tmtt – A quick summary of Game-Based Learning

Like it or not, digital games loom large in the lives of our 21c kids today. Most of our students and perhaps you too, received some kind of device/game/gadget over the holidays! Happy New Year BTW!) From Minecraft guides on YouTube, to interacting with their virtual pet on a DS to reading(and playing) a Dr. Seuss ebook/game on an IPad /smartphone, our kids use these devices to play, share and learn about the world. (And this is not just how I spent my break!)

GBL is an powerful tool when: used purposely to teach a topic, age appropriate, easy to start but suitably and increasingly challenging and most importantly, fun. For our Grade Four’s, our truck driving simulation called Cross Country Canada 2 is an effective (and sneaky) way to teach them Canadian geography. When keyboarding, our Grade Five students earn levels by improving their skills and when they “level up” they “unlock” new activities and challenges. Like drama and other resources, digital games can be an excellent resource to motivate, differentiate and engage a variety of learning styles and offer experiential learning through well designed games and simulations. I believe that strategically chosen games and educationally rich simulations can be a strong element of a well-rounded curriculum to target this generation.

Here is a good video as an introduction to GBL (ignore the background piano playing as it is only slightly better than mine!) and also included is an excellent comprehensive GBL resource page from Edutopia.
Let me know what you think and please feel free to share any GBL strategies and resources from your lessons. I am happy to share our current GBL resources, collaborate and search for more on your topics.

Here is a link to a prior article on how I “gamified” my ICT lessons.

Also here is a Symbaloo on Keyboarding resources, I created and posted on our LMS (Blackboard).

symbaloo keyboarding sample

*tmtt = Our two minute technology tip shared with our staff.

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My top 3 tools for quick collaborative writing in the classroom

Ok, so Microsoft Word is still an excellent and comprehensive tool for individual writing tasks. However, even with features like “track changes” in Word, creating and editing as team still involves some back and forth with email. Google Docs, wikis and blogs are excellent for collaborative writing but set up (i.e. student accounts) is needed. With that in mind, here are three web-based writing tools for creating a quick document in class with multiple authors. No sign up needed and our students authors can simply visit the shared web link to co-write and create.
1. Wallwisher
Create a webpage with one click. Recently updated to allow access from every possible device and includes new options like backgrounds and icons. Visually stunning but can be distracting as we know students love to customize while we’re saying “Get to the text please!”) However, the finished project does look amazing when shared as a link or image.

2. Lino It

Similar to Wallwisher but students can contribute text, picture, link or video as a sticky note. The “corkboard” background extends too. You need to create a teacher account here to share your “web canvas” to students but this one is my favourite because it is simple yet effective. In class, I can post on my Smartboard and then each student adds their a “sticky note” to our digital canvas either at the ‘board or at their computer. With my Grade Four students, I used Lino It to create a stickyboard to support our inquiry and research on Canada. As students progressed in our simulation game called “Cross Country Canada 2” where students, they were invited to add feedback, questions and discoveries to our collaborative document. This stickyboard served as a place to pose and answer questions and wonderings about our topic.
Here is a sample.

3. Primary Pad

A simple web-based word processing tool where students create a doc and invite co-authors (up to 50!). Works best when one student starts a page and then shares the address with a small group. Each group member is automatically assigned a different colour. One great feature is the time slider so you can see how the writing evolves over time. Awesome for assessing the process as well as the final product.

What I like most about these tools is that each individual, assuming they have a device in front of them, is actively writing and contributing. i.e. a group of 4 is not “crowding around” one computer. All the students have the space to share their thoughts and ideas individually but the software collects them all together. Kind of like our “chart paper” collaborations but each student gets the “marker” at the same time and has access to all the tools and resources of the computer. (i.e. spelling check, neater writing, the web etc…)

2 min. tech tip # 1 – screen capturing

 
Purpose: The snipping tool allows you to capture the whole or part of your screen to copy or save as a picture file. (.jpg, .gif .png)

 Ideas for use

  • Snip part of a website for use in a handout, worksheet or other document
  • Take snapshots from a video
  • Export to other software (web to SMARTnotebook, web to Word, One Note, Power Point etc.)
  • Save a student`s work from a website without them having to create an account
  • Create screenshots for your students or parents in CMS or emails

 

Two min. tech. tips

According to Ferris Bueller: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” The same could be said for technology these days.

This year I am hoping you will take 2 min. to try a few new  ideas and tips from the ever-changing educational technology world. Some you might know, but hopefully you will pick up a few new tricks to improve your tech. skills.

Goal: Training should be quick, relevant and helpful for teachers.

Delivery: weekly to your inbox by email OR by Twitter. Feel free to follow me at @anthonychuter

Follow up: Up to you! Depending on feedback and interest, I can schedule follow-up sessions if a topic, resource or idea needs more attention.  Thanks for reading and I look forward to your feedback!

Anthony