In my post that featured a TED talk on Classroom Game Design, I mentioned the interest that I have in trying to use the interest that my students have in gaming to engage them in the classroom. Rather than having them play video games in the classroom, I am considering making the classroom, itself, into a game-type environment. I found this wonderful post by Mr. Daley that gives some great tips on trying to “gamify” your classroom. I have a grand scheme to integrate Mr. Daley’s ideas, Genius Hour, and Teaching with Tournaments into my 5th grade Gifted and Talented class next year. As usual, I am biting off far more than I can teach, and it will probably dissolve into a sort of semi-controlled chaos. But, I guarantee that the kids will have fun and they will learn! (You might also be interested in this case study, by Peter Ross, about a teacher named Kate Fanelli who successfully used “gamification” to engage her students.)
For the summer, I have decided to use my Tuesday and Thursday posts to reblog some of my favorite posts that some of my readers may have missed the first time around:
As a teacher, do you ever have a moment when no one needs your help, and you are standing in the middle of your classroom wondering what you should be doing? In my twenty years of teaching, I think that’s happened twice: when I was student teaching and had no idea what I was supposed to be doing anyway, and today. I showed my students Storybird, which allows you to choose sets of art to illustrate a story that you write. I meant for it to be a station on some computers in my classroom, but the students who started at that station didn’t want to leave. So, I started pulling out laptops until everyone was working on their own stories. For over an hour, there was silence in my room, and every child was engaged in creating his or her own story. We had been studying Figurative Language, and the assignment was to create a story with a winter theme that used at least 4 different types of figurative language.
After lunch, I thought the students might be weary of sitting in front of computer screens. I began saying, “Okay, you have a choice. You can either continue working on your Storybirds or – ” I didn’t even get to finish. They unanimously agreed that they wanted to continue.
Storybird is free. Register as a teacher, and you can add a class of students easily. The students do not need e-mail addresses to register or log in. You can view their work at any time, and they can also view the work of other students in the class by clicking on a tab at the top. They can comment, as can the teacher. It’s online, and easy to share, so they can show friends and family. The teacher can post specific assignments or the students can just create. Collaboration on stories is possible, and reading the stories of others is inspiring. The art work is charming and lovely.
Here is a sample from one of my 4th graders: (I apologize if some of the words are cut off – WordPress does not “play well” with embed codes!)
Cargo-Bot is a free iApp that I can’t decide if I love or hate. Currently, I am stuck on one of the levels – and it’s in the Easy Category. But, I can’t stop! I will keep working on it until I figure it out. This is why it would probably be a good app for gifted students. They need challenges that they cannot immediately solve, but that they really want to unravel.
While navigating Cargo-Bot, users are learning the basics of computer programming. This may not sound like fun, but this app is strangely alluring with its simplicity. The user is asked to direct the program to move colored crates into certain configurations. It gives tutorials, and then progresses to the challenges, which begin at Easy. After Medium and Hard are the Crazy and Impossible levels. I am halfway through Easy. I think this says more about my ability to do logic than it does about the difficulty of the app…
For the summer, I have decided to use my Tuesday and Thursday posts to reblog some of my favorite posts that some of my readers may have missed the first time around. Although this iApp is not free, I think that it is one of the few that is well worth the cost for classroom use. There are so many applications for it that allow for very creative uses. Since this post, another project that we did was to import a picture of “Scream” by Edvard Munch, and have the students apply their deepest fears to the picture.
WordFoto is an iApp ($1.99) with a lot of potential for creative minds. The app allows the user to either take a picture or load a photo from the device’s Photo Gallery. Once loaded, the designer can then crop the picture if necessary. The main appeal, however, is adding words to the picture. There are sets of words already provided, or a creative mind can provide his or her own. You can also choose the style by selecting from different themes or creating your own. In addition, there are some fine-tuning tools to tweak things a bit more. Below you will find an example of an original photo by one of my 4th graders, and her interpretation using WordFoto.
Thanks to Laura Moore, who first brought this app to my attention in her blog! Be sure to check out her post for ideas on how to use WordFoto in the classroom.
Born to Learn: Class Reunion is Part 2 of a series of animated videos on the Born to Learn site. This one is my favorite because I think the message is so important – that it is critical to recognize the need for many students to actually participate in their own learning in order for them to truly acquire long-term knowledge.
For more recommended inspirational videos for teachers, you can also go to my Pinterest site here.
For the summer, I have decided to use my Tuesday and Thursday posts to reblog some of my favorite posts that some of my readers may have missed the first time around.
This particular video could lead to great conversation in the classroom, despite the fact that many of us do not understand the language in it. Some possible topics for discussion: apathy, being the change we wish to see in the world, working together. Every time I watch this video, I am motivated to make a difference. Here is the YouTube link in case the embedded video below does not show: http://youtu.be/pFs5vWxW-vc
I Spy a QR Code is a blog post that includes a Prezi by Nina Nichols Peery. I promise that I’m not just recommending this because it includes a link to this blog! The Prezi includes some interesting videos and some unique QR code activities that I think you will like. Be sure to click on this link for downloads for the accompanying worksheets. I think you will enjoy seeing new ideas for using QR codes in your classroom to engage the minds of your students!
Bubble Ball is one of my favorite iDevice apps. It is a free download, and has 48 levels. You can purchase more after you finish the 48 for 99 cents. The purpose of this game is to use the various materials that appear on the screen in each level to direct a ball to roll toward a flag. I don’t usually like to recommend game apps for the classroom, because students seem to get enough of those at home. But this Physics challenge encourages problem solving and creative thinking. Many of the levels have more than one solution. This could be a fun center in which the students could take screen shots of their solutions and explain them using the free Screen Chomp app or other methods. It would be interesting to compare the different solutions groups develop, and have them explain their thought processes. Of course, I highly recommend that you play around with the app yourself – just to get familiar with the levels, of course