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Bloom into EdTech: The Blog: October 2016

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Halloween Kids Coding Sites

Hello and Happy Halloween! It’s that time of year again when a lot of our beloved coding sites share with us their ghoulish coding puzzles. I have list a few of my favorite below in hopes it will be updated this year:

Tynker’s Make-o-Lantern found at: http://www.tynker.com/ide/?p=580794afaf92312a378b45b4

Google’s Made w/ code Yeti Animation found at: https://www.madewithcode.com/projects/animation

Tynker’s Trick or Treat Tombs found here: http://www.tynker.com/ide/?p=57ffc005af923193728b4674

Another great coding game from Tynker; Monster High found at: https://www.tynker.com/courses/monster-high/host

And another….Halloween Hostage located at: http://www.tynker.com/ide/?p=57ffc093af9231e0738b46d3

Code.org’s “special level” drawing a ghost: https://studio.code.org/s/SpecialSeries/stage/1/puzzle/1

Happy coding!

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Gamification: Why play when you can make a game?

Topic: Gamestar Mechanic: learning how to design a story-based game.

Suggested Grade: 6-8

  • Gamestar Mechanic Account. Free or paid. It is cheap to have a paid account ($2 per student exclusive education price, and I strongly urge you do. You can survive without it though.) You can set up an institution and track student progress!
  • Pixabay.com or other sites that offer royalty free images.
  • Intro to gaming video: https://youtu.be/x24KoVNliMk

Tech Tips:
What better way to teach students about game design than playing a game while they learn? Gamestar Mechanic also allows students to design as well as share their games. This is my third year using Gamestar mechanic as an introduction to game design. Students will learn about the principles of game design: space, components, mechanics, goals and rules, as they learn how to independently design on their own.

Gamestar Mechanic takes the stress out of students learning to code and places value on design only. Keep this in mind. I love how students can submit and publish their games in game alley as well as the ability to peer review games.

Make sure to check out their getting started teacher page and PDF: https://gamestarmechanic.com/teachers/using_gamestar

They also have a few lesson ideas as well that are worth the look.

A few notes: In order for this implementation of this lesson to be successful, you students must complete the following:
  • They must publish their games. This is done by working on Addison’s Quest- at least level 3. However, the more they play the more they earn!
  • In the workshop, I suggest they complete custom background challenge (premium feature.) This makes their game more unique.

ISTE Standards for Students 2016: 1a., 1b., 1c., 2a., 2b., 2c., 2d., 4b., 4c., 4d., 6a., 6d., 7a.

Note this is only a sampling of what you can do. Please make it your own. You may not have the availability to all the resources below.

Day 1:

1. To introduce students to video games, we watch together as a class the video below from Ted Ed...

…. And what better way to learn about the history of video games than playing this short game on Kahoot! https://play.kahoot.it/#/k/517e3f64-47d3-474a-b43e-a6ee2886f9a0 as a class. Take grades if needed!

2. Give students a general overview of Gamestar Mechanic and allow them to set up their accounts according to your directives. https://gamestarmechanic.com

3. Allow time to play and have students get acquainted with Gamestar Mechanic.

Day 2: (or flip it and assign this for home)
{Optional lesson- and only works if you have a BrainPop! account. Set up users in BrainPop! and assign students to watch the movie on Video Games and assign students the activity, and graphic organizer.}

Continue to allow students to play Addison’s Guest. Some, if not most should be a good portion of the way through by day 3 or 4. They should describe their games and have discussions with you utilizing the new vocabulary that they were introduced to. Use Quizlet to reinforce this. Play Quizlet Live to help reinforce skills.

Day 4 or 5:
Encourage students to complete custom background challenge (premium feature.) This makes their game more unique. If students finish early, have them go to the Workshop to edit drafted games: https://gamestarmechanic.com/workshop

Day 6:
Introduce the cumulative game: Creating a game with a story line.
Students have learned about the story line genre that takes places in many video games. What is the story to Mario? What is his goal? How about Skylanders? Etc.

For this cumulative lesson, students will create a three level game based on a story.
  • In level 1, the easiest level, the game’s story comes to life, Characters are introduced and the plot is set.
  • In level 2, the conflict of the story unfolds. This level is a little bit harder that before.
  • In level 3, the resolution. The hardest level. This is where the characters are to defeat whatever they need to end the game.

Have students share their ideas with one another in the storyboard provided below in Google Docs.

Time needed to complete: 5-6 classes.

Students MUST Publish the game, follow each other on Gamestar Mechanic, and leave feedback.
Optional: Create a rubric using Google Forms for students to leave feedback (rubric) while they are playing the game. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfSTNw8PDYq77zGM66q1Y4b6SwnBkZelMB6xIiQ5D_zeBPBkA/viewform

Example: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1fLfNpRY1qmKbLsRDLhPzbu99Epme_AFgjYyHg8T9deo/edit#
To make a copy of your own click here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1fLfNpRY1qmKbLsRDLhPzbu99Epme_AFgjYyHg8T9deo/copy

Getting Started with Gamestar Mechanic!

A look inside Gamestar Mechanic. My life as a professional gamer.... I will stick with teaching:

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Ready? Set. Play!

There are many approaches to teaching your students a new "tech tool" and depending on the amount of time that you have will vary your approach. One way that I introduce a new tech tool, other than walking the student step-by-step through the process, is allowing them to, well, play!

Why I love allowing students to play with a new tech tool:
  1. It promotes creativity. I don't expect an end product. It alleviates stress of having to create something that has such a binding contract.
  2. It fosters collaboration and teachable moments. If you allow require your students to get out of their seats and assist their peers, the entire learning process is now in their hands. Talk about student-centered learning at it's finest.
  3. When it comes time to create the "final product" they understand the tool (maybe even more than you do at this point), and may reiterate to you what they have learned more clearly.
  4. They may take advantage of the advantages of 20% Time (awesome read right here). There have been many studies suggesting that there is great value of allowing students to explore a topic of their choice. Although you are providing the "topic," being the technology tool, you are allowing them to explore it in their own manner. Whether they are using Image Blender to create a drawing of a sunset, or PiktoChart to create an info-graphic about their favorite hockey player, the bottom line it: They are learning the new tool on the way.
What do you think about allowing students to "play" to introduce a new tool?


Friday, October 14, 2016

Climbing Hills. Welcome to EdTech!

Courtesy of Pixabay- Give them a coffee!
I am a Triathlete. That sounds amazing. According to my USAT membership and the handful of Triathlons I have participated in, it's true.

What made me decide to become a Triathlete resonates into why I chose the career of educational technology; I love the challenge.

In the beginning, training for a Triathlon was hard. I had a few personal challenges to overcome (I drowned twice as a child, so you would say swimming was my first hurdle). But what I remember the most about tackling my training, was over coming those hills.

I purposely would find overly elevated hills to become stronger and stay focused. Man, they were steep. But keep in mind, whether you're training for a Triathlon, or to be the best Educational Technologist ever, the hills look a lot bigger from a distance.

Once you start climbing the hills, and I suggest you do, you become a master and able to defeat anything.

Today I received a phone call from a fellow new-to-the field colleague from a neighboring school. {I currently work in the private sector so this is not unheard of.} The gentleman on the other end was, for starters, passionate about his job, but was as equally upset.

“I don't understand what I did wrong.” He puzzlingly states over the phone. “I was trying to teach my students new skills and tools that will lead them in this global economy” he explains in reference teaching the children about (and not how to create an account) the business-social networking site LinkedIn and the administration frowned upon it. “I feel like I am shaking everything up and creating a ruckus!”

Me? “So, you're saying you're doing your job. Great!”

After listening to this gentleman for over an hour declare his views on the future of educational technology and how social media will soon be the catalyst of how we function as human beings, he explained how discouraged he was about the effects that have unfolded since he began his career in September pushed me to write this post.

We are never going to evolve as educators whilst we are standing still.

We need to be innovators, forward thinkers.

We are not only educating our students for successful scores on standardized tests but, we are also teaching them how to survive in a global society.

So, my new friend, if you feel like you are shaking things up and creating diversity, then you are on the right path.

I remember being the new kid the block in this field. Back in the day (insert cane), I too had my days of trial and error. It wasn't until late that I have just about perfected my limitations.
To this day I still may unknowingly knowingly still upset or shake things up by my forward thinking. And I'm okay with it. I trained for the hills.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Using PowerPoint to Create Interactive Digital Stories

You can learn more about this lesson, by visiting my class Website found here.

I hope this gave you some inspiration for today!

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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Using Google Slides to Create a Brochure for Student Project


Who doesn't love the ability that Google gives us to share, collaborate and create? My school has been a GAFE (Google Apps for Education) school for about four years now. We have had our share of trials and speculation as we began our journey, but it is now almost second nature to open a Chromebook and have students take notes, write stories, create presentations, or respond to peers using Classroom, Docs, Slides, and Forms.

The below tutorials are an example of a project that I do with my 4th-grade students, entitled: I Love NY. In this project, students need to research a city/town within NYS to vacation. They are to research the history, discover what there is to do in their selected town/city, and create a spreadsheet for the associated costs. The end result is a beautiful brochure that will persuade you to visit their selected town. You can find the entire project here.

Otherwise, if you are more interested in how to take a Google Slide and turn it into a brochure for either a project that you are working on with students (whether it be formatting or the need to create a brochure from scratch), or need a free resource, then the following videos will be of value to you.

Formatting the Google Slide:
Designing the Google Slide Brochure: 

Designing the inside of the brochure: 

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