So who does not like games? Especially in a school. I remember teaching, using wastebasket basketball for spelling practice. Now in the 21st Century, everything is digital. With our annual state technology conference (NCTIES) coming up, of course we get innendated with offers from vendors. One, though, pieked my interest. The Teacher Gaming Network (app.teachergaming.net). On the site you can create a variety of games for your classroom. Things like Case Chase (Deal or No Deal), Classroom Feud (Family Feud), and Elevator Madness. So to get the ball rolling, you need an account. Once you set that up, you need to either broswe through existing games and questions or create your own. Certain games take certain types of questions, obviously, so pay attention! I just searched through existing games and found one on the Dewey Decimal System (exciting, I know!). so then you can actually play the game. Creating games isn’t too tough. Definitely some interesting promise here. Maybe not from the standpoint of a teacher creating all these, but maybe by him or her dividing topics up and letting students create different games.
We recently had our CTE (Career Tech Ed) Department purchase five Samsung 7.0 tablets. They asked me to load some apps, so I explored the Play store. With CTE, you have such a wide variety of areas. You have your business courses. You have your technical courses, like masonry and welding, and then your agriculture classes. So I explored around and found a decent set of apps. One thing I do not do enough is just explore the Play store. Lots and lots of good apps, and adding new every day.
For our business teachers, I installed a series of MS Office tutorials. While not the most interactive thing, I figure they use this and the tablets would be a good way to review. Interesting that some of these are Goodwill Foundation apps.
For our technical, tools are always a good thing. Smart Tools offers a great series of things like rulers, levels, sound tools, and more.
Of course you can always use the camera and other built in tools. But the point is you really can load anything for any area. We hope to now get them to use these more interactively. Small steps!!
So nice to talk about curriculum and know most of the people in the US can discuss it on the same level. Instead of each state creating their own resources, we can pool our content and find good things like Common Curriculum (http://www.commoncurriculum.com/). I recently discovered this after it being highlighted at one of our state technology meetings. The premise is simple. You sign up for an account, put in the subjects you teach, then begin dragging and dropping resources to create your plan book. It searches the Common Core to help with objectives, and allows you to put in your resources. Pretty nice user interface and tool. I plan to look into it a little more.
I really believe in teaching students about developing code, especially with mobile apps. You figure a kid designs a popular app, charges $0.99, and make a nice little allowance. In our school district, our Career-Tech track offers computer programming courses. In Computer Programming II, they begin Visual Studio to design games for Xboxes. How awesome if we could have an alternative, to teach kids to develop for Android. Of course, the complaint would be there are no curriculum, like Microsoft gives freely for their Visual Studio.
But alas, MIT comes to help. On their http://appinventor.mit.edu/teach/ website, they provide step by step directions and modules to go through app creation. You setup the App Inventor, then begin developing your first app. Best of all? The cost–free under a Creative Commons 3.0 license.
THIS is what we need to see in schools. Let’s train these kids with a RELEVANT skill. Microsoft Office? No, that’s past. Let’s get them designing apps. Hey, they could even develop one for your school district.
Yes, they have all the money in the world, so Google should do things like this, but I am still pleased they do. Their Summer of Code project brings in young developers in real-world experiences to gain some contacts and practice in the developer world. I see this Google Science Fair now as well. Definitely timely, as we really need to do a much better job in motivating many of our students to look into science fields. All our STEM projects do this, but when you can get Google’s backing, it definitely helps as well!