I'm a teacher. And a pretty good one. But if I could place my own sons in any teacher's class, I'd choose Michael Matera's. ...and I don't say that abI'm a teacher. And a pretty good one. But if I could place my own sons in any teacher's class, I'd choose Michael Matera's. ...and I don't say that about every teacher. I saw him present at a national conference a few years ago, and was blown away by what he was teaching us -- the idea of gamification. A relatively new term for what the best teachers have been doing for some time, it's applying principles of game play to your classroom. That doesn't mean every day is a game, it means there are elements of game play. Like changing the setting of your class to Medieval times, where students could earn XP, could level up, could earn badges and titles.
In Matera's new book Explore Like a Pirate, he takes those same ideas and lays them out so that any teacher could do it. Maybe just for a unit, maybe a semester, maybe for the whole school year. The book is laid out so that the initial myths about gamification get out of your head. I had a lot of them. Like "I'm not a gamer, therefore I can't teach that way." Because I'm not. But I see how these ideas motivate kids. What Matera offers is the expertise and the guidance to help teachers gamify their classes. Besides being well-written, there are dozens of ideas that will transform any classroom, any grade level, any content area. Let's say "gamifying" your entire class is more than you can take on right now (and let's face it, teachers have enough on their plate), but you're looking for a few ideas you can implement next week. The last fifty pages of the book are rapid-fire ideas (not full lesson plans) for assessment and activities and assignments that are more engaging than the traditional fill-in-the-blank worksheets, but still help students learn and can be used to measure their growth. It might be something that takes only minutes, but you'll see how the kids are engaged and excited. Using Michael Matera's ideas in that class will make it a highlight for your students' day.
If you're looking to engage, enrich, and elevate your students, this is what you need. ...more
I may have picked this book up at just the right time in my life. When you're a teacher or administrator or in any part of education, there's a lot ofI may have picked this book up at just the right time in my life. When you're a teacher or administrator or in any part of education, there's a lot of pressure from every direction. It seems that satisfying the needs of legislatures and data and committees all take precedence over the needs of your individual school. And the needs of your principal and PLC sometimes override what's best for your students (the reason we do anything, supposedly). And we take care of students before we take care of ourselves. All of that is inverted. Dan Tricarico aims to help us fix that.
Using principals of Zen, helping us through meditation, mindfulness, and self-care, Tricarico leads us toward a serenity. A peace. A "quiet mind." This is what I've been missing. In the classroom or in a cubicle, the pressure to perform has us so frenzied that we're losing sight of ourselves. In taking care of everyone else, we're neglecting our own needs, and that's not healthy. And it will eventually have consequences for our classroom, our students, and probably our home life.
I loved this book. He builds Zen novices up with baby steps, and helps us focus on what's most important. I don't know what I was expecting, but this just went to the top of my recommendation list for teachers, and for non-teachers at well. If you're in the need for some healing in the middle of the school year, this could be what you're looking for. ...more
I read this as a school district-level curriculum specialist, and as I began the book was critical. How can something as profound a paradigm shift asI read this as a school district-level curriculum specialist, and as I began the book was critical. How can something as profound a paradigm shift as standards-based grading work in my schools, my school district? I scrawled notes and frustrations and criticisms on Post-Its as I read, but as I progressed through the book Vatterott addressed nearly all of my concerns. That doesn't mean a shift to SBG will be easy. Not at all. But her book helped me see that it was possible. If you're looking at making that shift in your school/district, this is a good place to start. (also a short read, which helped immensely - thanks) ...more