Monday, October 15, 2012

Third World Farmer

    After looking at various games, I chose Third World Farmer. I think this game gives the student the opportunity to problem solve and by the choices made, they will either succeed or fail. I have played this game five times and I have to admit I was horrible at first! But, each time I am getting better and better! This game really forces the student to understand world problems and to use cognitive skills.
     Using Third World Farmer, I would have my students keep of log of how much money they have, what they spend for the year and how much they made, repeating this every year. The objective would be for the students to understand adding and subtracting figures in a non-traditional math way (solving equations). This would ready them for their own life, learning how to manage money. They would have to present the log that they have kept and explain to the class what money they used and what they made each year and if they had enough left over for the following year and the outside factors that affected this. 

    I could also use this game as a history/geography lesson. The objective would be to understand and discuss how resources affects life in third world countries. They will also be able to compare and contrast our own life with those in a third world, like Africa. Working in small groups, students can compare and contrast their own life to that of Africa's. Then, as a class, we can discuss the results before having the students write their findings. Talking in a small group (where some may feel more comfortable talking) and then in a larger class group will give the students plenty of ideas and time to ask questions before having to work on their own and write their conclusions. 

Gamification...what is it?

     I had never heard of Gamification until this week. Video games have never really interested me so this week was an eye-opener. Wiki defines Gamification "as the infusion of game design techniques, game mechanics, and/or game style into anything." After seeing some examples of these types of games, I can clearly see the advantage they can have in education. Today's educational world is not about testing to show what facts and formulas students have memorized but rather testing students on APPLYING that information to problem solving. In this YouTube video it discusses online gaming implications in the classroom, the speaker makes some great arguments for the benefits of inline gaming in the classroom. He states that these games promote cognitive skills, specifically situated cognition. In short, when teaching, we need to teach them in the environment that they are going to demonstrate that knowledge, as stated by the speaker in this video.
       In addition to using cognitive skills, online gaming also promotes collaboration and problem solving- which is exactly what NYS education is gearing their assessments towards!

      Online games, like The Curfew use problem solving techniques along with reading and writing skills to navigate through the game. I have played this game a few times this past week and I keep getting more and more into it each time! This game asks questions that you need to answer in order to gain the trust of the game players. The Curfew promotes interactive education to learn about civil liberties in and outside of the classroom. This game would be for the secondary English language learner and I would first present it after discussing cultural freedoms and rights, comparing our country to the L2's, problem solving, etc. I would first provide a walkthrough of the game so each learner has the general idea of what is being asked of him/her. Then I would allow the students to attempt the game individually, to explore and form questions that they have along the way. As they travel through the game, critical thinking and comprehension is a must. The player must make decisions, ask and answer questions in order to get the outcome he/she is looking for. After having each person attempt it on his/her own, I would then ask the students to work in pairs or small groups to compare their strategies and to see what worked and what did not. This would allow for collaboration, personal interaction with others by verbal communication as well as exercising their problem solving skills together. 
      Using these strategies of asking questions and using critical thinking from the game and their discussions about it with classmates, the students will be assigned a small group to work with. Each group will have a part to complete within the activity before the next member can begin. In order to complete the activity each member must trust each other, ask questions to gain information and use critical thinking to solve their assigned activity. This will show me if the strategies that were outlined in the game, The Curfew, were understood and if they can successfully use them. The objective will be for each group, and group member, to work together and complete their activity using the strategies learned- asking questions, trusting others, using critical thinking and problem solving. 

Maestro de español

I chose the Yahoo group Maestros de español. I really like this group since there are SO MANY great ideas being shared about teaching and learning the Spanish language. I joined this group and can now share lesson ideas with fellow Spanish teachers. There are some great website suggestions to use in the classroom with students in addition to videos and lesson plans. I have also found this group useful to ask questions- anything from grammar to cultural questions that you need answered. Signing up for the group was easy and I was able to set-up how I will receive messages from the group so it is not overwhelming. I think this group is going to be a great tool for me as I am the only high school Spanish teacher at my school so I can use this as an outlet to communicate and share with others that are teaching the same things.

Monday, October 8, 2012


          Until recently I have only thought of Twitter as a social site and not a means to communicate with students. In addition to discussing technology in this course, one of my former college classmates recently was honored by NYSFLT for her webpage design and I started to follow how she was integrating technology into her classroom, with both her students and their parents. One of the things that ways that she communicates with them is by using Twitter. The reaction to this use of technology has been overwhelming in her classroom and it got me thinking that maybe Twitter can be used in the educational setting and not just for social media.

          60 Inspiring Examples of Twitter in the Classroom has a wonderful list of ideas on how to incorporate it into a classroom setting. Two of my favorite suggestions are to use it as a bulletin board and as a means of communication with parents. I often find myself spending my “free time” (non-teaching time) emailing or calling parents. By using Twitter I could communicate with multiple parents at once. Of course there would be those that are not part of the Twitter world but it would be much less time-consuming I am sure if I used Twitter as a way to communicate with parents.

            I also really like the idea of using Twitter as a bulletin board for my students. We all spend countless time reiterating directions and going over due dates, etc. “Tweeting” these things would be a better way to get this information to my students since most of them LOVE the social network world! What a great idea this was!

            In the Teachers Guide to The Use of Twitter in Classroom there are some great guidelines to keep in mind when using Twitter with your students. You must establish “Twitter Etiquette” so students, as well as parents, are aware what is and is not appropriate. It may seem simple but proper language, politeness and quality postings should be expected and enforced. Since social media is an outlet for everyone to express their feelings, differing opinions should be accepted and discussed.

            Overall I think this social media tool can be a great outlet in the classroom if used appropriately.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Collaboration opportunities...

I really LOVE the idea of being able to have an exchange with students from other Spanish classrooms. This VoiceThread website is a wonderful tool to use to collaborate with other classrooms learning the Spanish language. By using the VoiceThread technology my students would be learning/practicing the Spanish language, learning to work with new technology as well as meeting and conversing with new students. What a great experience for all involved! As a high school Spanish teacher, I am constantly looking for new ways to give my students a fun experience with the language and this website is a wonderful source. With this I can set up times to speak with students in other Spanish-language learning classrooms and use frequently in the classroom as a communication tool. By using a tool like this in my classroom I can connect two separate groups of students by a common interest- learning a foreign language!!!

Today's learner is like a...

I see today’s learner like a thruway. All of us are on a course with the same end in mind. Each path involves a different route but, in the end, we get to our desired destination.

On the thruway cars get left behind, passed and fly by others. Each learner learns at a different pace, some have no problems and cruise along the path towards educational success while others get stopped along the way. On the thruway cars are stopped for various issues and then get back on their course once the issues are solved just like learners need to stop for help, clarification, etc.. When we are driving and having car issues, we often stop on the side of the road for help, and in our time of need others stop to help, like a teacher or peer help us along in the educational setting.

Some drive recklessly along the thruway with no idea of where they are going. Many, in the educational journey, float through their academic careers like those reckless drivers. As a driver, we are able to choose the lane we drive in and the route we take just like "learners often select and pursue their own learning" as stated in George Siemens' article Connectivism:A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Constructivist principles acknowledge that real-life learning is messy and complex.

As George Siemens says that "through social needs we are able to connect with one another" in his video The Impact of Social Software on Learning. Much like when we are on the thruway, the chosen path connects us to one another but we all get there in our own way.