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Tapping Into the Potential of Games and Uninhibited Play for Learning

Tapping Into the Potential of Games and Uninhibited Play for Learning
Part 1 of the MindShift’s Guide to Game-Based Learning. By now, you’ve probably heard the buzzwords: “game-based learning” and “gamification” are pervading headlines in education coverage. Video games have always been popular with kids, but now increasingly, educators are trying to leverage the interactive power of video games for learning. Why? It turns out games are actually really good teachers. Think about the compounding way in which Angry Birds teaches the rules, one baby step at a time, one superpower after another. Think about popular games, old and new: Pac-Man, Mario Brothers, Space Invaders, Minecraft. All games facilitate some kind of learning. Gamification is popular in advertising, human resources, coffee shop loyalty programs, ongoing fast food promotions. Across the country, teachers are using gamification in their classrooms every day. Perhaps students receive badges recognizing the successful completion of each assignment. Related:  gry.h.nielsenGamingPlay

When School Leaders Empower Teachers, Better Ideas Emerge Lollyman/Flickr Teachers are increasingly being pushed into new roles as their ability to connect online opens up new opportunities. Educators are finding their own professional development, sharing lesson plans and teaching tips with colleagues around the world, and have often become ambassadors to the public on new approaches to teaching and learning. Easy access to information has empowered many educators to think and teach differently, but often those innovations remain isolated inside classrooms. Without a school leader who trusts his or her teachers, it is difficult to convert pockets of innovation into a school culture of empowered teachers. One way of building that kind of unified school culture is through distributed leadership, the idea that no one person at the top of the hierarchy makes all the decisions that will affect the work lives of the adults in the building. “Teachers have to really own what they are in charge of,” said Aaron Gerwer, intern principal at SLA.

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3 Ways Coding and Gaming Can Enhance Learning Coding isn't just for computer science any more. Educators are finding that teaching students to write code and design games enhances learning and creates engagement. These examples illustrate how coding and games are being used across the curriculum and at all levels, as well as why great teaching is at the very heart of this innovation. Connecting With Each Learner: Inform7 (Interactive Fiction for High School) Imagine a weather-beaten oak door. It has a heavy brass knocker and a tarnished handle that doesn't look like it has been used in some time. Now go to Google Images and try to find a picture of the exact door that you have seen in your head. Now imagine that as you approach the door, you notice deep scratches along the doorframe, as if something has been trying to get in . . . or trying to hold the door closed. Yet through the power of narrative description, we are all probably picturing the same door in our heads. Great Teachers

The Value Of Hard Work A while back, I read a post on someone else's blog about their version of a play-based curriculum. I'm sorry I don't recall where, but the first reader comment is what has stuck with me. It was from someone who purported to be a teacher and was quite critical, asserting among other things that "this is what's wrong with this country." I teach very young children, of course, which kind of inoculates me against these critiques, but it's an argument that those of us who publicly advocate for play-based education hear a lot. Usually, it's phrased as a question: Everything you say about the value and benefits of a play-based education sounds well and good, but how do the children ever learn about the value of hard work? I see "hard work" every day in our classroom, even among the very young children I teach. "Play" and "hard work" are not opposites: in fact, they can be seen as synonyms. The short answer is: you don't. But no, they then say, that's not what I'm talking about.

Students Conduct Their Own Groundbreaking Research About Learning Most education studies involve academic researchers coming into schools trying to figure out the answer to a predetermined question. But what if students themselves helped shape questions about their own school reality — and learned the social science tools to research those important questions? That’s what the Public Science Project is doing with students. The group, primarily located in New York City, approaches the experiences of students as a crucial kind of expertise that helps inform the research and makes it more authentic. To capture the information, academic researchers train school-aged young people in statistics and research methods so they can participate equally in conducting studies on education. In one iconic project called Echos of Brown 50 Years Later, students and researchers delved into the history of Brown vs. and in the classrooms, the imbalance is subtle, undercurrents in hallways. That’s an important message when it comes to scaling good ideas.

My Beef With Badges Don't get me wrong. I love badges, digital badges for learning. And I don't mean just for some hoped-for potential to transform the learning landscape. I mean I love them for what I’ve seen them actually achieve: new literacies amongst youth to describe their learning within a Brooklyn after-school program; new motivation within an Atlanta private school; pride in portfolios within a Bronx library; a new understanding of how to use learning technology in a New Orleans day school; the emergence of formative assessment within a New York museum. I am informed by the theoretical but guided by practice, by what I have seen with my own eyes over the past five years. But, I do harbor concerns. Enough. The problem that concerns me the most is the lack of a broad ecosystem for badges. The first difference is between interest-driven youth and youth less able to direct their learning. The second is between a local badging system and a global one. So, what does this all mean?

How quest-based learning is improving student achievement SmartBlogs There is a common imperative given to teachers to leave no child behind. This alludes to getting all of our students to similar levels of proficiency by year’s end. But in a system that relies on a traditional linear grade book approach to learning, is ensuring that no child be left behind actually keeping them from accelerating their education? According to proponents of quest-based learning, the answer is yes. Quest-based learning — QBL — is an instructional theory that relies on elements of game design in learning communities to support student choice within the context of a standards-based curriculum. Moving away from a top-down approach to informational acquisition, quest-based learning offers new possibilities for learning and knowledge construction. But would allowing students such autonomy over what and when to learn really promote academic achievement and mastery of content standards? The results were astounding.

Memeoirs Turns WhatsApp Chats into a Book WhatsApp is used by more than half a billion people to communicate with friends and family each month, but, unlike more traditional mediums, chats stay buried inside the app. Italian company Memeoirs wants to change that. Memeoirs currently allows customers to create books based on emails and Facebook messages, as we wrote in March, and now it is expanding that to include WhatsApp chats. “We’ve had this idea for a long time now, and many of our customers keep telling us how cool it would be to print a book with their WhatsApp chats. A paperback version of a WhatsApp book costs $40, or customers can pay $60 for a hardback version. This might not be something for every WhatsApp user, but if you use the app with family or your significant other, then it might make for a unique Christmas or birthday gift. ➤ Memeoirs

Rise of the Robots: STEM-Fueled Competitions Gaining Traction Nationwide There’s a robotics movement under way at schools across the country, and it’s aimed squarely at developing a passion for STEM education in the kids who need it the most. Building robots is a sport for the mind, and, despite being unorthodox, it’s become an officially recognized high school sport in two states, and more states are set to follow. The organization leading this movement — For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) — was founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen, the man behind the Segway. These include the FIRST Robotics Challenge (FRC), the organization’s flagship program; the FIRST Tech Challenge, a lower-cost alternative to the FRC; and FIRST Lego League, the most popular challenge, in which students create programmable robots built from LEGO blocks. Pep Rallies for Robotics STEM is experiencing renewed interest nationwide, and the rise of FIRST robotics competitions at schools have given way to official recognition in some states. “For kids, it’s just huge.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Badging in the Classroom: Our Definitive Guide SmartBrief Exclusive Preview Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Badging in the Classroom: Our Definitive Guide With new programs and standards emerging, digital badges are helping students prove what they've learned in--and outside--school. By John K. This article appears in the May 2013 issue of T.H.E. March was a big month in the world of digital badging. These developments signal the fast approach of a tipping point for digital badging in K-12 education. Grant works for the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory, better known as HASTAC (pronounced "haystack"), which administered the most recent MacArthur competition, the fourth such contest and the first to focus on digital badges. Why are all these organizations using their considerable weight to promote the development of digital badges? That idea seems central to the support digital badges are receiving from the Obama administration. What's a Digital Badge, Anyway?

Why Video Games Matter (ALA Webinar). I recently had the awesome opportunity to share a brief presentation I called Why Video Games Matter as part of Barbara Stripling’s “Libraries Change Lives” webinar series through the American Library Association. This month's focus was on STEAM Learning, a framework for teaching across the multiple disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. An excerpt from the press statement read: Libraries of all types are breaking new ground with innovative approaches to STEAM learning. Here was my opening slide: Intrigued? The folks at ALA were kind enough to share the webinar archive with all of us so that we could share it with all of you. Cheers! - Matthew

Move Your Body, Grow Your Brain Editor's note: This post is co-authored by Marcus Conyers who, with Donna Wilson, is co-developer of the M.S. and Ed.S. Brain-Based Teaching degree programs at Nova Southeastern University. They have written several books, including Five Big Ideas for Effective Teaching: Connecting Mind, Brain, and Education Research to Classroom Practice. Incorporating exercise and movement throughout the school day makes students less fidgety and more focused on learning. Like "Miracle-Gro for the Brain" Exercise may have both a physiological and developmental impact on children's brains. Increased oxygen to the brain that may enhance its ability to learn Alterations to neurotransmitters Structural changes in the central nervous system In fact, John Ratey, author of A User's Guide to the Brain, calls exercise "Miracle-Gro for the brain" because of its role in stimulating nerve growth factors. The connection between learning and exercise seems to be especially strong for elementary school students. Ms.

Study: Teachers Believe Brain Myths that Hamper Their Lessons | Big Think by Orion Jones An international survey of school teachers has found that the vast majority believe in myths about the brain — that a student is either left-brained or right-brained, for example — and that adapting their lessons to accommodate these myths can be harmful to a student's education. About half of all teachers surveyed from the UK, Holland, Greece, and China believed that humans only use 10 percent of their brains at a given time while 70 percent thought children were either right- or left-brained. "The report highlights several areas where new findings from neuroscience are becoming misinterpreted by education, including brain-related ideas regarding early educational investment, brain plasticity, adolescent brain development, and learning disorders such as dyslexia and ADHD." One of the most persistent beliefs among teachers is that students learn better when lessons are tailored to their different learning strategies. Read more at Kurzweil AI.

Gamifying Education: Do We Know How to Gamify the Classroom? Gamification in many parts of education is a sham. Listening to the researchers and experts in this area has convinced me of that. If you’re interested in making your classroom more intriguing and powerful, read on. Who Is Shaping The Gamifying Education Conversation? In this week’s conversation with Australian Gamer and researcher Lauren Ferro we all went on a bit of a rant about the ridiculous state of badges in education.Teacher Alice Keeler uses games all the time (and doesn’t give grades).Sixth grade teacher Michael Matera reinvented his whole sixth grade classroom as a Games Based classroom and shares how he did it.A Higher Ed Panel had a powerful conversation for why we need games in highered. All of these are YouTube videos that have been recorded over the past week and a half as part of the Open Online Community (called an OOC) focusing on games in education. I have 3 take aways from the learning so far: #1: The Way We’re Doing Many Badges In Education Is A Joke