I’ve written before about the power of using pop culture in the classroom, and this fall will be no different in Room 1. Admittedly, I can’t say I’m a huge Pokemon fan. It’s one of the cartoons I limit in my own house simply from a “this-is-just-too-cruddy-to-have-share-my-airspace” point of view. My oldest son plays the card game, and my youngest speaks the language of the little critters, but I wouldn’t say we’re obsessed over here.
But along comes Pokemon Go and the whole planet goes berserk. And even I have to admit it’s the greatest game since Space Invaders. Frankly, if I didn’t tap into this kind of global enthusiasm, I would be avoiding something that could prove amazingly engaging for my students.
So for this school year, I planned an initial, start-of-the-year collaborative activity that would hopefully “Catch ’em All,” students as well as Pokemon.
The students in my Make Writing class (a class for long-term EL students that leverages 3D printing to learn reading and writing) will be hunting for 3D printed Pokemon in small groups.
Earlier that week, I had printed out various Pokemon in different colors – low-poly versions of recognizable characters: yellow = Pikachu, red = Charmander, etc…
I wrote out step-by-step directions for where each Pokemon could be found. Some of the directions were straightforward (take a left, etc…) while some asked students to infer from clues. Reading directions, sequenced informational writing, can be difficult for these students, and I’m hoping that this will be an easy introduction to the concept.
I hid Pokemon in different offices and classrooms and prepped folks to know to expect the students on that day.
1- I made small groups of 4 students each.
2- The groups had to divide up 4 small writing tasks amongst themselves. The full assignment can be found here. Each student was responsible for only one task. At each “Pokestop” one of the students in the group shared their assignment in order for the whole group to advance to the next stop. Here were the 4 tasks they had to divide up amongst the students in the group:
3- The small groups were given the step-by-step directions to each Pokemon location and raced each other as groups to “catch ‘em all.”
4- To prove they had indeed caught all of the Pokemon, the groups had to take selfies with the 3D printed critters and have the adult sign off on the directions sheet.
5- The first group back got to pick from a stack of 3D printed Pokemon.
The next step is for students to research different Pokemon files on Thingiverse or MyMiniFactory, figure out the printers and print them out themselves, hide their Pokemon, and write their own step-be-step directions to lead a classmate to find their character.
In addition, my principal (Pokemon trainer #2 who was a Rugby fan) wants this class to run a monthly Pokemon hunt for the entire school. When I told my students about this, they flipped out with excitement and are already discussing rules and workflow to have the game up and running within the month.
I know there are teachers out there using Pokemon Go in their classrooms. What’cha doing to Catch em’ All, students included?
Note: The book I’m currently working on (due out Aug, 2017 for Corwin Publications) is focused on student engagement. This lesson hits some of the key needs for student engagement, according to the students themselves:
Bringing in the Real World
Learning Something Totally New