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Cyndaquil Day

If you happened to be at the local mall or park between 2 and 5 today, you may have noticed  more people than usual staring at their phones and wondering around.  Today was one of the monthly community events Pokémon Go hosts.  If you have the game on your phone, you would have seen Cyndaquil (see below) spawning as if they were swarming locusts.  In the hopes of catching special, shiny Cyndaquil, people were drawn to hunt out these spawns.

I’ve mentioned Pokémon Go in the posts Pokémon Go-Catching em all and Pokémon Go Leveling.  In these posts I’ve discussed why I enjoy the game and how it promotes activity and socially interacting with other players.  As I’ve been playing the past few months, I’ve noticed another benefit of playing the game.  In particular, it has turned into a great way to connect with my students.

Connecting With Students

I’ve found that one of the most difficult things to do well every semester is to connect with students.  It’s not because I don’t take an interest in them, or try to make some type of connection, but rather the interests of students differ by major, year in school, age and with the changing of time.  In fact, as time goes on, this is the one part of teaching that actually gets more difficult.  However, this doesn’t mean that you should just give up because today’s students just don’t understand, instead it is important to find some way of connecting with them because doing so helps get them excited to come to class, pay attention, and work on their homework.  Anything you can do to motivate your students will help them do better in your class.

I personally find keeping up with current trends and popular culture extremely difficult.  It’s not just that it takes time, but rather it’s that I really have no interest in popular culture.  I really just don’t care who the current top 40 musicians, big movie stars, or current reality TV icon is.  Therefore, instead of trying to fain interest in something, I really try to find something that is current that I can be interested in.  A few years ago, Doctor Who began to trend in mainstream culture, and it was extremely nice for me to just be able to talk about something I already like.  Now, there are still a few students that get my references to Doctor Who, but most of them don’t get it.

This brings me to the current Pokémon Go trend.  When first released, the game was the most popular game ever, and you could see swarms of people wandering around trying to find Pokémon everywhere.  However, this did die down after a couple months, and things went back to normal.  For a while it hung on, but wasn’t really as present around us.  Lately, with the introduction of community days, shiny Pokémon, more raids, trading and the generation 4 Pokémon that are currently coming out, the game has been on quite on upswing.  As a teacher, more than a player, this has been extremely helpful.

Over the past few months, I have been wandering around playing while I had a break between classes and I have indeed run into several of my students when I go up to try to do a raid.  They stare at me, can’t believe it’s me, can’t believe I would be playing the same game they are, and finally ask if I am.  This has opened up many conversations for me with my students.  One student in particular, was often quiet or missed class.  When he saw that I played Pokémon, he started coming to class more often and even talked and asked questions.  While many of these were Pokémon and not math related, he become more comfortable and did eventually become more involved with the math portion as well.  Yesterday, I ran into a student form a previous semester.  At seeing me at the raid, they talked to me about their experience in my class and how their current classes were going.  While there are times to get feedback during class, it was extremely nice to hear the perspective of a student that had been out of the class long enough to see how the lessons could be applied in other situations.

In addition to individual interactions with students, it has also given me a way to interact with the class as a whole.  As class moves on, there are often times students seem to wander and lose interest, mainly because it’s difficult to pay attention to one topic for an extended amount of time.  At these points, I take a minute or two to tell some type of anecdote or story to get the class involved.  Yes, I do have a list of things that tend to get the students attention (food, money, traveling, or motorcycles seem to work well all the time), but having another topic is always helpful.  Now when I mention Pokémon, I get enough of the students perking up and responding that it gets the rest of the class involved as well.  This is extra helpful with the extra events going on, because it helps to provide new material as I go along.  Otherwise, I often have to use the same stories repetitively in my different classes.

Conclusion

It’s not easy to keep students motivated and engaged in the classroom.  Interests among students change all the time and it takes continual effort to find a way to connect with them.  Therefore, you should take every advantage of every opportunity you can to do so.  I have found that Pokémon Go has been a great way for me to connect to my students recently.  If you already play, I would encourage you to find a way to work the game into class, as I’m sure many of your students will play as well.  If you don’t play, I would recommend giving the game a try.  If you don’t like, don’t continue playing, but if you do, you’ll have one more way to connect with students.  In general, I hope you keep trying new things to find something you enjoy that you can use to raise your students’ interest and motivation.

If you liked the post, let me know by clicking the like button below.  Also share the post on Social Media.  I appreciate the extra exposure, and I hope your contacts will enjoy the blog as well.  If you play Pokémon Go, share your experiences in the comments below.  Otherwise, talk about community day in the forums at Cyndaquil Day, or friend me in game by using my code available at Friend Requests.

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