Ryan Stephans | 8th Grade

Ryan Stephans is an eighth grade US History teacher from Olathe, Kansas who has been seeking the summit by exploring all sorts of innovative ways to raise the standard of student-centered excellence throughout his 18 year career as a classroom teacher. But like any good mountain trek, his lifelong pursuit of excellence hasn’t come without its fair share of frustrations and setbacks. Hear how EMC² Learning helped him get his explorer’s spirit back on the path to the top!

It's Not The Years, It's the Mileage

The work that Michael and John do has been a lifesaver. I am all about creating a classroom that’s driven by student engagement! But prior to discovering their approach to playful, student-centered pedagogy, I found myself spending all kinds of time wracking my brain to either build or come up with engaging activities from scratch while still trying not to repeat myself along the way. This led to the usual mix of Jeopardy, Kahoot!, and online edtech games for reviews, and typically resulted in a pretty standard array of lectures for direct instruction. It felt like I was building stale lessons that, while fun, never quite generated pure enthusiasm for learning that could build on itself and compound student interest over the course of the year.

Unlocking A Treasure Trove of Fortune and Glory

I was nearly burned out and thinking of quitting teaching, but after reading Michael’s book, Explore Like a Pirate, and then John’s EDrenaline Rush, I was reinvigorated to transform my class into a full-on learning adventure & experience. It was clear that these two guys were passionate, thoughtful educators who were doing so much more in their classrooms than run of the mill fun and games. And once EMC² Learning launched, I found that there were now so many ways to incorporate playfulness & fun that it became my go to for any activity or lesson that I was looking to “plus” (to use the Disney term). Since incorporating these resources into my classroom, my students are excited and energetic each time that a new strategy or activity debuts, and they seem genuinely interested in the learning journey instead of simply going through the motions on a quest for a grade. 

Embarking on The Adventure of A Lifetime

EMC² Learning provides me with an endless amount of variety in activities, while still enabling me to maintain a consistent routine & structure. The results are both immediate and long-term: students felt comfortable yet challenged because the general structure of our daily routine could be familiar, but the newness within each iteration really is an amazing way to keep up the energy and enthusiasm. Now I get super excited to roll out new game mechanics or mini-challenges, or even new project template ideas. Students are having fun exploring learning on their own and living in a world of feedback and innovation. The classroom has a vibe and atmosphere centered on learning & creating new experiences. 

EMC² Learning is home to more than 600 fully editable resources for any course or content area. Engagement Engineers and members of the Creative Corps enjoy a full year of access to each of these resources on demand. We hope you’ll consider joining us to unlock a full year of site access. For complete details including our exclusive limited time offer for annual site membership, click here.

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