Monday, February 17, 2014

Movie Monday- Affinity

My Movie Monday is a little different this month.  This has been one crazy busy year (wait.. do I say that every year?)  So, before I get to far ahead.. the movie:

This year I have really taken on the whole idea of Game Based Learning.  I have been listening to/reading Reality is Broken: Why Games Make us Better and How They can Change the World by Jane McGonigal and I am gaining so many new ideas.  I started the Tech Challenges with Teachers... I still don't have the biggest following, but I am okay with that.  I have 4-5 teachers that really participate.  When I have been going into classrooms I have been making mini missions for the students and it seems to keep me on track and them also (still tweaking these)  Through all of this.. I have also grown and realized what needs to be worked on and what is working (now, is everything going to be perfect.. I would hope not! If it was then I would lose my sense of motivation)  As I began to work with my Flight Program students (I open my lab at 7am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings for students that are interested to come in and research whatever project they would like to learn about and then learn a new website or app) I realized how much fun the students were having doing projects on their own when given a chance to explore.

I spent the first part of February at TCEA (now.. this idea of a school wide game had been on my brain) where I found inspiration from a few of my friends (of course.. I did not get all the pictures I wanted! What was I thinking) But I had a chance to pick Elaine's brain on the whole ride home (and thankful she helped talk me through so much of this!)! So.. the game Affinity was born!

 Affinitya natural liking for or attraction to a person, thing, idea, etc.

I have a large bulletin board outside of my computer lab.  I cut out about 100 squares and made the bulletin board to look like a gameboard.
The spaces look like floppy disks
Full gameboard
As students move across the board the challenges will get more complex, so they will "Level Up" 

If a student lands on a power up card they will win a small prize 
Goal is to become a Techmaster and make it to the Cloud

 I have my gameboard set up, and now I am working on the website.  I get super busy, so I am trying to make it where it is manageable.  You can check out the Affinity website.  To begin playing the Affinity game students must complete 2 tasks.
1. Email me
2. Comment on one of our blogs
Once these 2 tasks have been completed they will have a chance to create an avatar and get the first secret code for Challenge 1.

It took a little coding on my end, but I wanted to make each challenge password protected. This way students would want to complete a challenge to get the code.  Each student playing must complete the first five challenges.  These challenges will focus on sharing Google Docs, Citing images correctly, creating presentations and creating a Google Form.  All tools that every student has access to.  Once they have "Leveled Up" on Challenge 5 they will have a chance to spin the wheel to move them either 1-3 spaces.  Some of the Challenges that students open up will be "Detours" such as Lost WiFi connection- move back one space.. Oh No, you ran out of charge move back 3 spaces.  Some of the challenges will also be ones that require the students to collaborate with others.

I plan to also have a Leaderboard Page- depending on how many students I have playing- everyone might not fit on the board at the same time.

I have almost finished up the first 5 Challenges. Have I mentioned that I LOVE Canva? It was instrumental in designing my "gameboard"

Do you use Games in your classroom or school?  What is your motivation behind it?  Do you have any go to resources for Gaming in the Classroom or School? I am pretty stinking excited that in just a couple of weeks I will be at SXSWedu presenting on Beyond the Gameboard- Digital Gaming in the K-3 Classroom

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Mail Call Monday- Carrie Baughcum

Have I mentioned how much I love social media and the connections that I am able to make. I started following Carrie Baughcum and all the awesome.. I mean Heck Awesome stuff she does in a special education classroom. I started following her website and Facebook page and have gained some great resources.  I was So excited when she said she would write a guest post!  Thanks Carrie!

Carrie Baughcum is a Special Education Teacher of 15 years. She currently teaches a 6th, 7th and 8th grade Extended Resource Special Education class in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago. She is an inspiration junkie, idea sharer, tech ninja and learning enthusiast who believes that all children can learn, we just need to find out how. She writes at life and learning are HECK AWESOME.

Last Saturday was …
... the first time ever that I would be the one standing in front of everybody.
…the first time I would be giving the information.
…the first time I would be the one teaching information and showing someone else new ideas.
…the first time ever being a presenter at a conference.
My first and second sessions came and went. They left me feeling better than I could have expected.  My ideas were welcomed. My audiences reactions warmed me as questions were asked, ideas were shared and I heard the ahaas and oh yeahs that something I had shared and taught had connected with them.
I walked out of my second session still floating in the happiness and pride that comes from presenting at your first conference. I walked the hallway to get some coffee and smiled at my thoughts about each session.  With coffee in hand I was ready to find a spot, sit and relax before the keynote. I pulled out my phone and called my husband to share this moment and my good news... I had survived.  A couch called my name.  It was perfect for sitting, relaxing, putting my feet up (my feet were killing me…new boots…fashion hurts sometimes) and soak up the experience.   My hard work paid off.  Sharing my ideas with others was worth it.  With my feet resting, my happiness warmed me as I checked the tweets of the conference.  Suddenly a very different feeling came over me and made me pause.  It wasn’t a  feeling of energy, a moment of ahaa and oh my goodness.  It was missing.  My crazy, amazing, idea learning feeling was absent. It was a feeling I was not used to when I attended conferences.    
Sunday morning I brewed a cup of my favorite hazelnut flavored coffee and sat down to read and catch up on Twitter. My iPad began pinging over and over again.  I watch it as a stream of retweets filled my screen.  My tweets retweeted...shared over and over and over again.  In between sips of coffee I smiled.  My ideas were being shared.  A tweet with a link to a post about my session pinged in.  I quickly clicked to read about her thoughts, her reflections, her take aways of the conference and the session of mine she attended.  I scrolled through her blog reading one post and then another and another. She shares all her ideas... big ideas, little ideas, great ideas, everyday ideas. All of them. She fearlessly shared for one of us, all of us to learn from her ideas.  
I clicked back to Twitter.  The flow of retweets had stopped and were replaced with responses, words, replies and interactions.   A woman who would seen my tweets had travelled to my blog.  She had read one of my posts.  She told me how happy she was that she had found one of my posts. She shared her enthusiasm about sharing this tool with a student she tutors. She told me about the empowerment the app was going to bring this non-writer. An idea I had shared  just helped one child access technology and potentially learn to do something they thought they couldn't do.  

I finish off my second cup of coffee and thought about the weekends errands and things to do. My thoughts suddenly stopped as I realized very powerful.  I learned that I'm a teacher and that doesn't change if I'm standing up in front of the kindergartners, 8th graders or adults. I love to teach.  I learned that my ideas, no matter how small, how big, how lofty, how outside the box or how simple I think they might be… one, just one of them, one of my ideas might make a difference in someone else's classroom,  might make a difference in somebody else's teaching,  might make a difference with someone's child or someone’s student. I learned I need get past the notion and that need for my information or my idea to be a big idea, aw inspiring idea or awinspiring idea.  I need to share with others the little activities,  the little ideas, the little experiences too because you just never know what impact your idea, your thoughts, your moments or your lesson might have the lesson, lives, classroom or thoughts of others!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

I think I have always wanted to be a Super Hero

I think I have always wanted to be a Super Hero.  Not one that wears capes, but one that takes on challenges... and helps save the world.  I mean, isn't that what teachers are?  One of our first meetings with other Instructional Technology Specialist and Academic Specialist we had to use an app and Super Hero ourselves.  Here is mine:

 Andrea's superpower is to excite teachers in the use of technology so every person has a voice.

As the year has gone on, I have learned so many new things... and in a FAST and FURIOUS way!  I have also discovered new things about myself such as:
-I feel like I am a pretty good presenter
-I work pretty well with all teachers
-I work very well with special education students
-I work well with Destination ImagiNation
-I need work on actually working with the general education classroom

I have been reading and listening to Reality is Broken: Why Games Make us Better and How they Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal and it has inspired me so much!  Game Based Learning is something that I am learning more and more about (and am always trying to figure out how to incorporate it into my work)

So, the one thing that I need to work on the most is actually working with a large group of students.  When I say that I struggle with this.. it is not because I don't have great lessons that go along with TEKS that are being worked on (I am all for don't use technology to say to use technology) I also know that teachers are super busy (and that is the reason that I created the Tech Challenges)

This week I had a HUGE aha moment!  Doesn't everyone like a challenge?  Doesn't everyone want to feel like they have a say in how they complete something... I mean that is why the students in Destination ImagiNation thrive and the Techformers Unite and Tech Challenges have done fairly well.  I needed to take my Tech Challenges and make them kid friendly!

So, this week I sat with first grade and they are working on some great stuff.  We talked about what the students were working on and what they would like to have the outcome be.  Here is what I came up with:
You can find it here.
I started my lesson with telling students that they were going to be a mission
We started with an Academic Conversation.  Groups were divided up and partners had to talk about which picture best represented morning.

We talked about different super heroes and how they face challenges

We talked about how they were going to do the challenge.  I introduced the iPad and what apps we would be using when it was their time in the station

We talked about the evaluation piece.

After I showed the students the various apps that we would use, we made a tree map of Morning, Afternoon and Night.  Groups then talked about which time of day they wanted to showcase and which app they were going to use to do it.  The first grade teachers are going to put the iPad into one of their math rotations next week so students will be able to complete this together with their group.  Once each group has created their product it will be posted on our blog along with discussion that students had to create it.

Now, of course there is going to be some changing as I go along, but I am so thankful to those 1st grade teachers (and my fabulous 5th grade teacher who let me use her students to figure some of this out) for allowing me to brainstorm with them and join them in their classroom.  I felt like I wore a cape on Friday... and it was wonderful!  I can already see how I am going to begin making school wide challenges...and having students level up!

I am headed to TCEA next week, but I can't wait to share my Mail Call Monday blog by the AMAZING Carrie Baughcum and I will also be sharing about my new Flight Program that is already growing.

Will you be at TCEA? Come see me at the BrainPOP booth and join us on Thursday morning for the TCEA photowalk  How do you remind yourself that you are a Super Hero?  What are your Super Powers?  I love that Podstock this year the theme is Super Heroes!