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.
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.
Last week our district celebrated online safety and cyberbullying prevention week. Of course, we want to do this all year long, but last week provided us with the opportunity to really talk with students about being cautious with what they do online. Many grades spent time talking about digital presences and keeping things offline that you would not want your grandma to see. One high school class, in particular, did a nice job integrated their regular content (geography) into this.
The teacher found an interactive map (http://geocommons.com/maps/210024) that used geocoding to map out where all the racist Tweets came from on Election Night, 2012. If you did not hear about this, the larger story came from high schoolers losing academic and athletic scholarships after they posted racist Tweets and then their prospective schools saw said Tweets. So this teacher used the map to begin looking at where these Tweets were focused at and to lead students to begin creating generalizations about certain geographical areas and whether or not their states voted one way or another.
He also made sure to share that this is quite imperfect, as many things, such as racist Tweets for the other side (Republican), multiple Tweets from one person, and other factors lead to the inability to draw too many conclusions, but in a world where data rules, I thought this a fine activity. Using a social networking tool to interest students. Using something real, like a current event. Tying in the curriculum. What a great way to motivate students!
So in the previous post we discussed Chromebook’s rise in popularity. Now, take a look at this video and see if this doesn’t excite you!
Think of how you use a computer. What do you use most? Apps like MS Office? Application specific things like video, CAD, or something else? I will guess that most of you use the browser the majority of the time. Maybe all the time. That’s what makes Google’s Chrome OS on the Chromebooks so interesting. You really do not have anything but the Chrome browser. Then factor in a decent price, $200-500 for 2 to 4gb, you can definitely see the possibilities in schools. We decided to investigate them more. We used a couple, but just recently decided to go with 20 more of the Samsung version. Of course they are back ordered until the end of the month. Seems even Google did not anticipate their popularity. A recent Google blog posting (http://googleenterprise.blogspot.ca/2013/02/a-look-back-at-2012-expansion-of.html) reports that over 2,000 schools now use large numbers of Chromebooks. Not sure if our 20 counts are large numbers, so I doubt we are included in the 2,000, but I definitely continue to hear buzz about these. So much so that our state Department of Public Instruction continues to look into making them work with their various testing applications.
Now we hear more manufacturers coming out with their own versions. Samsung was the first with a couple varieties. Acer, I believe, was also one of the originals. Now we hear about models from HP and Lenovo. Higher specs too, as much as 4GB of RAM. Pretty remarkable in such a short amount of time too. Really, you may not even need that, as you just run a browser, so the low end specs, of which we purchase, should work fine. Exciting times, that is for sure!