Last week, we read non-fiction about animation. I wanted to choose something interesting that my students already have some prior knowledge for, but may not know the intricacies of. (We were also beginning a school-wide note-taking initiative and as an interventionist, I wanted to support that.)
I’m reading a lot (for my dissertation) about motivation in general and how adolescents are motivated, specifically and about why games are motivating. I’ve been revisiting Jane McGonigal’s (Reality is Broken, 2011) take on work. Games actively engage people in work that they find satisfying and have the chance to be successful at. She also says that satisfying work starts with a clear goal and actionable steps to achieve that goal.
For my students this week, their goal was to create an animated movie that depicts a scene from whatever they’re reading independently.
Actionable steps? Well, we learned those the previous week when we were reading about animation. This week? Time to put them into action.
Because this quest is an individual one, it changes the dynamic in the classroom. Instead of completing the goal with a small group, students were permitted to choose one helper, a person who aids them in their pursuit of the goal. The Tails to their Sonic the Hedgehog, if you will.
I wish I could play for you the conversations I hear around me as I’m writing this post.
I can hear how students are using mental work – their cognitive faculties to decide on the best angles to shoot from and how to best show the portions of their stories they’re trying to convey.
How they’re integrating their discovery work from last week, where they learned about the world of animation, into completing their current objective.
How they utilize teamwork – while only one of the pair is responsible for the animation they’re creating (read, gets the grade for it), they both have a sense of ownership of the final product that they worked together to produce.
And finally the results of their creative work – the benefits of having the opportunity to make meaningful decisions about something and feel proud of the results.
I’m excited for our screening on Friday. Wander back, I’ll share with you some of their reactions.