Gaming

FYI – Mobile Community Game You Should Know About

pokemongoOn July 7, Pokemon GO was released to the United States. Maybe you’re already familiar with Pokemon. It began as a television show for adolescents in the ’90’s and then became a trading card game quickly afterwards. Both my sons watched the show and participated in the card-trading phenomenon. Now in his early 20’s, my youngest made me aware this week that all over our community (and other places in the world) kids of all ages are quietly roaming their communities playing a game via their Google account because the game employs Google Maps.

My son showed me his Pokemon Go app yesterday when asking if I’d seen it – two days after its release. After he explained how the game worked, I downloaded it myself. Imagine my surprise to see that there was a Pokemon “critter” on my driveway. I threw a pokeball at him to capture him and gained experience/trainer points. This has been the level of my participation thus far. But it made me consider how this type of game is similar to geocaching, where we have students look for hidden elements in their environments for points.

As an educator, I can see that this would be a great way for kids to explore their communities on foot. After a user accumulates enough experience points to Level 5, they can battle. My son did this today, mainly out of curiosity. The physical “gym” indicated for battle in our town is the American Legion Veterans Organization building. When he arrived, he noticed at least 4 cars in the parking lot with probably about 6 people that appeared to be battling while sitting in their cars. On a bench outside, a 13-year old was playing on his phone – indicative that he was battling as well. This makes this game one of the first I’ve seen in which participants must physically travel, either on foot or by vehicle. There they were, connecting with other people – only not each other necessarily. More info is here: Pokemon Go Gyms, candy, pokeballs and everything else you need to know

Scary stuff? Well, it’s a bit unsettling if you have a younger child participating. Read this article and decide for yourself: Pokemon Go users find everything from dates to dead bodies. Also, you must consider that part of the game is being able to buy game items. If your child has a bank account of some type connected to their phone/tablet or if you do and you let your child use your phone, be aware that up to $99 can be spent with one click.

Update: Teens used Pokemon Go app to lure robbery victims

Like all wise parents, you should monitor your child’s use of mobile devices. If they’re playing Pokemon Go, ask questions and note that it’s required for a child to move around a community to battle and gain experience points.

As I’ve concluded writing this, my son informed me that we have a Pokemon Venonat bug right now in our kitchen. Great… !!

 

Behavior Managment

Elements of Game Play

ClassCraftStudents use gaming programs for entertainment, but did you know that these elements can be applied directly to engagement of your curriculum or your classroom management? How do the elements of gaming apply to learning?

  • Self-reflection
  • Critical thinking
  • Engagement
  • Collaborative tasks
  • Constant challenge with reward through practice (repeated failing) and unusual tasks
  • Safe space in the mode of learning (Don’t shoot the player while they’re learning audiocast)

Gamification in Education – Vicki Davis shares several informative resources to better understand best practices if you want to gamify your classroom.

Classcraft is a new tool available for teachers that applies gaming elements to classroom management: Transform any class into a role-playing game that fosters stronger student collaboration and encourages better behavior – Classcraft statement.   

Classcraft is free to teachers, so take a look now while it’s free and to have time to use it this fall. Purchase for access to more authentic and broader personalized use.

Ed Tech Tools

Google Classroom Updates

Google continues to make extremely useful updates to their newer child, Classroom. I’ve been using Classroom for an online Technology for Teachers course activity since its release, and one particular need I had was to be able to move posts (announcements) around for a fresh semester’s use and also to recycle the content with a new date. Both are possible!

For example, I had an announcement from a previous semester that I want to use again this semester but I don’t want my preservice teachers confused when they see the date it was first posted – that’s a different semester! And I want it back up the top of the stream. To move a prior announcement up to the top, simply click on the 3 dots in the top right hand corner of the post :MoveAnnouncementGClassroom

To reuse an announcement so that it has a current date instead of the date you first created it, click on the red  + button, then you choose the classroom and the announcement. This update means any announcement in any of your classrooms is usable – you now have a library of announcements to share wherever you please!

ReuseAnnouncementGClassroom

This means no more copying/pasting content in Classroom – a step eliminated that needed!

Curriculum

NextLesson – A New Approach to Curriculum

NextLessonLogo

You have projects and lessons you’ve nurtured for years. You’ve had to devise file management for digital resources and piecemeal them together. There’s a way to bring all these together and inject some refreshing, new content to boot: NextLesson.

Before you roll your eyes at yet another technology tool to implement, consider this: NextLesson manages to straddle the divide of traditional education tools (paper, pencil, and textbook) and the use of digital tools in a manner that is almost effortless. The platform feels intuitive. It uses recognizable icons and doesn’t overwhelm the user with too much functional information at onset, a critical feature for engagement.

Content is laid out in textbox format and has a streamed learning approach, called “stepping stones.” These stepping stones allow both teacher and students to view individual progress as it occurs. And the amount of content? I was blown away by how meaningful, intentional and authentic to performance tasks the content is. There are project-based and project-oriented products. A teacher simply downloads lesson or project plans with the ability to customize by adding files, images, videos, and websites as additional resources and the ability to remove content not warranted. I found this similar to using a digital textbook – a free textbook loaded with content that I chose and could amend as desired, and one with which I could create lessons from scratch if I desired. NextLesson provides free curriculum products and has negotiable pricing if you wish to access all the content available.

Features

  • Standards-based alignment and the ability to search for content based on standards. Currently there are CCSS/NGSS, Virginia SOL, and Texas TEKS with plans to align to all state standards.
  • Support can be easily found through videos and and an abundance of FAQs that covered all my questions. I was contacted after access via email by a representative offering assistance if I needed it, so prompt support is always there.
  • Integration with Edmodo online classroom is simple using the “500+ Projects and Lessons” app found in Edmodo’s store. You choose a lesson and add it to your K-12 classroom. Schoology and Google Classroom are not integrated as online classrooms, so this is a slight drawback for my own GAFE use. However, you do not need to have an online classroom as NextLesson is a supporting platform for its curriculum. You can create teacher and student roles with privacy controls, and resources can be integrated through shareable links.
  • Discussion forums, connection to a projector/whiteboard, and printable materials make the content flexible for most educators – those new to technology and those not. These allowances to hesitant adopters and restricted budgets may be the best features of the platform.

Meaningful learning is the driving force behind NextLesson. Educators desiring critical thinking components in conjunction with technology will not be disappointed. Some products are created for Rank and Reason activities which allow students to rank items in a list to answer a question that doesn’t always have a right answer. Students must justify their reasoning for the rankings they choose, leading to deeper discussion. After discovering this capability, I envisioned a classroom of global students and the cultural perspectives they could supply to each other using NextLesson as a springboard.

Free products and access to the platform are the key elements that make NextLesson attractive. All you need to test it out for yourself is an email address and a bit of curriculum exploration to find lessons and projects to suit your needs.

Learning

Incorporating Digital Images & Teaching Ethical Use

As a classroom teacher, you will definitely be tested by students using information not belonging to them. The most common will be unethical use of digital images. In the classroom setting we educators have to be vigilant in helping students understand what is acceptable at a young age to respect the property of others. When in preschool, we learn to respect physical items. We learn that if our classmate has a set of crayons in his desk or anywhere in the classroom and the crayons are the classmate’s property, we cannot use them as if they are our own. We must ask permission. This knowledge is also a component of digital property. Yes, a Google Search will give us multiple resources of information. That is the purpose of the Google Search engine, to help us find resources. However, finding does not mean keeping or using. You may find a book in a library, but you don’t necessarily get to take it without going through the proper activity of checking it out in your name and promising to return it. This same understanding holds true for digital property. Unfortunately, this understanding still needs to be stressed at all times nowadays with students and yes, adults too.

Here is a technique I use when checking student work for plagiarism. When a student submits work that I suspect is not his property, I:

  1. Copy the digital information
  2. Paste it into Google Search
  3. Check the results. If there is a direct hit on text, it will be bolded.
  4. This works for images as well if they are pasted into the Google Search for images. Images can be dragged into Google Search (> Images) and Search will show any direct matches.

I show students how I would use this technique by demonstrating it to them. Just by doing this activity for them, they realized I could, and would, be checking their work if I suspected it was not theirs. It helped immensely in preventing plagiarism the remainder of the school year.

Images are important to learning – but we must teach students how to use them ethically.

Why Images Are Important, Proper Usage, and Where To Use – although this article is about using images as a business marketing tool, you should consider that images help teachers to market a concept. Read the bullet points at the top and you’ll better understand why using images is important.

Pics4Learning is a terrific jumping board for students to cooperatively share within a community and learn about correct image citation format.

Bell Ringer How would you use images in your classroom to support concepts? In our culture of tremendous digital use by students, how could your students use images?

Ed Tech Tools

The Badge System

The use of visualization tools is encouraged in the classroom – especially in technology because of the enormous resources readily available for the field of education. Visual models are engaging to use and students can express more ownership and authenticity when they are employed in creating them. Common activities involve student use of charts, graphs, and organizers.

Badges are another form of visual models. But badges don’t express concepts – they represent achievement of content or merit of knowledge. They indicate accomplishment without a rating system for each accomplishment. A badge represents learning without an A, B, C, D, or F rating.

Do you or someone you know play video games? If so, you should be fairly familiar with badges. Those that don’t play games will also be familiar because we associate badge systems with Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

In a physical elementary classroom, a sticker board system is often employed for personal motivation among students. Stickers provide equal status of achievement without ranking some students better than others at, for example, email etiquette. Because a student knows that the accomplishment ranking is equal to anyone else that earns the badge, there is a greater motivation to achieve the expectations for a sticker than for a grade, as emphasized in the following Edudemic link about badges. In an online classroom, badges can be extremely motivating. A teacher can award badges that students  display on their portfolios or profile. Visit these links to learn more about badges:

Edudemic – The Teacher’s Guide to Badges in Education and Open College’s – Badges in Education

Here is an example of a badge created at http://classbadges.com to represent email etiquette that reads: Achievement in Email Etiquette: subject, salutation, body, and closingClassBadges

A teacher can set up an account at classbadges.com, create and award badges for classrooms established within its platform. The badges can even link to a document that explains the criteria for achieving the goals of the badge. At these sites for badge creation, always sign up as a teacher when you create an account (if the platform asks).

Here’s another made at CredlyCredly

You can find badge-creation tools at Shake Up Learning, a great resource for teachers: 5 Awesome Resources for Badges in the Classroom and if you’re comfortable with Google Drawing, follow this guide: Create a Badge with Google Drawing

To make a badge, you will often need to create a teacher account and then explore with the tool. I simply right-clicked on the Credly badge once I was happy with it to save it – “Save image as” to Google Drive (you can save to any other drive, external or hard drive). Then I inserted it here.

You can upload an image at Credly if you can’t find an icon you like. Google Search free images (look for clip art styles) are allowed for this because you are altering them, but always check for copyright or Creative Commons licenses. Credly specifies that the icon can’t be larger than a 300 X 300 png image and that it should be transparent for the best effect. You can tell if a png is transparent because it will have a gray and white checkerboard background.

Badges are one step towards de-emphasizing the value placed on the grading system and are great tools for individual motivation. Employ when possible!

Uncategorized

Digital native? Be careful when you say that.

We’ve all been hearing the words “digital native” to describe today’s student. It’s especially referenced by administrators promoting school use (i.e.,  funding technology) and I think some of them think it implies more than it does.

Do kids have access to lots of technology? Yes, more than any generation ever because tech is ubiquitous with the advent of cheaper devices and especially with the smartphone that we are all anxious to put into our child’s hands. However, access doesn’t necessarily mean they can differentiate between good use and poor use.

Here’s what I’ve witnessed with young tech users: They have a lot more down time on their hands than adults and they don’t usually pay for the technology. Therefore, more time to explore with apps and programs, and if they crash the device, they aren’t really hit in the pocket. They may have to wait a while until it’s replaced, but most parents eventually replace the technology. Exploring in their free time means they can often find, apply, and understand similarities between programs and platforms. What appears to be intuitive to us adults is merely an experienced user of technology.

The term digital native becomes misused when we assume that all students are LEARNING with technology. Time after time, I’ve witnessed students that yes, are digital natives because they’ve had access since they were toddlers. But their “nativenesss” has been in using technology to entertain themselves. These students in particular have the most difficult time transitioning to technology use in the classroom when they’ve only used it for entertainment. It puts them far behind students who have used technology for learning and accessing great information available to them. They resist it, they tune out from it, they struggle, and can become quite anxious or negative when it doesn’t feel “intuitive.” Most of the time this is when they have to understand terminology and applications – the knowledge that truly becomes  intuitive understanding.

Don’t assume that a kid that’s always used technology can use it to learn and that it will be a snap for them when the school begins implementing it 1:1. We have to put it in their hands very early, but put in their hands to learn more than to entertain. This is what truly makes a kid a digital native – access to learning with technology at a young age.