We love learning like this! How often do you hear this from your kids? This was the exact response we received from our kids when we asked about the new way we approached covering the ‘basic’ learning this term but why the change?
Communication, problem solving, creativity, emotional intelligence, active learning with a growth mindset, embracing technology – these are not just a random collection of words, but form part of the 10 vital skills you need for future work, according to Forbes.
With that in mind, what are you doing about ensuring your kids develop these skills by the time they fly your metaphorical nest? One way I have experienced great success is creating scavenger hunts using the platform – GooseChase.
This app is free to download and use, but we found that the real bang for your buck was in a $50 yearly subscription. This allowed us to have up to 10 groups of people using the platform at one time or up to 40 individual people doing the same challenge at one time. This is the Educator Plus package. When we weighed up what we could potentially use it for, the minimal investment was a no-brainer.
No, I’m not here to sell this to you! We just loved using it so much to help engage our kids that I thought I would let you know how it ticked the boxes for us.
So, we purchased the subscription, what now?
We experimented with group size, teacher selected groups and student selected based on criteria eg: one boy and one girl from each year level. We found that the nature of the challenges helped us select which way to have the kids grouped. If we were looking for inclusion and encouraging the kids to get outside of their comfortable friendship groups, allowing the kids to select their team mates based on criteria was the best. When we were doing missions that were more around the engineering challenges, letting the kids select their own groups without restriction worked best because they usually already knew each other’s strengths, had an established way of communicating (sometimes the boys didn’t need to talk to know what their friend was thinking the next step was when problem solving). I guess, it all depends on what your overall outcome is for the task.
We also tried having some of the challenges being mandatory for the whole group so that the whole mission wasn’t left up to one person. This helped build some interdependence in the group and encouraged collaboration and communication.
Here are some examples of our very first GooseChase mission and the thinking that went into the design of each challenge:
This challenge started them thinking laterally and collaboratively while interacting with familiar tech. The groups could go through the challenges in any order, so it gave them some choice and flexibility in a task that was a fixed part of their learning program.
This challenge didn’t show any of the answers, so it couldn’t just be guessed but needed researching. This type of challenge was set up to automatically mark it. If the answer given didn’t fit any of the accepted answers, it would reject the submission. This was a super helpful feature that helped us be a facilitator of learning rather than spending our time marking things! It also allowed them to hone their research skills and triangulate data which are important future-focused skills.
This was another challenge where the kids needed to use their research skills. We made space on our whiteboard where it had problem solving hints for when they were completing these tasks. In that box we gave the following advice:
- If your submission is rejected, something is wrong! Check your spelling, the answer – did you just check one source of information or do other websites also give the same answer?
- Did the question require you to put something in a specific order? Have you done that?
- The more inventive/creative you are, the more likely you are to receive bonus points.
This question was designed to pique curiosity and give possibility for further investigation on their own accord – building lifelong learners.
I have a passion for tech use in the classroom and this particular challenge introduced the kids to the concept of a green screen and using the DoInk app. This allowed for creativity as well as exploration of app smashing. There were no particular experts in the class before the task, but the kids picked it up pretty quickly and taught each other in a spontaneous manner and was irrelevant of friendship groups. Further GooseChase missions (and class work) built on the foundational knowledge they learned here.
We included this question – just because we could. We suggested to the groups that they could divide and conquer these missions and they didn’t have to be all done together. This allowed delegation of challenges and for the kids to use their strengths to help the team achieve their goal.
Here’s a link to our class website and the coding page. Scroll to the bottom to find the format we used to create these type of challenges, the heading is GooseChase Challenges.
If you would like to use this mission, or make your own based on this format, click here.
The mission that I’ve stepped through is just one of the many ways we incorporated a range of engaging activities for our kids. This approach ticks every single future focused skill for our kids and also met our class mission statement:
In Matawara, we believe in fostering curiosity through relevant, engaging and challenging experiences that ignite a passion for becoming a lifelong learner who takes meaningful action.
We believe in creating leadership opportunities that develop students as a whole person who cares about themselves, others and the world.
We asked the kids how they found using GooseChase to do their ‘Basics’ and the response was overwhelming that they wanted more! Some found it frustrating when their answers weren’t accepted despite being correct. This was a learning point for us and we were able to quickly adapt how those questions could be entered to try and eliminate this problem.
Activities like these let you use the Universal Design for Learning principles to make learning accessible for all of your learners, despite their entry level. It allows the boisterous to move, caters for the quiet kids, gives support to those who are not so confident, allows for students to utilise their strengths and find new things that may interest them – why wouldn’t you?
Important takeaways from this article:
- Don’t be afraid to experiment with collaborative tasks but be ready to help them work through issues that often arise when inflexible thinkers are in the group.
- Technology can help give you the flexibility in your classroom to build in curiosity and student choice in learning – don’t be scared of trying something new and different. We want the kids to have a growth mindset, here’s a perfect opportunity to walk the talk.
- When you are experimenting, ask the kids what they think about the new activity including how could it be done better. This shows that you actually care about what they think and reinforces your rapport and trust as well as helps you do it better next time.
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Have a fantastic week.