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Chris Sloan

Teachers Teaching Teachers #248 - Gaming Questions from Texas, Minecraft, and the "2011 Horizon Report K12 Edition" - 5.25.11


67:37 minutes (15.48 MB)
One of the more inspiring threads of our collective inquiry on Teachers Teaching Teachers (TTT) has been to explore how to bring gaming into our classrooms. (See some of our shows on gaming from the past 18 months.) With this episode,  we add to that list of shows.

This episode of TTT began with a study group on gaming that teachers Janelle Quintans Bence and Colleen Graveskull have been involved with in the North Star Writing Project (Texas). We first met Janelle in July 2007 in the National Writing Project's Tech Matters workshops.

Janelle and her colleagues in Texas are filled with questions as they plan to bring gaming into their classrooms this fall. She sent me some of them. What better way to jump back into gaming than with a bunch of questions -- the kind of questions teachers often ask when they consider adding games to their classes.

Here are the questions we've been brainstorming in our study group on gaming:
  1. How did you all begin including gaming curriculum in your classrooms?
  2. What are some of your biggest successes? Challenges?
  3. How much game playing goes on in your classroom? Do students only play in social action games? What does that conversation look like? What norms are set prior to this?
  4. I'm thinking about using the games students play on a regular basis as media for students to deconstruct and analyze in terms of influencing identity. Should I be playing all these games to get a better idea? Or will observing the students play suffice? What does a teacher do if he or she is not good at playing those video games?
  5. Designing games really requires deep content knowledge. How much experience with game design did you have prior to letting the students explore that avenue?
  6. Could you tell us about Scratch? What are the benefits of this program as compared to Game Star Mechanic?
  7. What kind of evaluation do you use around gaming? 
  8. Is it all informal discourse based assessment, or do you do something more formal? 
  9. Has your game playing been limited to computer games or have you also used standalone consuls? 
  10. How much time did you have to dedicate to help students understand how to utilize the game design tool before they began designing? Do you feel that this time has been detrimental to fulfilling your ability to satisfy state standards?
Joining us on this podcast to help us to explore these questions is Samantha Adams, the Director of Communications, at the New Media Consortium (NMC).  Samantha is one of the writers of of the recently released Horizon Report: 2011 K12 Edition, which has a section on gaming:
Game-based learning has gained considerable traction since 2003, when James Gee began to describe the impact of game play on cognitive development. Since then, research and interest in the potential of gaming on learning has exploded, as has the diversity of games themselves, with the emergence of serious games as a genre, the proliferation of gaming platforms, and the evolution of games on mobile devices. Developers and researchers are working in every area of game-based learning, including games that are goal-oriented; social game environments; non-digital games that are easy to construct and play; games developed expressly for education; and commercial games that lend themselves to refining team and group skills. Role-playing, collaborative problem solving, and other forms of simulated experiences are recognized for having broad applicability across a wide range of disciplines.
As the lead writer at the NMC, Samantha Adams was deeply involved in the research and writing of the report. We can't wait to see what she has to say about gaming and the other items in the report: Cloud Computing, Mobiles, Open Content, Learning Analytics, Personal Learning Environments.

Given the questions coming form the North Star Writing Project's study group on gaming, we also invited Chad Sansing, from the Central Virginia Writing Project. This June, at ISTE's Unplugged, Chad plans to "take a closer look at student writing and multi-media compositions created in response to game-based learning on Digital Is, the National Writing Project's new media archive and initiative."

And that's not all! Fortunately, we were smart enough to ask Chad who else he thought we might invite. Thanks to his connections, Janelle and her colleagues (and all of our listeners) get to hear about gaming from these three educators as well:

  • Joel Levin, a computer teacher at Manhattan's Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School. Joel decided to start using the game Minecraft to teach an entire unit to his first- and second-grade students recently. (See an with Joel, "Educational building blocks: how Minecraft is used in classrooms," by Andrew Webster | Published about a month ago in ars technica.)

  • Melanie McBride, who also recommended...
    ...my partner, children's author and elementary teacher, Liam O'Donnell for this episode. He's currently using Minecraft with a spec ed class and taking an interesting approach (I'm biased of course). In addition to his experience as a teacher, he's been writing and advocating for games based learning for a very long time. As well he's written extensively about reluctant readers, boys and learning and many of his graphic novels are aimed at those readers - high action, lower vocab.http://liamodonnell.com

    As for myself: I'm currently on a leave of absence from high school teaching to write my book and research *situated* informal learning (the out of school kind) of gaming and virtual worlds. While I still locate myself peripherally to the games based learning in schools/education, I quite intentionally chose to focus on "informal" and "situated" learning contexts rather than school examples.  We're studying Minecraft for use with early childhood educators (post secondary) with small children. http://edgelab.ryerson.ca/2011/05/19/tinkering-with-minecraft-learning-from-the-edge/

  • Liam O'Donnell is on this podcast as well. Liam sent along this link:
    "Here's a post about my first week using Minecraft with my kids. It'll give you a sense of my teaching style and philosophy. http://liamodonnell.com/feedingchange/2011/05/messy-learning-with-minecraft/"
    For me, it was the perfect vehicle to build the literacy skills of seven grade 5 and 6 students who come to me for reading and writing support three days a week. For these students, motivation to read and write is a big challenge. Previously, we had done a writing unit around their Nintendo DSi’s, specifically Pokemon, where they had drawn maps of the game areas, profiled their favourite Pokemon and written strategy guides for specific Pokemon fights.  I knew they loved video games and after screening a few Minecraft videos on youtube, they were totally eager to play.

We think you'll find this to be a provocative podcast!  Janelle and her colleagues in Texas probably got some questions answered, and maybe they were inspired to ask a few new ones. Maybe you will be too!

Click Read more to see a copy of the chat that was happening during the webcast.

Teachers Teaching Teachers 247 High School-College Transition and the “Framework for Success in Post-secondary Writing” 5.18.11


66:16 minutes (15.17 MB)
On this week’s Teachers Teaching Teachers, we have some of our current and former students on the podcast to talk about the high school-college transition. We are also joined by a couple of National Writing Project teachers who have been involved with the “Framework for Success in Post-secondary Writing” that came out a few months ago. These frameworks include this amazing list that we invite you to explore:

Habits of Mind

The Framework identifies eight habits of mind essential for success in college writing—ways of approaching learning that are both intellectual and practical and will support students’ success in a variety of fields and disciplines:

  • Curiosity: the desire to know more about the world.
  • Openness: the willingness to consider new ways of being and thinking in the world.
  • Engagement: a sense of investment and involvement in learning.
  • Creativity: the ability to use novel approaches for generating, investigating, and representing ideas.
  • Persistence: the ability to sustain interest in and attention to short- and long-term projects.
  • Responsibility: the ability to take ownership of one’s actions and understand the consequences of those actions for oneself and others.
  • Flexibility: the ability to adapt to situations, expectations, or dema157118nds.
  • Metacognition: the ability to reflect on one’s own thinking as well as on the individual and cultural processes used to structure knowledge.

Our guests on this podcast include:
What is College Readiness in Writing? and How Do We Get There? 

Every year, we have far too many students like Ian. They aren’t the AP kids (though they might be), and they aren’t the students who fail our classes. They do OK, even sometimes receiving excellent grades in our high school classrooms. But when they get to college, they place into Developmental English classes, or worse (like Ian) they crash and burn and drop out of college. They fall off the bridge between high school and college. This site is devoted to local efforts to help more students graduating from high school place directly into college level writing classes, and importantly—do well in freshman composition. It is meant both as a resource and a professional community of practice dedicated to doing more to prepare our students for college and for helping these students do well once they are in college, for “college readiness” and “student success” in college are really two sides of the same coin.

  • Kirsten Jamsen whose affiliations include being the co-director of the Minnesota Writing Project. Kirsten 278172presented on the “Frameworks for Success in Postsecondary Writing” at the National Writing Project’s Annual Meeting in November, where she discussed the statement’s purpose, and recounted the process of composing it. We’ll ask her do some of that again. We’ll also use some of her questions from that session to guide our discussion on Wednesday evening: “What is your response to the statement? How might you use it to promote effective writing instruction at your school? How could this statement help you design thoughtful professional development?”

  • David Pulling whose students at Louisiana State University, Eunice, have been posting Musique+de+Bayou+Techeon Voices on the Gulf this year. David is the Director of Continuing Education at LSU Eunice, and will share his insights into what it takes to be a successful college writer as well. David is also an active member of the The National Writing Project of Acadiana.

Enjoy!

Click Read more to see a copy of the chat that was happening during the webcast.


Teachers Teaching Teachers #246 - Quakestories - Updates from Japan: Kim Cofino, Eric Bossieux, Mary Fish, David Bantz - 5.4.11


47:56 minutes (10.97 MB)

Every few weeks, since the 72256687_dbeb50d63fMarch 11th earthquake, tsunami, and ongoing nuclear crises in Japan, we've been checking in with a few teachers there.

On this episode of Teachers Teaching Teachers we are joined once again by Kim Cofino who gives us us a general update on her own, her students' and colleagues', and her neighbors' responses to the crises. Kim also describes “quakestories,” a project she started along with Mary Fish, who also joins us from her school in Japan on this episode of TTT.

Another teacher from Japan and self-described “change agent,” Eric Bossieux, joins us once again, and a colleague of Paul Allison’s at East-West School for International Studies, David Bantz brings his perspective as well. David is a Japanese language teacher who had just returned from a trip to Japan a week before this webcast.

Click Read more to see a copy of the chat that was happening during the webcast.

Teachers Teaching Teachers #245 - Meet the New Youth Voices - An open meeting where we talk about the recent upgrade - 4.27.11


62:50 minutes (14.38 MB)

On this episode of Teachers Teaching Teachers, a group of us who are in the process of launching a new version of Youth Voices met to continue the process of building the technology and the pedegogy of our work together.

Youth Voices is a school-based social network that was started in 2003 by a group of National Writing Project teachers. We merged several earlier blogging projects, preferring to bring our students together in one site that would live beyond any particular class, where it would be easier for individual students to connect with other students, comment on each others work, and create multimedia posts for each other. Further we thought it made sense for us to pool our knowledge about curriculum and digital literacies. If being part of such a community makes sense to you, we invite you to join us too. We work to embrace any teacher who is interested to have their students publish online and participate in the give and take of a social network like Youth Voices.

Youth Voices is much more than a website or a social network. It is also a welcoming community of teachers who have been planning curriculum together for many years. In addition to being active members in our local Writing Projects and the National Writing Project, many of us also count ourselves as member of the World Bridges community, and we meet regularly via Skype on a weekly webcast/podcast, Teachers Teaching Teachers, which has been going live every Wednesday evening at EdTechTalk since 2006.

All of this collaboration and talk, these years of building curriculum and working on the web together have led to to consider: What do the Youth Voices/Teachers Teaching Teachers teachers love about this work? And why do we think any kindergarten - college teacher might also find to love there too? What we think you and your students will find on Youth Voices, what we keeps us coming back, what we strive to engender, what we will never give up on (even in a school) is involving our students in “authentic conversation.”

Over the years the teachers who have been working together to grow Youth Voices have learned that as important questions_bgas it is to have students publish multi-media, well-crafted products, it is at least as important to nurture, guide, and allow time for students to write comments and to develop conversations about each others discussion posts. Our mission at Youth Voices is to be a place online where students from across the nation (and globally, when possible) can engage other young people in conversations about real topics that they see happening in the world. We want our students to be immersed in lively, voiced give-and-take with their peers.

(For more, please read this resource at the National Writing Project's Digital Is site, "Authentic Conversations on Youth Voices.")

Click Read more to see a copy of the chat that was happening during the webcast.

Teachers Teaching Teachers #244 Juan Rubio and David Gagnon on Geo-locative Gaming, the ARIS Project. Also: Why Games? 4.20.11


61:24 minutes (14.05 MB)

We talked about games and new literacies on this episode of Teachers Teaching Teachers.

jrubioJuan Rubio from Global Kids’ Online Leadership Program joined us to talk about a project he is doing with students after school in the NYC Public Libraries to develop "a geo location based game using mobile technology to explore local history and global issues with middle school students from the Bronx.” davidgagnon

Also David Gagnon, who had finished an ARIS Global Game Jam, joined us. David is an instructional designer with the ENGAGE program at the University of Wisconsin, Madison where he consults with faculty about innovative teaching practices that leverage emerging media and an active member of the Games, Learning and Society Research community where he directs the mobile learning team and ARIS Project

It was inspiring! We hope enjoy the conversation.

Click Read more to see a copy of the chat that was happening during the webcast.

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