Games, Techniques, and Game Changers



“I am still learning” ~Michelangelo

This week was a busy week of reading and learning. I had about 20 tabs open in my browser of articles, posts, and videos waiting for me to sit down and take the time to view. Since it is a snowy day off, today is the day I will plow through them so I can share the learning with you.

Students as Problem Finders

“A great teacher makes themselves obsolete.” ~Vicki Davis

First on the docket is this podcast from George Couros and Vicki Davis. This episode is the 2nd in a series about The Innovator’s Mindset, written by George Couros, and it is about teaching children to become problem finders- to not just solve problems you give them, but to find problems that they want to solve. Students will not be with us forever, we need to teach them how to be independent, seek out learning opportunities for themselves, and take initiative.

Minecraft is Coming to a Classroom Near You!

This next is going to be very exciting for all of the Minecraft enthusiasts, especially your students. Microsoft, who purchased Minecraft in 2014  has announced a Minecraft Education Edition for schools that will launch this summer. As teachers, many (or some) of us, might be loath to introduce something in class that we are not familiar or comfortable with. What we need to do is set aside our fears and allow the students to become the teachers– let the students show us how Minecraft works. The Minecraft Edu Edition is going to have a community resource area for teachers to share their Minecraft settings so others can use them with their students. Check it out– there are already some starter lessons including the Pyramids of Giza and the Temple of Artemis.

iPad 9.3 Update is a “Game Changer”

If you are using iPads in the classroom this next article is for you! The new iPad update 9.3 will now allow for multiple users on one iPad with the addition of user profiles. Now if you are a teacher in a classroom (or even an adult with children who share your iPad) where iPads are shared with another classroom or amongst multiple students in your class, this new update will  be extremely helpful for you. One of the features is the ability for student work to be automatically saved to their own profile making loss or accidental deletion by another user a thing of the past! For more on this update, see here.

Let’s Discuss

I love this post from The Cult of Pedagogy (which includes a podcast if you’d prefer to listen) because it has ideas– 15 to be exact– you can start using right away to get the conversations flowing in your classroom. There are some excellent discussion techniques/formats divided into low prep (you can insert them on the fly), high prep, and ongoing strategies including the Fishbowl, Socratic Seminar, Philosphical Chairs, Pinwheel and 11 more AND each comes with a link to a video of how the particular technique works. So with this article you get the audio, the text, and the video!  I like that in addition to sharing the ideas and how to implement them, Jennifer includes variations on each. Many of these formats can be used from as young as elementary school.

What’s the Scoop?

I learned about Jellybean Scoop the other day and think it’s an excellent site to add to your toolbelt. Jellybean Scoop is a non-fiction news and high-interest stories site geared to appeal to younger students incuding beginning or reluctant readers. The site is divided in to news sections like World News, Inspirational and Health, Nature and Science, Fun Facts, and Odd News, and the stories are leveled for beginning, intermediate, advanced, and fluent. Each articles come with audio so that students can listen to the article making it the perfect site for your early elementary or ELL students. Additionally, each article comes with vocabulary, word and sentence builders, comprehension, and print options to engage your students. Teachers can create and account for as few as 25 and as many as 100 students.

Khan and Pixar: A Match Made in Learning Heaven

What I love about technology is the opportunity to learn something new everyday. Now there is one more thing we can potentially add to our repertoire thanks to Khan Academy and Pixar: Animation. Khan and Pixar have released a free online course that is sure to make aspiring animators very happy. If you have ever spent time learning on Khan Academy, you know that the courses are well laid out and they make difficult content easier to learn so you can feel successful. This is definitely one to check out!

Want more great information? Check out this week’s Shipley PLN Lower School Edition!

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” ~Henry Ford

This is a huge WOW! This teacher whom I follow on Twitter (@MrsEvon1) is sharing how her 4th grade students are using their ipads in a 1:1 environment. All throughout the day the technology and creativity is embedded in their learning and in everything that they are doing. It is truly amazing. Just because you might not be using ipads does not mean you cannot do what she, is doing. Many of the apps that she is using are also websites (Haikudeck, Vocabulary and Spelling City, Storyline Online, Kidblog, Quizlet, Wonderopolis; the ones that are not also web-based can easily be found in other tools). 

I especially like the ipad menu of activities that Mrs. Evon is using to keep her students responsible for their learning. 

You know how much I love all things Google. Well, Google has another new add-on which will make using Google forms for sign-ups like appointment times or bake sale donations even better. Now Google has added Choice Eliminator— when a selection is made that should no longer be available, Choice Eliminator gets rid of it. Now you will no longer have 5 people bringing paper plates or signing up for the 4:00 appointment. Yay!

More Google (because we could all use more Google in our life)- this from Kyle Pace in my Feedly (used to be Google Reader but, alas, sadly, that went). Anyway, when you go to Create something in Google Drive, your default choices are Folder, Doc, Sheet, Slides, Drawing, and Form; but if you look closely, you will see at the bottom of that list, “Connect More Apps.” There are many wonderful apps that once connected, can offer you and your students a lot of benefits and assistance. You can find the ones that Kyle B. Pace recommends here. I am a fan of Lucidchart, Pixlr, and Powtoons, but there are really so many options.

This next set of tools are great! I came across Wideo over the weekend, and have had it open in a tab so I could try it out (still open, am going to help my daughter make a math video for her class). Then I saw that Richard Byrne, aka Free Tech 4 Teachers, had a nice post about this and 2 other video creating sites. I have used We Video and found it fairly easy, but I have not tried Magisto (which seems to me to be similar to the easy and simple-to-use Animoto which I and my 5th grade students love). Anyway, you can read here about all 3 sites that will allow you to create your videos in the cloud (aka Web-based) then easily share them or embed them. I would say that in order of ease-of-use you should try Animoto, Magisto, We Video, then Wideo (which makes animated-style videos).

Last, for our folks teaching current events or doing current events with your students, here is Newsela— a site that allows you to search for topics by grade level, reading standard, or quizzed articles. You can sign up and create a classroom for your students and assign them articles, or just make it a job for our student to bring a piece of news to your morning circle. 

Looking for more classroom jobs? Have a class public relations person tweet out what your class is learning. Have an historian of the day find out what happened on this day in history and see that today is not just another ordinary day. I have more ideas but if you have been reading and you got to this point, you can ask me.

Shared in late October with my colleagues