Meeting Students Where they Are. Virtually.


Thanks to @snbeach and the team at Powerful Learning Practice for the amazing infographic!

There is something about a face to face connection, that makes it all real. I am a gamer. I am a connector. I am an innovator. When I am these things by myself, I go nowhere. When I am these things with my students; we go somewhere.

Consider Minecraft. Did you know …

  • That 14,533,141 people have bought the game (including the 8,727 just in the 24 hours prior to writing this post!).
  • From October 11, 2011 (Dated…but notable)
    • 241,920,000 logins per month
    • 1,000 logins per hour
    • 4000 logins per second after 1.0 launch
    • 2,000,000,000 files download by the launcher
    • 11,000 skin downloads (in game) per second

These statistics blew my mind and are evidence that Minecraft is not going away any time soon.

hades-temple-minecraft-770x440Currently in the midst of a professional development experiment, (an ASCD’s Pre-Conference Lead21 event comprised of workshops, action labs, forums and even an @bar for 1:1 consultations), I have been given the opportunity to extend my learning with Dr. Marie Alcock about the importance of gamification in the classroom. Whenever I find a fellow geeky-gamer-edu-mom-pd facilitating-connected educator/learner, I feel a lot less lonely in the world. We truly speak the same language.


Leading with the guiding prompt: “Gaming is hard: What is it about games that inspire people to learn how to do such a difficult thing?”, Marie amplified the importance of taking the characteristics of ‘good games’ – games that pull us in by offering timely feedback, engaging hooks, incremental goals and achievements. Then, with the action lab model, she offered us encouragement and support to apply those principles as we worked to develop our own affinity space (a place – virtual or physical – where informal learning takes place) to meet students virtually as they meet learning goals. Minecraft provides a visually stimulating, fully modifiable environment which can be whittled away to create virtual experiences in any content area and in any grade. Take some time to explore. Beware the creepers though… You may even want to recruit the nearest 8 year olds to be your guide.

Minecraft – Download the free version to get started.

Continue your exploration!

Crista Anderson is a K-12 Title 1 Instructional Coach in Missoula, Montana. 


Why does it take Courage to Post?


CourageI have been wanting to post, needing to post, planning to post, for quite some time. I have no other excuse, than that I was hesitant to document the last few years of my professional life. I made a choice…not an easy one…to come out of my own classroom and join a team as an Instructional Coach in my district.

This stage of my life has not been the easiest. Being an Instructional Coach is both one of the most challenging and one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. I absolutely love supporting teachers as they strive to meet their own professional goals and tackle their challenges head-on. The relationships I have developed both with my team, and with the teachers we support, is invaluable. I cannot begin to tell you how much I have learned from everyone during this adventure. Working predominantly with new teachers allows me to latch on to their energy and dream big. Then there is the professional development… Being in a role that places me in the front line of new information and trends has strengthened my skills as both a leader and an educator.

What am I scared of? Why not put all the good out there for everyone to see?

I am beyond transparent when it comes to education and my role as an educator. I know, that through all the good stories I could tell…those that know me well will clearly hear a difference in tone from my prior posts. They will know that there is a huge factor that keeps me from being completely in love with my current role. They would know that I wasn’t being completely honest with myself or with them.

I miss the kids. I miss connecting with a community of students and sitting side by side with them as they work to meet their educational, social, and emotional, goals. As a connected educator, I miss documenting every moment of our growth together as a classroom community and connecting with classrooms around the world. I believe that if our model of coaching were organized differently, where we had more time in each classroom, I could recreate that passion. I definitely won’t stop trying!

If I’m completely honest, I will probably not find my way back into the classroom as a teacher. I am SO close to gaining my Education Leadership credentials and my trajectory is changing yet again. I am inspired daily by administrators like tee62,  @NMHS_Principal, @twhitford@TonySinanis, and @benjamingilpin who have shown what is possible when you become a lead learner within a connected community. I love the way their posts challenge my reality and push me to envision what could be.

It takes courage to post. It takes courage because I feel guilty that I find myself thinking more about my future than my present.

It takes courage to post, but I’m very glad I did.