Friday, April 17, 2015

This Week in Tech - Writing and Games

Last Friday I visited a Maine Township High School. I didn't have time to write about my week. I'll put a reflection on what I learned there early next week. Today some classroom stuff from last week and this.

Writing

Working with letters and fluency in writing seems to be the theme. Not long drawn out essays, but the very beginning. How do our interactions with letters and numbers influence our learning. I love how this kindergarten teacher not only organizes her ipads by letter, but she went through the trouble of making individual backgrounds for each ipad.
  the letter N   

Then there is this student working with numbers in three different ways - at the same time.


I’ve seen a couple of teachers teaching handwriting. Wouldn't it be nice to bring it back on a computer? Here’s how Might be a fun project for extension or fun way to practice handwriting. If you name everyone's personal font on a classroom computer they could write reports in their own handwriting. Finally, of course there is a long essay, but wait it isn’t. These older students were making alphabet books. A letter with a sentence and a picture, researched online and written on a Word document.
  Collaborative working

Stuff from the web:

Game based learning. At first it meant answering questions in some sort of competitive electronic worksheet. We still see it a lot. It isn't learning, it’s practice. Ask your kids how to cheat, if there is learning going on that’s what they learn. The nice thing is it is possible to pretest students and track their scores so they are at least working on problems in their wheelhouse. Next, we had a game reward system. Level up and stuff. Learning is more like a scavenger hunt. Fun, but can easily devolve into just another reward system. With prepackaged tasks and such it still doesn’t have much student input. On the other hand people are taking into account easier entry points and motivation. Think Angry Birds, a game with no instructions but gets harder and adds new challenges along the way. Now if we could harness that process for teaching multiplication or something that would be awesome. Perhaps, Angry Birds led us to games that are intentionally made to feel more like games and less like academics. Problem based learning for the gamer set. Included with these games are commercial games that were not created for the education market, but have found a niche, like minecraft. The difficulty here is connecting to formal learning. Games built for the educational market start with a standard and try to teach. It often makes the learning boring. Consumer games start with a story, they know they have to hook a person and make them want to come back. Their problem is connecting to formal learning usually doesn't happen, at least without help. Just like technology in general, it isn’t about what technology you use, but how you use it. There is a place for educational games that teach to standards, or more correctly let students practice. On the other hand there is also a place for games that allow students to explore and play in less formal ways. There is no one right way to use technology or games in the classroom.

Three great articles on games in the classroom 
http://www.eschoolnews.com/2015/04/07/students-choose-learn-063/3/
https://synapse.pub/empowering-high-schoolers-to-build-from-the-perspective-of-a-high-schooler-84ace316e472?section=published
http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/03/30/three-awesome-educational-games-hiding-in-plain-sight/  

Speaking of projects vs practice

The work for some projects takes less time than the actual creation of the vehicle to present it. This often happens in school. Sometimes by design. The time spent working and the organization helps students understand the connections between the different parts. A visual and tactical clue of how things are connected. So why is it in the technology world we don’t expect students to create. Instead we spoon feed them information and practice. Think of technology as the Swiss Army Knife of classroom tools. You can cut, paste, copy, color, write, share, or just about anything you can do hands on. Stop trying to figure out the tech and start trying to figure out how to make something.
Post a Comment