A Fear Of Falling
We’ve discussed the affective filter in previous articles. In a nutshell, the AF is a curve where fear, embarrassment, and stress meet progress, progression, and accomplishment. If your students fall on the wrong end of the scale, you’re going to have an unhappy classroom. But if you can lower the filter and get your kids excited about learning, the right results will appear.
Of course, it’s easy to say, ‘engage your students and create a fun class atmosphere!’ Every teacher dreams of a consistently happy, working classroom. But putting that dream into action is tough. Like everything else in teaching, you need a structure. You need help. You need tools.
A Little Sleight Of Hand
Creating positivity in your classroom is like a good magic trick. It is all about distraction. The affective filter is raised by a focus on unachievable goals and insurmountable obstacles. Students see a learning problem and they feel inadequate in the face of it. So they get discouraged, they get sad, they get frustrated.
Distract a child from their fears of failure and a new route to learning will open up. Here are the tenets that make up Wibbu’s distraction-based teaching style.
- Create a learning character for the children to inhabit. An inquisitive persona that is capable and excited to problem-solve.
- Create a series of obstacles for the character that are peripheral to learning. Get students accomplishing immediately!
- Embed learning points in character moments. Dialogue, songs, stories. This is incidental learning.
- Expand the world of the character. Create a larger goal or mystery to pull the students further into the lesson (and bring them back for the next lesson).
- Use empathy-based situations. Put your students in an environment they will understand and want to help, all while exploring unfamiliar learning points.
- Wrap it all up with engaging visuals and soundscapes.
We think any committed teacher can utilise some of these ideas. We certainly encourage bringing stories and songs and characters into your class. But it’s a tall order to integrate them all simultaneously. Teachers have limited time to plan lessons. They have even less time to craft visually stunning learning adventures! …Remember when we mentioned those tools earlier?
We’ve Built A System
Wibbu has built an immersive, engaging, exciting learning system called Ruby Rei. We have our inquisitive avatar, Ruby. She has a mission to find her missing friend on a new planet that she doesn’t quite understand. She introduces students to a target language through the conversations she has with friendly monsters and awkward aliens. Her journey secretly follows the curriculum as breadcrumbs of lessons are scattered all over the world she explores. Boom! You have a teacher-led, language learning adventure.
Inspecting a bit closer you will see how our sleight of hand works. With Ruby, we work to make an immediate connection with students. They like her. They want to help her. We then create a problem for Ruby to solve that is totally separate from any learning requirement. Students are now sufficiently distracted. Now, in order for Ruby to achieve the goals that the children are invested in, they will have to engage with learning content. Ruby’s mystery deepens. Her story progresses. She makes friends and she makes difficult decisions. Students use empathy and critical thinking. They are with Ruby. Students continue learning.
The Learning Is Fun
Each line of dialogue is translatable between a student’s native and target language. Meeting a new character means interacting with language-learning. And we’ve designed characters you are going to want to meet. Characters that capture the imagination and have problems of their own. Problems that only Ruby and your students can solve.
We’ve made in-game social media devices. Typing tools for Ruby to stay in touch with her missing friend. Voice recording tools where Ruby can log the clues to her mystery and children can practice pronunciation. Prose back-stories centred on all of the weird and wonderful aliens for the students that want to learn more about the characters. You get the idea. Distraction.
Lower the affective filter, pulling students into a seemingly separate activity.
Truan Flynn – Educational Game Writer