Caltha Crowe's description of her "Wonderful Wednesday" classroom open houses is brilliant (Crowe, 2004). What better way to help parents understand what is happening in the classroom than to open the doors and invite them in ... and not just for a single staged open house at the beginning of the year, but regularly, during the school day, so that they can participate in what the students are learning and become learners, themselves?! Efforts to building in open-classroom days to help parents understand what differentiation, and gaming/gamification, in particular, could answer myriad questions before they can become problems. Perhaps especially if gaming has a role in the classroom, parents need constant communication, updates, and assurance that "real learning" is happening in the classroom. "With all the research done on the benefits of games in the classroom, it's a bit perplexing that there's still resistance to the notion of video games in education" (Boyle, 2013); but I can't say I'm surprised that parents are resistant. After all, they "didn't learn that way" -- something I have heard so often in my own district in the last couple of years that I have completely lost count. Some parents want research and hard facts. O.K., there's plenty of that out there, too. Share scholarly articles about gamification like that conducted by Lee and Hammer, documented in their paper, "Gamification in Education: What, How, Why Bother?".
Ensure that parents understand what differentiation really means; go beyond an explanation to provide examples of what differentiation will look like in your classroom. Tomlison's bullet points would be tremendously helpful as a teacher works to articulate differentiation for parents. In particular, explaining that "in a differentiated classroom, the teacher closely assesses and monitors skills, knowledge levels, interests, and effective ways of learning for all students, and then plans lessons and tasks with those levels in mind" (p. 40). I could see this passage on a bulletin board with photos of students engaged in individual learning endeavors, small group activities, projects, whole-group instruction, and student-teacher conferences, each photo with a caption describing some of the ways the classroom is made "just right" for each student while still addressing the needs of a particular grade level or grade band as a whole.
Play a quick Quizlet game to test your knowledge of this blog post! :o)
Boss, S. (2012). A Parent's Guide to 21st-Century Learning. Edutopia.org / The George Lucas Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/pdfs/guides/edutopia-parents-guide-21st-century-learning.pdf
Boyle, J. (29 Dec. 2013). Gaming Education: Are Parent, Teachers, and Schools Ready to Embrace Gaming as a Learning Tool? Emerging Ed Tech. Retrieved from http://www.emergingedtech.com/2013/12/gaming-education-are-parents-teachers-and-schools-ready-to-embrace-gaming-as-a-learning-tool/
Crowe, C. (15 Oct 2013). Wonderful Wednesdays. Responsive Classroom Newsletter. Retrieved from https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/article/wonderful-wednesdays
Knewton. (Retrieved 23 Mar 2015). Gamification Infographic. Retrieved from http://www.knewton.com/gamification-education/
Lee, J. and Hammer, J. (2011). Gamification in Education: What, How, Why Bother? Academic Exchange Quarterly, 15(2). Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/570970/Gamification_in_Education_What_How_Why_Bother
Tomlinson, C. A. (2001). How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms. Alexandria, VA, USA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development (ASCD). Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com
Wilkens, K. (2011). Gamification of Education. TED-Ed video on YouTube. Retrieved from http://ed.ted.com/on/uk36wtoI#review