Feed aggregator

3 Learning Experiences You Should Give to Every Student

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 22 November, 2015 - 11:59

Every Classroom Matters Episode 192

Writable surfaces. Movable spaces. Micro environments. Never heard these terms? Our classroom design helps us create learning experiences for students.  David Jakes explains modern classroom design.

Essential Questions: 3 Learning Experiences You Should Give to Every Student
  • How can classroom design improve learning?
  • What are cutting edge trends in classroom design?
  • Are there simple, inexpensive ways to improve the classroom?
Look at your classroom. Examine your routines. Can students shift positions quickly? Classroom design and efficiency go hand in hand.  Check out David Jakes @djakes and his Learning Experiences Design Playbook on today’s show.

Join the Every Classroom Matters Awesome Educators Network on Facebook

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above.

The post 3 Learning Experiences You Should Give to Every Student appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Top 10 Education Tweets of the Week: November 21, 2015

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 22 November, 2015 - 10:20

Trends and Tweets that Have People Talking

Emotions and relating to other humans is reflected in a subtle way on this week’s top education tweets. Teachers are telling kids and each other that they matter. Teachers are talking about making their own music in their classroom. Thanksgiving-themed lesson plans are being shared while many educators gear up for Hour of Code in December (may the force and Minecraft be with you). Meanwhile, I’m upgrading my Makerspace and ditching my old projector and Interactive White Board.

I’ve got my 10 year blog-a-versary coming up the first week of December. Wow! So, this week, I’m thankful for you. This Thanksgiving week ten years a go, I was reading and re-reading David Warlick‘s book on blogging. You all teach me so much.

Do kids know they are special? Do they know they matter? Do you know your impact as a teacher if you stop to tell them that they do? Please take time this season to celebrate the strengths in the kids you teach. You matter, teacher. You make a difference. Please get out there and share that message with the kids you teach. Speak it. Tell it. Write it. Show it!

Top 10 Education Tweets of the Week: week ending November 21, 2015 1. You Matter is spreading

Yes #choose2matter and #youmatter are such important words for kids! @AngelaMaiers https://t.co/8r5MxHJrTJ

— Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) November 19, 2015

2. Top Blog Posts for Teachers

Top Blog Posts for Teachers This Week https://t.co/SD7DDodhAJ pic.twitter.com/yzl3xUvR0S

— Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) November 15, 2015

3. Sylvia Duckworth Adds a Sketchnote to “Why to Keep Going Even When It’s Hard”

The awful happenings in France had many people sharing and clicking on this post. In an effort to encourage more people, Sylvia Duckworth sketchnoted the quotes that spoke to her. Please make your music, teachers!

Sketchnote by @sylviaduckworth for Why Teachers Need to Keep Going Even When It's Hard https://t.co/BjwkbUlwZD pic.twitter.com/bWKYAhjWd5

— Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) November 18, 2015

4. Hour of Code includes Minecraft-inspired programming!

Minecraft and Star Wars themed programming is part of Hour of Code this year.

YES! Kids can program MINECRAFT for hour of code– Minecraft meets Hour of Code https://t.co/N9LolbAvMy #stem

— Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) November 16, 2015

5. 5 Ways to Teach Gratitude in Your Classroom was Updated this week

This popular post needed an update. You can teach gratitude.

5 Ways to Teach Gratitude in your Classroom https://t.co/rAnn1Y8JFo

— Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) November 15, 2015

6. Nancy White talks openly about students as curators

In this show, Nancy White discusses something intriguing: the use of an “army of retired educators” to comment on student work. I’m curious how we could use such a method more often. She also talks about a project that didn’t work as well. The difference? Audience. When you’re blogging or doing work online, the first 10 days are vitally important as students should engage with audience. Nancy’s open reflection has reinforced what many of us have seen.

NEW! Project-Based Learning: Teaching Students to Be Great Curators https://t.co/wmimUv8qVY with @NancyW #edchat

— Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) November 20, 2015

7. My Makerspace gets and Upgrade with an inFocus JTouch! Cool!

My husband is an engineer and put this together for me! We are drawing on it, working on it, an doing incredible work together! I got questions and people clicked to look closer!

Installing my Infocus touch screen Jboard soooooo pumped #makerspace in my classroom just got more awesome! pic.twitter.com/DD3f6gfCjE

— Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) November 16, 2015

8. So many of us are jealous of this amazing classroom!

Jennifer Gonzalez, Cult of Pedagogy, found this incredible classroom. Lots of us are wishing and hoping for classrooms that look and feel more like this one.

AWESOME find @cultofpedagogy ! Classroom Eye Candy: A Flexible-Seating Paradise https://t.co/1HIX6lFqG5 pic.twitter.com/F4O6CfaODH

— Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) November 20, 2015

9. Many of us are thankful to be on Thanksgiving break!

Friday afternoon, lots of us were breathing a sigh of relief. While some US teachers still have two more days next week.

Very glad to be on thanksgiving break. No words, just thankfulness. Tiring week. How about you?

— Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) November 20, 2015

10. Top Education Tweets of the Week for Last Week

Tweeting and non-tweeting educators are telling me they’re enjoying the top tweets based on Twitter analytics. As I often say in these updates, “clickthroughs” matter. Some of these have hundreds of people cicking on them. You can’t necessarily tell by retweets what engages educators!

I challenge you to take the time to set up your Twitter analytics and look at the last month, three months or even year. If you don’t know how to embed tweets or anything else, ask in the comments and I’ll get some instructions up here.

NEW! Top Education Tweets of the Week https://t.co/oFcSiLHypQ

— Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) November 15, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving! I’m so thankful that you take the time to share and learn online. I appreciate those of you who take time to read my blog. As I help feed 50 something people this week, I’ll be thinking of so many of you taking time with your families this week. Savor the moment, put down your cell phone, and enjoy the laughter and smiles. There will always be a new gadget but each family member is unique and precious. Be thankful for what matters. People matter most.

The post Top 10 Education Tweets of the Week: November 21, 2015 appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

4 Things Educators Can Learn from the Golden State Warriors

The Principal of Change George Couros - 21 November, 2015 - 06:46

Last night, I turned on the TV to watch the Los Angeles Clippers play the Golden State Warriors.  If you do not know about either basketball team, they have a very strong rivalry, and are both considered to be some of the top teams in the NBA right now, with Golden State having won the championship last year.

As a life-long Los Angeles Lakers fan, I rarely cheer for other teams, but I have a connection to the Warriors since I was supposed to see them play for the first time the day my father died.  Obviously I did not go to the game, but because of that day, there is a special place in my heart for them.  Right now though, they are turning the NBA up on it’s head because they are playing in a way that is much different from the “traditional” way others have played. Instead of having gigantic 7 footers, they play “small-ball” (small in NBA standards) with lots of running and long distance shooting. They are a very fun team to watch if you are not necessarily interested in the sport, and even better if you love the game.  The way they play is a thing of beauty.

I caught the game at a point where the Warriors were actually losing to the Clippers by over 20 points, which in most cases is insurmountable, but I actually watched from that point on because I knew of their ability to come back.  They actually won the game going away at the end, and I thought about how they are really challenging the conventional notion of basketball.  A lot of the things they are doing can have a connection to what we are doing in education.

  1. They focus on developing leadership.  Steve Kerr, a rookie coach last year in the NBA, had one of the best seasons ever in only his first year, and led with a quiet and steady hand.  Suffering an injury to his back during the NBA Finals, he has suffered from complications which have not allowed him to be on the sidelines with his team at this point.  Without their “leader”, they are still undefeated at this point of the season.  Luke Walton, with no head coaching experience, has taken over and is leading the team until Kerr returns, but as you watch, he is not the only leader on this team.  Great leadership develops more leaders, and you see in his absence, the team has not lost a step.  Do our schools become dependent on a few individuals, or do we create a culture when someone is gone, others step up?
  2. They play to their strengths.  Stephen Curry won the MVP last year, but if you saw him on the street, he does not look like your typical NBA player. He is listed at around 6’3 (which he isn’t) and probably weighs 180 pounds, but he can shoot the ball.  Even after his MVP season, he is probably playing better this year than last, because he is doing what he did last year, better.  Although I am sure he has added to his repertoire, he is on a historic pace to break the record for most 3 pointers made (which he has already done twice).  He is not trying to be taller or bulkier but focusing on doing what he does well, and the team is built around this idea.  They don’t adjust to you, but they focus on what they do well and then continuously do it better. This ties in nicely to the Peter Drucker’s idea that, “It takes far more energy to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence.”  We need to spend more time focusing on getting better at what we do well, not just our weaknesses.
  3. They define and play their roles.  If you watch the Warriors play, it is very rare for them to do something as individuals that is out of character.  Their philosophy seems to be to find what people do well, and put them in spaces where they can excel.  Andre Igoudala, an all-star for several years, was asked to come off the bench last year, which was probably a struggle at first.  He excelled at the role, but in the NBA finals, he actually started because of his ability to cover Lebron James, and became the first player in NBA history to never start a regular season game and then win Finals MVP.  He had a role and did it well, as did the other players, which helped them achieve success.  Do we create an environment in our schools where we see ourselves as part of a bigger picture, or just a collection of individuals?
  4. They have confidence in themselves and others. At the end of last night’s game, when Stephen Curry was asked what he thought when they were losing, he said that they have confidence in their team and each other.  This is not something we talk much about in schools, but a trend I have noticed lately is that we seem to lack confidence in the others in our own buildings.  People will talk about the lack of willingness of others to embrace change, and I wonder what that does for collegiality in the building?  If we believe in each other that we are all there to focus on doing what is best for kids, even those things might not look the same in some cases, we are more likely to move forward than if we don’t trust in one another.  A great African proverb states, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go fast, go together.”  If we are going to move our organizations forward, we will need to believe and trust in one another.

All great teams have a “shelf-life” where physically they cannot do what they did at one point, and I am not sure how long this team will be great.  But if you are just looking at the athleticism of the team, we are missing the bigger picture of what they are doing together and the culture that is being built.  There have been teams with more talent that have done less, and the way the Warriors play together as a team is a thing of a beauty. I am going to learn from it and enjoy watching the ride.

Original from: https://flic.kr/p/ofhhH9

Categories: Planet

Finding Methods in the Madness

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 20 November, 2015 - 21:46

Beginning programmers seem to like monolithic code. Give them a task to program and they start right off. writing everything in one huge method. If you assign them to use a specific method for a specific task they will do that. And the rest of the code will be monolithic. It seems to be hard for them to design code with small modules though. At least it seems they have to be taught to do so. It doesn’t seem to come natural.

Or maybe it’s just the teacher my students suffer with.

In any case, at this point in the semester I am really pushing breaking things down into small pieces and creating methods to handle things. We really just learned about methods in any detail in this first semester programming course so I can understand it not coming natural. On the other hand, we just went into methods in depth and usually students want to use the new thing they have just learned. But not in this case.

This morning I read though all of their code so far. Yep, lots of monolithic code. I spend the first 20 minutes or so of class discussing the different projects they are working on and explaining how I would break up some of the work into individual methods. It seemed to register a bit. I think that some of them who are having trouble debugging their code, in part, because they are trying to code and test “everything” at once, will really benefit from today’s discussion. I hope so.

Clearly though as we are moving into more complicated projects I need to spend more time talking about design. I’m looking back though my plans from earlier in the semester to see where and how I can talk design long before this point.

The other thing I would like to do is design a big project that requires lots of methods. The idea would be to randomly assign the methods to different students and have a test bed that calls the methods. Students would not know whose methods would be tested with theirs in advance. That way there could be no collusion to bypass the strict specification of inputs and outputs.

My hope is that this would show students the value of methods in larger projects. It should also help them understand the importance of design, specifications, documentation and working as part of a team. I just have to figure out the right project.

Categories: Planet

Hip Hop Language Education: Using Rap to Teach, Really?

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 19 November, 2015 - 22:44

Every Classroom Matters Episode 190

Language teachers have the daunting task of helping students memorize so many words! How can it be fun? How can you help students learn them faster? Jason Levine uses hip hop in his language education classes. Surprisingly, he teaches teachers (even those, like me, with no rhythm) to use hip hop in their language education classes too.

Essential Questions: Hip Hop Language Education: Using Rap to Teach, Really?
  • Why do hip hop and language education work together?
  • Can you use hip hop if you’re a language teacher who can’t rap at all?
  • How can any teacher facilitate hip hop activities with language?
  • How can teachers make the repetitive practice of language EXCITING?
  • What are the 3 R’s of Language Learning?
We have yet another example of using things students love to hook them into learning. Hip hop is the most listened to form of music in the world, according to the research Jason cites on the show. English is the most learned second language in the world.

Combining hip hop and language education is a masterful use of both of these. So, you’re not comfortable with this — you CAN use someone else’s videos. Jason raps on the show and I think that perhaps I could even do it (although I wouldn’t sound as cool.) Have an open mind, language teachers, to move away from flash cards and towards music. 

Educator Resources from this Episode

Jason talks about his hip hop language education method on the show and the 3 R’s to help students relax and actually learn the language.

Let’s talk about hip hop language education. You can do it, even if you’re a teacher with no rhythm.

Join the Every Classroom Matters Awesome Educators Network on Facebook

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above.

The post Hip Hop Language Education: Using Rap to Teach, Really? appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Coding For More Than an Hour

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 19 November, 2015 - 22:28

Aman Yadav from Michigan State University made this great image from the popular meme.  I love it because for me it is so very true. I code for fun these days. Oh sure a lot of what I code is for use in class as a demo or a prototype for a project I’ll assign to students but even then I pick projects that are fun.

That means I usually code for a while once I get started. Of course for professional developers (as I was in a previous life) coding can be a many hours a day thing.

This brings me to an Hour of Code. Well not the hour itself but what comes next. I love the Hour of Code. It’s a great way to introduce students to the idea of coding, let them create something cool and maybe help them to see that they can and should learn more.

Where do these students go to learn more? Sure there are lots of online resources and even a growing number of after school programs but I think we need more courses in the regular school day. A New Federal Law Means Computer Science Is Officially Part of STEM which should help convince administrators. On the other hand there is a lot of misunderstanding about what computer science actually is. A new report funded by Google (Google-Gallup research report: Perceptions of computer science reflect and reinforce stereotypes )  finds that most parents, teachers, administrators and school boards think that using a word processor is computer science. That lowers the credibility of studies that report how many schools offer computer science!

So what to do? School boards and school administrators need some education in many cases. There are resources to help. CSTA has some advocacy tools on their website. There is a growing Computer Science Advocacy Leadership Team (CSALT) made up of CSTA members across the country who are looking for volunteers to help with advocacy in the various states. Code.Org also has resources for advocacy of computer science education. NCWIT has many resources specially focused on girls in technology.

Computer Science Education week is coming up and that is a perfect time to advocate with local influential. They’re going to be hearing a lot in the news so they are going to be thinking about it. Computer science education take more than an hour. Not just to learn but to promote.


Categories: Planet

“Systems Thinking” and “Systems Doing”

The Principal of Change George Couros - 19 November, 2015 - 12:41

“Systems thinkers” are essential to the growth of an organization.  A vision that is created by stepping back and looking at the system as a whole is necessary if we are going to move from “pockets of innovation” to a “culture of innovation”.  They see beyond any single classroom and help with widespread change.

The biggest problem with this though is that you also need to be a “systems doer”.  If you can’t actually take that big thinking that goes beyond the classroom, and bring it into context of those same individual classrooms, any “vision” is just a bunch of buzzwords and phrases with no real meaning.  It is important to challenge the system and ask questions, but if leaders have no answers as well, they lose credibility.  If we are great at delegation, but not actually willing to be a part of the learning that can happen in classrooms and schools, then all of these thoughts don’t really mean much.  It is imperative that we develop a big vision of what is possible in school today, but it doesn’t do much if we can’t give ideas and examples of how to break down into smaller steps that build confidence and competence of the same people within this system.

If someone can’t articulate what their “vision” could look like in the classroom, there might be lots of “systems thinking” but not much “systems doing”.  Buzzwords become just that when what we say doesn’t actually make much sense in the context of the educators and students we serve.

Categories: Planet

8 Great Ways to Level Up Game Based Learning in the Classroom

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 19 November, 2015 - 11:44

Play Good Games, Get Great Results

Game based learning in the classroom should not be worksheets with points. It should be engaging and exciting. Here are eight ways to level up game based learning. Because, face it, many educational “games” fall short. Chocolate on broccoli. That is what many educators call these games that fall short of what great gaming can be. Dr. Lee Graham, a creator of the literature Minecraft experience Givercraft, says,

Some games are computerized worksheets. That is what game designers mean by ‘chocolate on broccoli.’

What works in game-based learning? I’ve found that game experiences where students create, innovate and problem solve engage pupils in the game and learning. You don’t get that with flashcards. Memorization is “lower order thinking” according to Blooms Revised Taxonomy, after all.

Certainly, we can memorize using games, but we can do better. Creating, evaluating and analyzing are higher order thinking. Whether students are playing games where they create or go on epic quests, stories are pouring from classrooms everywhere about games that transform learning.

But for those who don’t trust stories from the classroom, a body of research is growing around what makes a good game for learning. Jim Gee has examined what makes a good game and found that identity, interaction, production, risk taking, customization, and agency make a game “good.”

When my students studied good games with University of Alaska Southeast Masters Students in the Gamifi-ed Project, we were astounded to find how few games were engaging and used good teaching. But that is changing, and teachers are at the center of it all.

8 Great Ways to Level Up Game Based Learning in the Classroom

The most innovative education “app” on the planet is the innovative educator. Teachers are a powerful force for great gaming. Let’s look at eight great ways educators are leveling up game-based learning in the classroom.

1. Make Your Whole Class a Game Experience

College Professor Lee Sheldon (and former Star-Trek script writer) shares his method of gaming his college classroom in The Multiplayer Classroom. The entire course is designed for Sheldon’s students to earn points, level up, and engage with learning. The first day, Sheldon tells everyone they have an F and must earn points to level up to an A. This “additive” form of earning grades has very real results as students see their grade grow.

Elementary teacher Michael Matera has students enter the realm of nobles (see video below) as his students join teams as part of learning in a not so bloody or violent Game of Thrones type approach. Famed teacher Ron Clark has his whole school divided into “houses” reminiscent of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts. An entire school, Quest to Learn, has been designed using game-based learning as the framework. Immersive experiences seem to be some of the most powerful experiences for learners. But the essential ingredient is a teacher willing to be a “Game Master“, as teacher Lucas Gillispie shares.

2. Engage with Minecraft: Let Kids Build in the Sandbox

Ernie Easter, a 35-year retired teacher from Maine, says,

I have seen the results [of Minecraft] with my three granddaughters, ages 6, 8 & 10, at home. Our 8-year old’s reading blossomed when she started playing Minecraft and watching the videos. Her language expression also just exploded.

Minecraft builder bowls and clubs are emerging as kids compete to build awesome things. But schools are using Minecraft to teach. Teacher Michelle Baldwin says,

“One year, we were talking about how people organize themselves into different types of governments. One group wanted to learn about oligarchies and said they could share what they were learning by building a capital city in Minecraft. They could articulate a LOT about what they had learned as they shared their city (these were grade 3-5 kids): http://architectsofwonder.edublogs.org/…/our-capital…/

When students study North Carolina history, teacher Lucas Gillespie, manager of one of the largest Minecraft deployments in the world, has them research a topic on North Carolina history. Then students go into Minecraft and construct what they learned. After building, they give virtual tours for parents and other students to teach about North Carolina. When I interviewed him recently, he gave me dozens of Minecraft examples for every subject.

Dr. Lee Graham created Givercraft where students study the novel the Giver and build a black and white world for the earlier part of the novel. Students blog and write about their experience. Then, they have to imagine the world after the Giver ends. Wow!

3. Build a Game Experience into Learning: Live It and Learn It

A fascinating way to teach geography is Zombie-Based Learning invented by teacher David Hunter. In this case, students are located in a geographic location and told they have to plan for a zombie apocalypse. Students have to understand the geography and determine where they are going to find resources. Don’t worry, you don’t see the gory zombies of movies, but the game is engaging (and aligned with Common Core Standards!)

Australian teacher Jacques du Toit invented a role play on Twitter he called Tweeting Aztecs to study their history. Students tweeted as different characters. Living a quest is a great way to learn.

4. Play Games for Social Good: Have a Point, Don’t Just Earn Them

Sometimes because of the sensitivity of the subject, calling some activities “games” offends some people. Please don’t make the mistake of thinking the word “game” means trivial. Serious games can touch on serious topics and make a positive difference on social issues.

Mission US, City of Immigrants, lets students pretend they are a Jewish immigrant in New York City.

The Games for Change website has many good serious games. For example, a classroom studying immigrants could play Mission US: City of Immigrants. Kid play a Jewish Immigrant to New York. They have to navigate everyday life. Darfur is Dying is a “game” focusing on the genocide in Darfur. (Game is not usually in quotes, but I do this out of respect for the tragedies that have been happening there.)

Jane McGonigal’s 2012 TED Talk shares how gaming can help those who game have resilience and how good games can improve the world. My students understand the Middle East more deeply as they participate in the Arab-Israeli Conflict Simulation run by Dr. Jeff Stanzler students at the University of Michigan.

History repeats itself unless we learn from history. But it is hard to make serious games real on the pages of a book. Speaking the language of this generation just makes sense.

5. Game Based Platforms for Learning

For some time, teachers have used Learning Management Systems. In an epic plot twist, many teachers are adding Game Based to their Learning Management Systems. Some teachers use the burgeoning Class Craft made by teacher Shawn Young to “play” their curriculum against other classes. Teacher Kevin Jarrett uses Game On, a WordPress plugin to add points and quests to student blogging. Other Gamification programs like GradeCraft, Rezzly,  and Virtual Locker are all being used to add points, badges, and other gaming elements to the everyday classroom.

Students earn experience points and level up when Classcraft is used to help kids learn.

The challenge with this approach is to remember that not all games are alike. According to Bartle’s Player Types, a categorization of the different “types” of gamers who play for a variety of reasons, some gamers play for points but others play to be on an epic quest, socialize, and some just want to explore. The most epic games appeal to all types of players, and certainly this is where point and badge-centric game based platforms for learning fall short.

6. Experience Learning: Immerse Yourself in the Experience

Some games immerse you in a simulated experience intended to teach. A student studying photosynthesis could play Reach for the Sun and manage a plant to help it produce as many seeds as possible before winter comes. Last year, my students won $7500 for their financial literacy skills as they played the H&R Block Budget Challenge. They experienced life as a recent college graduate, working, paying bills and managing investments for eight weeks.

Even literature has immersive experiences. Greg Toppo in his book The Game Believes in You talks about Walden: A Game. Toppo writes,

“There are no locks to pick or puzzles to solve. In place of levels are sunlit days and starry nights, four seasons and a journal that you fill with bits of Thoreau’s actual meditations… She [Tracy Fullerton, the game’s inventor], like others in the industry, has begun to see the potential of the form to breathe new life into the classics, those revered books that, as Mark Twain said, ‘everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.'”

In a twist of irony, Henry David Thoreau’s book Walden has been turned into a quiet, reflective game.

Many more “good” games are listed on sites like  Graphite, and Appolicious. Great simulations let you live what you’re learning with robust results.

7. Go Offline or Outside: You Don’t Need Tech to Teach

You don’t always have to use technology. My accounting classes made giant leaps in understanding debits and credits when I invented a way for students to keep their accounting books while playing Monopoly. When my students created apps, we had a Shark Tank competition to see whose app would get funded.

Geocaching activities get students outside using GPS coordinates and outdoor games for learning have been around since a caveman first drew a picture of a mammoth in the sand to warn his child. Drama in the classroom can even have game elements.

Games can happen anywhere a great teacher wants to conquer learning and sometimes that means going hands on or outside.

8. Create Solutions as You Learn: Gifts from the Hour of Code

This year, students participating in Hour of Code can program Star Wars Characters, and Minecraft themed experiences. Students learn to code as they make games with characters they love.

While the Hour of Code’s primary emphasis is encouraging students to program code, I think it has produced an incredible by-product: a large group of pupils showing what works in game-based learning. With hundreds of thousands of kids of all ages playing the Hour of Code games, it is quickly seen which games kids love by how many play the games during this month.

As a teacher observing Hour of Code, this massive event seems to be producing games that are more engaging and better at teaching coding each year. But students aren’t memorizing, they are learning code as they program with it. Each child has a unique experience and unique solution for many of the games. Game designers can look at their creations and understand what they did well and what didn’t work.

Hour of Code is definitely leveling up in their teaching of coding. This learning can and should be applied to all topics we teach. Instead of producing manuals, handouts, and paper lesson plans, initiatives should be programming games that we play and learn together.

Game Based Learning is Here to Stay

Many gamers and game-based learning teachers turn their noses up at the rote memorization “worksheets with points” of many games that claim to be transformational. There are better ways to using gaming with learning than memorizing math facts and spelling words. (Although as a parent, I jumped for joy at Spelling City and Funbrain as these games ARE much more fun than flashcards.) 

So as was asked in the old movie, WarGames,

“Shall we play a game?”

The answer  honestly depends on the game. Not all games are created equal. Give me epic educational experiences or I’d rather not play at all. If educators can use games that spark higher-order thinking, then the games themselves can level up and so can learning.

The answer to the question shall we play a game, honestly depends on the game. Not all games are created equal. Give me epic educational experiences or I’d rather not play at all.

The post 8 Great Ways to Level Up Game Based Learning in the Classroom appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Creative Coding Through Games and Apps

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 18 November, 2015 - 22:06

I've been looking into this lately. It looks like an interesting first course for a lot of schools.

Creative Coding Through Games and Apps is a first-semester course to introduce programming in the early secondary grades. Students learn by creating real games or apps by working in the same ways as professional programmers. Designed to attract and reach a broad range of students, including those who may have never before considered programming, this course can be successfully delivered by any teacher, regardless of computer science background, via any modern web browser on phones, tablets, laptops, or desktop computers. The course length is flexible (6, 9, 12, or 18 weeks) and offers online and in-class resources. The downloadable curriculum package provides everything you need to deliver the course, including teacher prep materials, lesson plans, presentations, student assignments, homework, projects, and tests. Best of all, it's free!

Try out the preview package. Point them to https://www.touchdevelop.com/ccga.
There they can download the freely available Preview Package that contains a course description, teacher and student guides, and sample unit materials. They will learn more about the requirements, objectives, and learning goals in the enclosed sample lesson unit with Creative Coding Through Games and Apps.

Categories: Planet

Contests for Computer Science Students and Grants for Teachers

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 18 November, 2015 - 22:05

Earth | Microsoft Imagine Cup https://www.imaginecup.com/Earth via @MSFTimagine An Imagine Cup coding competition for students between 6 and 18 years old from Microsoft.

Do you know students who are interested in creating an app? The Congressional App Challenge is now open for submissions! Entries are due by January 15, 2016. Learn more at congressionalappchallenge.us

Attention innovative educators! Check out these 4 free projects & apply for grants: From Allen Distinguished Educators.

DIY Grant Application period opens on Nov 3rd and closes on Dec 4th at 11:59 PM PT.

The purpose of the DIY Grants (up to $1000) is to help us enhance the replicability of the DIY guides as well as their adaptability to a range of school types, locations, and grade levels. Toward that end we are looking for teachers who work in school environments different from those of the ADEs who created them.

Categories: Planet

#BYOD Tool: Google’s “About Me”

Darcy Moore's Blog - 18 November, 2015 - 20:22

Google has launched a new service which purports to allow users to control their online information.

Their new About me page lists information such as work history, contact details, educational background, web presence, places you have lived, gender and birthday. The page allows users to edit and delete information that they don’t want people to be able to see. I checked mine out and found no surprises.

I imagine that this tool will make a good activity for teachers wishing to engage students in practical, real world digital citizenship activities. Students should be made aware that they could edit, delete or change any public information which would make them or their parents uncomfortable. A very practical activity for many one would guess.

For teachers in NSW Department of Education school it may prove to be an interesting exercise to ask students* to logon with First.Last@education.nsw.gov.au and then with their personal Google account to compare what data is displayed.

Click here and login to your Google account to make a start.

*I asked my daughter to experiment with her school email account. There was no information listed in her about me profile but ironically, the very act of doing this increased her digital footprint.

How would you use this tool in a classroom context?

Featured image: screenshot of my own “About Me” page header

The post #BYOD Tool: Google’s “About Me” appeared first on Darcy Moore's Blog.

Categories: Planet

Leveraging the Network

The Principal of Change George Couros - 18 November, 2015 - 07:44

Writing a tweet is really not that hard.  You click the feather and then pops up a little white box, you type in it, and then you press the “tweet” button.

Adding hashtags is not that hard.  You press the hashtag key, add it in front of a word or phrase, and voila, you have a hashtag.


The hard part is the habit.

When we are searching information, it is easy to go to something like Google and filter all of the items on a topic that you are interested in, and trying to find the good stuff.  The disruption in the routine is looking to people to help filter that for you.

Here is an example…

One of the administrators that I was working with wanted to learn more about “growth mindset”, so I sent out the following tweet.

I am wanting to learn more about “Mindset” for K-8 students. Any suggestions? #edchat

— George Couros (@gcouros) November 16, 2015

Here are only some of the responses:

Now some will argue that this is unfair to share because I have a very large network, and that is a totally fair statement.  So let’s say you wrote this instead:

I am wanting to learn more about “Mindset” for K-8 students. Any suggestions? #edchat cc @gcouros

If you have no followers and tweeted that out, and I saw it, I could tweet it out to my network.  By simply tagging myself or someone else that you think might be willing to help, it is possible you can up the opportunities of getting a great answer. I am more than willing to do this as long as it is connected to learning. Although I do not see everything and I can’t help every time, it is important to remember that everyone starts with zero followers on Twitter.  Many people are willing to help if they think it will help the learning of yourself and your students.

The point of this post is to show that there is power in going beyond simply finding information, to learning how to leverage a network.  The trick is getting into the mindset of doing this and thinking this way.  The more you add to a network, the more you can get out of it and if you do not get the responses we are hoping for, we need to be willing to try again. One of the things that I always say is that it is important for us to create these connections for our students, but it is more important for us to teach them how to do it themselves.  If we are willing to disrupt our routine, the habit can be formed sooner than later.

Categories: Planet

How we can stop TEACHING TO THE TEST and start empowering learning (for a change)

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 17 November, 2015 - 23:21

Every Classroom Matters Episode 189

I’m sick and tired of excuses. Everyone makes them but the biggest, most obnoxious dumbest excuse we’ve adopted is “we have to prepare kids for THE TEST.” Sure the test has become a reality. But with so many people seeing the schools KILL THE LOVE OF LEARNING so we can help kids memorize rote facts for a TEST — why isn’t more happening to CHANGE THINGS? Schools know we can do better but why do schools still do the same old things that didn’t work last time? Parents see it too! Two thirds of US parents agreeing that there’s too much emphasis on testing. It is time to shift.

Essential Questions: Uncommon Learning: Creating Schools that Work for Kids
  • What DOESN’T work in education?
  • How can we let go of control and still prepare kids for life?
  • How we should evaluate our schools?
  • What is it going to take to help schools focus on learning and not testing?
  • How do you help teachers who refuse to learn new things or are so burnt out and tired they don’t want to join informal learning?
When society looks back on us in a hundred years will we be seen as a people who did what is right even though it is hard? Or will we be seen as a people who make excuses to do the wrong thing because we’re tired? May it not be! Change is hard but it is for our kids. It is worth it! Keep them the center! Focus on learning! We can all level up learning! 

Educator Resources from this Episode

If something is important to us, we find a way. If not, then we’ll always find an excuse. Eric Sheninger

“Schools work better for adults than they work for kids.
We need to work harder to make schools work for kids.” Eric Sheninger

When society looks back on us in 100 years…
Will we be seen as people who do what is right even though it is hard?
Or will we be seen as people who make excuses to do the wrong thing because we’re tired? Vicki Davis

Join the Every Classroom Matters Awesome Educators Network on Facebook

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above.

The post How we can stop TEACHING TO THE TEST and start empowering learning (for a change) appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Interesting Links 17 November 2015

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 17 November, 2015 - 22:09

Yesterday’s interesting links was all about links to educators and their blogs and resources. Today is about links from non profits and companies. Good stuff all. My UK readers will want to read the BBC MicroBit news down below.

Have you seen the Hour of Code stuff involving the new Star Wars movie from code.org?  Looks pretty good as do the new inspirational videos at that page.

EngageCSEdu offers intro CS course materials to engage diverse students. http://www.engage-csedu.org provided by NCWIT.

http://www.LeadCS.org - a website for K-12 education leaders in schools and looking to build, grow, or sustain computer science programs.

Ohbot2 - A Robot Head to program from your PC by Ohbot on @Kickstarter Anyone looking at these? What do you think about the idea?

Meet the award recipients of the first Microsoft HoloLens academic research grants  - HoloLens is Microsoft’s virtual reality system. They have given some grants to universities to create some interesting projects.

Read the latest BBC Micro:Bit information from Lee Stott in Microsoft’s UK education team.

BBC Micro:bit lessons with Touch Develop a large playlist of very short videos on the BBC Micro:Bit witl links to associated lessons.

Microsoft pilot programme to expand the reach of BBC micro:bit   Microsoft is going to buy a whole lot of extra Micro:Bits so that some lucky schools will have some very enhanced opportunities with the devices.

Categories: Planet

Should I Trust The Cloud?

Chris Betcher - 17 November, 2015 - 13:22

I received an email recently from a colleague asking about data sovereignty, and in particular asking about how schools deal with the  need to store all personal data on Australian servers to be compliant with the law. This was my reply…

When deciding whether to do a thing – any thing – you need to assess the relative risk. There is NOTHING that can have it’s risk mitigated to zero. So while we can have debates about the security of the cloud, the fact is that ANY service is generally only as safe as the password that protects it. It’s far simpler to socially engineer your way into a system than to hack it, and it’s easier to follow someone through an open doorway before the door shuts than to crack the lock. There are security risks involved with every system.

What makes you think that data saved on a server that happens to be geographically located on Australian soil is any safer than data on a server located on the other side of some imaginary geographical dividing line? What policies make Australian servers impervious to security issues?  What is it about Australian passwords that are safer than non-Australian passwords?

It’s interesting that whenever I hear the security argument from someone, I ask them whether they use 2-factor authentication on their online accounts. The answer is almost invariably never. I find it hard to take someone seriously when they bleat about security and yet do nothing to secure their own stuff using the safest and simplest technology we have available; 2 factor authentication.

I also find it amusing that these same people who bang on about not trusting the cloud, also almost always have a bank account. When I ask them where their money is stored, they say “in the bank”. When I ask where is it actually stored, they have no idea. They don’t know where their money – or the digital records that define the concept of money – is actually stored. They never stop to consider than when they go to an ATM and withdraw $50, it’s not the same $50 note that they actually put into the bank. There is no magical shoebox under the bank’s bed that stores their actual money… it’s all just computer records, kept on a server, somewhere, and I guarantee that they have no idea where that somewhere is.

That’s why the debate about whether we should be allowing our data to be stored offshore is such a laughable concept. It shows a real lack of understanding about the way the Internet actually works.

The truth is, it doesn’t matter WHERE your data is stored. What matters is WHO is storing it, and whether you trust them with it. I’d rather trust my data to major cloud provider offshore who offer privacy policies that I trust, along with strongly encrypted and sharded data storage techniques, virtual and physical security over their datacentres, and a proven track record of doing the cloud right, than to some minor player in the cloud storage space just because they happen to have servers in Australia.

I’m also not a lawyer.  However, I’ve done enough research into the Australian data sovereignty laws to feel satisfied that I’m interpreting them the right way. And contrary to all the Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt being spread around regarding these laws, they do NOT say that cloud services cannot be used unless the servers are in Australia. What they say is that the cloud service USER – that’s you – needs to feel satisfied that the cloud service PROVIDER is offering a service that meets your expectations of safety, security, privacy and redundancy.  If you do your due diligence, and come to the conclusion that you’re satisfied with your cloud service provider is giving you a level of service you can trust, then you are free to use it and in turn offer it to your users. If you don’t believe they are offering this level of service, then don’t use them. It’s as simple as that.

Your choice will never be able to come with a 100% guarantee. Nothing does. But if you do your research carefully and make your choices well, the chances are as good as they will ever be that you have made the right decision. The cloud offers amazing possibilities, and I’m completely convinced it IS the future of computing. I’m all in on the cloud as the platform.

To me, there is really only one obvious choice in picking a cloud provider. You want someone whose entire infrastructure is built for the cloud, whose entire business model is built on doing it right, managing data with security and integrity and maintaining the trust of their users. I’m not mentioning names because I’m sure you can make your own decisions about who you trust and how well they do this cloud thing.

What I don’t want to do is to place my data with a cloud provider who is still playing catchup, whose cloud infrastructure run on legacy platforms that were never built for the cloud, and whose business practices in slagging their competition I find completely distasteful.

I don’t care where their servers are located.

Header image by Dave Herholz – CC BY-SA

Related posts:

  1. The Cloud
  2. In None We Trust
  3. In Second Factor We Trust

Categories: Planet

The internet of ‘educational’ things

Bluyonder Greg Whitby - 17 November, 2015 - 10:11

When we talk about classrooms being connected, we really are at the tip of the iceberg.  Within the next 3-5 years, the Internet of Things (IoT) will have already transformed sectors like health, transport and retail.  These sectors have begun using sensor networks to collect and transmit real-time data to improve quality of care and efficiency.

Last month, our Chief Information Officer attended a summit on the Internet of Things hosted by Intel Asia. Although there are very few ‘real world examples’ at the moment of its application in education, this will almost certainly ‘disrupt’ schooling.

One of the biggest impacts of these networks of things embedded into software and sensors etc will be reducing the administrative load on schools – anything from school attendance to school security.  However, the biggest potential will be the impact IoT will have on personalised learning and teaching.

Reflecting on the potential of IoT in education, Dr Michelle Selinger believes that we “will be able to connect the right people together to accelerate learning as well as collecting and interpreting data on learners’ behaviours and activity. Used well, this will make learning more personalised and targeted to individuals’ learning needs, their learning styles and preferences, and their aspirations.”

Video analytics used well in learning spaces could immediately alert teachers (through body movement and facial recognition)  of students who are disengaged from their learning. The argument may be that good teachers already do this but as Michelle says we are notoriously bad at capturing and analysing data. IoT is a shift from living in a world where we react to living in one which will help us predict.  That has to be good for education.

Today’s connected classroom is the process of connecting people to people. The connected classroom of the future will be the process of using intelligent information to create more highly personalised learning experiences for all students.



Categories: Planet

Standards for Teachers

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 10 November, 2015 - 17:28


  • "Teachers have always held the key to student success. But their role is changing. The ISTE Standards·T define the new skills and pedagogical insights educators need to teach, work and learn in the digital age." - Rhondda Powling

Tags: standards, technology, education, ISTE, 21st Century Skills, teachers

by: Rhondda Powling

Categories: International News

Moments in Time

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 6 November, 2015 - 17:24


  • Great resource from ABCSplash. This interactive timeline was jointly developed by the ABC, ESA, HTAV (History Teachers Association of Victoria) and Design Royale. It ''gives an accessible entry point to the complex period covered in Overviews for the Australian Curriculum: History at Years 8 and 9" - Rhondda Powling

Tags: history, feudalism

by: Rhondda Powling

Categories: International News

Students Can Learn From Their Mistakes If We Let Them - Finding Common Ground - Education Week

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 30 October, 2015 - 17:43


  • "There are many ways to build student engagement in the classroom. What we need to get away from is the adult in the classroom answering their own questions, and fostering an atmosphere where students can rely on each other and work in collaboration. As with anything, this requires balance because we want to make sure the student who doesn't want to answer questions actually takes the opportunity to do so.
    As Hattie says learning is hard work and it offers us challenges. We know that as adults but want to prevent our students from seeing the challenge because it doesn't always feel good. We need to change our expectations to make sure that students understand they do have to take ownership over their own learning, and not giving them the answers sometimes may be the place to start. " - Rhondda Powling

Tags: students, mistakes, learning, classroom activities, education, student engagement, student voice

by: Rhondda Powling

Categories: International News
ACCE Partners