September 2nd, 2022

Teacher Speaker Series: Finding Laughter and Fun in a Virtual Math World

For 1st grade teacher Ms. Harden, teaching isn’t just a job - it’s her passion. Fostering a love of learning and creating a safe and fun space for her students is of the highest priority for this Zumba instructor and dog mom. 

Like so many educators during the pandemic, Ms. Harden taught in virtual and hybrid classrooms. As she begins her fourteenth year of teaching, Ms. Harden is embarking on a new education adventure, that of teaching in a fully online environment for her district in Tempe, Arizona. 

🖥️ Experience During the Pandemic Years

‍Ms. Harden found that though teaching virtually poses many challenges, the opportunity to make meaningful connections with students and their families was ever-present and perhaps even more accessible given that she was (virtually) in their homes each day. As she starts the 2022-2023 school year, Ms. Harden looks forward to addressing and closing learning gaps and writes that “Boddle will be an essential component from start to finish for this upcoming school-year.  Last year I began using Boddle in the late fall, so I am excited to use Boddle Learning for an entire school-year.”

😆 Fostering Engagement with Humor

Educators all have their unique methods of making their classrooms engaging and fun for students. Ms. Harden uses humor to create a safe and welcoming environment for her young scholars. She says, “Adding humor, for me, is an important trait for any educator and an essential component in a learning environment.” 

Accompanied by her favorite snack - popcorn- Ms. Harden planned a mischievously fun April Fools’ Day joke for her students. She changed her students’ Boddle avatars’ attire and moved their furniture out onto the front lawn of their Boddle homes. Her students thought the joke was hilarious and vowed revenge, but Ms. Harden’s not about to give up her Boddle login information lest the students spend her coins! Clearly, her students would agree that “Humor makes the educator more relatable, while still leading the classroom.” 

✨ Gamification in the Classroom

Using games in the classroom has become increasingly popular, and for good reason. Gamification increases student engagement while allowing students to practice skills at their level. “Boddle is a perfect balance between being a game and having academic mathematical questions,” says Ms. Harden. Gamification provides a unique opportunity for differentiation, which is vital to individual student success.

Using games in the classroom can also foster a friendly environment for competition amongst students. Ms. Harden says that “[her] students had the best time battling one another and challenging each other to a pet battle. They were all smiles, from ear to ear, and their faces [lit] up [...].” The best kind of learning is when students don’t realize it because they are too busy having fun in their classroom and with each other! Ms. Harden agrees: “They were enjoying the process of learning together and were fully present in their learning.”

💙 Boddle’s Impact: Differentiation and Student Growth

To address the need for meaningful differentiation, Ms. Harden incorporates Boddle into her math stations and daily classroom activities. She’s found that the use of Boddle has had a “significant impact on developing [her] students’ mathematical skills”. 

Ms. Harden recalls the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year and notes that a significant portion of her students were entering 1st grade far below grade-level expectations. After incorporating Boddle into her math lessons, she noticed that “students found their strength and confidence” and indeed, by the end of the year, 71% of her students were exceeding expectations in their mathematical progress. Ms. Harden’s students finished the year proud of themselves and better prepared for entering 2nd grade in the Fall. 

🚀 New Virtual Adventure

Ms. Harden is looking forward to engaging her new group of 1st graders virtually by using Boddle. She enjoys that by “answering questions correctly, [her students] feel encouraged and [are] rewarded [...] immediately.” When her students are happily learning, Ms. Harden feels satisfied and proud. To quote Tyson Yunkaporta: “If they’re laughing, they are learning…”.

“Laughter means they’re listening, listening means they’re engaged, and engagement leads to learning.” - Ms. Harden