Week 6 Reflection about Gaming and Coding in the Classroom

EDET 637: Differentiating Instruction through Technology
with Dr. Lee Graham

This was turned into Livetext on 2-18-16: I am posting it on WordPress on 3-6-16

Week 6 Reflection about Gaming and Coding in the Classroom
by Aleta May

Essential question: How are games providing new opportunities for differentiation in the classroom?

This week’s research led me to think about how vital it is to teach students to code for their own projects they design. First, writing stories is such an important connection to reading and using programs like ScratchJr and going to Code.org inspire students to get past the normal writer’s block many students come to. Part of the reason for this is there may be an over emphasis on the end product of writing; whereas programs that allow students to code in order to create scenes faster, or to create avatars that can behave in any number of combinations of ways by combining code gives students ways to visually express their plot. This also allows students to engage with the character and the scene in a way that allows them to make their imaginations come to life! So now when I think of gaming in the classroom, I think of the interconnectedness it has with coding.
I was especially interested in the human-like body movements that advanced students can use to create social stories for students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), low or non-speaking students, and for behavioral issues that can be played out using robotics. No longer do I need to find that educator who wrote that book on writing social stories. Students are creating situations through robotics that students with social challenges can work through. In my village, we have some more unique situations, and I can see using programming of robots to teach preparation for going to Bethel and pre-teach potential responses that our high school student may encounter when he goes to the transition camp there.
Amy inspired me so much with her YouTube interview with her daughters that I actually wrote down some of their comments and posted them back in a reply to Amy, because their comments describe better than any article we can read why we need to push ourselves (and lead other teachers as well) to use technology for instruction. Here are some comments they made in the interview:
Dannie 12 & in 6th grade: She made a giant creeper, zombie and scout; in creative mode. She likes the different textures. You do have to communicate where do you want to build it. Write math problems and make your answers stylish.
Allie 14 year old daughter: She likes making anything you want; they communicate to know where they are and what they are doing. She would like for this to be used in school for communication.
Larissa agreed that her daughters made the point that “communication is key.” Also, I had not thought about how we could use MineCraft on iPads until I read it in an online environment somewhere, and then got to see Amy’s daughters using this program, on iPads. Touch screens look so “freeing” compared to even using an external mouse.
This week I created a slideshow using PowerPoint. As I created it, I thought about how I was remixing; the issues raised with this in my Ethics class came to mind continually. I described how I handled this in my Journal reflection for that class. When Lee told me about the Creative Commons site, my eyes were opened to the endless potential of using copyright free digital media for creating, both to present to students and to teach students to do this. What comes to mind is that juniors and seniors create a final presentation as part of their graduation requirements. I could volunteer to help with this.
When I read Teresa’s blog, she placed a list of steps to follow for gamifying learning in the classroom. That list by Liz Kolb, makes setting up the class for teachers new to this style of teaching seem so much more possible. It sounds like Teresa is experienced at setting up quests for her students as well.
Today I watched Sally’s screen-cast-o-matic she uploaded to YouTube. I understand better now how to create that type of video; as well as learning more about how Coding.org Programming works! I appreciate learning from her. I can use her’s and Amy’s ideas as models to break free and try something new in the area of video recording.
Sarah K.’s screen-cast-o-matic came across very clearly. I am reminded how we can use this to teach concepts online that students can watch again later or even make up missed lessons.
I have considered options for my UbD Unit design. Two things came up in my mind; I need to collect consistent data, and I want to become familiar with the Aleks math program being used at our school. I have a group of six who have been using Dreambox in my room and one student requested to also use Aleks to get caught up with his math in that program for another teacher. Since I am an RTI person, and it is also an individualized adaptive program, I thought that sounded reasonable. I will individually help students to prevent them from needing to repeat lessons and avoid frustration.
This week’s topic was especially interesting to me. There is so much potential for our students. And teachers have many tools at hand to teach with. Still, I would like to learn more about free sources of gaming for supporting high school students’ comprehension in Social Studies and Science.

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