Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) are pivotal in driving educational transformation. Your guidance and expertise shape the professional growth of educators, ultimately impacting the learning journey of students. The EMC² Learning’s Interactive Learning Framework is a step-by-step series of self-paced activity modules that are designed to help introduce teachers to the science, design principles, and student-centered activities that help bring EMC² Learning’s playful approach to pedagogy to life in our classrooms. Each lesson in this modular workbook pairs short excerpts of relevant scholarly research with suggested activities that are available to members inside of the EMC² Learning library. For facilitators and leaders of PLCs, we recommend breaking the framework down by principle (focusing on all modules contained under a single principle for approximately one month’s time), offering teachers the opportunity to work together moving regularly through assigned modules, and reflecting on what they’ve learned with their colleagues at regular intervals throughout the school year. 


Principle 1: Establishing Consent

For educators who may be interested in learning more about playful pedagogy, is essential to begin by affirming that the defining characteristic of any “game” is the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles. All games begin with free consent of all parties involved. The three modules offered within this collection provide a series of foundational strategies that teachers can use to help establish consent as they lay the foundations for strong relationships.

Foundations for establishing consent in any classroom

Create classroom activities that provide low stakes, high engagement ways to be solved

Offer pedagogical alternatives that reduce the need for explicit teacher instruction

Design lessons that encourage high degrees of autonomy with multiple paths to success

Principle 2: Meaningful Choice

Research is overwhelmingly clear that meaningful choice plays a vital role in helping students feel empowered by their learning. But the choices that we offer in our classrooms must transcend the superficial distinction between “write an essay about subject X” and “write an essay about subject Y.” There are three modules included in this principle that help teachers find small ways to introduce more meaningful choices in every aspect of their instructional design.

Foundations for introducing opportunities for meaningful choice in any classroom

Expedite feedback to reward correct answers with harder questions

Create occasions for student choice in order to increase engagement

Provide multiple means of Action & Expression within a single activity

Principle 3: Scalable Challenge

Throughout the pages of his #1 New York Times bestseller Atomic Habits, author James Clear makes a compelling case that — perhaps counterintuitively — the fastest way to achieve dramatic results is not to make massive changes all at once, but rather to focus on consistency in how we pay attention to even the smallest of changes, implemented with intentionality and by degree. The modules contained in this collection help teachers make incremental changes. 

Foundations for introducing occasions for scalable challenge in any classroom

Design lesson plans that tap into the Flow State of desirable difficulty

Create activities that leverage The Ziegarnik Effect to increase student productivity

Move beyond standards based grading and into the arena of variable based grading

Principle 4: Unlocking Imagination

Genius comes in many forms. But far too often, the cold efficiency of standardized testing and traditional models of education seem to champion rote memorization and sheer breadth of knowledge over those more imaginative elements of learning that are typically harder to quantify. Yet now, in an age of artificial intelligence and machine learning, designing classrooms that can inspire authentic human imagination is perhaps now more important than ever before. 

Foundations for unlocking the imagination of students in any classroom

Invite wonder, curiosity and creative problem-solving through play

Create activities where student imagination sparks answers beyond simple content recall

Provide easily editable digital resources that inspire an infinite runway for creative potential

Principle 5: Rapid Iteration

In order to cultivate a growth mindset in all learners, classrooms must commit themselves to the belief that becoming is better than being, and process is more important than product. But encouraging our students to embrace these psychological shifts takes a lot of sustained trial and error in terms of instructional design. This collection helps teachers encourage their students to “fail faster” and turn the corner towards a brighter future that lies ahead.

Foundations for creating student-centered systems driven by rapid innovation in any classroom

Design lesson plans where rapid iteration and friendly competition can inspire innovation

Create activities that leverage tangible manipulatives to encourage hands-on learning

Use rapid iteration to counteract the pitfalls of the so-called “Jeopardy Effect”

Principle 6: Fostering Teamwork

Perhaps more than any other “soft skill” in the world, teamwork plays an essential role in fostering the abilities to succeed in the face of an ever-changing and increasingly automated workforce.  When work is appropriately divided within a team, responsibilities are shared, efficiency rules, and tasks are more likely to be finished within a set time frame. But good teamwork must be taught. The activities highlighted in this collection are driven by team-based success.

Foundations for creating a classroom culture where teamwork is fostered, celebrated, and rewarded

Design low prep, high engagement activities where students collaborate and compete

Make use of team-based activities to strengthen sense of belonging and shared human values

Leverage familiar and emerging classroom technologies to redefine the role of collaboration in your instruction

Principle 7: Manageable Tasks

Factory model, assembly-line style classrooms lived and died by compliance. In a bygone era, certain facts and figures were deemed “essential,” and individuality wasn’t exactly in high demand. But today, the learning landscape has changed, and research shows that students should not be audience members to their own learning. Providing students with manageable tasks keeps brains active and engaged, and help learners build self regulation and persistence.

Foundations for providing manageable tasks to help students develop self regulation and persistence in any classroom

Create activities requiring high degrees of collaboration and multi-step problem solving

Make use of interactive online templates in order to streamline workflow and deliverables

Design multi-day lesson plans where new modular tasks can easily be substituted in or out

Principle 8: Expediting Feedback

While it might seem easy to dismiss gaming and game culture as trivialities, a closer look reveals that the best games are actually quite striking case studies of precision engineered feedback systems. In a game, a point scored provides instant validation for a job well done, while a point missed gives immediate opportunity to course correct. This collection of spotlight activities helps teachers find new ways to offer similarly fast and actionable feedback of their own.

Foundations for creating systems that are designed to expedite feedback in any classroom

Design rubrics to help students make tangible sense of their progress and growth

Create activities where teachers can provide feedback that can be scaffolded on the fly

Make use of scoring and organizational tools in order to streamline efficiency and grading

Principle 9: Embracing Failure

“Fail fast” is a term with roots in software engineering and systems design, but it can also play an equally powerful role in shaping how schools can create environments where individuals are encouraged to learn — and grow — through trial and error. In a system, the fail-fast module helps users spot and report errors that will cause failure so that a process can be stopped and fixed. And in this collection, teachers can learn how to harness the same design in their lesson plans.

Foundations for implementing protocols designed to help students embrace failure in any classroom

Designing classroom resources that normalize failure as part of the learning process

Create take-home activities that challenge students to push themselves through the point of failure

Use review activities that challenge students to consider multiple solutions simultaneously

Scroll to Top