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Personalized learning professional development — May’s Quest of the Month

Corrinna PoleMay 13, 2021

For years, teachers have been using Quests to turn their lessons into a personalized, self-paced, choose-your-own-adventure for students. But even educators deserve to have more engaging learning experiences. Classcraft’s Quest of the Month is for the teachers!

Each month at Classcraft, we choose one awesome quest to promote. For May we’ve chosen James Sira’s “Swimming in Choices,” a professional development (PD) quest for educators to learn all about personalized learning.

In this lesson, teachers will experience personalized learning in the same way their students do; by following an illustrated story and completing the objectives on the map. They’ll work at their own pace as they explore what personalized learning looks like, and how it works in both physical classrooms and online learning. Educators will also learn how they can support students by tying together project-based learning and student choice. Lastly, they’ll learn how to implement this approach to learning. 

Import this quest here.

If you use Classcraft, you can submit quests you’ve created to be 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.

Now, take a moment to meet the teacher behind this innovative quest. Take it away, James!

Teacher James Sira's custom avatar
Teacher James Sira’s custom avatar

What are your teaching stats?

James: I have been teaching for two years at Caro Middle School in Caro, Michigan. I mainly teach 6th grade Reading.

What inspires you?

James: In teaching, I am inspired by students enjoying being in school.

We have dozens of “mini-games” each day when students come into the class. From mimicking my unique voices when I say “good morning!”,  using random daily events during team competitions, and reviewing Boss Battles or other games, my students learn it is okay to be goofy and make mistakes on our personal journeys. My students learn that we all learn differently, and that makes us stronger as a team.

My goal is to have my students leave my room feeling better than when they came in (and if they learned something about reading, then the day is an even bigger success!).

Gamifying our classroom has allowed my students opportunities for choice and self-expression.

When creating Classcraft Quests, I am inspired by classic adventure video games and role-playing games I played with my brothers when I was younger, along with reading dozens of fantasy books.

Each Classcraft Quest should read like a story, with an intriguing beginning, rising action that keeps you interested, a climax of the learning, and a final satisfying conclusion (or a plot twist to get them interested in the next adventure!). Being a Dungeon Master for various role-playing games made becoming a Game Master an easier transition.

What made you decide to use Classcraft? 

James: I decided to use Classcraft because it appealed to my natural teaching style.

When I was a student, the teachers who made the greatest impact on my learning were the teachers who gave me choices, used fun games and projects in class, and allowed me to show my own personal skills with assignments. I felt empowered in these classrooms.

I want my students to feel similar empowerment and fun while learning. Classcraft was a natural fit for me when I heard it mentioned in a technology course in college.

Your favorite things about Classcraft are …

James: The Boss Battles. For me, they are the best gamification feature of Classcraft. These allow teams and individuals a chance to shine and show that they are learning. I have never seen students get as competitive and happy as when they take on a boss together and defeat it. Even my students who don’t normally enjoy school love these battles!

Winning XP and GP for defeating the boss is icing on the cake, as it instantly rewards them for sharing their knowledge. The rewards are another way to praise students for doing well, which is something we should all be doing.

Classcraft reminds me that I am here for the students. While walking out of the room after a Boss Battle, a student said something to a friend I’ll never forget: “I love this class because Mr. Sira makes me feel smart.”

Quest: Swimming in Choices: Personalized Learning
Quest: Swimming in Choices: Personalized Learning

Why do you love the quest you created? 

James: I love the quest I created because it was the first time I realized I could design professional development in the same way I design my lessons.

The quest teaches educators about Classcraft and personalized learning. Along with having a unique narrative, the quest offers a variety of resources and tips to developing a classroom focused on personalized learning. I would recommend this quest to another teacher as a review of personalized learning or an introduction to implementing it in their classroom.

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

James: Since I developed this quest for teachers, my students, unfortunately, haven’t had the opportunity to test it yet. Don’t worry; I’ll be sharing more quests to the Classcraft community that are for students!

What would surprise students to find out about you?

James: I never drink coffee. I can’t stand the taste. I always have a mug of hot chocolate instead, and my students are always surprised when they find out. 

What is your favorite dish from the cafeteria?

James: Bosco Sticks! Who doesn’t love bread filled with cheese, dipped in marinara sauce? 

How do you think (or hope) students will remember you and your class?

James: I hope my students remember my class as the class they were important in. I want them to remember that I made them feel special.

Which Hogwarts house would you be sorted into?

James: Ravenclaw. “Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest pleasure”

Personalized Learning - Quest of the Month