My Country Game

For my final project, I decided to create a game based on an idea that one of my Spanish teachers gave me.  My game is also influenced by the Galactic Mappers game.  I thought this game was genius and I would love to see it implemented in a Social Studies classroom in my school.

The Spanish teacher that approached me wanted help integrating technology into her Spanish-Speaking Country project idea.  She was going to have her kids research real Spanish-Speaking countries, then they would create their own Spanish-Speaking country with aspects of real Spanish-Speaking countries they liked.  When she approached me with this idea, I had just watched this clip on Galactic Mappers and I thought I could mod the game for her needs.

I ended up coming up with the My Country Game.  Please post better ideas for the game title in the comments.  This game could be easily modified for any Foreign language but it would also be fun to play in a social studies class.  The game is basically an interactive Google site, where kids develop their country and it’s story, laws, map, flag, etc.  The students would interact with each other by visiting (commenting) other students country pages.  Students would also have to incorporate their cards into their county’s story.  Students would get points by incorporating story cards into the story of their country.  The teacher could also give out extra points for creativity and interaction with other countries.

I think it would be interesting to show the kids the rules of the game first and see if they could propose any improvements to game play.

I plan to show this game to the Spanish teacher that gave me the idea, and hopefully the students will be able to play it soon.  If other teachers want to use this game, just use this template.

To continue what I’ve learned about Gamification and Game-Based Learning, I plan to implement playing Dragon Box + with the 6th grade math classes before they are formally introduced to algebra.  I think this will help them understand the rules of algebra.  I also would like to set up Minecraft Edu soon and see if I can incorporate Minecraft into a middle school Social Studies or Science class.  I still have a lot to learn about setting this up.  Let me know if you have any recommendation of how I should get started with it.

 

 

 

Dragon Box +

A couple of days ago I had one of my 6th grade teachers express interest in using iPad games to motivate her students in math.  They are just starting algebra so I immediately thought of the game dragon box +.  It’s a super cute game with levels that progressively get more difficult.  What I also love about this game is that it introduces new rules every couple levels.  The kids don’t know this when they start but these rules are the rules of Algebra.

I remember when I found this game a couple years ago.  I decided to give it a try while I was waiting to renew my Indian visa in the Chennai Foreign Residents Registry Office (FRRO), probably the worst administrative office that has ever existed.  It usually was at least a 2 hour non air-conditioned wait in a very cramped room with no semblance of any sort of order.  Anyways, I played the game all the way through during my 2 hours wait and it was great.  I think it helped me better understand some algebraic concepts and I could definately see how kids would be motivated to play.  It had all the good aspects of a game that were discussed in the last module.  It was challenging but not too challenging, it rewarded you with passing levels, kind of like angry birds and it introduced new rules slowly.

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Trying to figure out the rules together

I tried it with a class the next week and it was a hit.  After they completed all the levels, I made them reflect and draw conclusions between the game and the algebraic rules they were learning.  Though not all of them became algebraic geniuses from playing the game, they told me that they had fun and that it helped with their understanding.

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Getting the hang of it

The 6th grade class that I want to try this out with was not quite ready yet.  I asked the teacher to have 4 or 5 students that were ahead of things in their math work to come test the game out.  I really didn’t give much instruction because the game tells the students the rules as the levels progress.  I simply asked them to work together to understand the game, because they would be the ones helping their classmates understand the rules in a few weeks time.

They had a blast working together.  I actually left them alone for a while to go through the levels by themselves.  When I returned they understood the game but we’re stuck on a challenging level.  I asked them if they knew what this game was helping them understand.  One student said fractions, another said it was math and they last one said, “hey, is this algebra?  They all agreed not to tell their other classmates that this was a math game and they were all confident that they could explain the basic rules (which are basically the rules of algebra).  I think my exploration into game-based learning went well.  I’m excited to see how the activity goes in a whole class session.

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This is where they got stuck.

 

Ending my Last School Year in India

Hello strangers,

Sorry for my silence these couple of weeks.  The end of the school year is quickly approaching and things are getting crazy.  In just 10 days I will be departing Mother India.  It has been so amazing here these last four years; truly life changing.  Just reflecting back on all of the wonderful personal and professional experiences I now have under my belt is overwhelming.  Just thinking about all I have to do in the next 10 days is also overwhelming but also so exciting.

As the year comes to a conclusion, many of my wonderful Middle School teachers are having their students end the year will pretty cool projects.  In 7th grade, Michelle May’s class is completing a collaborative Tiki-Toki timeline that includes inventions from all the periods of history she taught them about.  In 6th grade, Rob Martin and Victoria Hall are having their students create iMovie book trailers to encourage their fellow students to read over the summer.  And in 8th grade Andrew Ranson is having students delve into the difficult subject of Modern Slavery.  His student’s movies (created with tools like Go Animate, WeVideo and iMovie) are extremely moving and I am hoping they share the final product with the world.  If we have time, I want to show him how to put the movies into an interactive Google Map.

I work with some amazing teachers and students.  Thanks AISC for teaching me SOOOOO Much as a Tech Coach.  Great ideas are never a shortage here and I will miss working with all of you.

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An Interactive Art Show

Last year for the Middle School Art show, students made their artwork come alive with the Morfo App and Aurasma.  This year we are going to do it again.  However, instead of the teacher uploading all the Trigger images and Overlays, we are going to have the students do this.

Here is a video tutorial on how to create a Morfo movie with the iPad.

Here is a tutorial on how they will upload a picture and their morfo movie to Aurasma.

Let’s see if my middle schoolers can follow directions.

Check our Our E-Portfolio Blogs

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This year I had big dreams about vamping up our reflective E-Portfolio blog program.  E-Portfolios are something that we have been doing at AISC for a long time.  Two years ago though,  things really improved by moving our kids from a Google site/ artifact based E-Portfolio to a reflective/ Blogger E-Portfolio.  This switch aligned the program with our vision and mission and the E-Portfolios have now become an wonderful way to keep track of student growth during their time here at AISC.

Originally teachers would pick what projects appeared on the blogs and typically the same projects were showcased in each child’s E-Portfolio Google site.  Now with blogs, students are encourage to reflect about their learning instead of reflecting on a project or artifact.  This learning might be something they are proud about, something that challenged them or maybe a reflection of how their learning changed.  Students and teachers still have a long way to go for the vision of this program to become a reality. Many students often write about the same projects because their teacher tells them to do so or they write exactly what happened in class (their posts are not always reflective).

In an attempt to get students more excited about this great reflective learning exercise, I decided to do a couple of experiments with motivation.  My first idea was to pair up 6th and 8th graders to do blogging buddies during their STEM projects.  I paired up students who were doing similar projects in the hopes that they could learn from each other by commenting.  This failed terribly.  Students were not held accountable by their teachers for commenting because it was seen as something extra.  They were given no time to comment in class and weren’t intrinsically motivated to write comments on each others blogs.  Students were blogging because they had to.

My second attempt was to get parents and family members involved in the commenting.  I held a session as the last middle school Parent Coffee.  I created this nice informational brochure.  I thought it would be such a great way for families to become involved in their child’s learning.  I hoped family members from far away would comment on the blogs (this was the “redefinition” part of my plan).  The family commenting initiative, however, failed miserably too.  I sent the parents emails to remind them to comment and checked the student blogs frequently to see if there was any commenting by parents.  Parents were not leaving any comments.  Maybe they were too busy.  My hopes of motivating the kids to become reflective learners through blogging were dashed.

So, today, as I was browsing around the student E-porfolio’s wallowing in my failure, I decided to try one more thing.  When I came across a blog that looked pretty good, I emailed the student asking if I could share it out to other educators and students.  I received a bunch of enthusiastic replies from students saying “Sure!”  and “Thanks for the compliments” and “Thanks for looking at my blog.”  I took Jeff’s “redefinition”  advice and I posted these E-Portfolio blog links to twitter with the hashtags #comments4kids #edchat #eportfolio #COETAIL and #edtech in hopes that they would get a little traffic and maybe a comment.  Here are the links to the E-Portfolio blogs I shared out.  If you are reading this, PLEASE, click on one and leave a thought provoking comment, or some words or encouragement.

Let’s see if this last try can make a little bit of difference these student’s motivation levels around reflective blogging.

 

Collaborative To Do Lists: Get the ToDoist App

I just found this great app called Todoist.  I am a habitual todo list maker.  I make one at least every day on paper, my notebooks are filled with them.  While looking at recipes from the site ifttt.com/ I came across one that puts all your Google calendar events into a To Do List on this app, so I decided to try it out.

Here is the Recipe

One really cool thing I noticed about the app/site is that you can collaborate on To Do Lists.  This is excellent for organizing teams of people and assigning duties.  I’m sure teachers could also use this tool with their students too to assign tasks in group projects.  I’m going to use it with my husband to organize all the things we need to do for our move to Jakarta.  I wonder if I’ll stop doing my paper lists… We will see.

Reflections on the @CommonSense Teacher Certification Training.

I want to thank Robin Treyvaud and the tech crew from SIS for coming all the way to Chennai this Saturday to train 50 AISC teachers.  It’s been a great day on gaining more understanding about digital citizenship and just talking about the necessity of teaching this stuff to our students.  So many great resources from CommonSenseMedia.org were shared.  Here are a couple of links to resources I found super helpful.

Now as teachers, we are going to take these resources and implement the digital citizenship lessons into our classrooms.  I look forward to sharing out completed lessons with you guys soon.

Cool Countdown Timer

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The First Annual AISC Stem fest is coming up soon.  I created this nifty Weebly site to showcase what we are doing.

It has this great countdown widget on it from https://www.powr.io/  that is super simple to use.  It looks like there is a bunch of cool widgets on the site that you can easily add to Weebly sites and other blog sites.  Check it out.

Another countdown app that I found is from https://www.tickcounter.com/ 

My husband is away at the Sivananada Yoga Ashram in Kereral for a month and I miss him terribly.  So here is an example of the tickcounter countdown app, counting down the days until he comes home.

 

There is always something to look forward to, so I am hoping these embed-able countdown widgets are useful to you too.

The Secret to Flipping Your Classroom

Yesterday I had a wonderful coaching session with one of my middle school Spanish teachers.  She’s been trying out flipping her classroom with great success.  Before she started doing this I told her to include a “secret” word in her flipped classroom videos to make sure that her students watched them.

She hasn’t been doing this for every video, but once in a while she includes a secret word (like swimming pig)  at random in a video.  The next morning she asks her kids to tell her the secret word as they walk in.  She immediately knows who has watched the video and who has not.

Getting students to do their homework is always a challenge, but this little strategy might help those who are attempting to flip their classroom.