We've started our annual board game project in my Game Design and Visual Effects class at New Tech. This year we are collaborating with the Psychology students to create board games that educate about mental health disorders. We are partnering with local mental health organizations and hope to use the games to help educate the public and those who have been diagnosed to better understand these issues:
Students were allowed to choose the disorder that they wanted to work with and it's no surprise that those with certain issues wanted to be the Subject Matter Experts for their team. This blog is about one such student who lives every day with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
E. started out having a hard time finding his place in the project. He struggled with the 3D modeling tutorials I provided for students to learn Maya. But one day he came in with a fidget and asked if he could try to model the fidget. "Sure! Let's see what you can do!" He set out to make his fidget, working off something he had prototyped at home with a piece of a ruler. He had cut a hole in the ruler the size of a ball bearing from one of his old skateboards and could turn the ruler slice around and around in his hand. As a student with ADHD, having a fidget can be beneficial to helping with focus in class. This is also true for those who have Sensory Integration Dysfunction.
The Switch Went On!
For the next week E. spent every moment he could in front of the computer and the 3D printer making iteration after iteration. Every step along the way, he would show other teachers and students what he was up to. Frankly, it just had that cool factor to it, a weight and feel that was so satisfying. He started collected pre-orders from staff and students alike and got some startup money for his creations from the Assistant Principal. His math teacher wanted in on the action. "How do I get him this fired up about Math?" She tried looking at fractions and ratios in relation to his fidget.
You know what else would be cool, E? What if we made this your player piece for your board game and there has to be some game mechanic that involves each player fidgeting with their game piece? What if you created places to put tokens in the fidget so that as you progress with the board game, you can put the tokens in the fidget? Now his whole team was excited about the project and a board game idea was born: Fidget to Finish. It is still under construction, but there is now extra excitement to make sure the board game matches the fidget in it's function and level of interactivity.
Moments We Live For
There are moments when we as teachers are so excited to see a student find their passion. This was one of them. Ultimately, it takes a whole lot of flexibility to find the sweet spot for each student. But when it happens, mmm, mmm, mmm. What really excites me is the idea that we are creating a board game to help others understand what students with ADHD need to succeed. And E. is a living example of that. AND, I'm buying a fidget when they are ready for sale just so I can fidget in class too.
Update: May 12, 2017
Here's the finished board game! A group of 3 ADHD students and one who does not have that mental health issue COMPLETED their board game, on their own. An amazing accomplishment for all involved. They were really happy with the final result and so was I. We are working on getting the 3D print files to upload to thegamecrafter.com so you can buy the board game and print your own playing pieces (spinners.)
Every year I head up to an overnight camp in Calistoga called Camp Newman to work with a group of teen campers on a social action issue for a couple of weeks. At the end of their time up there, they will have learned about the issue, spoken with lobbyists and Congressmen in Sacramento, created live happenings, raised money, created social media campaigns, created artwork and poems and songs about the topic. Last year we worked on the topic of Mental Health. The year before that, Food Insecurity. This year we will be tackling the topic of Gun Violence. Every year the kids blow me away with their caring, their leadership and their creativity. This is a timely topic. In preparing to go to camp, I found last year's video and would like to share it here.
Camp usually reminds me of what being an educator is all about and inspires me to do better in my classroom next year. I usually walk away with some great new ideas and my cup is just more full for the school year ahead. Can't wait to start this coming week!
Here are two videos about how, you, as a teacher, can get yourself out there, make connections and find professional opportunities. It doesn't have to take up more than 15 minutes at a time, and can open up new doors that you never knew existed. The key is, that blogging and social media go hand in hand and need to be utilized at the same time.
Blogging and Social Media Together
Why Blog in Education: 3 Case Studies
As a Digital Media teacher and a total fangirl of Adobe, I often get so excited to introduce my students to Adobe, but feel that this amazing introduction fizzles when students move out of my introduction class and no longer use the tools in other classes. Some move on to upper level classes, but many do not. What is the point of gaining skills and competencies that will soon be forgotten due to disuse? How do we get those creative skills to translate into other classes more seamlessly so students can continue to grow on their path toward digital citizenship? How do we allow for a more integrated approach to digital creative learning for students while still providing experience with high end "grown up" software that prepares students with 21st Century Skills?
In a conversation with one of the Principal Product Managers at Adobe, Tom Nguyen, we talked a lot about what is currently happening in my Digital Media class at New Tech High. He asked all the great "empathy" questions to get a better understanding of his end-users' pains and likes. I answered from the teacher's perspective, but in reality, I know it's so much more powerful to get the students to give their input and thoughts about becoming new Adobe Creative Cloud users.
Based on our conversation, my understanding of Tom's inquiry question is in alignment with my own questions as a Digital Media teacher. "How do we get Adobe tools into the hands of students so that they can continue to deepen their creative skills and their understanding of core concepts in all other curriculum? How do we eliminate the obstacles that currently exist in getting students access to Adobe software? What are essentials and what are the extra fun things needed in order to draw students in?
So, I propose that we bring in the students and open up the conversation. I've invited my students to comment on this blog post and answer a few of the questions I've got for them. And if you are not one of my Digital Media students but have something to say, you are welcome to join in on the conversation! Please leave your comments!
If we want to move ahead and truly prepare our students for the future, we need to provide access to the tools needed to succeed, and not just in an isolated computer lab. What do YOU think? How can we get there? What would you like to see in the education world? What would be ideal? Where can we integrate Adobe knowledge with other Common Core and STEM knowledge?
Let's look at what other teachers are doing in the classroom. I will use three different case studies to explore ways in which other teachers are successfully engaging students in learning through the use of technology. All three case studies are live-linked. Take a look at them yourself if you'd like to learn more!
AccorEpic Fail or Win? Gamifying Learning in My Classroom
A professor in Teacher Education used a series of game-based learning strategies to help students master skills and processes. She used the 3Dgamelab and Gradecraft to help implement her strategies. Students could choose "quests" that took 20-25 minutes each to earn badges and experience points. I was drawn to this case study because I currently use a game-based learning app, Classcraft to work on classroom behavior issues, but do not use it to teach and track learning.
The piece I am most interested in pursuing in terms of augmenting my own use of classcraft has to do with how to use the software to personalize learning.
According to the article: "Personalizing Learning
The software provided large amounts of data on each student, allowing me to identify skills they were working on, how long they spent on a quest, badges earned, and standards met, as well as reading their feedback on each quest. All this data was used to further personalize and scaffold learning paths."
I know that Classcraft has a quest function and I would like to explore that option further. I like the idea of taking the attention off of grades and more on learning and this approach seems to help with this. The professor knew that students were learning when they completed the quests set forth for them.
Per the professor's own words, "I gamified my classroom in the hopes that students would no longer ask about their grades. Ultimately, students did focus more on academic and grit skills (especially when I began returning quests instead of simply assigning low grades to mediocre submissions). "
I found this article to be very helpful with tips, tricks and very specific recommendations on how to gamify the classroom. I rate this article 4 out of 5 even though it was more of an article than a case study.
Social Media: Making Connections Through Twitter
In this video, there were many different ways that social media was used to create connections, from teacher to teacher within a school district, students to student within the district, connecting students globally and locally, and connecting students to experts in their fields of study.
There is clear evidence of learning happening on so many levels with social media. For example, one student tweeted a question to an astronaut and to NASA.
"Can you see the night and day line from space?" a student asked Thornton when they were studying night and day. They both responded. They answered not only that question but others as well, and tweeted back a picture."
Students are excited to see that people are engaging with them, and that they can get responses from experts, like NASA. "They do appreciate the fact that people are responding to what they do," one teacher says.
When a teachers's class was studying simple machines a few years ago, one of his students asked, "What about a straw? Would a straw be like one of the simple machines?"
To aid their class discussion about the materials they were using, on teacher called attention to the drinking straw by tweeting out, "Would the straw be an example of one of the six simple machines?" This sparked an online debate between scientists around the globe and the students in that class were able to see that online conversation unfold.
I think the most exciting piece of this process has to do with students' questions being valued, heard and answered so quickly from a variety of experts. It lends a sense of authenticity and reward that is often missing when questions arise in class. I know that, in my Digital Media classes, we often have technical questions that come up.
Just last week, as students were submitting their game board projects to thegamecrafter.com to send the game to print, a handful of them encountered problems with uploading their files. The sizing of the files was off by a pixel and no matter how they tried to fix it, they were not getting results. Frustration was clearly mounting. I went on with a few students and entered the chat room on thegamecrafter and asked for help. Not only did we get our questions answered within seconds, but, about five professional board game designers became very curious as to what we were doing in class. It opened up conversations in ways that seem to blow the walls off of schools and I'm very excited to try more of this with Twitter.
Next time an interesting question pops up, I am going to stop what we are doing and open up the discussion to the rest of the world through social media. I like the idea of deepening the discussion, lending credibility to the original question and creating outside relationships with experts in their industries. This can be implemented tomorrow in my classroom and I think that will be my plan!
I rate this case study 5 out of 5!
In this study, not only where students asked to teach the class an important concept, but they were also asked to make sure that they addressed many different learners buy presenting a slide show, coupling that with handouts or notes that require some fill-in-blank spots to keep students engaged and creating a place for students to process the information through pencil and paper. Then students were asked to create some kind of engaging activity such as a crossword puzzle, word search, game or other interactive approach.
I personally love when my students are asked to bring something new to the class to learn and share that knowledge with us all. Last week I had one student teach about Bartyl's Taxonomy in Game play and one student teach about how the brain learns when we play video games. Both of these talks were highly engaging and seemed to keep the attention of ALL of my game design students.
After looking at this case study, I think I would like to more formally introduce this idea of students bringing their own lessons to the class and have them think through their presentation more deeply. I did notice that after both presentations, there was a lively discussion about the subject matter that seemed to engage most of the students in the class. It was a pleasant reminder that we ALL can benefit from taking on the teacher role and that asking a student to do more than just get up and talk asks them to stretch themselves as teachers and learners. I know I can put more structure in place in my classes to support this concept and allow students to shine. It's a very authentic way of assessing and practicing Oral Communication. I just wish I had videotaped both presentations. They were so good and shared information that I knew nothing about! It's so awesome to learn something new from my students!
I give this case study as 4 out of 5.
Today was the day. It happens every year. We roll the dice in Classcraft and today, pulled the random event that sets certain odd behaviors and actions into motion in my class.
What normally is a very talkative class became eerily silent this morning. For all of about 10 minutes. And then all havoc broke loose as students figure out how to "game the game." Then we got to listen to speech-to-text computer voices saying the lyrics to really bad songs. Then new students chimed it by talking to each other from across the room via speech to text. It wasn't long before teenage humor mayhem took over.
There was much giggling. And more interaction between students than ever, as they prepared to present their new game prototypes to another class this week. Those who often float under the radar, sitting off to the side texting their friends, where now texting their team mates about the project. Why? Because they could.
There is an inherent playfulness that I relish, in any learning environment. How do we cultivate this in all of our classrooms? Find games to play....at EVERY opportunity.
We sang Karaoke this morning in my Digital Media class, which led to students humming and singing through the rest of class, a nice way to wake up on a Monday morning!
We tossed coins on a big answer poster on the floor, from across the room as a formative assessment. Students begged me for another quiz question!
Scratch off tests.
Name that Tune.
Thumb wrestling. (Look up Massive Multi-player thumb wrestling for a great short whole class game.)
It doesn't matter what it is. Gamification is where it's at when it comes to increasing student engagement.
We are writing backstories and bios in Digital Media this week to put on our school portfolios.
The general gist of the process is to write two things in two different voices. One piece of writing would be the conversation you would have with a stranger over coffee and you are just getting to know one another. This portion answers "Who am I and how did I get here?" from a basic-facts perspective. This is written in first-person and can be very conversational and casual. This is your "Backstory."
The second portion is your "Bio." This would be the introduction someone else would read before you step on the stage to teach a workshop or perform for an audience. It is written in third person. Bragging is expected and allowed in this section, as it is "someone else" talking about you. You are building credibility here. This writing answers the question of "Why should I listen to you?"
Some tips when writing copy for the web:
You can check out my "About Me" page right here on this blog if you'd like.
We finished off the first semester in Intro. to Digital Media with a culminating project using Augmented Reality, Photoshop and After Effects. Students were asked to choose paintings from a list of art periods and then create parallax animations of their chosen paintings. They were then asked to create postcards with their paintings on them, so that any art student could point their smart phones at the postcards and see their animations. This was a 4-5 week project that included separating out foreground, middle ground and background in Photoshop, as well as using the "puppet" tool in After Effects.
You can have some fun pointing your own smartphone at the images in this post to see some of the student work. The directions for downloading the Aurasma app are seen at the bottom of this post.
More images will be posted on the blog soon!
Directions for using the Aurasma app
1) Download the app for your phone: Aurasma
2) Open the app and press the small white aurasma icon at the bottom until you see the “Explore” page
3) Hit the small search icon in the bottom bar and type #nthsgottfried in the search bar.
4) You will see a list of auras and pictures with student names-ar next to them. Click on any one of the auras.
5) "Follow" one of the auras and you will now be following all the auras with #nthsgottfried. You are ready to see all the auras for Digital Media 1!
6) Point your phone at any of the aura photos or images. You will see bouncing dots in a circle. Hold the phone in front of the image until the bouncing dots turn into a target. Watch your aura!
If you don’t see the aura after a few seconds, try holding the phone closer or farther away from the image.
By Grayson Capener
So something you will quickly learn at New Tech and any school you go to where you work with people, is that there are some people who have the hardest time staying focused and getting their work done on time. This is an even bigger problem when they have access to something as distracting as the intern. Because of this, I have created this segment on how to handle off-task team mates.
By Daisy Farella
In this blog, I will be showing you how to save a selection you’ve made in Photoshop. This is extremely helpful if you need to go back to your work later and need that selection again. I know how painful it is to get that perfect selection, only to have to start all over if you had to work more than one session on it. Before I knew about this, often wasted over half of my Digital Media class just trying to get back what I had perfected class, resulting in stress and frustration. I’m so glad I learned about this and I’m now able to teach others. I hope you get some good information from it!
Lisa Gottfried is a CTE teacher with 20 years experience as CEO of her own Video and Motion Graphics Production house. She currently teaches Intro to Digital Media, Video Production and Game/3D Design. She loves her job and her students!