Week 8 Reflection

This week was big for me in leading the Twitter chat and being able to explore that more. It was quite the interesting experience for me. I’ve never been too big on Twitter, and still find myself frustrated with it. However, I can better see the usefulness of it after participating in these chats for class. My problem is attempting to get what I want to say in the number of characters and still having room for the hashtag. I can see how this helps keep the chat moving and gets the most valuable ideas out there.

I’ve always been a teacher who wants my students to have fun while learning. I try to keep high energy and high engagement in the classroom. I have fun and love work, so it is my hope that they love what they’re doing and coming to school. Game-based learning is not something that is new to me, nor to the world of education. However online games for game-based learning are becoming more prevalent.

I have found that when I do a simple Google search to find games to do in the classroom, the results are primarily online games from different resources. I’ve checked out a few but not all, so I’m not sure how educational or useful some of the games are. Some of them seem to be games that are based on the lowest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy, knowledge, and do not reach for the higher areas like synthesis and evaluation.

After playing Minecraft, I can see that it has many benefits to classroom application. However, I’m still not totally convinced in placing it in my classroom. I see that it has value and usefulness; however, I still need to do some learning to make sure that I am using the game effectively as a teacher. We’ve learned about so many emerging technologies in this class, and there are others that I would like to implement in my classroom and school before starting to think about Minecraft.

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Minecraft in the Classroom

This past school year, Minecraft was huge for the boys in my classroom, and others in our small school. Our principal praised it’s educational components, yet I didn’t investigate more. If students were playing it at home already and learning from it there, why did I need to bring it into the classroom? One student whose Minecraft interest intrigued me the most was a boy who was not allowed to play Minecraft at home. For whatever reason, his parents did not allow him to play Minecraft. However, he was allowed other technology time and is the same student who took to coding that I mentioned in my earlier blogs. So how exactly did he learn about Minecraft? He learned from guides published by Scholastic. Instead of building in the game, he spent time doodling in class and creating worlds on graph paper. Allowing this student to doodle in class helped him keep his focus. By the end of the day, he had countless drawings of blocks, swords, things called creepers. His interest was fascinating to me, especially since he hadn’t played the game (at home…perhaps he was playing it while visiting friends).

This week of looking into game-based learning, which can be described as a balance of what is learned in class with game play (Vukovic, R., 2015)., allowed me to take a deeper look at the game of Minecraft and experience the game with which so many of my students have become enthralled. Before completing my interview, I did some of my research to develop questions. I found much in the way of information on Minecraft and how to use it in the classroom.

  1. Minecraft facilitates cooperation and teamwork, especially through multiplayer games (Gamepedia, 2015).
  2. Minecraft provides players with a 20 minute day/night cycle with 10 minutes of daylight, 1.5 minutes of sunrise or sunset, and 7 minutes of night allowing players to build their world and then defend it at night from creepers/mobs (Minecraftopia, n.d.).
  3. Minecraft is not subject specific and can be used for any subject. Researchers have found benefits for students with autism, SEN students, and disconnected students when using Minecraft in the classroom (Tablets for Schools, 2014).
  4. Benefits for different subject areas include:
    1. Reading: students read their inventory lists, wikis and online games
    2. Writing: Contributing to Minecraft wikis, chats
    3. Math: Basic multiplication and division skills, learning shapes, game is played on a coordinate plane
    4. Social skills: cooperative events in multiplayer, working together (Gamepedia, 2015).
  5. Joel Levin saw benefits to his daughter using Minecraft and brought it into his technology classes. Since then, he has helped found TeacherGaming, which is three years old and created MinecraftEdu. MinecraftEdu has a curriculum ready for teachers with worlds to download (Ossola, A., 2015).

When I went to do my interview, I had some background on the program, and was better equipped to answer questions. I chose to interview a thirteen year old boy. His interests were solely on the multiplayer portion of the game, specifically the combat and survival games. He showed me the different games he played regularly, stating he enjoyed the survival games because it reminded him of the Hunger Games (E. Knaizowski, personal communication, July 5, 2015). He further went on to explain that he had used Minecraft before in school during math class when solving for area or volume, but he found this boring. When it was my turn to play, I found I had a lot I still needed to learn about the game.

Game-based learning is becoming more prevalent in education today. There is a greater interest from teachers and schools, who seek to not just motivate their students but help them gain deeper insights and understandings (Vukovic, 2015). Minecraft provides students with a free-form structure which allows them to experience things for themselves (Ossola, A., 2015). This can help students create and reflect on tasks easily (Vukovic, 2015). For any classroom, I think there are many possibilities to introducing Minecraft into the classroom.  I could see a world where students have to use their social studies and geography skills to create replicas. These replicas could be of their town, of their home, of an ancient cizilization, etc. I could see a world where students have a task for the week, then need to write a report over what they’ve learned. I could see it helping students who are struggling in learning area and perimeter. Even simple tasks like reading and understanding directions and working with others can help students improve. When it comes to Minecraft, many students are already engaged and there are many resources out there to help us utilize it effectively in our classroom. What are we waiting for?

Bibliography:

Gamepedia. (2015, June 22). Minecraft in education. Retrieved July 2, 2015, from http://minecraft.gamepedia.com/Minecraft_in_education

Minecraftopia. (n.d.). How to play Minecraft. Retrieved July 2, 2015, from http://www.minecraftopia.com/how_to_play_minecraft

Ossola, A. (2015, February 6). Teaching in the age of Minecraft. The Atlantic. Retrieved July 2, 2015, from http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/02/teaching-in-the-age-of-minecraft/385231/

Tablets for Schools. (2014). Teachers! Learn how to use Minecraft as an educational tool. Retrieved July 2, 2015, from http://tabletsforschools.org.uk/teachers-learn-how-to-use-minecraft-as-an-educational-game/

Vukovic, R. (2015, June 8). Games-based learning: It’s time you played the game. EducationHQ. Retrieved July 2, 2015, from http://au.educationhq.com/news/29462/games-based-learning-its-time-you-played-the-game/

 

Week 7 Reflection

This week I was amazed to learn all about 3D printers and their capabilities. Further, I was astounded to learn about the advances already taking place with these printers, especially in regards to the medical field and printing houses/food/cars. Quite simply, the capabilities of 3D printers amaze me. I was able to find through research and think of many exciting ways to apply a 3D printer into my classroom. Possibilities seem to be endless and can be connected to any subject area.

I was unable to make the twitter chat this week; however, I was able to read the transcript provided to check out others’ comments (thanks, Lee!). So far, it seems the biggest concern is money to purchase the original printer. From my research, it doesn’t seem that additional printing supplies cost too much. I found it convenient that LeapFrog provides a printer with a curriculum. This would be incredibly useful when learning how to use the device and making sure you get your students to experience it right away.

Ideally, I would love to have a 3D printer. I think it would go great in a Makerspace or for students who have finished work early. Students can print their own inventions and go through a trial and error process to figure out what would work best. It’s like the process of guessing and checking for math. If students knew they would be able to do this, they might be more motivated to finish classwork in a timely manner. Plus, I have students that would stay on task more. It could also be beneficial for a science fair. Instead have a technology fair. Students have to engineer and print something that works. Less copying from the internet and more turning their own ideas into reality.

From my peers, I learned that many of us were new to 3D printing, with most of us only experiencing it through what we had seen on TV (Grey’s Anatomy) or not at all. I love the idea that Marie presented of using a 3D printer to resurrect/create native tools that students could hold/touch/use. The past wouldn’t be as foreign to us anymore because we would be able to hold it in our hands.

How can 3D printing change the way we think about education?

When reading the essential question this week, I reflected on it a little deeper before starting my research. My only experiences with 3D printing had been what I have seen on television. In order to gain more perspective, I decided to find out a little bit more about 3D printing and how it is changing our world today.

Leapfrog (n.d.) describes their machines as big and sturdy that have one open side. This allows students to view the printing process while it happens. Their machines are made for educational purposes and come with curriculum guides for 3D lessons. Federico-O’Murchu (2014) illustrates the way 3D printing has changed the world. 3D printing allows for the manufacturing of goods domestically, such as cars, food, etc. Further predictions state that 3D printing will make life today barely recognizable in approximately fifty to seventy five years and the demise of construction and agriculture industries could be coming. 3D printing can be used to create many things: headphone wraps, cherry pit removers, cellphone cases, etc (Business Insider, 2015), but what exactly does all this 3D printing mean for the world of education.

3D printing has many benefits for the world of education. Providing visual aides for students, gaining the interest of students, enhancing hands-on learning, and more interactive class activities name a few of those benefits (Educational Technology and Mobile Learning, 2013). There is a vision out there that every student in America will have a 3D printer on their desk in the future to help with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) principles (McCue, 2011). However, 3D technology can aid in more subjects than just those related to STEM fields. For example, geography and history. Students can create mountain ranges, rivers, etc or museum artifacts that were previously ‘no touching’ (Krassenstein, 2014). Students can have access and touch things they didn’t know where possible. This technology takes our students from passive consumers into active creators (Educational Technology and Mobile Learning, 2013).

In my mind, I can see many possibilities for where 3D printing can go in the world of education. I see students who struggle in certain areas now having access to a device/tool to help them grasp concepts. I see engaged students, who will be enthralled when watching their own creations come to life. I imagine our science fair projects no longer being projects students come up with (or replicate off the web) but having students enter into a technology fair – students becoming inventors and creators of their own inventions. Students are designing and printing their own ideas. If it doesn’t work the first time, they are reworking their idea and printing it again (McCue, 2011). It is comparable to guessing and checking work in math. It provides students with ownership for their idea and further a community focus for students working together collaboratively. 3D printers can be tied to every subject area. In reading, instead of having students draw a map of the town they’ve read about, they could 3D print it. In math, students can use the printer to bring to life equations. The possibilities are endless (Federico-O’Murchu, 2014).

Bibliography:

Business Insider. (2015). 23 useful things you can make with a 3-D printer. Retrieved June 28, 2015, from http://www.businessinsider.com/useful-3d-printer-projects-2015-2#this-working-padlock-and-its-key-are-made-entirely-out-of-plastic-1

Educator Technology and Mobile Learning. (2013). Importance of 3D printing in education. Retrieved June 28, 2015, from http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2013/03/importance-of-3d-printing-in-education.html

Frderico-O’Murchu, L. (2014, May 11). How 3-D printing will radically change the world. Retrieved June 28, 2015, from http://www.cnbc.com/id/101638702

Krassenstein, E. (2014, December 21). Why 3D printing needs to take off in schools around the world. Retrieved June 30, 2015, from http://3dprint.com/27743/3d-printing-benefits-schools/

Leapfrog. (n.d.). 3D printing for education. Retrieved June 28, 2015, from http://www.lpfrg.com/education

McCue, TJ. (2011, November 1). 3D printing will transform education. Retrieved June 28, 2015, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/tjmccue/2011/11/01/3d-printing-will-transform-education/

PBSoffbook. (2013). Will 3D printing change the world? Retrieved June 30, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=41&v=X5AZzOw7FwA

Week 6 Reflection

This was the first week I saw a real debate for our class, instead of playing Devil’s Advocate or asking questions to extend knowledge. I recall when I saw this week’s essential question and couldn’t think of a compelling reason to not teach coding. As I did my research, I still wasn’t convinced. The arguments were not compelling to me. Though I understood the arguments, with technology being a part of everyone’s world today (even our youngsters) I believe keeping technology available to our students.

A conversation with Jason on my blog and the Twitter chat helped me see other people’s view points. However, I still hold my belief that coding should be introduced and taught to students. I do not think it should be the total technology curriculum, if schools have such a program. As educators, it is our responsibility to open our students up to the possibilities that are out there. Kodiak is not as rural as some places, yet many of my students may have never heard about coding if it hadn’t been brought into the classroom. One student loves it so much that he now has moved from the Hour of Code to the Coding/Programing guides available on Khan Academy.

The most significant reflection is that as a teacher I always have to be willing to learn and see what’s out there. Students will not always know the possibilities that are available to them. What I take away from this week is not that every student will become a coder or even like coding, but as a teacher, I have a responsibility to help them discover this world. Our job is not just to teach subjects but social skills and to empower children – to let them know what is out there and what is possible. Coding is just one skill that we can teach our students and it may help them be successful in the future.

Pros and Cons of Coding

This past year, my school, kindergarten through eighth grades, participated in Hour of Code. Previous to this, I had been exposed to code; my experiences with code came from from different websites. My knowledge was limited; however, I was still ahead of my colleagues. Before throwing students into coding, we showed them a short video from the Hour of Code website to give them a background on it. I had two students who were very excited about the coding itself. Many of my female students were excited about the Anna and Elsa portion of the hour. All in all our Hour of Code went off very well. Unfortunately, the hour took place during rehearsals for our Christmas program. Some students spent time rehearsing rather than coding. We were able to complete the hour at another time. However, during our school year, we never made it back to coding.

Coding is quite simply what “makes it possible to create computer software, apps, and websites” (Code Conquest, 2015). Behind all website designs, there is coding. Recently the Hour of Code was started as a way to expand participation in computer science and make the field more accessible to everyone (Hour of Code, 2015). Coding has been evolving for many years. With the Hour of Code, coding has been brought into the classrooms much more than in the past, especially for younger students. Because of this, a debate on coding in classrooms has begun.

When looking at arguments for keeping coding out of schools, I found some of the arguments less compelling than others. For example, one argument stated that teaching kids to code was a scam and tied declining academic achievement to the increasing number of computers in the classroom (Dvorak, J., 2014). Further, teaching kids to code is just a ploy to sell machines and coding isn’t really about the kids. Another argument detailed coding as a problem until the appropriate age of development, approximately fourteen years old, and that computer exposure should not be based on capability but developmental appropriateness (Amico, B., 2014). Because I had participated in the Hour of Code and have seen the way technology can be developmentally appropriate for those younger than fourteen, these arguments seemed less compelling than others.

It wasn’t until I read a perspective from Lewis, that I saw a compelling argument against teaching kids to code. Before teaching kids to code, we must first teach teachers to code by shifting paradigm and providing more professional development for teachers (2013). As I learned in my undergraduate program,students need to be able to apply learning to real-world problems, the same is true of coding. Further, teachers need to embrace the technology of coding and feel comfortable with it before bringing it to the students. Then as teachers feel more comfortable with coding, it can be brought into schools and classrooms.

Coding is a real-world future for our students. While students still need skills of the past, our world has changed and learning to code can help students craft and shape their future (EdSurge Guide, 2015). We are doing our students a disservice by waiting until high school to teach coding. If more schools taught coding, it could be the difference between students finishing high school versus students dropping out (Vilson, J., 2014). Coding has gone mainstream.

As a teacher I know that each student learns in a different way. Some students learn visually, while others learn through auditory. Some students will be more successful if we provide them with their best chance for success. For some, this means being more open to new ideas, technologies, and pedagogies, even if it is out of our comfort zone. This is the way I think of coding. After my one experience with it through the Hour of Code, I had several students excited, successful, and wanting to do more. It did not take away from their other learning and more importantly, they were excited to learn. I hope as technology continues to evolve, so will our policies to allow for teacher development to incorporate coding in the classroom.

Bibliography:

Amico, B. (2014, May 12). Other skills should take priority over coding [Computing in the classroom]. Retrieved June 20, 2015, from http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/05/12/teaching-code-in-the-classroom/other-skills-should-take-priority-over-coding

Code Conquest. (2015). What is coding? Retrieved June 21, 2015, from http://www.codeconquest.com/what-is-coding/

Dvorak, J. (2014, May 12). Teaching kids to code is a scam [Computing in the classroom]. Retrieved June 20, 2015, from http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/05/12/teaching-code-in-the-classroom/teaching-coding-to-kids-is-a-scam

EdSurge Guide. (2015). Teaching kids to code. Retrieved June 21, 2015, from https://www.edsurge.com/guide/teaching-kids-to-code

Hour of Code. (2015). FAQs. Retrieved June 20, 2015, from http://hourofcode.com/us#

Lewis, J. (2013, June 2). We’re not ready to teach kids to code [Practical elegance]. Retrieved June 21, 2105, from http://decomplecting.org/blog/2013/06/02/were-not-ready-to-teach-kids-to-code/

Vilson, J. (2014, November 4). Coding opens doors [Computing in the classroom].

 

Week 5 Reflection

I really enjoyed this week. Because we were tasked with designing something, each person’s blog was unique with a different device. Though I missed the additional thoughts I would gain from others’ blogs, I had so much run reading everyone’s creative ideas. I feel I was able to engage with others more deeply this week by discussing their designs and additional features/models their devices could be or have. I remember reading about the task for this week and my mind drawing a blank. My brain was empty and I felt deterred by the task, yet as I worked with my summer enrichment students, I was able to design a device. Reading about my colleague’s designs further opened up my creativity. I was able to see all the possibilities that the Internet of Things had to offer, not only for my classroom but for the world.

This week my additional thoughts came from the Twitter Chat, most notably, from a conversation I had with Tristan about privacy. It began when the idea of a sensor for off task students could alarm the teacher or students. It then became a much bigger issue of privacy for students and how far can be too far with these devices. While I don’t know how far is too far, I do know I don’t want to invade my students’ privacy. I know this about myself and knew it before the chat. My realization came from the fact that the Internet of Things will make it easier to access private matters. I think I already realized it, but I didn’t realize how out of control it could get. Of course, when thinking about a sensor for off task students, I thought about one student in particular, who can abuse the privileges of technology. To me, it then became about responsibility and consequences. Each situation and student is different, but it taught me that I might need to be more engaging when teaching this student in order to help him stay on task and use the technology in a responsible way in the classroom.