Month: December 2015

Many Are Called, But Few are Chosen

I vividly remember a class I took several years ago. We constantly did group presentations. Those evenings of sitting there, while group after group talked to the class are permanently drilled into my brain. I can’t recall a single important piece of information, but I remember looking at my watch, eagerly waiting for the time to pass so I could escape from the excruciating pain of boredom. And yet, the time would not pass like it normally does; each second seemed to drag its heels to make the class seem to last far longer than it actually did.

Some time later, it dawned on me that this was exactly what I was doing to my students. In the quest to get students engaged, have them do group work, and to present to others, I was merely having a litany of group presentations. One group after another would go up and present, while the rest of the class would suffer “sit and get,” but from fellow students instead of a teacher.

I then struggled with what to do. If I were to tell the class who was presenting next, then many students would not be engaged during work time. If students completed presentations on their own and then submitted them to me, then they wouldn’t get practice with speaking in front of the class. I also didn’t want to assign worksheets or increase my lecture time. I was at a loss of how to solve this problem.

Eventually, I discovered a solution using Classcraft, my gamification platform.

Rather than have every group go before the class to present, I now use the “Wheel of Destiny” feature of Classcraft to randomly select a student or a group. That student or group will then go up to present or to complete and exercise (for which class time has already been given). If the presentation is good, Experience Points (XP) is awarded. If not, Health Points (HP) is taken away. Because often times these min-presentations are part of classwork and formative assessment, I do not need to formally grade them, and the points suffice. I will only select one to three groups (and require them to be short) to keep the flow of class moving.

As a result, the work time becomes an intense preparation for points, and the performance is a chance to earn points. Because the “Wheel of Destiny” does not repeat student names, every student will be called forth at some point (likely several times throughout the year). Students get the benefit of doing presentations or sharing work publically without having to sit through presentation after presentation.

And they never know where the Wheel of Destiny will land next…

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