Relative Advantage to Games in the Classroom — October 23, 2016

Relative Advantage to Games in the Classroom

As the education field has evolved, an emphasis has been put on student centered learning.  No longer do teachers stand in front of the classroom lecturing about a given topic, now it is expected that students are immersed in their learning environment, practicing and applying the skills they are learning.  Students are expected to guide their learning and continue striving towards more to achieve mastery.  But not all subject areas can be “practiced” in a traditional classroom.  So how can teachers lead students to real world practical experiences with the skills they are learning?  Educational Games can allow for this “real world” experience to happen.  Students can practice skills like creating a roller coaster, or applying medical treatment, without leaving the classroom.  They can receive instant feedback for their achievements or misconceptions and continue working towards success.  

Research shows that the use of games in the classroom can lead to student success.  Judy Willis, of Edutopia cites that games allow for constant feedback to the learner.  They are able to work towards achievable rewards in specific levels and decipher if they are correct or not.  When correct student’s brains are stimulated by the release of dopamine.  This type of reaction motivates learners to continue and helps them retain the information they are learning (Willis, 2011).  Recently, Yale researchers found that short video games can stimulate the learners brain.  The researchers referred to these short video games as “mental stretching.”  The can excite students about the material at hand and prepare them for the day of learning (Banville, 2016)

The idea of using games in education has grown so much over the past few years that it was recently included in the “Every Student Succeeds” legislation. The legislation cites games as an important part of student success.  Games can be used to increase collaboration and problem solving skills.  It also suggests that games can be used as an assessment tool (Banville, 2015). Teachers should utilize sites such as iCivics to identify games that promote and stimulate learning.  Games in education should not just be used as a reward, but they can be used to encourage learning and as the learning task!  Even better, students can be involved in making the games!

Banville, Lee. 2016 may test the government’s commitment to learning games. Games and Learning. Classroom Use, 28 Dec. 2015.

Banville, Lee. Brain trainers may kick start learning in students. Games and Learning. Learning Research, 1 Oct. 2016.

Willis MD, Judy. A neurologist makes the case for the video game model as a learning tool.” Edutopia. N.p., 14 Apr. 2011.

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Ed Tech 541: Instructional Software — September 11, 2016

Ed Tech 541: Instructional Software

Educational technology is more than just the physical computers or tablets provided to students and teachers.  Instructional software offers many options for teachers in the classroom.  Teachers can utilize these tools to give students practice of skills, and allow them time to build and create using their newly gained skills.  Anogther great advantage is that the role of the learner changes…instead of the teacher always leading the instruction, now the students can utilize instructional softwares to drive and guide their learning.  There are 5 types of softwares that can be used in the classroom:

    • Drill and practice
    • Tutorials
    • Simulations
    • Instructional Games
    • Problem-Solving Software

These 5 types of software help to fulfill the instructional process as promoted by Gange’s Nine Events of Instruction. Teachers should evaluate the purpose of the software and find the places it best fits into the unit of instruction (Roblyer, 2016).  

Here is an overview of the 5 types of software:

Drill and Practice

This type of software allows the students to input potential answers and recieve immediate feedback.  The feedback is generally simple, indiciating whether the answer is correct or not.  However, some more sophisticated programs can provide more specific feedback. Although some refer to this as “drill and kill,” research has shown that this type of practice can help students transfer their new learning (Roblyer, 2016, pg 80).  It is important to note that drill and practice should not be over used.  This software is most ebenficial when students buy in to its benefits and are not overwhelmed by its overuse.  

Drill and practice is most beneficial in math classrooms or world language classrooms.  However, it can be beneficial for social studies classrooms when learning new vocabulary or identifying important facts about a historical era.  Quizlet is an example of a drill and practice tool that can be used create flashcards for students to study their facts and vocabulary.  

Tutorials

Tutorials are designed to be the sole source of instruction for a unit or topic.  Some may confused tutorials as “flip vidoes,” however they are not a supplement or introdcution for a unit, rather they are the only resource for the unit.  Tutorials should be able to stand alone and allow learners the ability to practice new skills learned during the tutorial.  Tutorials can be advantagous to a student centered classroom.  Students can watch and learn through the use of tutorials and and move on at their own pace.  Constructivist, however, ebleive tutorials fall short because they lack the time for hands on activities and don’t immerse the learner in the environment the skills should be used in (Roblyer, 2016).  

Tutorials can be beneficial in the self-paced social studies classroom.  Students can utilize tutorials to learn and assess themselves on specific topics.  An example of a tutorial for social studies is BrainPop.

Simulations

Simulations allow students to immerse themselves in the activity or process they are learning about.  It can help students to see the benefits of a topic of study and promotes the constructivist approach by allowing students to learn by doing in the environment.  There are two types of simluations, those that allow students to apply and utilize new skills, and those that allow students to test the limits of a product or environment and learn from their actions (Roblyer, 2016).  While simluations can be beneficial when learners are unable to work in the actual environment, it is important to not use it to replace real world experience when applicable.

Simluations can help put students in the place of historical figures over time.  An example of a simulation in American history would the Lewis and Clark PBS Into the Unknown Simulation that allows learners to make choices as if they were on the expedition.  This promotes the critical thinking that would have been necessary to survivie the trip.

Instructional Games

As we know, our students have grown up in a world with video games as entertainment.  Gaming is a huge part of our learners current culture, whether it be online games, video games, or even game apps on the smartphone.  As educators, it can be extremely beneficial to harness student engagement through educational games.  Games can be driving by one individual or collaboaritve (Keessee, 2011) allowing students to develop more than just content skills.  While games cna be a great tool, it is important to assess the benefits of each game chosen for class.  Specfically is it age appropriate and will it truly enhance my students leanring (Roblyer, 2016)

Review games are often the best use of games in social studies.  For example, generating a Jeaoporady review can help students recall content and also apply new skills.

Problem-Solving Software

This type of software looks more at the skills learners will need, rather than the actual content.  Learners will practice the process of solving a problem and learn how they were able to come to their new conclusion or answer.  Taking this a step further is the idea that problem solving software might not even be related to the content at hand, that it is truly just working through the critical thinking skills necessary for problem-solving (Roblyer, 2016).

For social studies, problem-based learning can allow students to take on the role of a historical detective or investigator.  They may work towards a solution, such as creating an instructional tool for younger ages or solving a mystery, such as who shot President Lincoln.  

Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching (7th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Keesee, S. Gayla (2011). Educational games. Teaching and Learning Resources. PB Works.

Social Networking for Teaching and Learning — November 1, 2015

Social Networking for Teaching and Learning

Social media is a big part of our student’s lives.  They want to feel connected with the world and share everything that they are doing.  So why don’t teachers utilize social media in the classroom?  If this is central to our student’s lives outside of schools, it would be easy for them to transfer these skills to the classroom.  I have to admit, I was hesitant to incorporate social media and networking tools into my classroom.  I felt like it was a big responsibility as a new teacher to take this on and ensure student safety.  But incorporating digital citizenship lessons, encouraging internet safety, and  modeling proper social media use, I am now more confident in integrating these tools into my classroom.  I have started with blogs and Diigo, but through my research in this project I can see the power of Twitter, Facebook, Padlet, Skype, and more.  I also have found even more ideas for tools I am already using.

I used PearlTrees to curate and annotate my materials, and separated my findings under their specific tool.

social-media-tools

Social Media Tools for the History Classroom – Key Learnings

BackChannels or chat rooms to use during a lecture, video, or discussion give voice to students.  I can see how backchannels can enhance a movie shown in class.  Students can carry on a student led discussion while watching a movie.  For example, students watch Cinderella Man to learn more about the Great Depression, they could discuss the historical elements they find using something like Today’s Meet.

Twitter is a great tool for the classroom that many students are already using outside the classroom.  I really like the idea of a Twitter essay.  This will force students to find the most central idea of a topic to share with their classmates.  I also think it is great that there is a “peer review” concept to this.  It not only gets the students sharing, but also using social media to collaborate and give feedback.

I found a variety of ways to use Facebook in the classroom.  The use of fan pages and event pages is a great interactive activity for students.  Using Facebook as a timeline and place to collaborate with experts and other schools is something that is interesting and exciting for students.  I also think creating fan pages and having a “virtual salon” is a great way for students to uses 21st century skills and immerse themselves in the content area.

Diigo has been a huge addition to my classroom.  I have had my students share articles and comment on each others annotations, starting discussions that dive deeper into the article and content.  What I learned from the article on found on Diigo, is the use of the forum within Diigo groups.  This is a feature I have not tried yet, but can see how students can start a discussion, share a thought, ask a question and more.

Skype is a tool I have not used in my two years of teaching, but would like to begin using more.  Skype allows for conversations with experts, students, authors, survivors, all over the world.  It provides students to connect and ask questions they would normally have left unanswered.  The articles I clipped on Skype explain the power connecting, once with a survivor of the Holocaust, and once with a similar class in a different country.  Both experiences offered different perspectives for the students, beyond the classroom walls.

Blogging is an important piece of digital literacy, which also allows for student connections and sharing.  The projects I found helped students connect with authors, teachers, parents, and classmates.  The authentic audience, beyond the teacher, motivated the students to write more effectively and ask deeper questions.  I also see blogging as a way for students who may be timid or nervous to share in class, to voice their ideas and ask questions.

All of these tools can have immediate impact in the classroom.  Viewing all of these great ideas has helped me plan my lessons for this week using blogs and Twitter.  It is important to make sure the tool is being used to enhance and optimize the classroom experience and motivate students to grow as learners, preparing them as 21st century learners.

My PLE Diagram — October 25, 2015

My PLE Diagram

Leone - PLE Diagram

I chose create my diagram on a baseball diamond.  I was looking for ways to make my diagram creative and unique, and decided to go with something that has always been an important part of my life.  I chose to use a baseball diamond, more particularly the bases and base path.  All of my online learning environments enrich my teaching career and help me grow as a teacher.  I am able to move around throughout my communities to explore, share, and collaborate.  For my diagram, I put Facebook, Twitter, Moodle, and LinekdIn as my “home base.”  These are the places I go to first when I head online.  I can use these communities to create my “brand” and be a platform or jumping off point for my online connections and work.  From my home base, I move to first base.  The first step in my online communities, the places I explore.  I use Pinterest, LiveBinders, and Youtube as great resources to learn new ideas, watch tutorials, and explore new topics/ideas. Once I gain momentum from exploring these environments, including Twitter and Facebook, I move on to second base.  This is where my learning environments allow me to share some of my ideas or resources I have collected.  I use Blogger, WordPress, Diigo, and Scoop.it. to share with the people I have connected with.  Blogger and WordPress allow me to share about things I am learning in the Ed Tech program and what is happening in my classroom at school.  I just started using Peartrees and Scoop.it for this class, but I can see how powerful it is to curate and share resources with other professionals.  Diigo has been a great addition to my online environments.  I introduced Diigo to the teachers at my school and we now use it to share resources we find online.  One of the greatest aspects of online learning environments is the ability to collaborate and receive feedback.  Third base is the collaborative space of my PLE.  I am able to use tools like Google Drive to work with other professionals, classmates in the Ed Tech program, and even my students to create projects, tutorials and more.  My curriculum partner and I use dropbox to work on text sets with out students, and this year we have introduced our students to have a stake in this collaboration as well.  They can now add to our class text sets.  Currently, I am using Padlet to create a space for an upcoming professional development session.  I am working with another 8th grade teacher to run a PD on Blogging.  Finally, I have recently joined several Google Plus communities.  In these settings, I am able to work through problems with other teachers and post lessons and receive feedback.  These experiences have been very beneficial.  By reaching all of these “bases” I am able to improve myself through professional learning, share new discoveries and useful information, and create meaningful materials through collaboration.

Reflecting on my PLE helped me to reflect on how it has grown in just the few months since this course began.  I was able to see how they all work together to help me grow.  Using social networking and online learning environments was something I had not really explored until taking this course.  Twitter has been a huge part of my PLE and has helped me to discover some of the other learning environments I mentioned in this diagram.

It was very interesting to look at classmates diagrams to see what tools they value most and how they would categorize them.

Courtney Kaul’s diagram caught my eye because of her daughter’s artwork.  When looking at her diagram I noticed she used the categories collaboration, communication, and professional development.  We had similar collaboration tools, with Dropbox and Google Drive.  I had not thought of Gmail as part of my learning environment, however, once seeing Courtney’s diagram I recall collaborating with an educator I met on Twitter through email.  I like the title of professional development.  I agree with all of the tools Courtney has there as resources for PD, I might have also included YouTube in that area.  Courtney and I share 9 communities.  Courtney and I are also a part of a literacy PLN for this course.

Jill Miller’s diagram was very large and interconnected.  While it seems “busy” it gives a great portrayal of the connections and importance of each tool.  She broke her PLE down to personal, professional, volunteer, and educational.  I had not thought of this approach, since expanding my PLE through this course I have focused mostly on professional and educational purposes.   I noticed a lot of crossover between those four areas.  I wonder if there can be times when it is hard to keep all four separate.  Four example, I worry about using Twitter for personal reasons, so I have decided to keep it strictly professional.  Jill and I share 8 communities.

Kelsey Ramirez and I shared the sports connection!  Kelsey had a “create”  and a “share” section in her PLE.  I had WordPress and Blogger in a “share” category, but can see how they are also places to create.  Possibly making a section as “Create and share” would help show the power of these tools.  Kelsey and I had 8 similar communities in our PLE diagrams.

Hannah Clark used an image of herself as the center of her diagram.  This helps symbolize that she is at the center of her connections, learning, and collaboration.  I notice that she shared Instagram in her connection section.  I did not include Instagram in my PLE because I don;t find myself using it to “connect” as much, but seeing this has made me realize I should explore how to better utilize this tool.  Hannah and I have 11 similar communities in our diagrams.  Hannah is also a part of my PLN for this course.

Dalia Juran broke her PLE into Personal, Spiritual, and Professional, similar to Jill.  There were a few crossovers between her three categories.  I noticed that her Professional PLE was the largest and was similar to mine, other than WebEx.  Dalia and I had 8 similar communities.  I noticed that she has Second Life in her personal category.  Second Life is not something I have explore a lot but I did notice it in a few of my classmates communities.

David Mato’s diagram shared two categories I had in my diagram: explore and collaborate.  We both had Google Drive and Dropbox in our collaborate section. His explore section differed by having flickr and Diigo.  I had placed Diigo in my “share” section,  but it is also a place to discover and explore.  David and I had 12 similar communities.

My evaluations of classmates PLE Diagrams helped me see how so many of these tools can be used for multiple purposes.  All of these communities allow us to connect, share, create, collaborate, and more.  It was interesting to see how differently we interpret our PLE and how chose to organize our diagrams.

Real Time and Live Virtual Professional Development — October 19, 2015

Real Time and Live Virtual Professional Development

Teachers are always looking for new ideas or places to share their own.  Often these opportunities only present themselves a few times a year during professional development days or at faculty meetings.  Technology and the internet allow for this to happen everyday, at any hour.  By using Twitter, blogs, Google Communities and more, teachers are now able to connect instantly for real time feedback and professional development.  In the past 3 weeks I have participated in 4 Twitter chats and 4 live webinars.  I was able to learn, share, and collaborate on multiple different topics.  I participated on topics I had never used in my classroom and ones that I use regularly.  It was a bit intimidating at first, especially in the Twitter chats which move very quickly.

Twitter Chats –

‪#‎engsschat‬ – This chat usually involves secondary english and social studies teachers.  The conversation the night I joined, revolved around using genius hour in the classroom. I have always wanted to provide students time to share their interests and show their personality, but have not incorporated something like genius hour into my classroom yet. The educators involved in this chat provided great insights into what a genius hour project might look like, as well as, help people new to this idea problem solve. One participant mentioned how she uses a genius hour model every Friday with her students. Another educator explained how she has students share their genius hour projects in a talk show format. I have already began creating my next unit building off of her idea! I was able to participate myself by sharing ideas for how I could use genius hour in my curriculum, as well as sharing some of my reservations for this idea. I was happy to see I was not alone in wondering how to fit such a great idea into the curriculum and welcomed all of the suggestions from those who have used it. This was a great chat that helped further my interest in online PD and also helped me build my PLN. I am looking forward to participating again this week.

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‪#‎gafechat‬ – This chat is for Google Apps for Education and this particular week was on Blogging! I was excited to be a part of this chat because I have recently introduced my students to blogger. Since I am in the beginning stages with this integration, I was eager to hear ideas to use. A great question was about the kids who may not find writing as their best avenue for expressing ideas. Even though I allow choice for student projects, I hadn’t thought about “choice” in the format students were blogging. This was a great idea that helped spark some new ideas for my classroom. Overall, it was a great chat and I was able to connect with many educators who are also using blogs in their classroom. My hope is to find a class to “share” my kids blogs with! Great for authentic audience.

#gafechat

‪#‎edtechchat‬  – This chat discussed digital citizenship. I was excited to be a part of this conversation since my school is trying to set up some standards for this. There was a great conversation about having digital citizenship as a its own class, or making it weave into our current curriculum. In addition, people wondered about how it could be assessed. There were great ideas about incorporating digital citizenship standards into already created rubrics.  Since this chat, I was a part of a tech summit at my school.  I was able to share some ideas from the chat and begin the discussion around how different classes incorporate technology.  My hope is to help my school begin incorporating digital citizenship into our regular classroom routines.

#edtechchat

#inquirychat – This chat was on innovation.  It was a great chat with a lot of ideas.  Teachers explained ideas on how they innovate in their class and provided specific examples.  I was able to connect with a teacher about a new resources, Aurasma.  She sent me an email with her latest presentation to help me learn more about the tool and how she uses it in history class.  I left the chat with some great ideas that I have already incorporated into my current unit.

inquirychat

Webinars –

Primary Sources –  This was put on by Ed Web. This webinar shared some great ways to have students “unpack” difficult primary sources, which is a something many of my 8th graders have a tough time doing. I was happy to walk away with some great strategies I could use right away. I got a great idea of using putting a primary source into a Wordle and seeing which words are used the most. This could help the students generate questions or come to conclusion prior to reading the difficult texts. It could also identify important vocab terms to look up before reading. I already used this strategy and my kids took a lot of great ideas away.

Refreshing your PLN – This was put on by PBS Learning and the hosts provided a lot of great information on ways to connect. One teacher suggested a Google Community where teachers across her district shared technology successes (and even failures). This allowed the teachers to learn from each other and gain valuable feedback. It helps keep teachers in different schools connected.

Primary Sources and PLN

Build Some Content!  Virtual Worlds – This webinar was provided by ISTE Mobile Learning Network.  I have no real experience with virtual worlds, so this was my first exposure to the topic.  Carolyn Lowe shared her personal virtual space and explained how she has set it up for teachers and students to use.  You could essentially rent virtual classroom spaces.  These classrooms were in space, in the forest, underwater, etc.  Carolyn also explained how students could give their presentations in these spaces as well.  She provided many resources and ideas for getting started.

virtualwebinar1

The Mindset of a Maker Education – This webinar was also provided by ISTE Mobile Learning Network.  Our professor, Jackie Gerstein led the webinar.  This was the most interactive webinar I had participated in.  It gave a chance to reflect on my current practices and really envision how I can incorporate a maker mindset in my classroom.  The visuals and ThingLinks were helpful in gaining a better understanding of how students can be “makers.”  The science teacher on my team and I work very closely and I was excited to share all of the resources with her.  We have had several discussions on how we can give the students more time to create and lead their learning, as well as, make it relevant to both of our courses.

maker1

maker2

All of these chats and webinars were informative and have helped me grow as a teacher.  I am in only my second year as a teacher and I am always looking for new ideas and ways to improve my classroom.  Participants were very welcoming and supportive.  I was encouraged to continue participating and asked clarifying questions.  I was excited after each chat and webinar to see my PLN grow and even begin collaborating with them outside of chats.  Currently, I am participating in the TEAM beginning teacher program in Connecticut.  It requires me to set goals, attend pd, review resources, and implement changes in my classroom.  I plan on finding webinars and Twitter chats to help me in this process.

 

 

 

Protected: School Evaluation Summary — August 2, 2015
EDTECH Research: Flipped Classroom Annotated Bibliography — July 23, 2015

EDTECH Research: Flipped Classroom Annotated Bibliography

Creating an annotated bibliography is a great way to begin research.  While I had not done this in a while, I found it to be very useful.  I was able to review multiple sources and evaluate whether they were effective and applied to my needs.  It helped give me a “critical” lens to look though as I read each article, and I feel as if I can take away a lot of new and useful information from my research.  I researched the flipped classroom method, since it is something I am trying to move to in my own classroom.  I was excited to read all of the positive research that has been done on this method.  Many teachers have piloted a flipped classroom, and student survey results and test scores show that it is successful.  My research led me to multiple different methods that could work in my classroom and I am excited to design lessons and units around these ideas.  I particularly like the idea of using primary sources and online discussions outside of the classroom to facilitate discussion prior to class time.  I also found some articles on the “logistics” of a flipped model for a whole school.  This article explained the benefits of having students meet less times during the week and the cost benefit of a flipped model.  While this may not pertain to my current job, it is useful information to consider as I move forward with my career.

I found the Boise State Albertsons Library Database to be very useful in finding scholarly articles on this topic.  I was able to read through the results and their abstracts to discover which sources might be most beneficial. Using APA format was new to me when I began this course.  I have used Purdue Owl and many of the other resources provided to gain a better understanding of how to use APA properly.  While this assignment was time-consuming, it was very useful to my educational growth and research.  I feel confident with new ideas for my classroom in the fall, but also confident in how to continue to research new ideas and information.

Annotated Bibliography