Quick Byte: World Peace Game

Mother's Day this year was a pleasant day when I unwrapped and played with a sparkling new, huggable iPad.  It was a delightful experience that lasted about an hour before my daughter claimed it as her own.  I may be exaggerating a bit because I do get my time on my baby.  Amongst many things, I enjoy finding online apps and games for my kid and students.  One of my previous posts, New Twists on Oldies: Oregon Trail, Number Munchers, and Lemonade Stand, spurred conversation about gaming in education.   The result of these conversations will be highlighted in a series of upcoming posts.

This post kickstarts this series.  Out of all of the gaming in education videos I have watched recently, this following one is my personal favorite.  The irony is that there is little to no technology involved in this game.  Watch 4th grade teacher John Hunter as he discusses his World Peace Game in a 2011 TED Talk.  What do you think?

Here’s John’s site with a trailer for his film.   Would you call this low-tech educational gaming?  Can these same principles that are working in the World Peace Game for John, be applied to educational gaming on computers and mobile devices? What makes a game successful in education?   When,  how, and why should games be included in education? What games do you use successfully in the classroom?  These are the types of questions I hope to continue to explore.  Explore with me!

Happy viewing!


Quick Byte: Language and Listening TED Talks

While gearing up to teaching an ESOL Presentation class and a Foundations to Second Language Acquisition class, my attention gravitated to the following TED Talks.

Watch Mark Pagal’s talk entitled, How Languages Transformed Humanity. (See below) I’m not endorsing his beliefs, but he has some interesting concepts to ponder about how languages evolved, language as a “social technology” in the context of cooperation, and the notion of a one world language.   Some of these concepts relate to discussions in my courses, so I am eager to hear how my students process a talk such as this.  As always, the conversation in the comments section embedded below the video of the talk are intriguing. 

Since the beginning of my career, I have taught adult ESOL programs that offer courses in listening and speaking.  Julian Treasure’s talk entitled, 5 Ways to Listen Better caught my attention.  I liked his acronym RASA: Receive, Appreciate, Summarize, and Ask.

This talk called Different Ways of Knowing by Daniel Tammet is a must see for anyone interested in perceiving language in unique ways that could influence teaching language, thinking outside the box, or learning more about how one high functioning autistic savant syndrome sees the world—amazing!

Here are some related former posts on TED Talks and RSA language videos:  Three Videos Prove Language is Fascinating and Language.  Check them out too.  Happy viewing!


Try Blogging with 180 High School Students. It Works!

Imagine 40 computers in use.  The tip tap of typing fills the room.  Partners in the front read aloud their writing to each other while editing.  Two classmates in the back chat about how to get started on their posts.  A staff member reminds a student of the resources available to find a synonym.  Both English and Spanish bounce around the room. This is in part what Kacey and I experienced at the Oregon Migrant Leadership Institute (OMLI) where about 180 high school migrant students blogged.

The past two years, I have developed the institutes’ blog and lead the students in blogging.  In addition to working with the participants, I have had the pleasure of working with the college-aged staff.  It is simply amazing to watch the college students mentor the high school participants.  The seized learning opportunities and transformation of the students and staff is inspiring.  Every time I partake, I receive more than I give from this amazing group of young people who have so much to offer society and our future.

During the 2010 OMLI sessions, we started small scale and were in a small computer lab, but we grew  this year.  There was limited time to blog—four, fifty minute sessions.  The sessions consisted of basic blogging instruction, technology discussions such as digital footprints, and writing instruction.  They offered participants a taste of what it is like to be in a university lab and exposure to the writing process.  Perhaps most importantly to students, they were able to record some of their experiences and thoughts.  Take a look at some of their work in the links that follow!

Session 2: Thank you for your patience and persistence as we problem solved when the network was down on the last day.  You demonstrated leadership skills by sticking with the blogging experience.   

Session 3: It amazed me how concentrated you were on writing and producing your best. You had some amazing uninterrupted time to write due to your dedication.  Your developed writing with details and description, given your time constraints speaks for itself.

Kacey graciously filled in for me in my absence during session 1.  Here’s a comment from her.
Session 1: Thank you for your hard work in your first adventure in blogging.  I learned a lot from you and hope to hear how things are going.  

Staff: We both thank you for helping with technology questions, the writing process, and commenting.  We also appreciate reading your point of view on the staff blog!

Our take aways:  We both had fun exploring blogging with a group of this size.  Cheridy also experimented more with Picasa, setting up and managing multiple blogs, and Prezi.   In addition, we were reminded of the importance of having a low tech plan B, and glad when one kicked in when the Internet was down one of the sessions!  Just try blogging without Internet.

Listen up participants!  The teacher in us will say it one more time:  "I" doesn't want to be small.  Don't hurt it's feelings.    Don't forget to use your resources. For those of you who expressed interest in continuing blogging, email us your blog url address if you keep it up.  Happy blogging! 


New Twists on Oldies: The Oregon Trail, Number Munchers, and Lemonade Stand

Did you play the The Oregon Trail about 50 million times in a row, your heart beating fast each time as you tried to keep members in your wagon alive?  Do Number Munchers or Lemonade Stand running on a lovable Apple II bring back warm fuzzy memories?  Did your parents ever kick you off the machine, sending you pouting outside to play, because you NEEDED to hunt for food as it was a matter of life or death on the trail, or because you were glued to practicing multiples with Number Munchers and learning how to add money and think about a business with Lemonade Stand?  Perhaps you then extended those ideas in a game outside with friends.

Come on.  I know I’m not the only one out there.  Okay, I’m dating myself in this post.  (Yes, I’m also a firm believer Pac Man and Space Invaders rock.) Of course, my parents were proactive in exposing me to technology at a young age and seeing the value of educational games. 

If you identified with any of the above, read on.  The oldies are back with updated twists!  The marketing is working and a new generation can be heard playing and learning—literally.  Lemonade Stand has the same familiar tune.  Attention parents and teachers, earbuds in kid sizes are available.  Read Little Gecko’s review of these apps to get a kid's perspective.

Here are the links to the apps:  The Oregon Trail, Number Munchers, and Lemonade Stand.  No, there’s no money headed my way for this post—I’m just a sucker for nostalgic things and curious about potentials of this form of gamification learning.

Gamification.  Now there’s a word, a word worth exploring for educational purposes.  A few questions that revolve around this I would like to explore are related to rewards and intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation.  Also I’d like to look at the possibility of putting kids in control of developing these types of games and promoting critical thinking skills with programs like Scratch and Alice.

Here’s a just for fun, somewhat related video clip to round out this post.  (Perhaps it shows sometimes in our limited free time as educators, we need to relax and lean towards the game part a bit.)