12 Ways to Use Pokemon Go in Your Classroom

Gotta catch all these lesson plans for Pokemon Go!

You may have heard of a little game called Pokemon Go (if you haven’t, you may have been living in a Pokeball for the last few weeks ūüėČ ). In any case, Pokemon Go has taken the world by storm, becoming the biggest mobile game in U.S. history, eclipsing daily Twitter users and earning an estimated $14 million all since its American release on July 6. The game superimposes animated Pokemon characters over your phone’s camera so you can “catch” them as you walk around in the real world. You can also collect items from Pokestops (geographic landmarks), and finally, fight to defend your team–red, blue, or yellow–at “gyms” located all around the world.

At first glance, Pokemon Go does not seem like the type of game you would use in a classroom. In fact, it seems more like the type of game you would ask students to put away as they try to play it under their desk during your lesson. However, many of our students are kinesthetic learners, longing to get out of their seats and do something; many of our students are competitive or achievement-driven. Many of our students are already playing this game, so why not use it?

Below are twelve ideas for how to use Pokemon Go in your classroom, or as a supplement to your curriculum. Below each lesson you will notice a list of learning styles and personality types. While the activities are intended to be engaging for all students, they may appeal more to certain types of learners than others. Traits highlighted in pink represent the types of students who would most benefit from that particular activity. To learn more about any of the learning styles or personality traits listed, go to my about page here.

12 Ways to Use Pokemon Go in Your Classroom

  1. Have students play the game and complete activities as they find Pokemon. Start by making your own copy of this document with a list of Pokemon (seen below).
    GottaCatchEmAll
    Click here to access this document and make a copy for yourself!
    As students catch each Pokemon on the list, they will scan a QR code which will take them to an assignment or activity you create for that character. You will need to create your own QR codes to link to each of your activities (instructions for creating QR codes are included in the download). In addition, I have included common and rare Pokemon as well as evolved forms of some Pokemon. This way, you can vary the difficulty or include enrichment activities based on how hard the Pokemon is to find. You could easily turn this into a class or group contest by Awarding points for speed and/or accuracy. Here are some ideas to get you started:

English: Create a short grammar activity for each Pokemon; assign a vocab word (or list of words) to each Pokemon and have students use the word(s) in a sentence about that particular Pokemon; provide a creative writing prompt for each Pokemon

Math: Create a word problem for each Pokemon on the list

Science: Provide a research prompt based on the type of animal each Pokemon represents (e.g. students would research crabs for the Krabby Pokemon)

History: Provide a significant historical date, person, or political or economic concept for students to learn about or research for each Pokemon.

Types of students benefitted: Ability (low ability, high ability, struggling readers), Myers Briggs (EN, ES, IN, IS, thinking, feeling, judging, perceiving), Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences (visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic, logical-mathematical), VAK learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic)

2. Have your students read and compare these two contrasting articles on how Pokemon Go is affecting the economy: “Pokemon Go is everything that is wrong with late capitalism” and “Pokemon Go is actually helping small businesses.” If you teach economics, you could discuss or further research the economic theories behind the main points in each article. If you teach English, you could have students evaluate and write an argument or host a debate supporting which article is the most valid. This activity would support Common Core State Standard 8.9 for reading informational text, which requires students to “Analyze a case in which two or more texts provide conflicting information on the same topic and identify where the texts disagree on matters of fact or interpretation.”

Types of students benefitted: Ability (low ability, high ability, struggling readers), Myers Briggs (EN, ES, IN, IS, thinking, feeling, judging, perceiving), Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences (visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic, logical-mathematical), VAK learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic)

poke-stop
Example of a Pokestop in Pokemon Go
3. If you teach English or History, have students select and research the significance of a Pokestop or gym in the game, and have them write or present about why they think the writers at Niantic chose that location for the game. As an enrichment activity, you could have students write or present on a location that they think should be added to the game.

Types of students benefitted: Ability (low ability, high ability, struggling readers), Myers Briggs (EN, ES, IN, IS, thinking, feeling, judging, perceiving), Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences (visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic, logical-mathematical), VAK learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic)

4. One of the most fascinating aspects of Pokemon Go is that it inspires people to explore the world around them, and even meet new people in the process. Using an app like Marvel, have your students design an app imitating Pokemon Go, where users have to walk around to collect something or interact with people. This could be a great way to promote social justice in your classroom. For example, students could research needs in their community to illuminate through their game (e.g. their Pokestops could show where all of the animal shelters in the community are, and users could collect lost or stray animals to bring to the shelters). You could also use this idea to have students demonstrate their knowledge of a concept. For instance, students could show the origin of myths from around the world and have users “catch” legendary characters or symbols from each myth; they could show that they understand a particular time period by including Pokestops at locations where historical events occurred; they could even show that they understand weather patterns by including Pokestops at places where certain weather patterns occur.

Types of students benefitted: Ability (low ability, high ability, struggling readers), Myers Briggs (EN, ES, IN, IS, thinking, feeling, judging, perceiving), Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences (visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic, logical-mathematical), VAK learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic)

5. Pokemon isn’t for everyone, but the concept behind the game is still worth exploring. Have your students play Ingress  instead, the previous game made by the creators of Pokemon Go (free for iOS and Android). In fact, the location of the Pokestops in Pokemon Go are based directly on the location of what are called “portals” in Ingress. Portals emit exotic matter (XM), a form of energy thought to come from an extraterrestrial life form, known as the “Shapers,” who are trying to take over the world. As a player, you serve as an agent for one of two factions “battling to control the destiny of humankind”: the Resistance or the Enlightened. The Resistance do not trust the Shapers and fight to protect humanity by stopping the emission and use of exotic matter, while the Enlightened seek to understand the Shapers and embrace the use of exotic matter to bring technological advances to our society. As an agent, you work to control portals for your faction, much like how you battle at gyms in Pokemon Go. You can learn more about Ingress by checking out their website here or watching the video below on how to get started.

This game would pair well with a unit on dystopian literature or a discussion on the advantages and disadvantages of technology. You could also discuss what it means to “advance” society: should we embrace change or trust in what we know to be safe?

Types of students benefitted: Ability (low ability, high ability, struggling readers), Myers Briggs (EN, ES, IN, IS, thinking, feeling, judging, perceiving), Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences (visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic, logical-mathematical), VAK learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic)

6. Show students this picture imagining a Pokemon’s life inside a Pokeball.

BeckyPokeImage (1)
Begin this lesson with a writing prompt like the following: Write about the life of a Pokemon in the wild. Then write about the life of a Pokemon after it has been caught. Did you portray one life as being better than the other? If so, which one?
Once you have sparked your students’ interest, have them read about the morality of keeping animals in captivity, and host a debate on the subject. If you prefer, you could focus more on reading and analyzing the articles by having students “Determine [the] author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how the author acknowledges and responds to conflicting evidence or viewpoints” (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.8.6) or “Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning” (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.8). Below are a few articles you could use for this activity:

Article 1: “10 Reasons to Skip Your Next Zoo Visit” 

This article by One Green Planet, a nonprofit environmental protection organization, lists reasons why zoos are bad, making it easy to follow and good for comparing arguments on both sides of the coin.

Article 2: “Why Zoos are Good”

This article, published by a blogger for The Guardian, does a good job of addressing common arguments against zoos. It is however, fairly lengthy, and does contain some high-level vocabulary, so it would be best-suited for strong readers. To aid in comprehension, I would suggest reading Article 1 first, then having students identify counterarguments to the “10 Reasons to Skip Your Next Zoo Visit” in this article on “Why Zoos are Good.” The structure of this article, in contrast with the first article, would also make it a great text for “Analyz[ing] and evaluat[ing] the effectiveness of the structure an author uses in his or her exposition or argument, including whether the structure makes points clear, convincing, and engaging” (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.5).

Article 3: “Are Zoos a Good Thing?”

Hosted on the LearnEnglish Teens section of the British Council’s website, this article provides a concise overview of both sides of the issue at a lower reading level than the previous two websites. It also includes true/false reading comprehension questions as well as a fill-in-the-blank vocabulary quiz and practice worksheets/activities for additional practice.

Types of students benefitted: Ability (low ability, high ability, struggling readers), Myers Briggs (EN, ES, IN, IS, thinking, feeling, judging, perceiving), Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences (visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic, logical-mathematical), VAK learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic)

250px-Blue_EN_boxart7. Research the evolution of the Pokemon franchise. Then compare different mediums of the game, including any or all of the following: the GameBoy games, the collectible card game, the television show, the manga series, and of course, the newest sensation, Pokemon Go. If possible, allow students to experience these mediums first hand (it is likely that students may own one or more of these Pokemon products to bring in). Then you could have students “Compare and contrast a written story, drama, or poem to its audio, filmed, staged, or multimedia version, analyzing the effects of techniques unique to each medium (e.g., lighting, sound, color, or camera focus and angles in a film) (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.7.7) or “Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using different mediums (e.g., print or digital text, video, multimedia) to present a particular topic or idea” ( CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.8.7). You could assess this lesson by having students write a review of one or more versions of the game, evaluating which they think is best or worst.

Types of students benefitted: Ability (low ability, high ability, struggling readers), Myers Briggs (EN, ES, IN, IS, thinking, feeling, judging, perceiving), Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences (visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic, logical-mathematical), VAK learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic)

8. Have students read the article “Playing a science-based video game? It might be all wrong” and then identify what is scientifically accurate or inaccurate about Pokemon Go. Students could then work to create an accurate version of the game using an app like Marvel to make their ideas come to life. You could also use this article to spark a debate over the use of video games in learning as a whole–can a game be helpful or educational if it doesn’t portray an accurate version of the topic?

Types of students benefitted: Ability (low ability, high ability, struggling readers), Myers Briggs (EN, ES, IN, IS, thinking, feeling, judging, perceiving), Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences (visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic, logical-mathematical), VAK learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic)

9. Have students choose a Pokemon and write a story about it. In lieu of a traditional written story, you could also allow students to write a manga, since the original Pokemon stories were also written in this form.

Pokemon Manga

Types of students benefitted: Ability (low ability, high ability, struggling readers), Myers Briggs (EN, ES, IN, IS, thinking, feeling, judging, perceiving), Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences (visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic, logical-mathematical), VAK learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic)

IMG_1440
Create a Pokemon, including type, evolution, powers, strengths, and weaknesses.
10. Have students create a Pokemon based on a character from a novel, a historical figure, or even a scientific element or mathematical principal. Their Pokemon should include type, how the character or person would evolve, what powers it would have, and which type of Pokemon it would be strong or weak against and why. Once they create their Pokemon, you could even have them “battle” for a gym by having them debate each other over why their Pokemon would beat the other.

Types of students benefitted: Ability (low ability, high ability, struggling readers), Myers Briggs (EN, ES, IN, IS, thinking, feeling, judging, perceiving), Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences (visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic, logical-mathematical), VAK learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic)

11. Since its recent release, Pokemon Go has had some very positive and some not so positive effects on its users. Have students read about these effects in the articles below, and discuss if the game is ultimately a positive or a negative for society. For enrichment, you could have students create a P.S.A. about how to stay safe and be healthy playing the game, using video making software like iMovie (iOS only) or Do Ink (an app that lets you create green screen videos). They could also create a visual presentation using a website like Adobe Spark, Canva, Prezi, or PowToon.

Articles on Impact of Pokemon Go

“‘Pok√©mon Go’ Catches High Praise from Health Experts”

“Pok√©mon Go is turning strangers into the best of friends”

“How Pokemon Go is helping people with social anxiety and depression” **This is a great article, but it does contain one quote with an asterisked obscenity, just to be aware!

“Teen Playing Pok√©mon Go Walks Onto Highway And Gets Hit By A Car”

“Robbers target Pok√©mon Go players in Maryland and beyond”

Types of students benefitted: Ability (low ability, high ability, struggling readers), Myers Briggs (EN, ES, IN, IS, thinking, feeling, judging, perceiving), Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences (visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic, logical-mathematical), VAK learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic)

12. Create your own version of Pokemon Go using the free app Aurasma (iOS and Android). If you are worried about the liability of having students go out on their own time to play Pokemon Go for an assignment, this could be a great alternative. Aurasma allows you to create “Auras” by taking a photo and superimposing an animation over that photo, so that when a student takes a picture of that object, the animation will pop up on their screen, much like Pokemon pop up on your camera in Pokemon go. This works best when you take a picture of something still, like a painting, sculpture, or logo that won’t be moved or changed. Using Aurasma, you could create your own version of Pokestops around your school and have students find them by completing activities to receive clues, like a scavenger hunt. You could also have students create Aura’s to produce their own version of Pokemon Go.

Types of students benefitted: Ability (low ability, high ability, struggling readers), Myers Briggs (EN, ES, IN, IS, thinking, feeling, judging, perceiving), Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences (visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic, logical-mathematical), VAK learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic)

So there you have it! Happy hunting, and if you haven’t started yet, download the app and start catching ’em all! I promise you and your students won’t be disappointed.

Group Discussions with NowComment

Unleash the power of introverts and host vivid discussions using NowComment, a free and easy-to-use online discussion tool with a wealth of features!

It’s no secret that one of the best ways to learn is by discussing something, and it’s certainly important that all students learn how to speak with others. However, it’s also important to remember that not all students are speakers, and that not all discussions need to be verbal.

In her book,¬†Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain suggests that introverts are dramatically undervalued in an education system aimed at developing extroverts. Kristen Adler, assistant professor of cultural anthropology at Antioch College writes in a blog post titled “Balancing Introversion and Extroversion in the Classroom” that threaded discussions are “extraordinarily beneficial for introverts, and otherwise quiet students–as well as for extroverts.” They allow introverts, who characteristically think (long and hard) before they speak, to articulate their thoughts without having to jump head first into a conversation without a life vest; they also require extroverts to piece together their thoughts before saying the first thing that comes to their mind.

NowComment is an awesome and free online tool to host threaded discussions of texts, pictures, and even videos so that introverts and extroverts alike can share their ideas and learn to communicate effectively. **Yes, there are many other tools available for collaborating and discussing texts online (hello, Google!), but NowComment is particularly useful for moderating and organizing online discussions.

Getting Started

When you first go to NowComment, you will need to create an account using Google or Facebook, or by creating your own login. Once you log in, you can upload documents, including Microsoft Word or Excel, PDFs, images, html texts and images, and even videos (from your computer or a website like YouTube). You can also type your own text if you prefer. Finally, there are public documents where you can search for ready-made assignments. If you make your documents public, they will also become part of the public library.

Features

Once you have created an assignment, there are a wealth of options for moderating your discussion,  which you can see in the screenshot below.

NowComment Features.png

If you didn’t read through that screenshot (yes, I’m calling you out ūüėČ ), here are a few noteworthy features:

  • You can set a due date (with optional email reminder).
  • You can set a minimum number of comments that a student must post, and it will keep track (you can also set a maximum).
  • You can keep students from seeing each other’s comments until a designated time. This is great for seeing what students are¬†able to think of on their own, before they have had a chance to read what other students have to say. This is also good for introverts, who may be dissuaded from posting their comment if they see that someone else has already shared their idea.
  • You can allow students to suggest revisions to a document. This, of course, lends itself well to editing and revising student work. Furthermore, when students suggest a revision, it requires them to fill in a field explaining why they made a particular change.
  • You can highlight text and specify which colors designate what.¬†With each document you assign, students can publicly or privately highlight text. Anything highlighted publicly is visible to all students, and you can click on it to see a heat map showing how many students highlighted that word or section as well as what colors they highlighted it. The default highlighting colors are yellow for “important,” red for “unclear,” green for “agree,” brown for “disagree,” and blue for “like.” You can change these when you create the assignment. Students can change their private highlighting colors, which only they, along with the document administrator (you) can see.
NowComment Highlights
Public and private customizable highlighting options

Sharing Assignments

After you set your options, you can create groups to share your assignment with by importing your class roster(s). Watch this video¬†by Heidi Weber, a 2015 PBS Learning Digital Innovator, to learn how (it’s only three minutes long, and it’s very helpful)! You can create as many groups as you like, so you can assign texts to one student, one group, one class, or all of your classes! However, take note that if you assign one document to multiple groups, all comments will show up on that document.¬†If you want the document to only have one classes’ comments, you will need to make copies of your document to assign to individual groups. This can be done by clicking on “My Library” at the top of the page, then clicking the “More” drop-down menu next to the assignment you wish to copy. Then click “copy” and you will be able to select how many copies you would like to make.

Hosting Discussions

When your students open your assignment, they will see a screen that looks like this:

NowComment Discussion Screen.png

The default screen is in two panels, with the assignment on the left, and the commenting panel on the right. Students can make comments on individual sentences or multiple paragraphs by simply hovering over the text they wish to comment on. They can make comments on pictures or videos in the same way. When they click on a sentence or paragraph, they can immediately see any other comments made on that section. At this point, they have the option to reply to a previous comment on that section, or start a new thread if their comment is unrelated to the existing discussion.

When students post a comment, they must include a brief (255 character maximum) summary of their comment. The summary serves as a tagline, or almost like an email subject line for the student’s comment (nice opportunity to teach how to write an objective summary). Aside from the summary, the student’s full comment can be as long as they wish.

At the top of the comment panel, you can toggle whether you see full comments or just summaries. You can also sort comments by name, date, or tag. If you are grading students’ participation, this feature is a life-saver; you don’t have to dig through tons of comments to find one student’s posts.

Student and Class Blogs

If you end up using NowComment frequently, you may consider hosting a class blog, or having students create individual blogs to share and reflect on their work. Blogs are easy to set up on NowComment (there is literally a button that says “Create Class Blog” when you are in your group’s page, and ¬†button that says “Create a Personal Blog” when you are in your main login screen). After setting up your blog, you can upload excerpts from public documents or assignments as blog posts. Simple, but effective.

Ideas for Use

Obviously, NowComment is great for any discussion-related activity, but here are some general ideas for use:

  1. Assign a close-reading passage and have students highlight and comment on diction, tone, mood, symbolism, plot structures, characterization, or other literary devices.
  2. Have students upload their writing and practice revising and editing each other’s work.
  3. Post a painting or photograph and have students complete a collaborative OPTIC analysis.
  4. Post a scene from a film or documentary and have students discuss it.
  5. Have students read and discuss a news article about a current event.
  6. Host a debate.
  7. Assign word problems and have students collaborate to solve them.
  8. Have students comment on each other’s blog posts.
  9. Assign small groups a different text or task to work with, then have each group share out.
  10. Host a seminar.

And there you have it! Now you can comment with NowComment…and no comments from the peanut gallery! Just kidding. If you have comments, please let me know!

Altering Environment with an Itty-Bitty Classroom

Ever feel like the Genie in Alladin? “Phenomenal cosmic powers! Itty bitty living space!” Read on to learn how to differentiate environment even as a genie stuck in a bottle.

Differentiating environment means changing the way your classroom works and feels in order to meet the learning needs of students.¬†This may include things like rearranging desks or providing alternative types of seating (like bean bags or a rug), as well as creating areas within your classroom for quiet learning and cooperative learning. However, if your classroom is anything like mine–the size of a magic lamp with 32 students and a bazillion bulky desks crammed inside–it can be rather difficult to alter the physical environment.¬†Instead, use technology to grant the wishes of your students, and free yourself of the limitations of the magic lamp! Here’s the setup:

Let’s say your students are completing a practice assignment. Rather than make them all work independently or in groups, split your classroom into 3 learning zones based on personality type. To learn more about the Myers Briggs personality types discussed below, click here.

Zone 1: Extraverted Sensing Learners

Student Characteristics: Extraverted Sensing (ES) students learn best when they can move around, work with others, and use their hands.

Location: At the projector/whiteboard

Tools/Materials: whiteboard markers or sticky notes, OfficeLens (app), Post-its Plus (app)

Procedure: If possible, project the assignment onto a whiteboard. Using whiteboard markers, have students work together to complete the assignment. If you do not have a whiteboard behind your projector, you can project the assignment and have students add sticky notes to record their answers. Make sure students know that they are expected to work together on every question, though they may trade out who writes down each answer. You can also have students write their initials next to each question they helped with so you can quickly tell who has done what. When they are finished you may want to have them take a picture of their completed group assignment using an app like OfficeLens, which allows you to take a picture of a whiteboard and save it as a Microsoft Word document or PowerPoint (it also optimizes the photo to make it readable). If you have a large number of Extraverted Sensing students, you could split them into two groups, and have one group work with the whiteboard while the other group records their answers on Post-it notes, using the Post-its Plus app to digitally document and share their work.


Zone 2: Introverted Learners

Student Characteristics: Introverts (IN and IS) learn best when they have a chance to process information or practice a skill independently before sharing or discussing it with others.

Location: As far away as possible from Zone 1

Tools/Materials: Computers, device for listening to music (student’s preference)

Procedure: Have students work quietly and independently on the assignment. Allow them to listen to music (using headphones) if they like. You may want to have them turn their desks toward a wall or just away from other students to help them focus.


Zone 3: Extraverted Intuitive Learners

Student Characteristics: Extraverted Intuitive (EN) students learn best when they have a chance to experiment and be creative, as well as share their ideas.

Location: Anywhere there is leftover room

Tools/Materials: Computers, Google Drive/Google Docs

Procedure: Using Google Docs, share the assignment with all students in the group (to save yourself work, you could just share it with one student who then shares it with the other group members). If you are unfamiliar with Google Docs, watch this short video to learn how to share a document. Once the document is shared, all students will be able to type on the same document at the same time. Have students discuss and take notes on the questions together. When I do this, I have each student type their name in a different color font at the top of the page, then type all of their comments in the same color, so it is easy to see who wrote what. Because Extraverted Intuitives love to lead and come up with their own ideas, you may even let them decide how to structure their discussion. You can see a sample document below.

SampleAssignment

Do you have other ideas for tech tools to differentiate environment? If so, I would love to hear from you! You can leave comments to the left of the post.