Thursday, October 16, 2014

Garbage Dreams

Hello everyone!
This week I am further exploring gamification, but this time I am focusing on serious games. The game I chose to play is called The Garbage Dreams Recycling Game and I played the game about 8 times (it's kind of addicting once you get started). This game is based on a documentary titled Garbage Dreams that shows you an inside view on Egypt's garbage people. This game lets you play the role of a recycler. Your goal is to recycle as much as possible while also building your recycling empire without running out of money

The picture above is the map you have when you begin. As you can see there is a map with different places and names on them. Also on the side bar you can see there are types of recyclables. 
Below is a photo of what it looks like when you sort your garbage and have to place it in the correct recycling bin. Therefore, you need to know which items fall under which recycling category. It's important to know which piece of garbage it supposed to be put where because for each item you put in the wrong place you lose money! 
Before playing I would have students go through the website and copy down any words that they think would be important to know. I would have a list of my own as well in case they miss a few that I believe are important. 
For students that are beginner to intermediate learners I could focus strictly on vocabulary for this game. So my language learning objective for them would be:
  • Student will be able to identify each recycling category (organics, paper, tin, glass, plastics, aluminum) and know acceptable items that can be put in each category. 
How I would have students do this would be by using a picture sort. I would provide roughly 20 photos or actual items (if my classroom allowed it) and have them tell me which category each item belongs in and why. For example, a magazine belongs in the paper category because it is made of paper. A soda can does not belong in organics because it is not safe for an animal to eat. 

For more advanced students I would have them create a summary of the game. They may already know a lot of the recycling vocabulary therefore the can use these words and don't need to be taught the terms from scratch. My language learning objective would be:

  • Student will be able to use recycling vocabulary to write a narrative of The Garbage Dreams Recycling Game.
Students will need to create a clear piece of writing narrating what the game is about and how to play. Students will need to use vocabulary and correct grammar, spelling and punctuation. 

I chose this game because I think it's a very important topic that can be used or seen across countries. It allows students to understand that their actions can make a difference in the world. It also teaches them how to be more environmentally friendly.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Escape the Room

Today I explored the world of Escaping the Room Games! If you're not familiar with what escaping the room games are, I'll give you a brief overview. It's an online game where you can point and click to explore a world of your choice. You are trying to complete a task for your character by reading the pop ups directing you what to do. 
I tried a few games but my favorite was Griswold the Goblin who is on a quest to fix his television. He 's just a a dopey little guy who lives in a cave. I probably played this game for about an hour! I thought this would be an interesting game to use in an ESL classroom.
The great thing about this game is that some directions come only written, while others are given orally and in writing. I think depending on student level this game could be used in a variety of ways. 
For example, with intermediate learners I think it could be beneficial as a whole class to introduce the game. The game would be brought up on the overhead and one student would navigate while the other students in the class worked together with where Griswold should go and what he should do. The teacher can prompt the students if they seem to get stuck or clarify any words they don't understand. 

Whats nice about this game is that in the bottom left hand corner of the screen are Griswold's capabilities. One is walking, the eyeball is for him looking at something more closely, the hand is for touching and him being able to move things around, and the mouth is for him to talk. This could be something that you have the students write about. This would be a simple introduction to how to play the game, but also have them begin developing vocabulary and using descriptive words. An ongoing activity throughout the game could be to find descriptive words to describe what they see or keep a running list of words that they're unsure of. Later on, students could work together to develop a word wall of all the vocabulary associated with the game. Eventually I would have students work in pairs to play the game. As their language skills developed I would establish checkpoints for where they should go up to in the game. Then I would have them narrate Griswold's adventures for that day. They should be able to write about any new characters he met, where he went, what it looked like, or anything else that gives insight to what they did in the game that day. 
The role of he teacher would be a helper. The teacher should monitor student work and answer questions. I also think to verify that the students know what they're supposed to be doing. In order for students to meet the learning objectives they must actually play the game and complete a piece of writing that goes alongside with playing the game.
This is a cute game worth checking out. It's a way for students to practice reading, writing, and listening while having some hands on experiences.

Friday, October 10, 2014

What is Gamification?

        First and foremost you're probably asking yourself "what is gamification?" According to Educause's Things You Should Know About Gamification, "Gamification is the application of game elements in non-gaming situations, often to motivate or influence behavior". It is used to create an engaging dynamic. It generally engages students because they're given game like prizes. It gives motivation to reach certain accomplishments. I also gives teachers a way to track accomplishments and points. Using games to learn keeps students engaged and stimulated and gives them the chance to work at their own pace and achieve their individual goals.

Tom Chatfield presents an interesting rationale in a TED talk titled 7 Ways Games Reward the BrainGames reward your brain with experience bars that measure progress, multiple long and short-term aims, rewarding effort, feedback, and have an element of uncertainty. Using games is engaging and this is because, effort is rewarded although the reward before hand is uncertain. 

At one point he discusses the neurotransmitter associated with learning, dopamine. This is a chemical released by the brain that is associated with reward seeking behavior and makes people feel good. They have found ways to track the dopamine levels in the brain while gaming, which has given them the opportunity to predict learning and enhanced engagement when learning is taking place at an enhanced level. This has given them the chance to find moments when someone is most likely to remember and when someone has confidence. It shows how "game-playing and reward structures make people braver, make them more willing to take risks, more willing to take on difficulty, harder to discourage."  Gaming makes students confident and gives them opportunity to collaborate. Both of these are very important qualities students should have in everyday life and in the working world.

Now that we know what gamification is and how it effects our brain, here are some ways that you can incorporate games in your classroom for your students. Digital Play shares 10 Gaming Genres To Adapt In Class and they are: point and click, escape the room, arcade, puzzle, strategy, adventure, casual, massively multiplayer online role playing games, alternate reality, and virtual worlds.
A few of my favorites I could see myself using the classroom are:
  • Escape the Room - Language can be used by getting a student to write about a walk through that we do as a class or they do on their own. If you're not familiar with them you can check a few out here
  • Arcade - Games like these can give students the chance practice language skills at a quick pace.
  • Puzzle Games - These could come in handy when testing a students ability to understand word or language patterns. You could create an activity to a virtual word sort.
Overall, using games in your classroom shows how effective it is for student engagement and the benefits it has on a learners brain.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

you can use twitter in the classroom!???!

According to Twitter they have over 271 million active users and roughly 500 million tweets are sent per day. How can we as teachers use this site for professional development and in the classroom with students? I browsed the internet and was overwhelmed with the ideas that were presented about how to use this resource.

The first site I looked at was 60 Inspiring Examples of Twitter in the Classroom. The great thing about this site was that they break down the uses into different categories: Communication, Organization, Resources, Writing Skills, and Twitter Exercises. These are a few of my favorites from each category:
  • Twitter as a Bulletin Board - This is a way teachers and students can openly communicate about whats happening in the classroom. For example, if the teacher is going to be out that day, the teacher can tweet at the class they will not to be in that day and to bring a book with them to read that day in class.
  • Twitter Recaps - At the end of a class the teacher or an assigned students can give a brief summary about what students learned that day.
  • Ask for Help or Advice - This is more so for a teachers professional development,  but a teacher can join twitterchats and ask questions or get advice from other teachers or professionals. It's a quick way to connect with teachers all over the world and get new ideas.
  • Vocabulary Building - Students can each tweet a sentence using a vocabulary word they had learned that day. 
  • Conversations Can Continue Outside the Classroom - Students still have questions after the class is over or are having trouble doing their homework. A quick tweet to the teacher or a fellow classmate can clear up whatever trouble they're having.
The site is absolutely worth checking out. They have over 50 other creative ways that teachers can use twitter.

The other site I looked at was Teachers Guide to Using Twitter in the Classroom. They break Twitter down into 3 categories: Connect, Communicate, and Collaborate. "In 140 characters or less educators are connecting with others from around the world to share resources, take part in global discussion, stay informed, give and receive 'just in time' teaching and learning. The same can happen for your students." The photo below is from their website explaining how Twitter can be used in the K-8 classroom. 
As you can see, it gives teachers a way to connect with parents, send students reminders, share links with students, and document classroom learning. You can also give students extra credit assignments: post a book recommendation, write a poem, or share something you learned recently. I actually had a professor once on the first day of class have us describe your summer in 140 characters or less. Assignments like this can teach students that quality is more important than quantity. It also helps students learn how to revise. A lot of times you have something you want to say but it's too many characters. You have to think how you can still get your point across but with less words. 

This site would be a good one to use if you were going to use twitter in your classroom. It gives a very simple break down of twitter vocabulary, etiquette, quality and a basic how to. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

tweet tweet tweet tweet

Today I dove into the world of twitter! Although I am an avid twitter user, this is my first time using it from a professional teacher stand point.
My teacher put on our syllabus that we would have to attend a twitterchat. I felt as though I needed to prep just so I knew what to expect. While I was searching around twitter, I found that #edu14 was currently trending. I would say in a matter of 5 minutes I was reading hundreds of tweets and knew exactly what #edu14 was. It was truly mind blowing how in a matter of minutes #edu14 meant nothing to me, to me learning about an entire conference happening about technology used in higher ed. Needless to say, I felt prepped and ready to attend my first twitter chat.

Bright and early this morning (7AM) I attended the #ELTchat. Let me tell you, nothing gets your brain going more quickly than a group of teachers bouncing ideas off of one another. Today's topic was flipping. For me personally, I knew very little about flipping. Within 15 minutes I not only knew what flipping was but I knew resources that could be used, motivation for students working outside the class, how to effectively use your time in class, and how to work with students who did not do the prep work. I'm seemed as though many of the people on this chat attend regularly and to my surprise were very welcoming to answer my questions and give me feedback. 

I think a twitterchat is a good form of professional development. For the #ELTchat in particular, they vote on a topic to discuss each time. Therefore, you can vote on something you'd like to learn more about or something you think you could have a great deal of input in. It gives teachers the opportunity to share their knowledge with one another, ask questions, and bounce ideas off of one another. What's nice is that when someone says something you like you can favorite it, or shares a resource you can retweet it. That way you have this stored to your account. Also, if you search the hashtag an later on, all the tweets on that topic will still be there. Even if you don't get the time to actually participate in the chat, you can go through and read what people talked about that day.

Needless to say, this is definitely a resource I would use again in the future. 

See you in the twitterverse!!! @McManusEdTech