Aug 17, 2013

Flipping It - Tools I'm Using

When I started on the Wix webpages, I went a-lookin' for new tools. I knew I'd use Voki, Prezi, Pixton, and Sploder, but I needed more. Here are some finds.

Acapela: This is a short and silly video creator.

Fodry: It's a silly text generator.

Make Pixel Art: The name explains it all.

 Wideo: I had tons of fun with this animated movie creator.

ClassTools: "Create free games, quizzes, activities and diagrams in seconds!"

Dvolver: This is a simple movie maker.

Flipping It - Primes & Composites

Here's the Wix webpage for Primes and Composites.

Flipping It - Factors

Sometimes, you just have to trick them into learning. So, if I want my students to spend time at home previewing math topics, I can't just put out a video and expect them to care. Instead, I've decided to create a Wix webpage for each topic. Those are linked from my school webpage.

Here's the webpage for Factors.

Aug 4, 2013

My "Gamified" Classroom - Rewards

I don't want to give out pencils, erasers, stickers, treats, etc. again. I hate that kind of thing. I don't want a store with fake money or tickets. No more prizes. No more coupons. No more!

That stuff doesn't work. Oh, maybe for a week or two, but it fades fast. For sixteen years, I kept trying it because my class was boring and I was trying to bribe the students into being attentive. I just can't believe that a school like Quest to Learn gives snack cakes or pencils to the students when they are compliant.

Updating my classroom has forced me to consider something else. When playing Xbox360 or PS3, accomplishing tasks earns points and virtual achievements/trophies for the players. Now, whether or not, those prizes existed, players would still play--video games are fun.

So, I've decided to award points, badges, and avatars. Not as bribes. As perks. As part of the theme.

I created these badges using 
I will print the badges on magnet paper, 
so the students can display them on/in their lockers.

After every third level, the students will receive a chunk of a Pixel Person.
Again, I will print the pieces on magnet paper and the students will color them.
Thanks, Mojang and Minecraft!!

My "Gamified" Classroom - Level Up!

As I was designing the look of my classroom, I got to work on the leveling system. First, I made a list of those areas for which I wanted to give points: averages, conduct sheet, student attendance, benchmark scores, parent attendance at meetings, and extra chances. Next, I decided on frequency and points. Finally, I added up points for high achievers and acceptable achievers, and settled on a happy medium (with a lean toward the high end). Here are my Level Up! sheets.

My "Gamified" Classroom - Decor

This year, I want to flip a gamified classroom. And, though I've thought about it for months, I'm just now putting things in place. Oh, it's not procrastination--it's confusion and fear and slow ideas. To get everything rolling, I've already gone up to school and worked in my classroom. Here are some photos.

This was my very first idea.
I wanted my word wall to resemble Space Invaders or Breakout.

I wanted to redo my rules.
I searched online for video game decorations, but didn't have much luck.
Then it hit me: I could use video game characters from GameInformer magazine.

Not only could I cut out characters, I could use the GameInformer covers, too.
These are my most important reminders.

 Instead of a typical border, I cut strips from the GameInformer magazines.

 And, finally, having fallen in love with scrapbooking pages, 
I needed something for the other board.
Every year, I stress the need to learn multiplication facts.
I use FlashMasters and TimezAttack and speed drills, but I don't post them.
Until now. The multiples are mixed up but they make a nice reference, I think.
Plus, I used piq to create my own Space Invaders.

Edutopia: Katie Salen on the Power of Game-Based Learning

From Edutopia: [We] believe that kids can and do learn in different ways outside of school, often via access to digital media and access to kind of online community support. And that if we know that learning outside of school matters a great deal to kids' ability to learn well in school, we have to pay attention to that. So it's a school that from the ground up has been designed to leverage the kind of digital lives of kids, and it also looks at the notion of how games work as learning systems, and it's developed a pedagogical approach that delivers what we call game-like learning.

I can't tell you how exciting game-based learning is to me. Fun, engaging, exciting. I can see where this video might motivate teachers or deter them, though. The equipment at Quest to Learn is way beyond what I have. The challenge to overcome that deficit is just too delicious to pass up. Rather than focus on the technology, I need to remember Ms. Salen's explanation:
So the way that our curriculum is structured in mission and quest based, so it actually builds on that trope from online gaming. And the idea is that quests actually get harder as you move through them, because you're actually developing tools and developing knowledge and developing experiences. And the goal is that you actually can't move to a quest until you've completed one prior. They're proceeding through some kind of challenge and they're getting closer to some kind of end goal, and we have found that that's very motivating for kids, that they know where they're at, they know how far they've come and they know what they need to work on. 
So, what does that look like for my fifth grade math class? I don't know, yet, but I'll let you know.

Edudemic: 9 Wrong And 8 Right Ways Students Should Use Technology

From Edudemic: Technology is a tool. It’s not a learning outcome. Too often do we get distracted by all the activities and action we can perform with an iPad or some other device. We can post to Edmodo! Make a Prezi! Post to Facebook! All exciting things, to be sure. But these are not actually learning outcomes. You could have a 1:1 iPad classroom where your students create a bazillion (it’s a word, I swear) presentations all about how much they’re learning.

I get the point. I do. I'm not trying to be dense or confrontational. How many teachers write, Make Prezis, in their lesson plans, though? Not many, I reckon. At the same time, I doubt many of them are writing, Raise Awareness or Drive Change, either. 

I can't figure out this article/graphic. Is it aimed at noobs or experienced teachers? Is it self-reflection or a condescending observation? With all of the new technology and apps in the world, the author could just be bringing balance to the universe. Maybe?

I just can't believe that teachers are using technology as the learning outcome rather than a prescribed skill. At the same time, I definitely think it's a mistake to pull back on the technology reins. (I know that that isn't what this article is saying, but, for some, it might cause a bit of guilt.) Interest and engagement are just as important as stating a ground-breaking learning outcome.

I hate that title.