We look at Gamification of Education, Mark Brumley, Mark Walden, and Harold Underdown.
First off, let me recap from last week. I told you that I would be sharing my 19Pencils.com page with my class and my fellow 5th grade teachers. It was WELL received on both sides. The other 9 teachers all shared it with THEIR students. Of course, you can’t go wrong with starting out with a Schoolhouse Rock on Electricity! Navigating the assignments was a breeze for them and the hands on, interactive sites that I had added to the Class Page gave them a chance to really put together the concepts of the closed and and open circuits. If you have not checked it out yet, hurry on over there today and take a look. My Electricity Class Page link.
This week, due to finding this awesome infographic, I wanted to look at the Gamification of Education and how the concepts that work in gaming could be applied to the classroom, as well. Now obviously, we are not talking about first-person shooters, Zombie hunter type of games, but in all fairness, even those games require a perseverance and almost a drill and skill kind of approach to learning that has its place. (My classroom is just not the place to introduce those titles.) On the other hand, the Farmvilles, Cityvilles, and even the new (although I hesitate to call it improved until I have had a chance to get a better look at it) Oregon Trail all take into account many of the basic concepts of economics that I am required to teach in Fifth Grade. Bartering, maintaining a balance, and opportunity cost ALL come into play with each of those games. With the old, antiquated version of Oregon Trail, if you took the time to really build your characters supplies and talk about the economics and the physical demands of moving West, you could engage your students in RICH discussions, such as noticing that the school teacher is the lowest paid of all of the occupations. Or you could just let them shoot buffalo for 30 minutes. Hmm. Maybe the new Oregon Trail is starting to look better to me. Those of us of a certain age can certainly remember being very involved with learning Geography through Where In The World is Carmen SanDiego. (And if you couldn’t hear me say those words without hearing the song by Rockapella, then you know who you are.) Sim City, again its original form, taught budgeting and building of a city to a level that school children could understand. As the gaming engines developed, and the sophistication grew, you were even more deeply involved in the true substructure of the city with its pipelines and electrical wires. When the Sims moved out on their own, though, Sim City became a place that I didn’t want to raise my kids. So I guess you could just hit your city with earthquakes and tornados for 30 minutes. I still feel that Word Munchers helped my students understand Parts of Speech better than any lesson that I could teach as a stand alone because they had to stop and apply what they knew each time before they ate the word. I could stop in the computer lab as they progressed to each level and review the parts of speech. Great discussions took place in the lab as we explored adverbs. Or you could just sit there and laugh for 30 minutes as he ate the pair of red shorts.
I guess, my point is that, like everything, you can find value in using it in your classroom if the content is delivered and handled correctly. Although there is certainly a tremendous amount of learning that takes place through discovery and a lot of empathy and understanding developed through simulations and submerging yourself into the new environment, it is the discussion, the reflection, and the connections that took place prior to the game and after the game that truly give Gamification of Education something to take a closer look at again.
This week’s pick is The H.I.V.E by Mark Walden
H.I.V.E. is a top-secret school of villainy, where children with a precocious talent for wrongdoing are sent to develop their talents and become criminal masterminds. After all, “Villains have the best lines and wear the best costumes.”
H.I.V.E. (aka. Higher Institute of Villainous Education) is a series of young-adult fiction novels by Mark Walden. H.I.V.E. is a top secret school in which children learn the skills to become criminal masterminds. Only children who have already been noticed having some villainous skill are accepted to this school. Otto Malpense is a thirteen year old criminal genius, who has been hand picked along with others-the smartest, most athletic, technologically advanced kids in the world to be part of H.I.V.E. But once Otto has entered the school, he discovers that is it not all what it seems, and sets out to unfold the mystery behind the school and its organization. To download your free audiobook today go to audibletrial.com/ncs.
Our Audible Pick and KidLet Author of the week is Mark Walden . OK. By now you must have noticed that when I am looking for a book to kick back with, you can always get my attention with spies and superheroes. Superhero spies would REALLY get me. Mark was a senior producer in charge of developing Playstation games for Sony before taking up writing full time. He brings a very cinematic approach to his writing that keeps the action and humor going throughout the book. The H.I.V.E series has grown now to six books. Each one getting more exciting than the next. He is about to launch his new series, EarthFall. Check out his website and follow him on Twitter @Mark_Walden.
This week’s EdTech spotlight falls on Mark Brumley. Marks awesome website is chock full of EdTech and Web 2.0 resources. For example, Mark presents Ahead.Com, a Web 2.0 presentation tool that takes the same non linear approach that has made Prezi such a relief from PowerPoint presentations, and adds to it by allowing you to have layers that remain static. Knowing that the way to some students hearts is through cartooning and then expanding that to their writing, Mark reviews ToonDoo.com They have an excellent assortment of tools on their site that will have your students creating dialogue and sequential art in minutes. It is that dedication to catching the child’s attention where they are most interested and hooking them on learning. But he doesn’t stop there. Be sure to check out his section on Professional Development, as well, where he turns his attention to teachers as learners. You can follow Mark on Twitter at @MarkBrumley and check out his website at MarkBrumley
And now for our feature on KidLit
This week I would like to point you in TWO directions. Under and Down, as in Underdown, Harold Underdown. He is a children’s book editor and and the owner of The Purple Crayon Website. (Get it…Harold and the Purple Crayon..one of my favorite childhood books for creativity and now one of my favorite websites.) Book reviews, award winning book lists, how to write children’s books….it’s all here. And simple to navigate. Any complete idiot could…oh wait, did I mention that he is also the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books? Follow him on Twitter @HUnderdown or go his website, www.underdown.org.