Saturday, February 25, 2012


"Instead of making kindergarten like the rest of school, we need to make the rest of school (indeed, the rest of life) more like kindergarten."

I remember kindergarten exactly the way Mitchel Resnick describes in his introduction paragraph about being a time to tell stories, draw pictures, and share. We had our "learning time" where our teacher taught us basic words and the sounds that the letters made, but it was nothing like the kindergarten that kids are going to now. Everything is so structured and students don't have a time to explore and learn on their own. I always think that it is so amazing how excited children will become when they discover something on their own. It might seem like something so basic and ordinary to us, but to them it is a big deal. I think it also gives them confidence and encouragement to try more things on their own.

"In traditional kindergartens, children are constantly designing, creating, experimenting, and exploring."

Recently schools are being encouraged to incorporate more higher order thinking skills into the classroom. Although there is so much that students need to learn it is incredibly hard to teach a higher order thinking skill when they are being lectured to from a book. I believe they need that type of learning, but what is being read to them can be expanded on so much if they are given the opportunity to "learn on their own". They need a chance to try and brainstorm and try new things to see what works. If you are teaching a lesson on simple machines, give them a variety of materials and let them design and create their own simple machines.

"How can we use new technologies to integrate play, design, and learning? One way is to provide children with the opportunity to design their own games."

As a teacher, how could you not LOVE this idea. Not only are you incorporating higher order thinking skills with your students, but as the teacher you are also learning. Kids have such great imaginations and can think of so many great things that may have not even crossed my mind. I am amazed at some of the ideas that kids can come up with for something that seems so simple.

Additional Resource:

Crisis in the Kindergarten- I thought this article went along great with what we read for this week. It discusses "play time" being taken out of kindergarten and early education to be replaced with a more structured curriculum. Here is just one point from the piece that I thought was a little disheartening. "All young children, not just those living in poverty, need the support of teachers who understand the value of play. For the fact is that most children today don’t have enough playtime even at home. Many affluent children now need help entering into creative play because of the surfeit of media and organized activities in their lives. They struggle to bring their own ideas to the fore. As one kindergarten teacher put it, “If I give the children time to play, they don’t know what to do. They have no ideas of their own.”

Friday, February 17, 2012

DEJ 4/Week Five

Scratch- The game that I chose to add was Muffin vs. Cupcake. Students have to avoid the verbs in this game to gain points and not lose. I think that this game or something similar to it would be a good game in the elementary classroom. Students in grades from first to sixth grade always seem to have trouble remembering what a noun is and what a verb is.

Level one from our reading was learning how and I think that this game promotes this level because I only had a few minutes to explore the game and it is something that you have to "learn how" to do in order to play.

The second level or "learning what" to do is promoted in this level because I quickly learned that if I swallowed a verb with my cupcake that I lost the game.

The third level is learning why. In this level student will develop the best strategy to play the game. Although Muffins Vs. Cupcakes is a rather simple game, the player would have to have a strategy to avoid falling verbs.

I think that students would learn where in this game by associating this type of game that would be played in a classroom versus a game that they may at home.

I don't really feel that this game met level five of learning where the student has to choose a moral right or wrong.


Quote One
"Kids learn about yet another aspect of rules at the What level: “What if we break them?” Players can be heard shouting “That’s not fair!” or “You can’t do that!” at a very early game-playing age, and this is precisely what they are learning about."

I thought that this quote was so funny because I know that many times while I've been playing certain games I've screamed and yelled as if the game could hear me or tell me why I did something wrong. Rules are something that students don't always seem to grasp. While substitute teaching this week, I had the same group of 5th graders and they were reading aloud and playing "Popcorn". A girl was called and didn't want to read, everyone started bickering and saying that she had to read because their teacher said that everyone had to if they were called on during the game or they had to up. I don't believe in making students read if they are uncomfortable, so I had her show me where she should be in her text so that I knew that she was following along while we read. She knew where we were so I didn't make her stand and asked if there was anyone else who preferred to read. A few students started with "THAT'S NOT FAIR!", but I let them know that those were my rules and if they didn't like them we could silent read.

Quote Two
"I would argue that – unless already severely disturbed – kids don’t leave violent games with the message “I’ve got to run out and do this."

I agree with the author on this quote because it seems that so many parents are quick to blame everybody and everything for the way their kids are and not themselves. It seems to be happening everyday and I think that the saddest thing is now teachers are the "bulls-eyes" for parents to push blame on and it is NEVER their child or their fault.

Quote Three
"It is interesting in light of all the criticisms we hear about computer and video games, that the most popular computer game of all time – The Sims – is one that directly and explicitly helps you learn “about life.” The Sims has extended the normal fantasy play of children and adults to a new level of explicitness and participation, and has created a “real-life” community of millions for sharing."

I love The Sims. It is one of my favorite games to play, but I haven't had the time that it takes to play. I never thought about this game as a learning tool for students to learn about real life and the consequences of their decisions. I think that this would be a great learning tool for middle school and high school.

Additional Resource:

I chose this picture from The Sims because I always thought it was funny that many times in the game it wanted you to have an enemy. Although it is not something that I would really want to teach my own child to do I guess it does have a learning aspect about it. After you make the enemy then sometimes you have to win back their affections. I think that this game would be a good tool to use to show kids ways that they could try to apologize or make up for wrong doings or that sometimes you have to watch what you do and say because people aren't so easy to forgive. I couldn't get the picture to post here so it is at the top of the page.

Friday, February 10, 2012

DEJ #3

“New technologies, especially the Internet, offer much potential as vehicles for intercultural collaborative inquiry, allowing us to develop global perspectives on local issues and to find complex approaches to complex problems. However, technology is only a tool-and one that is only as powerful as we choose to make it. Better understanding the value of this tool to support learning is a central concern and priority in our work.”

I chose this quote from the article because I absolutely agree with it. The Internet offers so much potential for educators and students. We are able to sign on and watch our favorite show, listen to music, play games, video chat with family in other states, and search for answers when we have questions. The quote also discusses that technology as a tool is only as powerful as we choose to make it and I think that it is at a very powerful point right now and can only get more powerful if we are able to get the technology that we need in our classroom. I have been substitute teaching for three years now and know that some schools have more advanced technology than others. I know that financially not every school can afford to fund the advanced technology that other schools have, but ideally it would be beneficial to at least have one room equipped with it.

Learning Today

This is a link to a blog post with some really informative postings that give tips from who and how to friend people on facebook to cyber bullying. There are some really great articles that I think many of you may enjoy.

There is an article from the Chicago Tribune that discusses the opening of a charter school which is taught through video games.

Video Game Schools: the schools of the Future? – Quest to Learn (Q2L) is a school in New York where students are learning in a very original way, by becoming the subject and playing and programming video games. The staff of educators includes video game designers and computer experts. Integrating digital media and education at this school, has shown great results and they are now expanding to Chicago. This articles describes the success of the school and how they are keeping the integrity of their vision for the new Chicago location.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Week Four

1. Which one do you like the best? The game that I liked best was Sally’s Energy Ride.

2. What content is being learned? Energy conservation and Math (order of operations)

3. Do you think it effectively teaches the content? Yes.

4. Does it involve higher order thinking? Yes. There are situations where you must compute math problems and creating the game in itself would be higher order thinking.

5. Does the game possess and principles of good games and learning:

  • 1.They can create an embodied empathy for a complex system – Yes the game was short, but I think it could be extended to be something great.
  • 2. They are action-and-goal-directed preparations for, and simulations of, embodied experience”

There was a small amount of action involved, but not much to give the embodied experience.

  • 3. They involve distributed intelligence via the creation of smart tools


  • 4. They create opportunities for cross-functional affiliation

Yes. I think this would have been a great game to integrate science questions into as well.

  • 5. They allow meaning to be situated

I think a little, but there could have been more in depth questions.

  • 6. They can be open-ended, allowing for goals and projects that meld the personal and the social

This was a simple game with a lot of possibilities. I hope that I will be able to create something that is just as good.

6. In your opinion do you think letting kids design games is productive activity for school based learning?

Yes, I think it is because not only are they being engaged with higher order thinking skills, but they are using content from whatever subject the game being created is based upon.

Friday, February 3, 2012

DEJ #2- Good Games and Good Learning

There were sixteen principles that Jim Gee's article discussed that were involved in good games and learning. While playing through Gardens of Time the ones that I felt connected most to his article were the following: customization, pleasantly frustrating, and challenge/consolidation.

In Gardens of Time, you earn money and experience points to buy artifacts and decorations for your garden. You earn money and experience points by playing completing adventures which are hidden picture games. The money can be used to purchase items to decorate your garden. The points are used towards leveling up and will unlock new items for your garden as well as new adventures to complete.

Gardens of Time is pleasantly frustrating because you are basically looking for a list of items that are hidden in a picture scene. The list changes for each game, but the items are usually in the same area. It is frustrating because you will see an items that you found just the game before, but can't remember where it is and it seems to take even longer to find it than before.

The challenge for this game for me comes from wanting to always beat my own time. It is not so much as earning points and passing other players for me to feel challenged, but to beat my old time and keep getting faster. Many other games make you feel that other people playing are your competition, but in this game it is myself.

Week Three- Video Thoughts

"If you're not happy with how schools teach today, they teach that way because of the tests we have...the tests drive the system."

I agree with what Jim Gee said in his video because it seems that all parents gripe about is the way their children are taught. Actually, they are complaining about the teachers more than what is taught. As teachers, we are only teaching and testing the content and way that we are told to teach. We have to try and squeeze in content standards and objectives for every subject while also preparing the students for the WESTEST, which for some reason does not contain some of the WV CSO's that we are told to teach. I think it would make more sense for the CSO's and the WESTEST to go hand in hand, but they do not.