4a. Rules - Missions and Quests

Preparing a Lesson in Classroom Heroes

Lessons in Classroom Heroes take one of two primary forms; Missions and Quests.

Missions are lessons in which students are introduced to new concepts, skills or information. The primary function of a Mission is to gauge a student's understanding of specific concepts or skills.

Quests are comprised of a number of learning activities connected by a theme, skill or concept that is intended for students to develop and reinforce their understanding through repeated exposure and practice. Quests should be comprised of tasks in a variety of learning styles that allow students to select their preferred tasks in order to demonstrate understanding and improvement.

More specific information on Missions and Quests can be found in the appropriate sections below.

Key principles of lesson design in Classroom Heroes are:

Framing: Lesson activities are presented as missions or quests that the student must complete in order to develop their character. This helps to connect each lesson to the overarching narrative framework of the characters development, and gives each lesson a purpose greater than the activity itself. One important aspect of Framing in Classroom Heroes is the presentation of lesson materials. The Mission Profile template is an example of how to present a lesson in the form of a Mission Briefing. See also the completed sample Mission Profile. This could be printed and distributed to students, or displayed on a projector if it can be visible in its entirety. Teachers may choose to create multi-media introductions to missions to further enhance the sense of narrative.

Differentiation: An important aspect of missions and Quests is allowing students to access curriculum content at a level of difficulty, and in a manner that is suited to them. Missions are differentiated in accordance with the Understanding, Application and Analysis/Evaluation elements of Blooms Taxonomy, while Quests are differentiated in accordance with theories of different learning styles such as Gardner's Multiple Intelligences.

Repeatability: Students can attempt each activity as many times as they wish in order to improve and achieve higher XP rewards. Students may choose to attempt a higher level task, or may re-do a task in order to meet the requirements of Bonuses that they did not meet the first time around.

Missions


Each Mission is presented with optional ‘levels’ of difficulty, which correspond to different stages of Bloom’s taxonomy. Students are allowed to self-select their level of achievement, and by recording the level completed or XP awarded to each student, the teacher quickly begins to develop a profile of each student’s ability and/or confidence with different tasks.

The primary goal of a Mission is to develop and assess Understanding of key concepts and/or skills.

When planning a Mission for students, start by identifying the Curriculum Outcomes, specific Skills or content that students are expected to engage with. Missions are usually best delivered with a primary information source or set of instructions, such as a text book, video, website or excerpt that contains the relevant information.

Level 1 activities should be comprehension activities (Understanding) and may include scaffolds and guides. Level 1 activities might include: Comprehension questions; Identifying key terms; Close Passage exercises; Mix-n-Match sentences.

Level 2 activities should typically extend level one activities, but with a higher expectation of existing skills/knowledge (Application). Level 2 activities could use the same questions or activities as Level 1, but with the expectation of writing responses out in full sentences/paragraphs. If the primary concept is skill based, it might involve presenting a student with a situation and having them identify which part of what they have learned is most applicable to that situation.

Level 3 activities should require students to identify or compare key ideas within the lesson content (Analyse and/or Evaluate) and should ideally be open ended activities that allow students to synthesize additional information. For example, questions that require a short exposition-style answer, or that invite a direct comparison or evaluation of multiple texts or concepts, or questions that require the student to pick one statement out of a many and explain why it is the most accurate, etc.

Quests


Quests are intended to reinforce and develop students understanding of core concepts through repeated exposure and use of information and skills in different contexts. Quests assume a competent level of Understanding and require students to complete tasks that require them to Apply their understanding to different contexts. A Quest contains multiple tasks from which students must completed a select few. A Quest can be constructed by giving activities a points value and setting a minimum threshold of points that must be completed, or by creating tiered activities with multiple options at each tier, and requiring students to literally 'pick a path' through the tiers of the Quest.

To develop a quest, teachers should use a simple Blooms/Gardner's grid (focusing on 2 or 3 different intelligence types per Quest), or using Gardner's in conjunction with specific requirements of Syllabus/Curriculum outcomes in order to diversify the tasks offered to students.

Unlike Missions, the XP award for a Quest should be based on the completion of the entire quest. Bonus XP may be awarded for completing more than the required amount, but these should be considered carefully to avoid students gaining a significant XP advantage by completing relatively simple tasks.

A quest can differ greatly in length. Each activity might be a short set of questions, or extended creative projects, meaning that a quest might span one or two periods of a high school timetable, or could span multiple days of primary school teaching.

Quests might be interrupted by Missions, in order to introduce new concepts relevant to the tasks within the quest, and slowly build a students understanding of relevant concepts as they are working with them. This also helps to place new information into a broader context which builds stronger links between content and the use of it in learning activities.

Ideally, Quests should be the primary learning activity sequence in between Encounters, so students should not be expected to complete two quests back-to-back (though they might complete more than one mission throughout the course of the Quest)