Friday, July 29, 2016

Does Pokemon Go have a place in our classrooms?

By now, you are either caught up in the craze of Pokemon Go or you are completely annoyed with it. As of a few days ago, there have been 75 million+ downloads of the app.  Players are ALL OVER THE PLACE....searching for these "monsters", setting lures to attract Pokemon, "battling" in gyms, and hitting Pokestops for some recovery and resources.  Players can easily be spotted - walking around, pointing their phones up, down, all around and occasionally stopping to interact with their device.  You can often see players congregating in places they might not normally be "hanging out."  Just swing by the square in your town in the'll see.

I recently came across this tweet from a couple of educators that I highly respect. (@alicekeeler@Catlin_Tucker)

It made me think very differently about this game. I immediately thought about Dr. Harry Wong's First Days of School and the quote, " The most important day of a person's education is the first day of school, not Graduation Day."  What will the first day of school look like to my own children, to the students in our schools.

So I wonder, how many of our students, many of whom will begrudgingly return to school in less than a month, are excited to play this game each day?  We can easily say that the game has no educational value, that people are even more "attached" to their devices, there is even less socialization when people are behind screens, yada, yada, yada.  Let's not continue to spew the negative and think about how this can be a positive impact on our classrooms as students return.  Students want to learn, most just don't want to learn the way that you did.  Good teachers find ways to differentiate the classroom to accommodate learning styles.  How can we make that connection to reach our students?

1. Connect & Collaborate - Have you played the game?  No?  What's stopping you?  Oh it's not "your kind of thing."  So how do you plan to make a connection with students when they return this year?  One of the greatest ways to reach students is to find ways to connect learning with things that will resonate with them.  Saying, "You'll need this information some day" is just as poor and educational strategy today as it was many years ago when I sat in a Trigonometry & College Algebra class knowing that I was going to become a social studies teacher.  I found no relevance.

2.  Move - "Sit and get" classrooms are so 1950.  Many of us are well aware of the research surrounding movement in the classroom.  This game forces players to get up and go somewhere.  What kind of activities can you design to get your students up and moving in the classroom and throughout the school?  Around the school?  Outside the school?  Many players are asking, where can we explore next?  What is it that you can do to have students asking the same question?  

3.  Learn & grow with each other - "I'm not good with technology" is no longer an acceptable phrase in the world of education today.  We have to get over that and continue to learn and grow and use modern tools in our classrooms. Perhaps playing the game in class might not be acceptable. How about using it as a conversation starter prior to an activity?  What about using it to learn about augmented reality along with your students?  It there something that you have seen other educators doing that you can learn.  Ask your students to learn WITH you.  Looking for a more engaging formative assessment tool?  Heard a colleague talking about Kahoot!?  Ask the students if they have ever used it.  Want students to publish their writing online?  Never set up and used a blog? Ask the students to learn WITH you.

As we return to school, don't just think about the design of your bulletin boards, the name tags on student desks, the color of the folders that students will get.  Start to think about how you can "hack" into the activities that they are doing this summer and all year long.  I could go on and on...but you'll have to excuse me while I go try to find an Aerodactyl.