Explore Like A Pirate: Chapter 4

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Welcome back to another installment of Explore Like A Pirate. This week, we're studying Chapter 4, which discusses the way language is changing in education. If you've missed the first few chapters or need a refresher, you can check out the previous posts here.

If you have been in education for any length of time, you'll know that there is a shift occurring in our language and our goals for our students. We all know that the standards given to us by the state or national government is not an all-inclusive list of things our students should know when they leave our rooms at the end of the year. We know that is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many things we hope to instill in our students that reach far beyond the scope of the grade level standards. Things like creativity, integrity, manners, critical thinking, a love of learning, confidence, initiative, curiosity and resilience to name a few are all qualities we hope to encourage in our students during the short time we have them.

The initial outcome of gamifying your classroom will be student engagement. But, as Matera writes, it will lead to so much more. "Layering the game over my entire course encouraged collaboration and offered a ton of self-exploration. Learning was no longer about earning a grade; it was about discovery and growth." Who doesn't want that for their students?! This kind of structuring leads students to a growth mindset, which, if you've been on social media lately, is one of the biggest buzzwords in education right now.

One comment that Matera made that really stuck out with me was, "Success no longer comes from what you know, it is the result of what you do with what you know." Information is all around us all the time. Teaching our students facts and requiring memorization of content is not sufficient. Students need to be able to use the information to DO SOMETHING with it. We all know students who remember the information long enough to pass a test and then forget it all as if it never happened. This does nothing to promote love of learning or even ownership of learning. Providing a game-based experience where students have to not only learn the information but also use it and apply it takes our students to a whole other level of learning. And what's even better is that, with game-based learning, they'll be EXCITED to do it!

Join us next week as we discuss the different types of gamers you'll encounter in your classroom and their motivating factors. Now check out what others had to say about this chapter and please feel free to link up with us to share your take on it. Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

Five for Friday (6/24/16)


Hi, y'all! All kinds of things have been happening around here this week. I'm linking up with Kacey at Doodle Bugs Teaching to share it all with you.

We are in the process of moving across country, so things have been a little hectic. I had to get creative with packing since we're moving all our home stuff AND my entire classroom 1700 miles. I was stressing about the need to be able to distinguish between home boxes and school boxes so what else could I do but color code my boxes?! I added a strip of washi tape to my classroom boxes so I could tell the difference quickly when it's time to unpack. What do you think? (Please excuse the ridiculously awful handwriting. It's hard to write that close to the floor!)

Even though we are packing and trying to get rid of stuff, I couldn't help to pick up a few things at Michael's before leaving. #instagrammademedoit

I took a break from packing today to work on a few products. I know none of us are ready to start thinking about school, but I finished up my November math centers and bundled all my math centers for the year! They're on sale right now for HALF OFF, so get 'em while they're hot! :)

We've been studying how to gamify our classes during our Tuesday book studies on Explore Like A Pirate. Lots of ideas have been running through my head! You can check out the linky here and there's still plenty of time for you to join us. (FYI: It's FREE on Kindle Unlimited right now!)

And now it's time for a few guilty pleasures. We've packed, I've published, I've bought more stuff to pack, so now it's time to rest. My wild Friday night consists of pizza, blogging, and Say Yes to the Dress! Man, I'm old!

Thanks for stopping by! Now swing over to Doodle Bugs Teaching for more Five for Friday fun. And don't forget to join us on Tuesday for more Explore Like A Pirate! Have a great weekend!

Explore Like A Pirate: Chapter 3


Welcome back to another installment of our Explore Like a Pirate book study. This week, we're looking at chapter 3, which discusses the changes in the educational climate among schools and the benefits of embracing this new structure. (If you missed chapters 1 and 2, you can read them here and here.)

Matera begins the chapter by explaining how, as explorers, we must continually try new things and be open to techniques that work with today's students, not those of our great-grandparents generations. He outlines the "new way" of the teaching versus the "old way:"

We all know education is changing. I don't know about you, but I would much rather be part of creating a generation of students who are creative, independent, and know how to lead with confidence. Matera makes a statement many of us have been saying for years: "We are not teaching standards, we are teaching students." We teach students who love games and the thrill of discovery and creativity. We can no longer expect students to "sit and get" as generations before have done. 

Gamifying your classroom can be as simple as adding a scavenger hunt into a lesson or playing a Jeopardy style review game, or it can be much more intricate. Whatever you choose to do, do it with your students' skills and interests in mind. 

Join us next Tuesday for more details on how to embrace the game-inspired course design in your own classroom. Now feel free to check out what others have to say about this chapter or link up yourself. Thanks for stopping by and have a great Tuesday!

Five for Friday: Big Announcements


At the beginning of 2016, several bloggers shared their one little word for the year. Mine was "change." This month has been a perfect example! I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching to share the excitement with you. 

We're moving to Nevada. Next month we'll be packing things up and moving across country. It's been a long time in the works and it's finally really happening. Ben and I flew out and went house hunting this week. We have a huge adventure ahead! 25 hours in the car with the kids and a Uhaul…piece of cake.

I was offered a teaching position in the new city! My last two schools' mascots were bulldogs. Now I'll be a pirate! I think that calls for some coordinating Kendra Scott earrings to celebrate the occasion. What do you think of these?

I'm moving to 3rd grade! I've taught Kinder and 1st so this will be a big jump. I'm so EXCITED! Who are your favorite 3rd grade bloggers to follow?

On a much more minor note, but still worth celebrating, I stopped by the Target Dollar Spot in the new city and they had all their teacher stuff out and pretty! I walked away with a pretty impressive haul, which was good because when we got back home, our Target was completely cleaned out!

And finally, we're two weeks into our Explore Like a Pirate book study. It's all about designing game-based classes (and using your current content) to engage your learners. If you've missed it so far, you can check it out here. AND there's still time to link up if you'd like to join us on this gamification journey! (FYI: It's FREE on Kindle Unlimited right now!)

Well that's it. It's been busy around here but definitely exciting! I can't wait to get moving and start this new chapter of our lives. Thanks for stopping by! Now head over to Doodle Bugs Teaching for more Five for Friday awesomeness.

Explore Like A Pirate: Chapter 2


Welcome back for chapter 2 of our book study on Explore Like A Pirate. If you missed the first chapter, you can check it out here. We've been studying how gamification can engage students and take your content to a whole new level. 

First, what is gamification? "Gamification is applying the most motivational techniques of games to non-game settings, like classrooms…[It] includes elements of game theory, design thinking, and informational literacy. It is a framework laid over your curriculum that is fluid and tangible at all skill levels." 

Before we go any further in our book, we need to dispel some myths about gamification and game-based course design. 

Basically, you don't need much "stuff" (technology, accessories, etc), you just need creativity and the desire to get your students engaged. It's not a "move away from rigorous education, but instead, a move into real-world problem solving, project-based learning, and design thinking."

Three things to keep in mind as you begin your game design are content, choice, and challenge. Games should be content based, offer student choice, and provide challenges, or unknown twists, to keep your students engaged.

As we move further into the book, we'll learn more about how to apply these techniques to our everyday curriculum. Join us next Tuesday for more info and ideas on gamifying your classroom. Now check out what others had to say about chapter 2 of Explore Like A Pirate.

Five for Friday (6/10/16)


Happy Friday!!! It's our first full week off of school and what a busy week it's been! We've had family in town from all over the place so we've been barbecueing and sight seeing for days. But even with all the commotion, I couldn't pass up my favorite linky, Five for Friday with Doodle Bugs Teaching. 

We met my cousin and her family from Ireland at my mom's house for a get-together with the extended family. It's a good thing she's got a big house, 'cause there was a lot of us! This is the youngest generation of kiddos there.

We went to a Round Rock Express baseball game Tuesday night with Ben's parents. They told someone working the game that they're from out of town and we got a tour of the stadium (including the press box and suites). The staff even convinced the guys to be part of the games in between innings! Ben and his dad raced tricycles around the field and Jay, my son, got to operate the camera to find the mascot in the stands. Jay was more than a little proud of himself and so were the "big kids."

We did a mini tour of Austin Wednesday and saw as many things as we could stand. We went to the capital, Thundercloud, the UT drag, Zilker Botanical Gardens (have you seen the fairy garden yet?!), graffiti park, Salt Lick BBQ, and bat watching in Round Rock. Needless to say, we all slept well that night.

This is the dome ceiling of the Texas state capitol:

A fairy montessori school at the Zilker gardens: 

Look! The kids are smiling and hugging each other and no one is complaining about the heat or each other! :)

The graffiti park: 

Yesterday, we went to the Riverwalk in San Antonio and the Alamo. We ate at Rita's so of course we had to have a 'rita.

And, school-elated, we started our book study on Explore Like A Pirate by Michael Matera. It's all about creating game-inspired courses to keep your littles engaged. If you haven't had a chance to check it out yet, it's free on Kindle Unlimited and you can check out our first posts here. There's still time to link up with us too if you want! The more the merrier!

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you are having a fabulous start to your summer! Now swing by Doodle Bugs Teaching for more Five for Friday awesomeness. And don't forget to check us out Tuesday for Chapter 2 of Explore Like A Pirate. 

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