The only source of knowledge is experience.
~ Albert Einstein.
I spoken recently about Classroom Heroes, the name the kids and I gave to our classroom role playing set up which we are using throughout the entire year. Each student gets to choose a particular fantasy character to play throughout the entire year, and they work together with their party members on their table groups to help each other out and keep each other focused.
It’s a fun, year long game I hope will instill in the kids a love of learning and a strong social habits to last them well after they close the classroom door for the last time this year.
Like a game, particularly the computer and console games so many of them have played, experienced or even just seen, the longer and better you play it, the stronger and more successful you become. The goal of Classroom Heroes is exactly the same. The more the kids seek to learn to progress themselves through gaining Learning Levels throughout the year, the more successful learners they will be, and hopefully the stronger those habits of life long learning grow.
With those goals in mind, I use a simple tallying system to signify to the kids how far they have progressed with their self-monitored learning.
So far, a full week and two days before that into the year, the kids love their Experience Sticks. I only use icy pole sticks which I can pick up for a few dollars for a bag of maybe 200 or so. Cheap and simple but the kids can collect them, count them, tally them, hoard them and covet them as concrete representations of their learning. The more then earn through just about every task and event they undertake during the year, the higher Levels they will earn, and the more special Abilities they will receive to use as they play as either the Knight, Healer, Rogue or Wizard.
In short, the idea of Classroom Heroes is to earn Experience Sticks to rise in Level as high as possible by the end of the year. Each level costs a total of TEN Experience Sticks, multiplied by the level itself. So, for example, to earn the first Level, Level 1, each student needed to earn a total of 10 Experience Sticks, which they would then hand in.
Nearly everybody had reached Level 1 by the end of the second day. That was quite easy. But to earn Level 2, a further 20 Experience Sticks would be required, and so on and so on. Each level, therefore, costs a further 10 Experience Sticks than the one preceding it, meaning that each new Level requires just a little more effort and responsibility to earn. So far, the kids are eating it up and working as hard as they can, not just with the curriculum I present them, but by asking to assist other grades, doing extra learning at home of their own, and all sorts of little ways they, and this is the best bit, ARE THINKING OF FOR THEMSELVES.
After seven days of school, and only our second full week beginning tomorrow morning, all sixteen of my kids have reached Level 2, and a quarter of them have already made Level 3. That’s a total, already, of sixty Experience Sticks by those four who have made their third level.
Now they’ve started collecting 40 to progress to Level 4… it all adds up.
Besides seeing their Level increase, higher Levels also unlock the opportunity to choose a range of specific Abilities they can then use for the rest of the year either as little rewards for themselves (free time, a toy on their desk, the privilege of choosing a class game, etc) or to benefit their party members on their table (heal their friends, distribute bonus Experience Sticks, defend their party members from Morale damage).
But more on those later.
The Experience Sticks, while still just a concrete representation of their learning and achievements, have so far ignited these kids’ ambition and given them a purpose to pursue their own education. My hope is that, within a few weeks, they are all beginning to follow their own curiosities and interests without as much outside influence from me as the teacher.
By the end of the year, hopefully those habits are part of those kids and they realise they are self-learners capable of following any dream or goal they wish to pursue.
Next time, I’ll focus on how the kids monitor their own behaviour with their own personal level of Morale.
Learn something new tomorrow!