Send Them on Learning Missions

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Included in the Digital Tips Advent Calendar and part of the Effective Technology Integration category

“If you think of learning as a path, you can picture yourself walking beside her rather than either pushing or dragging or carrying her along.” ~ Polly Berrien Berends

In 2017 I will be publishing my new book, Hacking Digital Learning Strategies: 10 Ways to Launch EdTech Missions in Your Classroom.  I hope these learning missions will help teachers inspire students to actively learn beyond the classroom, because they are curious. The book integrates some of the characteristics of game based learning that invites students to learn through missions and challenges. Technology and blended learning helped are part of each mission as well as problem solving with technology. The book encourages teachers to provide learners with a choice of missions and challenges instead of typical homework or assignments. See the slide presentation below and resources that explain the process.

Create an online community

  • Set up a class blog, wiki, Facebook group, Google Plus Community, Twitter, Instagram and/or Edmodo site.
  • Keep it active by posting video and image challenges, polling them, posting fill-in-the blank statements, featuring their work, and hosting events like chats or Hang-outs on Air
  • Let the students organize their own chat topics and times. You can do this by having students set-up a calendar and organize their own chats. They may want to have a chat for those interested in discussing poetry, another for music, another for a book club, etc. Determine student leaders in your class to lead and manage the discussion.

Give them a choice of missions that are engaging. Below is an example.

Mission: Snap a photo of graffiti you think is art. In a video or presentation app, tell us why you think it is art versus just graffiti.
What You’ll Need: An app like Skqueak, Instagram, Voicethread, or Fotobabble.
Points Worth: 10
Bonus Points: Post a short reflection in your blog for 5 more points.

Set-up missions in an advent calendar

  • Each day your students can find a new mission worth points. See this post on how to make an interactive calendar with Thinglink or Wix.
  • Mix up the tasks to include various activities like visiting museums, attending a play, snapping a picture outside, playing an online game, completing a brainteaser, or creating with web apps and tools
  • Optional: Provide a points system 

Integrate games

Send them on a scavenger hunt

The Scavenger Hunt with Friends App is free and available on IOS and Android.

Organize a global project!

Host virtual field trips. I’ve bookmarked virtual tours here.


Try one of these tasks and see which motivate your students to keep learning during the holidays!

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How do you inspire your students to keep learning away from school?

Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell (@ShellTerrell) is an award winning digital innovator, an international speaker/consultant, and the author of Hacking Digital Learning with EdTech Missions, The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers, and Learning to Go. She has trained teachers and taught English language learners in over 20 countries as an invited guest expert by organizations, like the US Embassy, UNESCO Bangkok, Cultura Inglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, ISTEK Turkey, and Venezuela TESOL. She has been recognized by several organizations and publications as a leader in the movement of teacher driven professional development as the founder and organizer of various online conferences, Twitter chats, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Two of the projects she co-organized were shortlisted for ELTons, #ELTChat and the Virtual Round Table Language and Technology online conference. She was named Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women, awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, and named as one of the 10 Most Influential People in EdTech by Tech & Learning. Her greatest joy is being the mother of baby Savannah and Rosco the pug. Shelly has an Honors BA in English with a Minor in Communication and a specialization in Electronic Media from UTSA, a Masters in Curriculum Instruction ESL from the University of Phoenix, and a CELTA from CELT Athens. She regularly shares her tips for effective technology integration via Twitter (@ShellTerrell),, and on her blog,, which has won several awards and recognitions as one of the top ESL, Edtech and Elearning blogs. Find over 400 of her slide presentations at

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