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Gotta’ Catch ‘Em All: Alternative Assessments Your Students Will Love

Stanford-educated researcher turned Arizona State University professor of literacy studies James Paul Gee once observed that Pokémon might just be the single best literacy program ever devised. In The Game Believes in You: How Digital Play Can Make Our Kids Smarter, Greg Toppo, senior editor of Inside Higher Ed magazine cites an interview with Dr. Gee, writing, “while educators debated whether children learn to read best through drill-and-practice phonics or ‘whole language’ instruction, Nintendo was, quite informally, teaching a generation of children how to read. Pokémon also taught children how to analyze and classify more than 700 different types of creatures through trading cards that were dense with specialized, technical, cross-referenced text.”

Think about it: There is no such thing as a “Pokémon Achievement Gap.” Ask any kid in the country—black or white, rich or poor, gay or straight, male or female—and chances are really good that they will be able to tell you TONS of incredibly detailed information about Pokémon. Types, abilities, evolutionary history, you name it. But ask these same kids to explain even a dozen elements on the periodic table, and immediately it’s like you’re staring at a Snorlax. It’s not that our children can’t learn. It’s that we haven’t found the right way to speak to them to make them want to. 

So could you supercharge a traditional review day or end-of-unit assessment activity by taking a cue from Pokémon? 

Gotta' Catch 'Em All

This fully editable template is designed to put your students into the driver’s seat as the creative force behind the next great pocket monster collection. We’ve included multiple variants to help them capture their artistic vision with a wide array of click-and-drag icons, card styles, and color combinations to really help unleash their inner brilliance! And the best part is: this high-energy alternative assessment quickly and easily be modified for any course or content area… so getting into the game is as easy as 1-2-3!

Log into your EMC2 Learning account as an Engagement Engineer or member of the Creative Corps.

Save a copy of this fully editable resource template collection and make multiple copies for your class (one for each student or team — and we strongly recommend giving students the chance to work in teams for this project, as it takes a LOT more work than they might realize!).

Fire up the activity slideshow that’s included in the resource download on your overhead board to help introduce students to the rules of how this activity will play out (we’ve provided step by step descriptions at every stage of the resource in clear and student friendly language, and included with plenty of age-appropriate examples). And then sit back and watch your students’ imaginations run wild as they set to work dreaming up their newest pocket monsters inspired by your course content!

The fun doesn’t have to stop once students have done all of their design work inside of Google Slides. For older classes, you might consider having students work in teams to compose original trading cards about the exact same topic as a rival group — and then giving all teams the chance to present their creations (in person or using video!) to try to convince potential customers to invest in their “Trading Card Collection” over the competition. You can also offer students the chance to vote on the work of their classmates by turning the finished projects into an interactive peer review or gallery walk (either shared virtually or with printed out pages, where individual students are given stickers and the opportunity to vote on their favorite creations by affixing them to whichever colorful creations most catch their eye).

Once your design portion of the activity has ended, consider having students submit their fully illustrated trading card collections with their peers! If you’re in the physical classroom and have access to a full color printer, you might also consider printing out excerpts from any of these eye-popping student-created comic books and using them to decorate your bulletin boards, hallway, or classroom door.

e guarantee that your student (and administrators!) will GEEK OUT when they see such creative work on display!

And since great ideas are always worth sharing: we can’t wait to see what you and your classes dream up with this infinitely adaptable resource. Please feel free to share photos of the finished products on the web using the hashtag #EMC2Learning.

EMC² Learning is home to more than 500 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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