Sharpen students' informational literacy skills by sending them on a wild Goose Chase!
Tell a group of middle school students that you're about to teach a lesson on information literacy, and you can almost hear the collective inward groan -- you can definitely hear the outward one. However, combine the teaching of this vital skill with an engaging tech tool, and voila! Students will actually be disappointed when the lesson is over. Don't believe me? The proof is in the pictures.
Goose Chase is an app for iOS and Android that mimics an online scavenger hunt. Instead of simply checking items off a list, however, participants on teams collaborate to complete “missions” based on point values. The game moderator chooses the missions, assesses the evidence, and awards bonus points for things like humor, creativity, or other criteria, and students use their devices to submit their responses as screenshots, photos, text, or videos. The result is a student-directed, fun, collaborative learning experience.
Ready to get started? You can be up and running with only a few quick steps.
Set up a Goose Chase account.
You will need to set up an account where you can create your missions. Goose Chase is free for educators, but you have to apply for a license for each game you want to play with your students. The turnaround time is about 48 hours, and you can put in for unlimited games. You can also pay $119 for a year-long subscription if you lack the time to plan ahead, but since we all know how much time teachers have, this might be a good way to spend your bonus check (ha, ha -- kidding!).
Get permission to play.
At least two members of each team will need to install the Goose Chase app and use their email addresses to sign up for an account. If your school doesn't have one-to-one devices, or students don't have access to organization email addresses, try setting up a few free Gmail accounts, or ask parents for permission to use their (or their kid's) personal account. I use a simple Google form to get parental permission.
Create your missions.
You can either create your own missions or use the Goose Chase mission bank to search and edit missions, tailoring them to your learning goals. Challenges should be clear in terms of meeting learning objectives but open-ended in terms of how students present their evidence. This allows students to be creative and have fun while still completing the tasks. This screenshot shows sample missions I have used and their respective point values.
Start your game!
Once your students have created their teams, they can join the game. I do not require that missions be completed in any particular order, but the tougher the challenge, the more points students earn. Be sure to stress that insufficient or incorrect evidence will result in a challenge being kicked back to their mission list, and they will have to complete it again. As the game moderator, it is your job to view the evidence as students submit it and determine if it is acceptable. Students can also view their team's progress and standings compared to the other teams, and if you have a smart board or projector, you can show the running feed of student pictures and responses. I add bonus points for creative or humorous responses and take points away for poor sportsmanship.
Announce the winners and reset for the next group!
At the conclusion of your activity, you will be able to make final point adjustments before announcing the winning team. You will have to delete the teams before moving to the next class, so be sure to save any pictures you want to keep. I find it easiest to upload each team's responses directly to my computer if I need to refer to them later. Then just delete the teams and get ready for the next game to begin!
Fun for you, fun for them.
Let's face it: Information literacy is a topic that most middle school students approach with the level of enthusiasm they typically reserve for their parents' daily query of, "What did you learn in school today?" So let's inject some fun into using research tools and send our students on a wild Goose Chase!