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!
Hear from New Tech Network Teachers about what they think of the Innovator's Mindset.
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
Today is the day that our final product from Game Design came to fruition. I can't believe that this actually happened. About six months ago, the curator from the Napa Valley Museum, Meagan Doud, called New Tech High, looking for interns to help with a future exhibit about Indie Games. They sent the call to me, thank goodness!
At that time, I boldly suggested that instead of recruiting a few interns, why didn't we just have the two Game Design classes I teach take on the exhibit as a school project? I had no idea how awesome it would be!
I took the idea to the students and asked permission to let go of the last project of the year, which was to center around coding and drones. Some were reluctant, because, hey, who doesn't love tinkering with drones? But most saw it as an opportunity to do something real and substantial, related to the Game Industry, a field that about half of the 45 students were interested in entering upon graduation from high school, or college.
We split the teams up into different sections, some covering music, art, 3D modeling, video, interactivity, early childhood educational components, game mechanics and game careers. Students picked their own areas of interest and away we went. We met with the curator every two weeks, either in person, or via Skype to review questions, status reports and next steps. Two students, one from each class, came to me and asked if they could be the overall project managers. Could they essentially be in charge of the exhibit? Um....yeah! They happened to be two seniors, one who is pursuing Game Design in college next year, and one who wanted to try on the mantle of leadership. Every team also had team project managers (PMs), who were responsible for communicating with the other team PMs, the Lead PMs and with Meagan. There were several PM meetings outside of class to make sure that everyone was on the same page with the project.
Students were asked to consider several target audiences, ranging from families with small children up to attendees from the Veteran's home on the same campus as the museum. Together, we learned about project management skills, from Gantt charts, to Scrum Meetings, to managing resources and deadlines, to using the Design Thinking Method to get clear about prototypes and deliverables. This was a hefty, real world project. It also turns out that we have a New Tech parent who designs exhibits for a living! At the last moment, he jumped in to show off his own work and help the Game Design students really think deeply about how to best engage exhibit visitors.
In addition, students learned about 3D modeling, motion graphics, 2D graphics, color theory, writing for signage and exhibits, research, game mechanics and game careers, prototyping, video filming and editing, presenting, and above all, collaboration.
I really do hope, that if you are in the area, that you stop by and see the exhibit. It turned out better than I ever could have hoped and I am SO proud of the work that we ALL did together.
"Down the Rabbit Hole" runs from July 15, 2016 through January 8, 2017 at the Napa Valley Museum in Yountville, CA, in the Napa Valley and it features 10 Indie Games. There are some great movie nights and Family Fun Days offered, including a Retro Game Marathon, Model Building, Learning about Binary Code and Pixel Art. Look at the very bottom of the blog post for the info. on the show and activities.
For me, finding authentic learning projects is a personal passion, and I am convinced that they can not only be done, but done well, can give students real-world experience, and can provide the impetus for some amazing learning. If you have questions for me about authentic learning projects, you can always contact me on twitter @lisagottfried or leave a comment on this post and I'll get back to you.
When experiencing or learning a new technology for the classroom, the first questions that come to mind for me include:
Why would I use this technology?
How does it make my students, better, faster, smarter?
Does this make life easier for me or the students or are there more obstacles than value for learning?
Would a more low-tech answer still get the same results?
Does the new technology engage all of the senses?
Is the technology just a "fancy pencil" or does it deepen learning or interaction?
If students use this technology, how will it change the interaction with the material?
What new paths will open up by using this technology?
Will student use of this technology better prepare them for their futures in college or career or is the technology becoming obsolete?
Will this new technology last and be adopted by others out in the world or is it a passing phase?
Virtual Reality: TPACK Game Changer or Passing Phase?
Recently, my high tech-hubby bought an HTC Vive, for business purposes. But, we've been having great fun putting it through it's paces and trying all the games that are currently available for the headset including a 3D painting program, a Myst-like puzzle game, a bow-and-arrow game, some shooter games and a fun game where you shield yourself from spheres of light as you rock out to the music. It's all a LOT of fun.
I have to wonder, though. Is this where education is heading? Are we going to wind up like the characters in Ready, Player, One, where the teachers are virtual, the students go to a virtual school and they take virtual field trips, all through their VR headsets? It's all going to depend on whether or not the audience for VR can grow past the current projected figures of 300,000 - 500,000 for this year.
Learning in a VR environment would certainly change every item in the TPACK model, from pedagogy, to content and knowledge to the very context in which learning happens.
I see so many possible applications for the VR headsets, but as of now, wearing the devices can only be done for short periods of time, (it gets sweaty) and it's not a social thing yet. You are using the device alone, moving through spaces alone and interacting with computer generated entities alone.
But I could see teaching people all about certain body movements through VR. It's the old wax-on, wax-off approach. Want to learn martial arts? Bat away a ton of sparkling balls of light in the right way, and you will soon have the muscle memory for defending yourself with out-blocks and in-blocks. Want to work out your body to increase muscle tone? What if you played a game that took you through an entire work out while you played.
In teaching more academic content, want to learn about Mars? Why not go there? Why not orbit for a while before landing on the surface to explore? Learning about history? Go visit the Palace of Versaille or a Medieval Castle, or better yet, live like a serf or a courtier. Fully immersive technology, if it does catch on, will completely change what, where and how we teach. Whether it's Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality, if the technology progresses and is adopted, the future of our classrooms will be totally different than the way they are now.
I only go to conferences maybe once or twice a year, so how can I make that magic happen throughout the year?.....Social Media. Twitter and Facebook, are for me, a chance to dip into the gigantic ocean of people and experience out there and find those topics and personalities that attract me. And if I do the same, post what is happening in my professional life, I automatically attract those people who have my same interests or areas of expertise.
And the great thing is, I don't have to fly hundreds or thousands of miles to get there. It's all doable, from the comfort of my computer, at any and all hours of the day.
Connections I have made
I find it very useful, when reviewing models of learning to think about the kinds of questions that the model generates. It helps me to take an abstract concept and bring it down to a practical level. Which is why I found it helpful to see the questions in an article about the SITE model, a learner-centered way to thinking that can help with curriculum design.
The Sociocultural Sub-context
The Technical Sub-context
The Informational Sub-context
How will users access know-how and data that might help them to use the technical system to achieve their goals or those of the community?
What are the general education and literacy levels of our prospective learners or users?
What is the user's ability to work with: books and manuals, performance support systems, coaches and supervisors, tutorials and instruction?
What are the attitudes of users toward the informational sub-context?
Do they see the informational sub-context as supportive?
Do they see the informational sub-context as a set of obstacles?
In education or any endeavor, it boils down to whether you can ask the right questions to get the job done, the issue addressed, or the problem solved and these questions are a great jumping off place. In term of applying this to increased engagement for Silent Sustained Reading using technology, the key questions I would pull, from each of the three subsets are:
In a paper entitled "Qualitative Research in Information Management" Jack Glazier and Ronald Powell take a look at how humans process and use information and define the methodology, theory and body of findings as Sense-Making. In chapter six of their paper, they look at the Sense-Making Qualitative and Quantitative Methodology from the Mind's Eye of the User. They make the assumption that because humans are involved, there is a discontinuity in perception based on different conditions of the human depending on the time and space in which an event occurs. These differences come down to so many factors, cultural, physiological, almost any situational conditions.
They describe a common problem with the way we have collected data in the past on how humans use information, in that the questions we ask come from a system standpoint, where the interviewee is asked questions that assume that they will bend to the will of the system, rather than the system changing to meet the needs of the interviewee. In 6 step, they outline how one can change this approach to be more user centered by focusing on the Situation/Gap/Help model.
The study of information-needs places an emphasis on these 6 questions:
1) How does the individual see themselves as stopped?
2) What questions or confusions have been defined?
3) What strategies does the individual prefer for arriving at answers?
4) What success has this person had in arriving at answers?
5) How was he/she helped by answers or how did he/she put the answers to use?
6) What barriers did the individual see standing in the way to arrive at the answers?
This could be a really powerful tool for my students when they are confronted with a gap in knowledge. For those students who get "stuck" or don't "get it" in class, it would be worth stepping back and doing a micro-moment timeline interview. The form that is in the paper could become a wonderful tool for students to think through how they bridge their own gaps and how I, as their teacher could help them when they feel stuck.
Below is a great example of how the interview is conducted. I could imagine having students work in pairs to think through their knowledge gaps. This would also be a great tool for reflection at the mid-point or end-point of a project. Either way, I plan un using this as a great way to help students think through how they can improve and how I can improve the teaching/learning process. At the very least, the 6 questions posed above would make for substantive reflection or journal questions at the end of a project. I'm very excited to try them next year in class!
Permit me to kvell. In Yiddish that means to gush over great things, things you are proud of. So, here I am kvelling.
My students really succeeded this year in making some incredible board games that teach about the carbon cycle. They worked with professional board game designers, energy experts in the industry, and Environmental Studies students as they developed, tested and implemented their games over a four-month period. They were aided, in part, by the Innovation in the Classroom grant awarded to us from the California Education Research Association. The grant helped to purchase a new Makerbot 3D printer, filament for the printer, and professional printing services.
What you see here are the results of a well-honed project, deeply steeped in real world applications of game design, 3D modeling and printing, 2D design, and project management. Most students were surprised at how long it took to develop a game and really do it right, complete with many iterations and rounds of play testing. They also were appreciative that whatever skills they learn in board game creation, can be transferred to video game creation.
Most video game industry experts I consulted with say that necessary skills for video game creation include a strong understanding of game mechanics, game play, and knowledge of how to write a game design document, all skills that students learned as they developed their board games. They used Autodesk Maya, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, google drive and www.thegamecrafter.com to execute their games and I'm blown away by the finished products! They've now got a strong project that they can use in their portfolios as they move forward into the professional fields of their choice.
Check out the photo gallery below to see our entire process from beginning to end.
Students spent a huge amount of time this year game testing, critiquing, and adjusting their prototypes to make sure that the game play was engaging and easy to understand. They also learned about color pallets, branding, and writing rulesets that are easy to follow.
Next year, we will have the honor of marketing and selling these board games across the country to science teachers everywhere. Know someone who might be interested? Let me know and we'll contact them when we are ready to bring these to market!
Or maybe you are teacher who wants a game developed to teach particular content? Comment below and we'll see if we can collaborate!
I am so grateful to be able to do these sorts of high level projects with my students at New Tech High. They are amazing designers and learners and I enjoyed every minute of this project with them!
It's the end of the school year and one of my children says that, now that the big test is over for his AP class, that they will be practicing Movie Based Learning. I loved hearing this and had to just laugh out loud. There are more types of learning these days than I can even keep track of. Problem Based Learning, Project Based Learning, Team Based Learning, and now, Challenge Based Learning.
After previewing this website, I have come to the conclusion that Challenge Based Learning is just Project Based Learning (PBL) with an emphasis on social action. This has been the route I have been wanting to take at my PBL school recently and I'm excited to see the basics of how to do this on this website. No matter what you call it, all of these X-Based Learning programs are quite wonderful. Yes! Learning should be "based" on real world problems so that the learning is meaningful and therefore lasting.
I do see that these challenge based projects work because, at the heart of them is authenticity. I believe that all students, no matter what age, want to do real and important work. And even if they are young and practicing their skills, they can and should be expected to contribute to the world in positive ways. And in the process, teachers can guide students to make sure that basic skills are covered while the project is being completed.
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!