Challenge, Discovery, Insight, Surprise: Rader & Grzeda AP
Positions: AP English Teachers
District/School: Loudoun County High School/Loudoun County Public Schools, VA
Number of Students in District/School: 63,220 /1,410
Our goal was to invite students to participate in real world learning that begins with a challenge (that’s the question mark) that leads to discovery and ends with insight and surprise (that’s the exclamation point). We wanted to use students’ strengths to allow them to showcase their passions and expand their personal growth in ways that support any English curriculum and standards set for students of the 21st Century. Using Microsoft InterroBang, a social-networked service learning game, students accepted ‘missions’ that had an impact in the community and once completed, each ‘deed’ was given points which correlated into the grading process.
InterroBang was infectious. Our students competed with their online counterparts, as well as with each other. We greatly appreciated the very quick, continuous, private feedback students received from InterroBang online moderators. Students’ work was never posted on the public sight for other comments until their work achieved a certain quality based on the game rubrics. This consistent, supportive, and outside input from moderators inspired students to work really hard and helped us assess the improvement of their work or deed over time. We saw quiet students come out of their shells; disenfranchised students become engaged and excited once again, and saw intelligent students fully realize the purpose of the game with their insightful comments about what they learned of their family, their school, and their community. Parents were calling to say how the last month of their child’s senior year was the most amazing ever. One said she saw her daughter’s fire burn stronger and watched her develop wings –to see her true potential.
The InterroBang website made the program easy to use and implement into the curriculum as it gave a thorough explanation of how the game works and provided a rubric on how points were assigned to completed missions. The amount of supervision required for our 11-12th grade students was minimal. Along with the game moderators – we supervised students’ wall postings, and the comments they posted in response to other students’ deeds. We could quickly flag any inappropriate postings.
How We Use It:
To play InterroBang, students select a mission online, complete it in the real world, and post evidence whether it is pictures or video or song of their deeds online. Game moderators require students to write about their deed and to especially reflect on what they learned. As English teachers, we were fine having students select missions that appealed to their interests as we required them to complete written, oral, and visual components to pass the class. One student explained the physics involved with his skateboarding. Another student painted a mural encompassing many students' responses to Martin Luther King's, "I Have a Dream" speech, capturing their dreams. Using Bing Translator, another student communicated directly with a Chilean student and learned about cultural differences and similarities. And, another student won for creating a music video which comments on his schools need for continued financial support as well as his interests in playing the drums and competitive swimming.
In the future we plan to require more ‘missions’ that connect to core content material and require greater depth of critical thinking and research.