QotM-2020-05 Frank Severino

Epic infinity lesson plans — May’s Quest of the Month

In the comic book and cinematic universe, the Infinity Stones possess specific abilities that, when collected, give the holder omnipotent powers and a devastating Snap! 

Two teachers have combined forces and tapped into pop culture to turn students into the superhero by giving them ultimate power over their learning (and educators unlimited flexibility).

Each month at Classcraft, we choose one awesome quest — personalized, self-paced, choose-your-own-adventure lessons for students — to share with educators everywhere! Classcraft’s Quest of the Month for May, “The Space Stone” by Frank Severino (@Mr_Severino), is a little different from the norm, as it’s one of six in a series with infinite potential.

Its creators describe “The Infinity Quest” series as a “multi-subject, cross-curricular digital and real-world scavenger hunt, designed to test students on learned concepts, challenge them with new material, and present them with creative problem-solving opportunities.”

Teachers Frank Severino and Timothy Martin used their students love for the Marvel universe to boost learning
Credit: Frank Severino and Timothy Martin

Frank’s immersive quest series is a joint venture with his teaching partner, Timothy Martin (@PMartin1867), whose high school English Language Arts lesson plan featured as the June 2019 Quest of the Month.

At the core of this MARVELous lesson plan [see what we did there?], Frank and Timothy wanted to use their students’ talents and abilities to reach a common goal while building community and confidence … all while having an epic time along the way. 

While the quests in the Infinity series connect, they don’t follow a specific order. Middle and high schoolers can decide which of the six quests to start with then continue along with the rest. Meanwhile, teachers can use the quests as they are or adjust to make them their own. Frank and Timothy have even created a companion resource guide to help educators explore the possibilities. 

Import each of the six Infinity quests below to complete with your class throughout a term. 

The Space Stone explores outer space, distance, and measurement. 

The Reality Stone challenges students with descriptive/narrative writing.

The Power Stone studies power in all its forms from energy, to laws, and motivation.

The Time Stone tests students’ concepts of time in history, geography, geometry, and art.

The Soul Stone delves into philosophical thought, moral education, music, and religion.

The Mind Stone examines biology and neuroscience, problem solving, philosophy, audio illusions, and the world of dreams.

If you use Classcraft, you can submit the quests you’ve created for the next Quest of the Month on our submission page. Our goal is to spotlight the amazing educators who inspire us and share creative, teacher-made content with our global community of forward-thinking educators.

If you’re new to Classcraft, check out how quests can supercharge your lesson plans. Whether you’re a Classcraft newbie or pro, everyone can level-up their quests with our free plug-and-play narrative experience, Story Mode

Now, let’s run the gauntlet and discover the creative mind behind this colossus series! Take it away, Frank!

Gamemaster Frank Severino
Gamemaster Frank Severino

What are your teaching stats?

Frank: I teach Grade 7 with Mr. Martin at The Holy Trinity Catholic School in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I focus on core subjects and History, Geography, and Physical Education, and have been teaching for six years. 

What inspires you?

Frank: Both of my parents, and some very dedicated teachers of my own, inspired me to become an educator. They taught me that learning can be fun, engaging, and meaningful. My goal is to combine everything they taught me with all the skills and abilities I have to inspire my own students to succeed. 

What made you decide to use Classcraft? 

Frank: When I learned I was going to be working with Mr. Martin, we started planning right away. We are both HUGE “nerds” and were looking to incorporate as much technology and new learning/teaching methods in our lessons. 

We decided to gamify our class with a simple spreadsheet that would give students a point for doing something positive, and after ten points they would level up. Nothing fancy, just a basic idea. During the summer I somehow remembered seeing an ad for a program that would fit in with our idea and teaching styles. I couldn’t remember the name though! 

After the first week of school, teachers usually start posting cool things they’ve found, and one teacher posted about Classcraft. I FOUND IT! Mr. Martin and I approached our Principal with the idea and we had a premium subscription by the end of the week!

Your favorite things about Classcraft are …

Frank: We LOVE the Random Events from The Riders of Vay. We have created some complex and hilarious events that the students can’t get enough of!

The ability to create, and upgrade, your own character is something I could only have dreamt about as a Grade 7 student myself. The students can really see the correlation between taking steps to reach their learning goals and a ‘better’ character online.

Quest: The Space Stone

Why do you love the quest you created? 

Frank: Mr. Martin and I created this set of quests because we knew that our students had a wealth of talents and abilities to draw on, but they were potentially not coming out in our everyday lessons. I think that the differentiation and various paths in these quests give each of our students their own moment to shine.

Our goal was to make sure that all of our students were able to see how gifted they are, in whatever way that may be, and that they can all come together to combine their skills to complete a task that seemed impossible at first. 

What did your students think of your quest? How did they react? 

Frank: I don’t know how to explain it with anything other than a “mind explosion gif” 

Credit: Giphy

We introduced the quest just before Christmas break and all of the students were mad they had to wait until after the break to start!

What are your “trapped on a desert island” books or movies?

Frank: I actually do a diagnostic writing activity with my students each September and it has this exact question as one of the steps!

I am an avid reader/listener/watcher so this tends to change, but my three books would be:

“The Princess Bride” by William Goldman: Just an overall great book with “Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True Love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest Ladies. Snakes. Spiders … Pain. Death. Brave men. Cowardly men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles.” How could you NOT love it!

“Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline: As a huge ‘nerd’ and reader/gamer this was an amazing read and one that I have set up to start again. With the advent of VR, I am really hoping that I can be a part of something as crazy as this book.

“Anathem” by Neal Stephenson: A group of mathematicians, philosophers, and inventors who live in monasteries come together to dig up an alien spaceship and attempt to save the world from attacking aliens. YES PLEASE! Anything Stephenson writes is gold. “Reamde” and “Seveneves” are fantastic too. Also, his books are 1000 pages, so it will keep me busy!

For movies I’ll have to go with:

“The Princess Bride”: Yes, I know … but it has André the Giant and a PERFECT cast!

“Home Alone”: Everyone knows this one, I figure that I could use it to teach me how to trick anyone else on the island from entering my hut.

Harry Potter movies: (mostly because I can sneak in more movies) I usually watch these once a year anyway and they would weigh a lot less than all the books. A great story with great characters! 

What does a “good day” at school look like?

Frank: A “good day” in my Grade 7 class is one where we get through some of the planned material, followed by great discussions and questions. I know a lot of teachers may feel pressured to ‘finish’ a lesson, but I’ve found that some of the best lessons are the ones where we may have only completed part of it because we got ‘off-topic’ and had a twenty-minute discussion.

Just the other day we were talking about King Louis XIV in our History lesson and students went crazy over the idea of an Absolute Monarchy. They were NOT having anything to do with someone being in charge of an entire country, or group of people, just because of the family they were in. They discussed all kinds of things related to that, including other types of governments and how certain people could take over the throne (a lot of swords and poison may have been mentioned by the students).

No teacher could plan that type of lesson, it is just impossible. It was one of the best lessons of the year! 

If you could share any piece of wisdom with your students, what would it be?

Frank: The one thing I always tell my students is there is always someone who is willing to help. I work with an incredible teaching partner, and overall wonderful staff, so I always make it a point to tell my students we are ALL in this together and that ANY teacher will be willing to help them. 

Everyone says, “anyone can change the world”, and that is completely true, but those people all had help. There is nothing wrong with asking for support or guidance.

If your life had a theme song, what would it be?

Frank: This is an awesome, yet difficult, question (I LOVE music)! I think one of the things I am known for is my dedication and commitment to family, friends, and students. In that case, the first song that comes to mind is by a writer/singer named Dustin Kensrue. Dustin has a few great solo albums, but the song “The Weight” is from his band Thrice (also from one of the best albums, Beggars).

“The Weight” isn’t a sports or TV-show-type theme song, but it represents my outlook on life and teaching perfectly. The chorus of the song is:

“And come what may, I won’t abandon you or leave you behind,
Because love is a loyalty sworn, not a burning for a moment.
Come what may, I will be standing right here by your side,
I won’t run away, though the storm’s getting worse and there’s no end in sight.”

I think this message emphasizes the earlier advice that there is always someone willing to help. Everyone needs a person in their life who will be like the person mentioned in the chorus of “The Weight” and I hope my students know their teachers can be those people.

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