Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Quest-Based Learning

This semester I have the pleasure to be enrolled in EDTECH 563, Quest-Based Learning.  One of our introductory activities was to read through a white paper that outlined the basic principles underlying Quest-Based Learning.  We were then challenged to think about how we could use this approach in developing and delivering our own curriculum.

There is a quote from the paper that really resonated with me, "Teachers in a quest-based approach do not assign letter grades to completed quests. Dismissing the industrial paradigm approach in favor of a digital age sensibility, teachers either approve a quest because it meets all expectations or return the quest to the student for revisions and re-submission.  Just like video games, quest-based learning supports multiple attempts without punishment to promote learning from mistakes" (Haskell, 2013). I love this idea of taking the focus away from letter grades and putting emphasis on learning and progress. I find it interesting that as a 5th grade teacher I can very much visualize this approach to learning being the norm in my classroom, but as a graduate student I am still locked into the old pass-fail, A or F mentality. I appreciate that EDTECH 563 is being conducted in a quest-based approach.

As I was thinking about how this could look in my classroom, my mind went to math. Math is a subject that even by 5th grade many kids struggle with confidence and often adopt the "I'm not good at math" or "I can't do division" attitude as soon as it is time to pull out the math notebooks.  One of the biggest reasons for this is that many students enter 5th grade missing some key foundational concepts that will allow them to be successful with 5th grade math standards. A quest-based approach could be a great solution to this problem. It is nearly impossible to get through all of the 5th grade standards themselves in a school year assuming that you don't have to go back and reteach earlier grade content or fill holes so to speak.  Using a quest-based approach would allow students to work at their own pace while reviewing and reinforcing foundational skills that would support their learning in 5th grade.

I don't feel that I am deep enough into my own learning about quest-based learning to discuss exactly how a project like that would look, but at this point I could see that being a very real application for quest-based learning in my classroom.


Haskell, C. (2013). Understanding quest-based learning. White paper. Boise State University.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Classroom Blogging Activity

As a final product for EDTECH 537 I had a lot of fun creating this classroom activity and plan to use it in my classroom this year. I think using a blogging platform to facilitate discussion and inquiry will allow my students to address this question in a more engaged way, something that hasn't happened in the past when I have given the same assignment using a request for a traditional essay as a final product.

Classroom Blogging Activity

Friday, August 11, 2017

Blogging Plan

I have really enjoyed this class and being pushed to blog more regularly. I have dabbled in it in the past, but am finding myself really enjoying it. I was never a journal writer, I would receive beautiful books and journals and have great intentions, but after about 5 or 10 pages I would lose interest. I see blogging as a similar idea, but electronically. The last couple of blog posts we had the freedom to chose the topic and style. I found it fun to be able to think for a minute about a question I had or a thought and then to go out and find resources to support my blog post. Here is my blogging plan for the next two months. I hope that some of you stop in after our class is over and give me an accountability check.

What Change Do We Need?

One of the activities in my "Back to School Kick Off Meeting" this morning was to look at data from spring testing.  It painted a dismal picture. I am new to this school, but in the short few weeks I have spent setting up my classroom and slowly meeting other teachers, I can tell that overall this is a committed, passionate group of professionals who love kids and want to see them learn and achieve. Why are they not?  So much time, debate, conversation, frustration, etc. is spent by many people asking this question. This post certainly contains no answers, but perhaps some things to consider.

I just read a blog post by a classmate who discussed what it was like to live and teach in South Korea, an extremely competitive and high performing country as measured by international test scores. Perhaps it is cultural, but I have to wonder, is the pressure and the stress that students go through worth the test results that they achieve?

I dug a little deeper into another country who consistently performs at or near the top on international tests, Singapore. Looking at this video and the following article one thing REALLY stuck out to me. One major difference between the US and other high preforming countries is the time, money, and overall investment they make in their teachers.

Singapore's Lessons About Education

It does seem to me as a part of the education system that we are trying all kinds of strategies to boost our student achievement, but investing heavily in our teachers is not one of them.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Can Video Replace Education?

Today was my first day back to work. Ahhhh Professional Development.... one of the items that we covered today was a presentation on how one of the teachers in our district has shown significant gains in student achievement to which she attributes in large part to student's use of Khan Academy. Let me clarify by saying that she is an amazing teacher who knows her content and has the pedagogy to match, but she has decided to leverage a technology solution and it seems to be working. Check out the video from Khan founder, Sal. I love how he explains the origins of his organization. It was not meant to be a replacement for instruction, but as a resource to allow students to reference when needed. This was powerful to me. How many times does a student not ask for help when they need it because they are embarrassed or shy. I plan to implement Khan in my classroom this year. I look forward to sharing the results with you.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Math or Reading? A Poll

So I will preface this entry with the acknowledgement that this is a math focused blog. If you have read any of my posts you know I am passionate about teaching math. I often am given a hard time about my enthusiasm for math, and I find that working in an elementary school, I am surrounded by A LOT of resources to ensure kids are successful in literacy, but not as much in math.  I know that I believe that math instruction is just as important as reading, but wondering what you all think?

A study completed by the National Center for Education Statistics completed a study on the number of hours spent, on average, per week on core curriculum in elementary schools. The results are interesting:
retrieved from -

For anyone who has never worked in an elementary school, I will tell you that these numbers are quite accurate. Here is a GREAT article from that discusses why math is as important as literacy in elementary and preschool education. 

So, what do you think?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Video Post #2 - How TO Teach Math

In 11 minutes, Dan Meyer provides the best professional development in math I have ever sat through. I hope you take the time to watch.