Sunday, September 25, 2016

Catch 'Em All - Pokemon Go Sparks Classroom Innovation

I am not ashamed to admit that a week after Pokemon Go had been released, I jumped on the bandwagon and began trying to "catch 'em all." (At the time, I was on vacation with my brothers, who persuaded me that driving across the country provided a great opportunity for catching pokemon - they were right.) I could write a whole blog post about how to play Pokemon Go and use all of its features, but now is not the time! This post is about using Pokemon Go in the classroom.

[If you need an explanation on what Pokemon Go is all about before continuing to read this post, I recommend you check out the official Pokemon Go websiteSam Haysom's beginner's guide on Mashable; or Serenity Caldwell, Lory Gil, and Jen Karner's beginner's guide on iMore. While I encourage you to learn about the app or even download it on your device to try it out yourself, don't forget to come back to this blog and read more about incorporating the app in your classroom!]

I think there are a lot of great ways Pokemon Go could be used in math. One way would be to utilize the circle target that appears when trying to catch a pokemon.

The size and color of the circle target indicates the difficulty associated with catching the Pokemon. (This is my screenshot.)
Students could catch a pokemon, look at its stats to determine its height, then (assuming that height of the pokemon equals the diameter of the target circle) calculate the area of the target circle to determine which pokemon are more or less difficult to catch (based on the viable areas for a pokeball to be thrown). This could be used to satisfy Iowa Core 7.G.B.4.

Another idea that could incorporate Pokemon Go in math would be to graph the frequencies of certain phenomena in the game (satisfying Iowa Core 3.MD.B.3). For example, the class could go on a 30 minute walk, passing pokestops on the way. Students could keep track of how many of each item are retrieved from the pokestops, then collect their information in a whole-class bar graph. Similarly, students could keep track of how many of what types of pokemon they catch at a lured pokestop, then create a pie chart of the pokemon that were caught there by the whole class.

There are many ideas about how to use Pokemon Go in the classroom using the augmented reality (AR) feature. Augmented reality is a type of technology that allows the users to change how the real world looks or sounds through their device. (Read more about augmented reality through blog posts by Todd Nesloney on edutopia or Patricia Brown on EdSurge. A popular AR app is Aurasma, if you've ever used or heard of it!) In Pokemon Go, users can turn on augmented reality to make it appear as though the pokemon they are catching on the app are right in front of them in real life.

With AR turned on, it looks like Venonat is jumping on the chair right next to me.

With AR off, the background standardizes to a typical night scene.

To add a fun twist to storytelling, students could be tasked with taking photos of pokemon in creative places through augmented reality, then writing a fictional story about the pokemon's antics (perhaps satisfying Iowa Core W.3.3). Stories could be traditionally written, or students could develop their digital storytelling skills and use another app (such as Skitch) to annotate their photos.

While this post has provided some worthwhile ideas about using Pokemon Go in the classroom, there are many more to explore. Check out these resources for more ideas about using Pokemon Go with your students!
  • Ways to Use Pokemon Go in the Classroom - This post has ideas categorized by subject area, so it's an easy resource to use if you know what subject you'd like to integrate Pokemon Go into!
  • Pokemon Go in the Classroom (Kathy's Katch for August 2016) - Along with ideas for the classroom, Kathy's post includes a succinct list of Pokemon vocabulary in case you need a refresher on the "Pokelingo" your students might use.
  • 14 Ways to Bring Pokemon Go to School - Even the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) supports the use of this app in and outside of the classroom. Check out the suggestion on making your school into a pokestop!
  • Technology in the Classroom: What Pokemon Go Means - This post has useful information about teaching with augmented reality, particularly pertaining to safety. Though the author is a high school English teacher, the knowledge can be applied to students of any age level.
  • @PokemonGoEdu - If you're a Twitter user, I highly recommend following PokemonGoEdu to learn about how to use Pokemon Go for learning. As their page says, "Gotta teach 'em all!"
How do you anticipate using Pokemon Go in your classroom? Please add your great ideas to the comments!

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