setting up their program, what to teach, and what to buy.


The session I went to after my presentation was "The GameEd Canvas". This session was fantastic! It was all about how to make a lesson into a game that your students will want to play? If they are playing , they are learning.

Next, I attended "The Social Media Secret Sauce", which was all about how to effectively use social media. From this session, I learned some awesome new tools that will help me to keep track of my digital footprint.

My last session of the day was called "Nomophobia". This session absolutely blew me away!!

It was all about an experiment that a teacher did to see how her students would do without their phones for a day. After seeing the results, I was inspired to implement an experiment similar to this when I go back to my campus. I am really looking forward to those results.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

TCEA 2016 - Day 2 Wrap Up

Today was very much about Google Sites for me. I started the day learning about how to use advanced features in Google Sites such as embedding items and adding things from Drive.

My next session was about connecting the high-tech industry to education. In that session, I learned about how to find sponsors for things, and introduce your students to the working world without ever leaving the classroom.

The next session I went to was also about using Google Sites, but this one focused on making digital portfolios with those sites. This session has prepared me to teach my students to make some rocking portfolios!

In the afternoon, I hit the Leading an In-District Twitter Chat session and learned how to use this feature for professional development and more.

The last session I attended was about connecting through collaboration. This session showed some great collaboration tools like Edmodo, Google Classroom, Padlet, and more.

Tonight I am preparing my presentation for the morning since I am presenting at 8am. Wish me luck!

TCEA 2016 - Day 1 Wrap Up

Monday was a busy day at the TCEA 2016 Conference. I started out the day with learning about augmented reality. This was so great! I learned a ton of ways to get kids to learn using interactive tools that they will love.

The next session I went to was on how to use iBooks Author. I learned how to make interactive books that include things like 3D models, study guide questions, and a few other great elements. I also got introduced to Presentain!

My next session was about using social media to put your best digital footprint forward. The basics here is to be mindful about what you post online. This I think is a good lesson for both teachers and students alike. We should all be paying attention to what we post and make sure that those things we post aren't hurtful or hindering to anyone.

Monday, February 1, 2016

TCEA 2016

This is one of the best times of the year for a technology teacher. It's time for TCEA 2016!

What is that you ask? TCEA 2016 is a week long conference where technology teachers, admins, techs, and enthusiasts alike can come out and learn the latest tech and tips and get our hands on some awesome toys! 

The first two days of the conference are academies and workshops. Wednesday through Friday, you can still attend workshops and sessions, but you can also go to the exhibit hall and visit tons of vendors. I'll be blogging all week about what I learn here, so stay tuned!