Make my lessons attractive? I guess that’s something we as teachers are trying, or should be trying, to do for our students. If anything I’ve learned that not all kids are intrinsically motivated to learn the Science I’m teaching. Or they don’t like school and have been trained to become passive in school. Either way, if I can make my lessons attractive and get them started, maybe they’ll find that they like Science! I mean seriously, what’s not to like? 🙂
With regards to gamifying my classes, I thought it was going to be a matter of turning our Science activities into quests. Take a lab, say building a battery using copper and zinc strips with copper sulfate solution. I’d make it a whole class raid, put an icon on the quest and call it good. Now I’ve learned that in order for quests to be attractive they need to not just capture my students’ interest but also sustain their efforts, so they actually finish the quest. Yeah, I guess finishing a quest is good, sometimes important because finishing certain quests is the only way future quests will become unlocked or available. But there’s more, quests should provide a personally relevant experience. This adds another dimension to how I create quests. Sure, the make a battery lab will probably be highly motivating on its own, kids typically want to make a battery from scratch and see it actually light a bulb. But how do I create the follow-up quests? And what about other activities I’ve done with kids that have been less attractive on their own? Anything that gets my students to engage with Science in my classes sounds good to me.
Once the whole class does a lab they need to reflect on the lab and gain some learning from it. Hopefully they’ll learn something about how the world works such that they have a true notion of Science and not more misconceptions. Physics is fraught with possible misconceptions. In order to make the follow-up capture student’s interests I need to consider multiple ways of having students reflect on what they did. That way students can choose how they reflect based on how they learn best. Maybe a couple or a few quests that students can choose from (or choose all) or maybe have the one follow-up quest with multiple ways of completing it. As with everything I do or have done, it’s up to my students to actually accept the quest and then do it. Maybe I’ll do a combo, some follow-up quests to labs will be one quest with multiple pathways to success and for others there will be different quests that fulfill the same requirement.
In order to sustain student’s efforts the quest must be such that it’s not too easy (although that isn’t the worse problem) or not too difficult (more of a problem). It has to be doable and relevant enough that students see that they learned something connected to the lab. Boy, I’m glad I have all summer to work on this!