Gaming Craze


This chapter of the Frontline video really hit a chord in me. It also put a lot of things in perspective, not only with where things are now in the US, but how things were back when technology was on the rise. It was also a great contrast with the struggle of those addicted to computer games, and the way that current young ones are being schooled in online etiquette.

It’s hard seeing that kind of addiction being so bad that they need to create a support group to “save” some of these kids. And the one boy they covered didn’t even seem phased by it. No emotion whatsoever; he was just going to go right back to that computer as if nothing had ever happened. I remember playing video games when I was a kid, but not to that extent. It just wasn’t where my head was. The sad thing also, is that it’s not like we don’t have that in our society today. There are many articles and research about the isolation factor of video games for youth, as well as the negative effect it can have on grades. It only makes sense: less time on school=lower scores.

Also, the way Doug Rushkoff must have felt when seeing that game addict therapy camp must have been harsh. As someone who advocated for technology over a 2 decade span, it must feel weird to see a rise in a facet of tech that you did not expect. My father did the same kind of thing back in the 90’s by traveling around the world lecturing on integrating educational TV in the classroom (Cable in the Classroom). Which goes to the next point seamlessly.

Watching those kids in the school setting learn about proper online etiquette made me smile and laugh. That is what we should be doing for the little ones; just for a small segment of the day, mainly because they are so young. Rushkoff said this kind of thing would never fly in America, but why not? Having sing-alongs and encouraging posters is RIGHT THERE with what K-2 is all about, and with those being the formative years, they will develop digital manners the same way the would develop table manners. Maybe then, would the comment section of every article, lame or important, be free of the negative nastiness it is currently plagued with. Who taught us to be nice and courteous on the internet? No one. But someone should be. It would a milestone for digital literacy.


Flipped Lesson!


Finally got this up here! This is the beginning of a 5th grade Geometry unit, and centers around classifying angles and triangles, and measuring angles. The homework I have is a project where the students will find various things in real life that relate to all the material in the video. They can record their findings on a worksheet, and we will discuss what we came up with the next day. Hopefully I will get to do one of these again! It was awesome.

Personal Devices in the Classroom


Allowing students to have various forms of technology in the classroom is great for them, but they want to call the shots on how they use it. No way. BUT, on the other hand, our goal as educators is to make lessons meaningful and interactive, and we are never going to know that if we don’t ask the kids for their input on what would be a immersive and interesting use of tech, then we will never know the tip of the tech’s full potential. I would love to see that 46% figure of educational Facebook usage soar! I think we just need to start getting our classrooms more connected, especially for parents who are willing to shell out money for their kid’s mobile device in the name of education. Then that 65% of principals might think twice as kids grades are soaring due to what? Tech.

I also feel personal devices are a double edged sword because they carry so much information for the kid, but they also pose a problem for attention, ie. social media, and lots of it. I am not averse to coming up with various ways to incorporate personal devices into the lesson. Apparently the state of South Caroline is testing it out, which I found out within the past hour or so.
I feel slightly relieved because I will be dealing with upper elementary, and while they are beginning to have their own personal tech, they will hopefully adhere to rules better (as in, don’t use it unless it’s an emergency. For now). With this article, I read a lot of “students want”, and I think that if they want it enough, they will need to follow guidelines that someone is going to make up at some point to try this idea out. Someone is going to HAVE to do it, because they are apparently looking on their own for their own interests, regardless of what the school says, and as awesome as that is, wouldn’t it be awesome if they didn’t have to branch out like that? If they could do that in the classroom they are currently in, I don’t know that this article would need to exist. Were just going to have to shift the minds of a lotttttt of principals first.

Influential Tweets


This is not by any means new news (HA), but it holds strong with me. I am sure we are going to have (or already have) kids who are different in our rooms, kids with disabilities, or kids who have hidden talents. I was working with kids with autism last year who loved art (granted, specific facets), but if I brought that into their other learning, they loved it, and I was fascinated to watch them either mimic what I had drawn, or create their own take on the projects we were working on!

So I had never heard of before, but its pretty gnarly! Lots of topics on educational tech, and when you sign up, the site helps you develop a library of content from all over. When you find stuff, you can easily share it out to your blog, and a bunch of other social media outlets. You also share your own opinion about the topics you are sharing. There are like minded curators too, so you can find people who are in the same boat as you. For a start, just type “Educational Tech News” in the search bar, and there is TONS of good stuff that comes up right away! Geeked out.

This title grabbed me, and for good reason! I think reading, being a very highly placed subject of importance, has always seemed to have limited ways of being taught. The use of Lego’s is awesome! It is both digital and hands on in application. I found WeDo, StoryStarter(aligned with common core), Simple Machines, and Built to Express! Check out the article, it has a link to the Lego site where they have Lego Education, which is pretty awesome!

Digital Learning Playbook


There was plenty to take in here. All these stats about interests, abilities, gender gaps, and a funny little chart on similar interests (?) has me thinking about the gap in digital literacy with kids. I have witnessed kids who are at the best end of the spectrum here, where they are online, using school resources, using mobile apps to practice concepts outside of school, and where they are collaborating on Google for projects. However, there is the other end, which is complete disregard for learning, where the student sees this as a loophole; educational time becomes play time. The only reason this becomes a concern to me is that monitoring the students becomes difficult if they are not interacting on some medium where they are able to leave a footprint, such as mobile apps and personal devices. I am also thinking of the younger grades. Grades 3-5 are basically at the level of high schoolers when it comes to laptop access, and are only a 39% chunk away from matching for smartphone use. SMARTPHONE USE.

On a side note about the games aspect, I remember in elementary school how many of us had games we played in school on our big old mac desktops. We had the Oregon Trail, Kid Pix, and this math game where you had to wrangle fish or something. They were fun, they were educational, they were games! Games that expand on empires, Like the Caesar series (which I did a lot of in grade school) were wonderful ways to immerse a student in social studies without saying a word. These days, the games look just as fun, and also more interactive. There is a math game called Sushi Monster for the iPad, and on a number of occasions, I have gotten sucked into watching kids play it/ helping them get to new levels for division, multiplication and so on. Games like this are great uses of time outside the classroom, as well as options for break or indoor recess.

My hope is that teaching digital literacy in the younger grades will cause the levels of self-initiated learning to shoot up. Even now in college, there are so many resources that can make studying and learning so much easier, but we have to be aware of where to look and what to look for. If pushed in with the young early on, it will hopefully lay groundwork for a generation of students that will prove that the classroom is ready to be digitized, and the self-initiated work with become second nature for students. In my classroom, this is going to be a definite part of instruction. Maybe having a lesson on digital literacy altogether would be a good idea, so that if I present information that allows for any responses in digital format, the students will know the expectation and how to create and collaborate online. Even though I am doing a flipped lesson for 5th grade, I would need to see how the kids react to it to know if I was going to do it again. Might be fun finding out. Or a complete nightmare.

Last thing. I don not understand why text messages are a part of this report. They are purely social, and have been a constant issue in school. I guess it is the application, and if a teacher were to find a useful area for them, then that would make much more sense. Under Play #2 in the social media part, I don’t get why text messaging is there; it feels like it has as much business being there as multiplayer gaming. While some games are educational, I doubt such is the case with middle and high schoolers. I don’t see the out of classroom educational value of these categories, unless teacher initiated.

Escaping Education’s Death Valley


I watched Sir Ken Robinson talk about some of the lows of education, and also put forth some wonderful insights. I feel like every time I start to watch him, I think to myself “Why in the world am I going into education?” And eventually, he pulls me back toward the end and I’m like, “It’s all good!”

Basically we have a broken system, and I think we all knew that. He makes a great point with Finland, because my first thought was, “someone on the Internet is making a stink about it.” ‘How could you ever compare Finland to America!? We are so much bigger and diverse, macroeconomics, yakity yak!'” Well, he read my mind and said, we can shrink that concept Finland has to a state, based on population size. And isn’t that who is allegedly SUPPOSED to be responsible for education? The state? So if each state were to model a system based off of one that had next to no drop outs, even if that state was suffering from a 60% drop out rate, wouldn’t it be worth just giving it a try? What is there to lose?

“No need for the alternative.” “If the conditions are right, life is inevitable.”

Also, for those of you reading this, please check out this link below. It is someone who believes Sir Ken has everything wrong, and I want to see what you all think about that. Personally, I hate it when someone kills a revolutionary stance. Yeah, we can’t change problems over night, but someone might watch Sir Ken and change the world. You never know.

Games in the Classroom!


I know there are tons of ideas out there about how games can be used in the classroom. This podcast I can across caught my eye because of its name: The Best Games and Learning Conference IN THE WORLD. That’s big stuff. The podcast is basically a primer for what these 3 guys will be presenting at their GLS conference in Wisconsin. Basically, its a place where game designers and educators come together to talk about the new developments in game design efforts (and their educational applications). Two contributors are a grad student and a doctoral student from University of Wisconsin Madison, and the other is an educator from Normal, Illinois.

So these three gentlemen go about describing games they will be discussing in the upcoming conference. One of the most innovative sounding efforts was something called Class Craft. I am not a fan of “Crafts.” I was, however, thrown by the design of the game, in that it looked a lot like the RPG games that are sweeping the gaming world. I never would have thought that format would have made it to the classroom. But its educational!

They also talked about the word “gamefication.” They used this word to describe environments, and one of those environments was the classroom. I think what they are trying to get at is, how would one use commercial games and the way they teach the gamer to excel at the game in a classroom setting? We all know games, no matter what kind, grab our attention, and make us focus. The question is, in this game-obsessed era for youth, how do we cross the lines, and bring two worlds together that seem impossible to combine?

At the end, most of the time was dedicated to the upcoming conference, talking about keynote speakers, different expos and events, as well as workshops. Everything was accessible from their website, including registration.

I am not totally sure I would use podcasts in my classroom. The application I found here was kind of cool because it was a sixth grade teacher who hosted these other two guys, and that sixth grade teacher could then ask his students to go watch what happened on his podcast. I think the students would like that. It might be a good idea for weekly/monthly updates (more of a general application). I can see it being great as I get into my years teaching and start sharing some of the things that work for me so other teachers can either compare or try it out, or whatever. Depending on the grade, it might be fun to have kids create their own for their parents for a special holiday or what not. There are plenty of applications!