Friday, September 2, 2016

What is Star Wars Go! ?

 In the Summer of 2016 Pokemon Go! was all the rage. I was sitting at the pool this summer while my kiddo was practicing for swim team and trying to figure out how I could "catch" the enthusiasm of this craze and apply it to the JRT Library.

A few years ago I created an activity based around the book, "The Day the Crayons Quit". It was during the winter and the students needed some gentle reminders about their behavior in the library. Instead of standing up in front of all classes and lecturing about how to behave in the library, I used the book and created an activity to accomplish the same goal. First, I dressed up as Pink Crayon and read the book to all of the classes. The following week, even with my fifth graders, I met each class outside of the library doors and told them that I did a bad thing reading the book 26 times the previous week because the objects in the library decided to quit. I told them that the objects in the library only agreed to stay because I made videos with their concerns (similar to the way the crayons voiced their concerns in the book). The students partnered up with an iPad and walked around the library to find the crayons with QR codes on them around the library. Each QR code lead to a video on my YouTube Channel. The activity was a roaring success and the behavior of the students improved without me lecturing. They "played a game" and got the same information they would have gotten as a lecture, but I think because it was FUN they were more engaged and invested. The videos for the activity can be found at this link:

Taking my successes with the previous activity I had done, and the success of Pokemon Go!, I created Star Wars Go!. I am not a Pokemon fan, but I DO LOVE STAR WARS. The idea was simple. I wanted to create a fun library orientation activity to use with my 2nd -5th graders. 1st graders and Kindergarteners will eventually play the game, but not in the same way I expected the "game" to work with my 2nd-5th grade classes. I started thinking of all the rules and regulations I go over during the first few weeks of school. I also thought about all of the areas in the library (fiction, non-fiction, picture books, holiday books, favorite characters, bilingual and Spanish books, etc. ) I found it much easier to think of the things I wanted to tell the students when I was standing in the library. I wrote a script for each area or rule I wanted to go over with them because it was easier to read a script than randomly talking about each area.  I assigned a Star Wars Character to each area. On the back of each Star Wars Character would be a QR Code to the YouTube video about that area or rule and a number. Each group would have a recording sheet with the numbers of the videos and they would "catch" the character by watching the video and coloring in the number found by the QR code. When I came up with the idea I was really torn because I was going to have to use images from the internet to create the characters the students would "catch" in the library, and I was worried about copyright. After consulting with a few fellow librarians we determined that it would fall into fair use because direct teaching was accompanying the images. However, I happened to drive by my favorite teacher store and I noticed in the window.... STAR WARS BULLETIN BOARD materials!!! (Whoever thought of this idea was a genius because they took all my money that day!)  I published all of my videos to YouTube and put them into for safe viewing. Then I waited for school to begin.

I have done countless activities using QR Codes and YouTube videos converted into videos. In the past, the students scan the QR Code with the "Scan" app on the iPads in my library and the video automatically started playing right in the app. Over the summer the app must have updated because once the students started scanning the QR code it took them out of the app to the safeshare video on the web. I don't  know if it was safeshare's website or our new internet, but everything went wrong with the first class. Some videos played fine, some had a black screen but had audio, and some wouldn't play at all. I was so sad,  but I didn't let it get me down, I preserved. The first day of school was a Wednesday, my most packed day of the week. (I'm on a fixed library schedule.) For the rest of the day as the classes came in I presented the activity with what was happening, and told them to go with the flow, if the video played - watch it, if you only got sound - listen to it, if nothing happened - skip it. I promised them I would look into the problem and fix it for next week. Thankfully, they all went with the flow and adapted to the activity. I still had lots of compliments of how much fun they were having. This kept me going because I was feeling pretty defeated! The next day I did a little troubleshooting. I have no idea why the app changed the way it was working, I have no idea why safeshare wasn't doing what it had done in the past. So, again, I preserved and did the only thing I could think of to make the activity a success. I re-coded all of the QR Codes to go right to the YouTube video. Not my favorite way to use videos in the library( I REALLY like safeshare) but it was going to have to work for this activity because when the QR code went right to the YouTube video everything worked.  For the rest of the week, everything went beautifully. Kids were engaged, having fun, and accomplishing the objective of the lesson. Yay! When Wednesday rolled around again, the kids were so excited to play again and were ecstatic to see that I had fixed the problem like I promised.

I really loved this activity. We are on week three of school and the kids in grades 2-5 keep coming in the library begging to play Star Wars Go! They are motivated to "catch" all of the characters. At some point, I am going to have to take Start Wars Go! down, but in the meantime I'm having a blast watching the kids enjoy learning about the library. To make things special for each class, I wore a different Star Wars themed dress each day of the week. Every class that came to the library got to experience Star Wars Go! in a special way! I also have all of my Star Wars books on a display and they are getting checked out like crazy. I bought Star Wars themed book marks on TPT, and the kids are going crazy for them. Total success!

Want to know more? Watch my animato video of the kids playing Star Wars Go!

Here is a link to the Star Wars Go! playlist on my YouTube Channel.