Updated: Oct 10, 2018
A couple of weeks ago I was asked to speak to our local chapter of Alpha Delta Kappa – an educational sorority that a few teachers from my school belong to. About half the members of the chapter are retired school teachers who wanted to know “how the media center has changed” over the years. To be honest, I had a whole formal presentation planned for the evening, but at the last minute I decided to hook up the Wii and get these ladies shooting some free throws while learning some math!
But that’s not really where this story begins. This story really begins several weeks earlier in a webinar that rocked my world.
Back in January, the TL Virtual Café hosted a webinar on WiiLearning: Engaging Students through Gaming Technology. In this session, Matthew Winner and Meghan Hearn wowed participants with the story of how they use the Wii as an instructional tool to engage students and support math instruction. Because Matthew and Meghan are a librarian + math teacher dynamic duo, I decided to invite my math partner in crime, RyanRedd, to attend the webinar as well , something I didn’t think twice about at that time, but now I wonder why I haven’t invited other teacher partners/administrators to join me in past webinars. Truly, if this learning is relevant for me, then surely it is for them too – plus, wouldn’t it be nice to hear the perspectives of those outside library land? But I digress.
Anyway, Matthew and Meghan were AMAZING and Ryan and I came away with a mountain of ideas with which to feed the math fueled fire in our bellies. It, literally, only took us a few days to procure a Wii and a few games for the library. Soon, we were spending Saturday afternoons at school “conducting research” and planning Wii driven math lessons which we excitedly unveiled to a “test group” of students just a few days later. Armed with the student feedback and our own reflection, we tweaked our lessons and started work on new ones. Meanwhile, I unveiled a new library program: “Wii Wednesdays!” Essentially, every Wednesday, students sign up to play Wii in the library during their recess time – but only if they complete selected math activities as part of their play.
Reaction has been ASTOUNDING. Kids simply can’t wait to do math at recess! And what's more, I can't wait for Wednesdays to roll around so I can don my math cap and interact with students in a whole new way. But what has been even more AMAZING is the reaction I’ve received from other math teachers who not only want to bring their classes to the library for collaborative teaching, but they also want to work with me to plan lessons. Let me repeat that: math teachers are now asking ME to help plan and teach lessons with them. It's like I've died and gone to library heaven!
Which brings me back to the ladies of Alpha Delta Kappa who wanted to know how libraries have changed over the years. To me, “Wii Wednesdays” and collaborative teaching between the librarian and the math department are prime examples of how libraries are (or at least should be) evolving. Sure, libraries are still information conduits within the school setting and many of the librarians at their helm still wear bifocals, but the library mission MUST be changing and growing. (And if it’s not, it will soon be extinct). We are no longer (just) about books – we’re about learning. And learning is messy, collaborative, often loud and sometimes involved video games!
So… instead of flipping through some powerpoint slides, I broke out the Wii and let the ladies of ADK complete one of our math lessons. Then we talked about how student learning has led to a much needed reboot for school libraries. They had a BLAST and so did I. What’s more, their idea of what a school library is and what should take place there has changed, which makes me very, very happy.
As for “Wii Wednesdays,” well… they are still evolving and growing. But for now, I’m ready to share a couple of lessons which have been student tested and teacher approved! I’m confident that these are just the first of many such lessons AND I’m hopeful that, in the future, I’ll be able to expand this program to other subject areas. In the meantime, however, feel free to use and share whatever I post here. And be sure to keep your ear to the ground for more fantabulous gaming in education resources from Matthew Winner and Meghan Hearn. In addition to a book on the subject, these two terrific teachers are working on a number of other projects to help create a network for educators who are incorporating gaming in their instructional plans. I, for one, am so grateful to them for their hard work and inspiration. I love how the seeds they’ve planted are blossoming in my library!