This year, I signed up for a series of 5 English Language Development trainings with the rest of the EL team at my school. So far, most of the standards confuse me to no end. It doesn’t help that there are tons of acronyms as well.

I did get some good strategies out of it, including how to make open ended sentence and question frames (although I knew a little bit of that from AVID and from the math PDs this year), and check-list rubrics for performance tasks and mathematical writing.

Today, I learned about Lure of the Labyrinth.

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I spent pretty much all day today playing this game at the PD. You have to register, but it’s free. And if you create a teacher account, you can create class lists and teams for your students to play.

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I’m not going to give too much of it away. It was just so much fun to play and explore, and just go for it in the game. But the features I love the most about it are:

  • The graphics are smooth, full of interest, and appeals to middle school in that very specific middle school way (kinda kiddie, but with a bit of dark humor thrown in)
  • The puzzles are SUPER. There are basically no directions other than what the story comics tell you as the goal of each room. You are forced to make some assumptions from the context clues – which are DENSE.
  • The entire thing has a super-low entry threshold, but some very, very deep mathematics going. You can also always re-start without losing a life. Very low affect filter.
  • You get to create your own avatar. Middle schoolers will love it.
  • There are full blown lesson plans, matched to Common Core standards, for each puzzle room. There’s even suggested scripts of what to say and how to say it when giving instruction on the game and the math that surrounds it. There’s just enough structure, but also leaves room for your own teaching style and knowledge.
  • Each puzzle room has different levels of difficulty, which have a different structure to the game. I’m not explaining this one properly….basically, each time you refresh the puzzle room, you get the same type of puzzle but with different patterns. You just have to experience it for yourself. So each student will play a different game, even if they are in the same puzzle room, at the same level. Differentiation!
  • You do not have to start over each time you play – the game automatically saves every time you go back out of a puzzle room, and it’ll remember where you left off the next time you log-in (BrainPop, do this!)
  • There’s a comic-style story that goes with the game as well.

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Go check it out. You will not be disappointed.


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