Reflection 8: Quest to Learn

This reflection is based on my own interest in gamification, game-based learning, and my continuous wonder on how we can create teaching that enables an innovative mindset.

First of all, I’d like to introduce the Institute of Play, a New York City-based institution, that creates all teaching plans through cross-curricular games.

The Institute of Play has a middle school in the center of N.Y. City called Quest to Learn:

Seeing so well thought through initiatives (in lack of a better word) like Quest to Learn, always makes me think of how to create my own games as a teacher in order to foster that innovative entrepreneurial mindset within the students. I came to think of one game in particular, which I developed with Thomas during the European Teacher in Austria. The following presents the plan to scaffold, the game idea and finally my own reflections on how it went.


Description of the game (teaching sequence) as presented to the teachers, except anything added in yellow.

Adventure Learning: Lights Out

Lights Out is an adventure learning game over 2 weeks – The students will work with assignments during their Lernbüro (Læreriet; a type of teaching style/environment, where students work individually on tasks, that we had to adapt to), which will scaffold and support the student for the actual game on Thursday the 6th of October in the Dark Room. The students will earn points for completing their assignments and tasks during Lernbüro, which they can later spend in the Dark Room (the class will gain the joint amount of points, that all the students in that class earned) to complete the tasks and win the competition. The assignments function as scaffolding in their own right as they provide the necessary vocabulary, grammar and story knowledge the students will need in order to solve the tasks in the “Dark Room”. As the students have their assignments corrected together with a teacher, they themselves have to argue how well they think they did and will be given points thereafter (normally, they are doing hardcore grammar tasks in Lernbüro, and the teachers will give them feedback according to the more traditional teaching approach; many mistakes equals a not acceptable effort – we’d allow the students to rate themselves much higher, as long as they were able to explain their thought-process)

The plan for Lernbüro:

Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 20.17.31.png

The Dark Room is a game based in a completely dark room filled with unlit candles, in which the students will have to cooperate in order to solve word puzzles. There are 15 separate word puzzles that, when completed, will form a story (this is a story that they know since they have worked with it in Lernbüro)

Set-up of The Dark Room:

 

  • There is only one candlelight in the room, thus it is very dark and the students have to cooperate with their teams to solve the word puzzles.
  • Class (team) A and B will compete against each other to construct sentences first
  • Each team has two tables in The Dark Room; one is the management table and one is the workers’ table – The management will have the rules, clues, etc. Available and they will also be in charge of how to use the currency. The workers will have to open envelopes and construct sentences from a lot of cut-out words from the story The Little Matchgirl
  • Each team will assign one runner from the beginning who is not allowed to sit on a chair, but can communicate between the tables and with the lightmasters
  • Currency can be used to used to light more candles by their team’s table or receive help from the lightmasters (Thomas or Sophie)

RULES (given to all students prior to the beginning of the game)

  1. Complete 15 sentences to create the final story.
  2. Each envelope contains a number of words — they make out one sentence.
  3. The sentences must be grammatically correct by placing the words in the right order.
  4. You must complete one sentence to open the next envelope.
  5. The sentences must be in the right order to form the story.
  6. You are NOT allowed to get up from your chair. Only the runners can walk around.
  7. You are NOT allowed to touch, move or blow out the candles.

If you don’t obey the rules, the Lightmasters will punish you any way they see fit! Remember they control the light!


Management Paper to be found at the management’s table:

Congratulations – You are the management!

Your job is to help the other table by spending the points you earned during Lernbüro responsibly. If you want to spend points on something, please have a runner address your Lightmaster.

The workers sit at the other table, they have all the envelopes. Their job is to put the words in the right order to form sentences. To receive a finished sentence from them, send your runner to collect it.

Your job is also to put the sentences in the right order in the story.

Tips for the management

  • Be quiet and speak in turn, then it’s much easier to hear each other (and also so the other team can’t overhear you).
  • Appointing roles for different people on your team makes it easier for you to cooperate.
  • Having more light gives you more information, having more information is good for you.
  • You can swap students from one table to the other, remember it has a price!
  • Different people are good at different things — help each other out with what you are good at!
  • You are allowed to have 2 runners — appoint one more from the other table (it’s free!)
  • Remember to tell the other table what you can do. Then they can ask for help and you can help them better!
  • Use your runner to exchange information between the tables.

Clues

  • Is it difficult to see colours in the dark right?
  • How many points do you have?
  • Do you know the story?

Post the game, on a different day, we would take one class each, and talk to them about how things worked out when having to depend on your whole class in order to succeed in the game. After the initial plenary discussion, they were introduced to learning styles and we gave them each a German version of the test so that the students could get a better understanding how and when they learn best. We gathered the classes’ results in order to create specific group-combinations later on.

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Finally, we played the game once more a few weeks later and the teams worked much better this time.

 

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Reflection 6: The Creative Platform

This reflection is based on my knowledge of The Creative Platform – a didactic approach for unlimited application of knowledge in interdisciplinary and intercultural groups (Byrge, C. & Hansen, S., 2009).


BACKGROUND

There are an expectation and a goal on a national scale for Denmark to become the Scandinavian (or even European) hotspot for innovation and entrepreneurship. Following the Danish Innovation Strategy “Denmark – The Country of Solutions”, the reform of the primary and lower secondary school in 2013, stated that entrepreneurship and innovation had to be included in all subjects. But how do we teach innovation and entrepreneurship? First of all, we need to establish learning environments that foster creative thinking. The Creative Platform (Byrge & Hansen, 2009) offers a suggestion of how to do so. Albert Einstein, though undocumented, is given the credit for once having said: “We cannot solve problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”. The creative platform is both a didactic approach, but also presents a model with four pillars necessary to uphold that platform (a mental state). I will get back to the model and its four pillars later.

Firstly, Byrge & Hansen (2009) defines creativity as:

  • An unlimited application of knowledge
  • To play with knowledge in the search for other possibilities than the ones our pattern thinking normally would make us aware of
  • The mean to cut across the limiting boundaries of subjects, professions, scientific, ‘not scientific’ knowledge, truths, lies, understanding and misunderstanding
  • The discipline of sharing and applying knowledge across all professional, social, disciplinary and cultural boundaries.

When we want to create something new, we need for people to be creative. To create is at the top of human capacity. It involves the unlimited application of knowledge, that a person has gained through life. So why is it so difficult to come up with new ideas? The thing is; we create patterns in our brains — to cope — to save energy — (&) to save time. As we know it from habits, or the morning routines, that we perform with ease even though we are half asleep. Patterns also control our perception and thinking, which makes it difficult to perceive information in new ways, to conceptualise differently and to think and do differently. The key to the unlimited application of knowledge is to remove judgment from the learning process, that is done by:

  • Skipping the dominating norms of communication: Examples of that could be: logical argumentation, the positioning of ideas, professional or personal persuasion, judgment, evaluation, criticism, praise, acknowledgment and other traditional discussion behaviours.
  • Secondly, but additionally, we need to remove no from our vocabularies: In most learning situations, students experience fear of judgement, fear of saying or doing something wrong. So removing judgement from the learning environment is necessary for an optimal session of idea generating.

When teaching creativity, we need a learning environment that focusses on experience, because experience is the only place where our perception is not controlled by our pattern thinking. In experience, all our knowledge is at our disposal. The creative platform offers such a learning environment. The creative platform is a mental state, only achievable if held up by 4 pillars: Parallel Thinking, (being) Task Focussed, No Judgement and Diversified Knowledge.


THE FOUR PILLARS OF THE CREATIVE PLATFORM


Parallel Thinking
Parallel thinking encompasses, that during group tasks:

  • all group members must only have the current subtask in mind
  • all potential disturbances must be eliminated or removed
  • there must be deadlines for the subtasks

Additionally, all subtasks ends with a presentation. If you do these things, should be totally absorbed in your work, i.e., achieve the sense of flow, as described by Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi.

Task Focussed
To be task focussed entails, that the creativity must be controlled, there has to be some rules to the task, that the students are engaging in. Thus, the importance of having a faiclitator (the teacher) becomes even more important, because someone has to make sure everyone is working within the frames/rules of the given task.

No Judgement
During a normal academic discussion, members often introduce themselves or their opnions, which leads to individual reflections. Social interactions easily leads to an atmosphere of judgement, thus should be avoided. When teaching according to the creative platform, introduction happens by small activities to create shared experiences (3D Cases). No judgement is allowed, bad nor good.

Diversified Knowledge
We know that 95% of “new problems” have already been solved, probably many times over (Altshuller, 2003) and that, the solutions are usually found within disciplines or industries that you didn’t even know existed. Studies also show, that the intersection between all disciplines, cultures and domains is, in fact, the only place where new knowledge is created (Johnsson, 2004). Therefore, the creative platform is only really doable, when interculturality and variety of skills and knowledge are 


TASKS TO REACH (THE MENTAL STATE) THE CREATIVE PLATFORM 

Using energisers to change energy-level within the classroom
Example: 

Find someone with the same kind of shoes as you, raise right hand, when I say 1 — you clap your right hands together — raise the left hand when I say two, you clap your left hands together — when I say three, clap both hands together!

3-Dimensional Cases (3D-Cases) using both attitude, body & brain to create shared experiences
Example:

Find someone with similar or the same hair as you. Now you close your eyes, you will be given 30 seconds to think about your childhood dream. After the 30 seconds, the one with the biggest hands will start explaining their biggest child hood dream, afterwards, and when both of them are done — let them make name tags with their childhood dreams on (instead of the normal way of having your name and/or occupation/title) on there. The reason for this certain 3D-Case, is to give an example of a way to create a non-judgemental introduction of the participants (compared to traditional introductions).


FURTHER REFLECTIONS

The next step has to be figuring out, how to adapt or include the creative platform within the foreign language classroom. The reason for my interest stems from a sincere interest in the theory, but multiple failed attempts of finding any sources of implementation in foreign language subjects. To be continued (not here, but in life).

Sneak Peek

Module Plan:

Lesson

What

Why

How

Week 1: Introduction – Adapting to the entrepreneurial mindset, Input


Figure: The Open-Close Model for Ideation

1 (En)

Ideation
To create good ideas

It’s an integral part of innovation and entrepreneurship process. To change mindset towards opportunities.

Brainstorming exercises

Creative word exercises

2 (En)

3 (En)

Problem-solving

It’s a hands-on approach to task-based thinking. Because the student need to think in terms of adding value to society through their learning process

Introduction to task-forces; podcasts-, video-, “publishing a book”-group, etc.

4 (Ge)

Disruptive vs. Radical Innovation

Why do we need to think about innovation – what’s the impact of disruptive vs. radical innovation on a global scale

Concrete examples and cases.
Video: Sneakerheadz

Week 2: Noticing, Reflecting, Comparing, Input, Repetition

5 (En)

Prejudices & Introduction to Shoes

Identify, construct, deconstruct; empathy

Landeskunde; are there any justified generalisations?

Shoes: look at your own shoes, physical examples, Pictures from all continents
Video: The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards (Manolo, 2017)

6 (En)

7 (En)

Autobiography: Cultural awareness

For the students to get an idea of their own cultural awareness; maybe even prejudices

Through material aimed for secondary lower school students

8 (Ge)

The Life-Cycle of a Shoe

To create awareness about the origin, production process, materials and logistics of the products we use everyday – with shoes as the concrete example

Video: In Their Shoes (2015): Atul Sabharwal

Week 3: Noticing, Reflecting, Comparing

9 (En)

Identities

For the student to become more aware of the cultural aspects of identity

Language portfolios, cases

Shoe profiles.- Mix and Match exercises – Reflection: Why?

10 (En)

11 (En)

Culture Game

Element of play for creating an entrepreneurial mindset and combining it with intercultural knowledge, skills and awareness. Also to create an authentic situation for true collaboration.

“Who am I – Who are you!” A mini escape room about acceptance and collaboration.

12 (Ge)

Shoe Functions and Cultures

To give the students a playful and reflecting reference point for understanding functions and culture in society through shoes as a mediating tool.

What shoes would you dance in?

How does it reflect upon you wearing sneaks to a wedding?

Let’s Hip Hop – Dance and play introduction to shoe functions.

You are wearing what?! – A mini roleplay about exaggerated prejudices.

Week 4: Noticing, comparing, reflecting and interaction

13 (En)

What’s important in an interview

For the students to be able to conduct interviews the following week

Creating interview sheets

14 (En)

15 (En)

Put yourself in another persons shoes

Linguistics

Linguistics, synonyms, word plays

16 (Ge)

Demographics, Terrain types

To understand chains of meaning defined by cause and action.

How does a mountain affect our shoe choice?

What does demographic entail for our cultural identity?

Picture analysis

Demographical introduction to cultural groups.

What is a terrain type – Photo Contest

Week 5: Interaction, output

17 (En)

Interview people on the street, take pictures of their shoes

To create

authentic intercultural encounters

An arena for the students to actually test their skills, knowledge and awareness

Collecting the content/material for the final product

18 (En)

19 (En)

20 (Ge)

Week 6: Noticing, comparing, reflecting and interaction

21 (En)

Creation of final product

Fueling motivation for creative urge

Working in taskforces

Editing the book together using Canva

Designing pitch – Presentation Technique

22 (En)

23 (En)

24 (Ge)

Presentation and evaluation

End of module. To evaluate the students actual learning outcome – Change of mindset?

Presenting and pitching final product.

Our model is a combination of:
Figure 1.1: The Practices of Entrepreneurship Education. Source: Teaching Entrepreneurship – A practice-based approach (Nech et al., 2014) &  Figure 4.1 Interacting processes of intercultural learning – Source: Intercultural Language Teaching and Learning (Liddicoat & Scarino, 2013)

SNEAK PEEK MODEL.001.png

Annual Plan

INTERCULTURAL YEAR PLAN – 8th Grade

Week Title What Why How
33-36 Generation Youtube An introduction module-plan to working with the classroom as a workspace for entrepreneurial value. A critical and cultural introduction into the world of Youtube. For the student to be able to work with learning process, and having a platform for creating value and projects for their ongoing work process in the class throughout the years. Creating videos, podcasts etc. And uploading them for others to see. Task-force establishment
Ideation exercises
Creating a public profile
Intercultural reflections on youtube as a media and window for understanding the world.
Exploring Youtube as a learning platform
37-41 Tourism Letting the students work with interculturality by exploring leisure management and tourism.

They will change perspective on the subject in every class to find problems and solutions on 5 levels: “customer, company, education, worker & management”

Being able to understand and isolate problems in all sectors gives the students a possibility to develop their entrepreneurial and intercultural mindset simultaneously.

For the students to feel confident on “stage”, looking people in the eye, make them able to talk about themselves in front of people, giving them tools to sell an idea (company ideas) in a group presentation, allowing them to control a group of people and make them listen to them for 5 minutes (excursion).
They will know what it means to work as a tour guide, and work with their own personal goal
1. Tourist (Student-centred): Working with different types of tourists from learning material.

2. Company (Roleplay – Mirroring): Being in the role of creating a tourist company pointed towards one tourist profile.

3. Guide School (Scaffolding): Working with Sales and Presentation Techniques.

4. Excursion (Product): Sales meeting and excursion where the students are tour guides.

5. Board of Management (Reflection): How could we deliver better tours in the future?

All: Continue task-force and youtube channel

42                  AUTUMN BREAK                  
43-48 Sneak Peek Cross-curricular intercultural innovation media project:
The students are working with cultural awareness through an entrepreneurial approach working with identities and prejudices related to shoes- and the industry.
To combine intercultural competences with an innovative and entrepreneurial mindset – To create a natural bridge between learning and creating value. Task Forces
Multimodality – Working with documentaries, pictures, artefacts.
Interviewing and intercultural encounters
Working with product – Photobook.
49-50
+ 2-5
Monster’s Academy A creative module in which the students have to create their own monsters and actively work with storytelling to create their own narratives in a shared and collaborative storytelling environment in which their individual stories influence the products of their peers. To be able to change a mindset towards a more workshop oriented and creative take on unlocking intrinsic motivation within the students. To give the students opportunity to seek new linguistic resource to use in their own narratives. Improv Drama
Drawing and Reflection exercises
Storytelling Workshops
Classroom narratives and collaboration
Unlocking and enhancing creative freethinking patterns.
Documenting learning process and experience through taskforces.
51, 52
+1
                 CHRISTMAS                
6, 7
+9
Lights Out Lights Out is an adventure learning module. Two classes will work with assignments, all related to Light, which will scaffold and support the student for the “The Dark Room” game, which they will get to play twice in the last week. The students will earn points for completing their assignments, which they can later spend in The Dark Room to complete the tasks and win the game. The Dark Room is a game based in a completely dark room filled with unlit candlelights, in which the students will have to cooperate in order to solve word puzzles. There are 15 separate word puzzles that, when completed, will form a story (The Little Match Girl). This student will expand his/her vocabulary, cooperative skill and knowledge on present and past tense whilst working with the topic ‘Light’. He/she will do so through reading, writing, listening and speaking. The assignments function as scaffolding as they provide the necessary vocabulary, grammar and story knowledge the students will need to play the game.
Task Forces
8                     WINTER BREAK                    
10-15 The Hollywood Studios An EDU-LARP spanning over a longer period of time, in which the classroom is transformed into the golden era of Hollywood – The student take on different roles – Actor, camera guy, director – All in the name of satisfying the evil megalomaniac: The Producer (The Teacher) To be able to work historically, culturally and critically with Hollywood as a take on “American” culture. Working with unlocking motivation through gamification, acting and role playing as well as live recreation of media. LARP – Creating Authentic interaction between the students which focuses on meaning and creating a storyline in collaboration with their peers and the teacher.
Movie analyses
Genre Writings – manuscript, drama, and dialogue
Task Forces
16-23 Hunt a Killer The student acts as a team of detectives trying to uncover what devious murderer is behind the killings. They get new clues each week and have to work with creating a web of meaning through understanding texts and artefacts. To give the students a format in which they must take responsibility for their own learning – Trying to understand what sort of linguistic resources and strategies they need to complete their research. The teacher works as the active scaffolder – Doing his best to support and help the students Working with text analysis – Hidden meanings, semantic webs, discourse analysis, identity through text.
Collaborative teamwork – Combining their efforts into a collective knowledge of the murder.
Ongoing reflections of clues and criticality of the subject matter
Taskforces – Podcasts and videos documenting their learning experience and process
24-26 Hip Hop Culture The students will work with hip hop culture and texts throughout different minor subgenres – working with hip hop as a window for understanding “small cultures”. How Could hip hop be swapped for something else entirely. What does identity entail? To take a dominant genre and understanding underlying cultural values. Giving the students an outlet for working with cultural and human roots of phenomenons – In this case; Hip Hop. Music Listening Exercises
Documentaries and debate
Mirroring and interacting with culture. Classroom splits.
Writing exercises – Text transformations. Working with meaning and storytelling.
Task Forces – Podcast about hip hop. Interviewing genre people – Rappers, Graffiti artist, DJ’s, designers etc.

For a better layout, please see:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1quAxaFRyTZTzjNTaFn1JM7Cjed7CMBBe1ophu5LfdGc/edit