This last week was way too busy! Our village hosted a regional basketball tournament which meant all hands on deck. Jack and I were the game photographers and helped manage the live-streaming of the games. These games went on until late hours of each night. This commitment also forced me to asynchronously participate in the #diffimooc twitter chats, which was challenging because most people actively chat during the prescribed hours. All this was fine and good, with the exception of having to get up in the morning and teach tired students who were only looking forward to the next games. Although this sounds like a tough situation, it made for a perfect environment to test out gaming in the classroom.
Going back in time a bit, I was interested in using Minecraft after reading some of the #diffimooc wikispaces, blogs, and twitter chats. I specifically attended sessions at ASTE to learn more about it. I had never heard my students talk about Minecraft and I didn’t know anything about it. I didn’t understand how it could relate to curriculum or support teaching of our standards. My learning network, based on those in my class and those I met at ASTE, helped me understand how Minecraft worked and how it might apply in my classroom.
When I returned home to my village, I discovered that all the people I talked to were right – my students were already highly engaged in Minecraft. I liked that it is a game involving construction, problem-solving and exploration. Minecraft for education is not free and the cost is substantial enough that I would need a proposal to be approved by my administrator in order to use it. Due to my inexperience with Minecraft and the tight purse-strings, I will not pursue this gaming avenue at this time.
Confering with my grade level peers, we had agreed that a concerted effort was needed to ensure that our students memorized multiplication facts by the end of 4th grade (I would “catch” my 5th graders up this year). A three-pronged approach would be used to aid in this effort. I used multiplication.com and IXL.com as two of the prongs which would involve “gaming.” Students multiplication skills were assessed at the beginning of the week. Based on the facts they still needed to learn, students were assigned skills in IXL or in multiplication.com. To up the ante, the third prong was added – pure bribery and competition. A couple of teachers will host a pizza party for those students who successfully memorized all their facts to 12. The interesting thing about this is that all the students are helping each other out. I have a couple that really struggle with memorizing things they don’t want to memorize. Their peers are helping out these strugglers so that all make it into the “pizza club.”
The challenge this week was to use Glogster as a tool. I created a Glog in order to promote my multiplication challenge. http://barbradonachy.edu.glogster.com/multiplication-challenge-1110
This tool was not entirely intuitive. I had a little trouble at first with font changes. I was able to easily insert links to web locations. I imagine it would be easy to embed other items, such as videos, vokis, and more. After I got the hang of it, I could see this as a useful tool for students to create group or individual virtual posters as part of a larger project or as a place to store materials for a larger project. Sometimes, we have bandwidth problems at our school. This may pose a problem for Glogster use.