User Generated Education

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Posts Tagged ‘game-based learning

Eggbert, the Slightly Cracked Egg: A Breakout EDU Game

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There is a new platform for immersive learning games that’s taking classrooms across the world by storm. Based on the same principles as interactive Escape The Room digital games — which challenge players to use their surroundings to escape a prison-like scenario — Breakout EDU is a collaborative learning experience that enhances critical thinking and creativity while fostering a growth mindset in students. Gameplay revolves around a Breakout EDU box that has been locked with multiple and different locks including directional locks, word locks, and number locks. After listening to a game scenario read by the teacher, students must work together to find and use clues to solve puzzles that reveal the various lock combinations before time expires (usually 45 minutes). (Stretch student collaboration skills with Breakout EDU)

I developed my own game which is adapted from Oh, the Places You Will Go http://www.breakoutedu.com/oh-the-places-youll-go

Title: Eggbert: The Slightly Cracked Egg

Story: Uses the children’s story, Eggbert: The Slightly Cracked Egg. Cast out of the refrigerator because of a small crack, Eggbert sets out into the world, using his talent for painting to try to blend in. Eventually he realizes that cracks are everywhere and reminds us all that our flaws are perfectly natural.

Topic Theme: This cross-curricular BreakoutEDU activities incorporates English, Math, and Social Studies standards as well as skills such as problem-solving and team building.

Standards:

This cross curricular activity address the following standards. Students will:

  • Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings. (ELA CCSS)
  • Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly. (ELA CCSS)
  • Understand how latitude and longitude are used to identify places on a map. (Social Studies)
  • Describe and compare the physical environments and landforms of different places in the world (e.g., mountains, islands, valleys or canyons, mesas).
  • Use personal experience as inspiration for expression in visual art. (Visual Arts)
  • Solve different kinds of non-familiar problems in both conventional and innovative ways. (21st Century Skills)
  • Assume shared responsibility for collaborative work, and value the individual contributions made by each team member. (21st Century Skills)

Materials:

  • Copy of Eggbert, the Slightly Cracked Egg
  • Breakout EDU Box (Large Lock Box)
  • Directional Lock (speed dial)
  • Five Digit Letter Lock
  • UV / Black Light Flashlight
  • Invisible Ink Pen
  • Small Locked Box with Three-Number Combo
  • 3-Digit Lock
  • 4-Digit Lock
  • Key Lock
  • Computer or Tablet
  • Printouts: Plane Tickets, Maps, Longitude-Latitude Coordinates, Quotes, We Broke Out Card
  • Silly Putty – one per student

Steps to Set Up:

  • Set the directional lock to Up-Down-Up-Down. This represents the directions and times that Eggbert goes up and down walls.
  • Set the lock box to 3-4-7. The plane tickets have the clues for the 3 number lock box. The plane tickets are cut apart from the print out to make three tickets. This number, 3-4-7, is on the tickets and can be found as the seat numbers. The order of the numbers can be found in one of two ways: (a) the seat letters, a – b – c, and/or (b) the places Eggbert visits, from the Refrigerator to New York City, from New York City to the Grand Canyon, Arizona, from Grand Canyon Arizona to Hilo, Hawaii.
  • Put the encrypted message, and the weblink to how to do the encryption in the lockbox. The encrypted message is JE VYDT JXU AUO, BEEA JE FEIJUH JXHUU QDT VYDT JXU SHQSA (which decrypted means “to find the key, look to poster three and find the crack”).
  • Tape the key to the key lock behind word “crack” on the poster 3 quote – tape this poster to the wall.
  • Set the four number combination lock to 8-7-3-1. This matches the coordinates on the map found in the support materials. Cut out the four longitude-latitude coordinates from the bottom of the map and place those near the maps. FYI – all of the numbers on the map correspond to canyons in the United States.
  • Set the word lock to P-R-I-D-E. Using the invisible ink pen, circle letters P – R – I – D – E on the posters 1 and 2 of quotes.
  • (Optional) With a Sharpie, draw a crack on each silly putty egg  – one for each participant. Put silly putty and We Broke Out sign in the Breakout box.
  • Attach the hasp to the breakout box and to the hasp lock attach the directional lock, the key lock, the word lock, and the four number combination lock.

Video Overview on the Set Up

Support Materials

With the Students


 

  • Go through the hints one at a time as a group. They can work with a partner or two of they choose. I emphasize not telling the answer until everyone has it. I strive to have everyone in the class participate by insuring that all have the correct answer prior to attempting to solve that clue – unlock that particular lock.
  • Once they open the box and find the silly putty in the eggs, instruct them to sculpt something that makes them unique.

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  • For reflection, have the students blog about their experiences. If they are using iPad or Chromebooks, they can take a photo to go with their blogs.

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  • Further study: Students can look up the latitudes and longitudes to find out which canyons and gorges were represented.

Slideshow of Our Breakout Edu:

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Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

September 4, 2016 at 1:56 pm

A Class on Coding and Bots

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Thinglink of Resources: https://www.thinglink.com/scene/753039991126360065

I have been asked to return to teach summer enrichment classes on maker education for elementary-aged learners at a local school during the summer of 2016. One of the new classes I am designing is called Coding and Bots. It is a week long (5 days) class that will meet for 2.5 hours each morning. The description is:

Learn how to code first by playing games and then by coding some bots including Sphero, Ollie, mBot, OZOBOT, and Dash and Dot. All ages are welcome but the child should have basic symbol recognition/reading skills.

Two things to note about this class are, first, I learned last summer not to underestimate the learning potential of very young kids. These classes are mixed ages ranging from 4 to 10 year old kids. For most of the maker education activities, the very young ones could perform them, sometimes better than the older kids. Second, I am a strong proponent of hands on activities. Although I like the use of iPads and computers, I want elementary aged students to have to directly interact with materials. As such, I am designing Coding and Bots to include using their bodies and manipulating objects. This translates into having all activities include the use of objects and materials excluding and in conjunction with the iPad – not just using the iPad and online apps/tools to learn to code. The activities I plan to do follow:

Warm-Ups: Human Robots

Coding the Cups

Adapted from this Tinkersmith Activity, learners use symbols and plastic cups to act as robots using the coded symbols to build and manipulate a cup stack. Each small group of 2 to 4 learners gets 18 to 24 plastic cups and a set of symbol cards (a few sets of the template below):

cupstack

The cups are lined up on two levels. Each player, one at a time, picks and flips over one of the symbol cards and does the action stated on the card with the cups. In doing their movements, players need to insure that their selected cup is in contact with at least one other cup as part of their action. A player is “out” if s/he knocks over the cup/cups. The winner is the last player who places a cup without knocking any over. To increase the challenge, have learners play the game with just the symbols during second or third round of the game.

Kodable fuzzFamily Frenzy

Learners create a simple obstacle course where they “program” a partner to complete it using the code key below. Once they have written their code their partner must follow instructions to complete the course.

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An Outdoor Treasure Hunt Through Codes

The educator sets up a Treasure Hunt outdoors for the learners to solve using coding clues provided by the educator. The coding clues are based on the following legend:

treasurehunt symbols

The pre-activity set-up includes setting up clues around the outdoor learning environment that lead from landmark to landmark and finally to a treasure (a treat or prize of some kind) along with the coding clues to get to each of the landmarks. Several routes might have to be set up if working with a larger group. I recommend no more than 3 or 4 per group. Learners are given the first clue, a series of the coding symbols that lead to the first landmark. An example might look like:

treasurehunt example

When they arrive at that landmark, they will find another clue, another series of coding symbols that lead to the next landmark and so on until they arrive at the last landmark that contains their treasure.

As a follow-up, learners will be separated into smaller groups to set up a treasure hunt for the other groups using the same legend of coding symbols.

This activity was adapted from Kodable’s Fuzz Family activity.

Superhero Coding for Kids

Use basic programming ideas to help Batman avoid the bad guys and get the jewels! You have to get him to move on the right path around the obstacles using basic programming commands.  The directions for this game can be found at http://littlebinsforlittlehands.com/superhero-computer-coding-game-without-a-computer/

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Board + Manipulative Games

Robot Turtles Game

Learners will play the Robot Turtles Board Game. Robot Turtles is the a board game that teaches coding skills to kids as young as four, and the only screen-free resource for this pivotal age group. Read more at http://thinkfun.com/media-center/robot-turtles/.

Liz Engel Greaser designed an extension to this game but having her learners create their own Robots Turtle Games – see Extensions for Robot Turtles for the how-tos.

Coding Monkey Island

Learners will also play the Code Monkey Island. Its description is:

Code Monkey Island, the board game designed to teach players of all ages computer science logic! As the wise leader of your own tribe of monkeys, it’s up to you to guide all three of your monkeys safely around the board and into the banana grove. You’ll have to use concepts like conditional statements, looping, booleans, assignment operators and more to earn moves for your monkeys, dodge quicksand traps, and score some delicious fruit along the way!

Code Master

In Code Master, your Avatar travels to an exotic world in search of power Crystals. Along the way, you use programming logic to navigate the Map. Think carefully, in each level, only one specific sequence of actions will lead to success. Once you collect all the Crystals and land at the Portal, you win! (http://thinkfun.com/products/code-master/)

Osmo Coding

Osmo Coding begins with an assortment of modular magnetic blocks. You snap together numbered blocks along with commands such as “run,” “jump,” and “grab,” as you guide a tiny monster named Awbie on his eternal quest for more strawberries. https://www.playosmo.com/en/coding/)

Bots and Coding

Finally. the learners will move into coding the bots: Sphero, Dash and Bot, and Ozobot.

Sphero and Ollie

Learners will code their Spheros and Ollies using the Tynker app.

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MESH tags

MESH are wireless electronic tags shaped like blocks and each of them has different function. When you connect them together by using MESH app, your ‘what if’ ideas come to life. There is no need for knowledge of electronics or programming. Creating an IoT (internet of things) system will be very simple with MESH. http://meshprj.com/en/

Dash and Dot

Children ages 5 and up learn the foundations of problem solving and computer programming as they have fun with Dash & Dot.  Dash Dash is an explorer who zips around the room, getting into mischief along the way. Using sensors, Dash can detect objects in front and behind, hear where you are, and see where Dot is. This robot has quite the personality and becomes more capable as you program and play. Introducing Dot Dot is a puppet master who instigates the adventures that Dash goes on. When you toss, shake, or pick Dot up, Dot sends a signal telling Dash what to do. Dot can also tell stories using lights, sounds, and eye expressions.

Lesson plans for Dot and Dash can be found at https://teachers.makewonder.com/lessons.

OZOBOT

OZOBOT is an award winning smart robot, designed to teach kids & techies alike about robotics, programming & coding.

Ozoblocky is the programming language. The editor can be found at http://ozoblockly.com/editor

OZOBOT  lesson plans can be found at http://ozobot.com/play and http://portal.ozobot.com/lessons.

Codebug

CodeBug is a cute, programmable and wearable device designed to introduce simple programming and electronic concepts to anyone, at any age. CodeBug can display graphics and text, has touch sensitive inputs and you can power it with a watch battery. It is easy to program CodeBug using the online interface, which features colourful drag and drop blocks, an in-browser emulator and engaging community features. Create your own games, clothes, robots or any other wacky inventions you have in mind! (http://www.codebug.org.uk/whatiscodebug/)

Codebug lesson plans can be found at http://www.codebug.org.uk/learn/activity/ and http://www.codebug.org.uk/explore/codebug/

Extras – Build a Bot

Kamigamirobot

Resources:

The O Watch

Resources:

Maker Education Card Game

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I like and have always used games in my classrooms. One of my current educational interests is maker education. As such, I have begun creating games for maker education – see my first one, a board game, at Reflecting on the Making Process. The game I am presenting here is a card game that ends with the makers making something based on selected cards. Each maker picks a card from each of the three categories:

  1. The Thing or Process
  2. The Product
  3. The Population.

For example, a maker may choose, Create a Blueprint from The Thing or Process category; a New Toy from the Product category; and Adults from the population category meaning the maker would create a blueprint for a new toy for adults. The educator and makers can choose whether it is a “blind” pick or one in which the makers see their options. (Note – I would love to increase options in all categories. If you have additional card ideas, please leave them in the comments section).

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Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

December 6, 2015 at 1:29 am

Video Games and Social Emotional Learning

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A lot of talk, press, and focus in this era of learning is on common core standards and 21st century skills and literacies.  What is often neglected is the importance of building social emotional skills within the classroom.

The challenge of raising knowledgeable, responsible, and caring children is recognized by nearly everyone. Few realize, however, that each element of this challenge can be enhanced by thoughtful, sustained, and systematic attention to children’s social and emotional learning (SEL). Indeed, experience and research show that promoting social and emotional development in children is “the missing piece” in efforts to reach the array of goals associated wit h improving schooling in the United States. http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/197157/chapters/The-Need-for-Social-and-Emotional-Learning.aspx

It’s not enough to simply fill students’ brains with facts. A successful education demands that their character be developed as well. That’s where social and emotional learning comes in. SEL is the process of helping students develop the skills to manage their emotions, resolve conflict nonviolently, and make responsible decisions.  Research shows that promoting social and emotional skills leads to reduced violence and aggression among children, higher academic achievement, and an improved ability to function in schools and in the workplace. Students who demonstrate respect for others and practice positive interactions, and whose respectful attitudes and productive communication skills are acknowledged and rewarded, are more likely to continue to demonstrate such behavior. Students who feel secure and respected can better apply themselves to learning. (Why Champion Social and Emotional Learning?)

Two principles guide this article:

  1. Social-Emotional skills and strategies should be addressed and taught in school settings.
  2. Video and online games can promote SEL skills and as such, should be integrated into classroom instruction.

Social Emotional Skills in School

According to the Collaboration for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL)

Schools that create socially and emotionally sound learning and working environments, and that help students and staff develop greater social and emotional competence, in turn help ensure positive short- and long-term academic and personal outcomes for students, and higher levels of teaching and work satisfaction for staff.

CASEL identified core competencies for social-emotional learning:

Core_Competencies_3_White_Backhttp://casel.org/wp-content/uploads/Core_Competencies_3_White_Back.png

Social Emotional Benefits of Gaming

Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is accurately assessing one’s feelings, interests, values, and strengths; maintaining a well-grounded sense of self-confidence (http://casel.org/why-it-matters/what-is-sel/skills-competencies/). Video games, by their very nature, provide ongoing feedback about personal performance. The gamer becomes a critical learner, a highly self-aware individual able to critically assess, compare and contrast the various virtual environments s/he finds her/himself within. In other words, the side-show mirror reflection of him/herself that the video game provides is not naively accepted, but critically examined (http://www.etc.cmu.edu/etcpress/node/209).

Video games also provide powerful opportunities to explore and experiment with different aspects of one’s identity:

Video games allow people to adopt virtual identities. According to Przybylski, Weinstein, Murayama, Lynch, and Ryan (2012), the appeal of video games is in part due to the players’ ability to explore aspects of their ideal selves that might not find expression in real life. Gameplay experiences that were congruent with perceptions of a player’s ideal self were the most intrinsically motivating and emotionally engaging http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/positively-media/201208/video-games-problem-solving-and-self-efficacy-part-2#_ENREF_12

 The Future of Identity, one of the influential Foresight reports that looks ahead to highlight emerging trends in science and technology, found . . .

. . . that far from creating superficial or fantasy identities that some critics suggest, in many cases it allowed people to escape the preconceptions of those immediately around them and find their “true” identity. This is especially true of disabled people who told researchers that online gaming enabled them to socialize on an equal footing with others.  The internet can allow many people to realize their identities more fully. Some people who have been shy or lonely or feel less attractive discover they can socialize more successfully and express themselves more freely online.

Management of Emotions to Reach Goals

Self-management is the ability to regulate one’s emotions to handle stress, control impulses, and persevere in overcoming obstacles; setting and monitoring progress toward personal and academic goals; expressing emotions appropriately (http://casel.org/why-it-matters/what-is-sel/skills-competencies/). The impact of gaming comes from its emotional connections and from the gamer managing those emotions as s/he works towards achieving the game’s goals.

Hugh Bowen fielded a national online survey with 535 gamers to explore how important the range of emotions is to the success of any particular game.  Half of all gamers he survey stated that emotion in games is extremely or somewhat important.  Here is a list of feelings that gamers say video games most strongly inspire.

2013-02-10_1233http://www.bowenresearch.com/studies.php?id=3

Jane McGonigal in How Might Video Games Be Good for Us? explored research that examined the types of emotions gamers sought from the gaming experience.

The top ten positive emotions of video games range from bliss, to relief, to personal pride, to feeling emotionally close to another player, to surprise, to curiosity, to excitement, to awe and wonder (see survey results at Top Ten Videogame Emotions).  What’s extraordinary about these ten positive emotions is that gamers have figured out how to spark and feel them whenever they want, no matter where they are, or what kind of day they’re having. It doesn’t matter if they’re bored or stressed or lonely or frustrated or anxious – gamers can change how they feel, just by starting to play. We know that this is true even for gamers in incredibly difficult conditions. For example, children in hospitals prior to surgery are able to control their anxiety by playing a handheld video game (see the research), while soldiers in Afghanistan are able to reduce psychological stress by nearly 75% by playing video games for three to four hours a day (see the research, specifically pages 33-34). In fact, recent clinical trials have demonstrated that online games can outperform pharmaceuticals for treating mild to moderate depression and anxiety. (See the research)  Even if games don’t change anything else in our lives, the power to change how we feel in the moment is a very good thing indeed. Games give us more control over our emotional destiny.

With the increase in gesture-based games, there is also an increase potential for video games to help identify and regulate emotions:

Numerous studies have shown that movements or postures generate cues the mind can use to figure out how it feels, a phenomenon dubbed the physical-feedback effect. [Gesture-based games like Kinect] and Wii games might also create emotions between people through “emotional contagion,” where the brain can make us feel what we see, hear, read or think others experience. (http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/11/wii-emotion/)

Social Awareness

Social awareness is being able to take the perspective of and empathize with others; recognizing and appreciating individual and group similarities and differences; recognizing and using family, school, and community resources (http://casel.org/why-it-matters/what-is-sel/skills-competencies/).  To be socially aware is to be able to see the world through another person’s eyes, to be empathetic.  In her Psychology Today article, How Videogames Can Promote Empathy, Susan Krauss Whitbourne proposes that video games with a pro-social theme can promote compassion and altruism among the players.

Dr. Mathew Chow, a psychiatrist who studies gaming and behavior, discusses the development of pro-social behavior via gaming in an NBC interview:

Video games have evolved into a shared experience. No longer are people playing these games alone in their parents’ basement. People expect to be able to play online. People join online communities populated by tens of thousands of individuals around the world. They participate in pro-social behaviors such as cooperative play, trading, negotiating, forming alliances, and creating rules of conduct.

You need to be able to get along with a diverse community in order to succeed in online play. Antisocial people are often marginalized and even banned from popular communities. If you told me that a child was participating in an activity where she was cooperating with tens of thousands of people across the globe to accomplish a shared objective, I would probably label that as pro-social. People playing video games are doing this right now. (http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/ingame/worried-about-your-childs-gaming-psychiatrists-say-play-them-1C7660207)

Relationship Skills

Relationship skills is considered establishing and maintaining healthy and rewarding relationships based on cooperation; resisting inappropriate social pressure; preventing, managing, and resolving interpersonal conflict; seeking help when needed (http://casel.org/why-it-matters/what-is-sel/skills-competencies/).

As Cheryl K. Olson notes video games may promote social skills through actions such as sharing tips with one another, guiding one another to websites for cheat codes, and engaging in online team endeavors and tasks through games such as Minecraft and World and Warcraft.

Responsible Decision-Making

Responsible decision-making is making decisions based on consideration of ethical standards, safety concerns, appropriate social norms, respect for others, and likely consequences of various actions; applying decision-making skills to academic and social situations; contributing to the well-being of one’s school and community (http://casel.org/why-it-matters/what-is-sel/skills-competencies/).

Video games, by their very nature, overtly teach gamers decision-making and problem-solving skills.

Problem-solving is a central theme to many video games, and kids of all ages are taught to recognize patterns and strategize in order to win. For example, Nintendo’s “The Legend of Zelda” series includes many puzzles and complex levels that challenge players. When Link gains an item, he must then use it to advance to what were previously inaccessible areas of the game. Many of the puzzles in each game also employ these items. Obstacles are often put in the way of achieving a goal in “Zelda,” which is arguably similar to many situations kids face in real life, like working hard to learn a difficult mathematical concept in order to succeed on a test at school.

Games like “Portal 2” keep the mind sharp and alert through hours of unique, mind-bending puzzle solving. This game emphasizes the importance of navigating a new environment carefully and recognizing and utilizing the materials available in a game. These problem-solving video games teach kids the importance of patience and perseverance by forcing them to think cognitively when trying to master a challenge. By working hard and choosing not to give up, kids achieve an “a-ha!” moment, where they realize the solution to a problem and feel smart for doing so. In this way, games like “Portal 2” not only help stimulate a child’s mind, they also boost confidence. (http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/life-skills-video-games-can-teach-kids1.htm)

. . . and video games have the potential to elicit ethical and moral decision-making choices.

Video games are a great way to walk in someone else’s shoes, if only digitally. Depending on the game, you can do good deeds for the love of humanity or the love of money. You can swing a sword for freedom or for oppression. According to Dr. Andrew Weaver, your game choices are more obvious than you’d think. When it comes to moral decision-making, how you play your game is how you live your life–and you’re playing morally.

For their paper, “Mirrored Morality: An Exploration of Moral Choice in Video Games,” Dr. Weaver and his fellow researcher Nicky Lewis had 75 gamers (40 men, 35 women, ages 18 to 24) play Fallout 3, a game that starts with relatively little game play and multiple character-building decisions. These gamers also took the Moral Foundations Questionnaire (you can take the self-scorable test, here) to evaluate their psychological foundations of morality, such as whether they value loyalty to a group or whether they respect authority. From this, Weaver determined that players used their own moral foundation to make their choices in-game. The key finding was players largely made moral decisions just as they would in real life, that is, they were doing the right thing. Even when given the opportunity to be violent, they were choosing non-violent acts. http://www.forbes.com/sites/carolpinchefsky/2012/11/28/you-and-your-videogame-avatar-are-more-moral-than-you-realize/

A recent Stanford experiment provided evidence that video games can be designed to encourage and elicit altuistic behavior.  During the experiment test subjects were given Superman-like flight in a virtual reality simulator which in turn made them more likely to exhibit altruistic behavior in real life.  Although this is a beginning of a series of experiments, the researchers found that:

While several studies have shown that playing violent video games can encourage aggressive behavior, the new research suggests that games could be designed to train people to be more empathetic in the real world. It’s very clear that if you design games that are violent, peoples’ aggressive behavior increases.  If we can identify the mechanism that encourages empathy, then perhaps we can design technology and video games that people will enjoy and that will successfully promote altruistic behavior in the real world.

Using games in the classroom is more and more becoming an acceptable and accepted instructional practice.  The benefits of games, when used strategically, should not be overlooked in increasing and enhancing the learners’ social and emotional competencies.

References

Benedetti, W. (2012).  Worried about your child’s gaming? Psychiatrists say ‘play with them’  NBC News.  Retrieved from http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/ingame/worried-about-your-childs-gaming-psychiatrists-say-play-them-1C7660207

Bowen, H.  (2011). Can Videogames Make You Cry? Retrieved from http://www.bowenresearch.com/studies.php?id=3.

CASEL. (n.d.) SEL skills and competencies.  Retrieved from http://casel.org/why-it-matters/what-is-sel/skills-competencies/.

Choi, C. (2010).  How Wii and Kinect Hack Into Your Emotions. Wired Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/11/wii-emotion/.

Kilgore, N. (n.d.) What life skills can video games teach kids? TLC Family. Retrieved from http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/life-skills-video-games-can-teach-kids1.htm.

Krauss Whitbourne, S. (2011). How Videogames Can Promote Empathy. Psychology Today.  Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201109/how-videogames-can-promote-empathy.

McGonigal, J. (2012). How Might Video Games Be Good for Us? Big Questions Online.  Retrieved from https://www.bigquestionsonline.com/content/how-might-video-games-be-good-us.

Pinchefsky, C. (2012). You and Your Videogame Avatar Are More Moral Than You Realize. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/carolpinchefsky/2012/11/28/you-and-your-videogame-avatar-are-more-moral-than-you-realize/.

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

February 11, 2013 at 2:26 am

Assessment as a Means for Developing a Sense of Achievement

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They replaced the old spin bikes with some new ones at the health club where I work out.  These new ones have a feedback monitor that provides feedback about effort via the RPM, watts, and gear level,  The spin instructor told us that the recommended watts for a good workout is over 200.  I started my workout as I always do, putting out my typical amount of effort.  The watts indicator hovered between 100 and 125.  Yikes!  I have gone to two workouts using this monitor.  I have reached, huffing and puffing, 200 watts on a few occasions, and attempt to keep it at around 150.   I wasn’t able to reach 200 watts the first time and felt a great sense of achievement upon doing so during my second spin class with the monitor.  Needless to say, these were some of the best spin workouts I have accomplished. I realized that the monitor made my spin performance into a type of game by me providing me with ongoing and continuous feedback and a way to level up.

I made the connection between my experiences on the spin bike and the need for humans to feel a sense of achievement.

Need for achievement (N-Ach) refers to an individual’s desire for significant accomplishment, mastering of skills, control, or high standards. The term was first used by Henry Murray[1] and associated with a range of actions. These include: “intense, prolonged and repeated efforts to accomplish something difficult. To work with singleness of purpose towards a high and distant goal. To have the determination to win”. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Need_for_achievement)

I began thinking about how all of this applies to the educational setting.  I have a cynical view about assessments, most often in the form of tests, and how they are used at school.  They are often contrived and separate from the learning process, and a measure of a student’s deficiencies.  As such, students do not use information gleamed from the assessment process to improve their performance. As a deficiency model, rather than one that promotes a sense of achievement, students who do not achieve 100% proficiency feel as though they have failed in some way.

Assessment should be a continuous feedback loop, one that is integrated into the learning process, and where the feedback improves the competency of the learner.  Assessments should be used as opportunities to develop competencies and the related sense of achievement.

Sal Khan discusses this problem of testing:

Regardless of whether they can prove proficiency in 70, 80, or 90 percent of the material, they are “passed” to the next class, which builds on 100 percent of what they should have learned. Fast-forward six months, and students are lucky to retain even 10 percent of what was “covered.”

This is a grand exercise in labeling and filtering students with arbitrary grades rather than teaching them. It is a hugely inefficient use of time and resources, but no one wants to notice, because it is the way things have always been done.

Perhaps the worst artifact of this system is that most students end up mastering nothing. What is the 5 percent that even the A student, with a 95 percent, doesn’t know? The question becomes scarier when considering the B or C student. How can they even hope to understand 100 percent of a more advanced class?

Ten years from today, students will be learning at their own pace, with all relevant data being collected on how to optimize their learning and the content itself. Grades and transcripts will be replaced with real-time reports and analytics on what a student actually knows and doesn’t know. (YouTube U. Beats YouSnooze U.)

This is why I believe that game-based learning is becoming popular and being promoted viable means for assessment.

As James Gee notes:

Games don’t separate learning and assessment.  They are giving you feedback all the time about the learning curve you are on.

So what is the difference between a game or a machine giving feedback and a teacher giving a grade? How does all of this relate to intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation?  Is getting feedback from a game extrinsic motivation?  Does the external rewards gained through leveling up in a video game or gaining a badge by completing a series of competencies diminish the sense of accomplishment?

Judy Willis, A Neurologist Makes the Case for the Video Game Model as a Learning Tool:

It may seem counter intuitive to think that children would consider harder work a reward for doing well on a homework problem, test, or physical skill to which they devoted considerable physical or mental energy. Yet, that is just what the video playing brain seeks after experiencing the pleasure of reaching a higher level in the game. A computer game doesn’t hand out cash, toys, or even hugs. The motivation to persevere is the brain seeking another surge of dopamine — the fuel of intrinsic reinforcement.

Good games give players opportunities for experiencing intrinsic reward at frequent intervals, when they apply the effort and practice the specific skills they need to get to the next level. The games do not require mastery of all tasks and the completion of the whole game before giving the brain the feedback for dopamine boosts of satisfaction.

. . . which she further notes, helps students develop competencies and the related sense of achievement.

In the classroom, the video [game] model can be achieved with timely, corrective feedback so students recognize incorrect foundational knowledge and then have opportunities to strengthen the correct new memory circuits through practice and application. However, individualized instruction, assignments, and feedback, that allow students to consistently work at their individualized achievable challenge levels, are time-consuming processes not possible for teachers to consistently provide all students.

The best on-line learning programs for building students’ missing foundational knowledge use student responses to structure learning at individualized achievable challenge levels. These programs also provide timely corrective and progress-acknowledging feedback that allows the students to correct mistakes, build understanding progressively, and recognize their incremental progress.

How can all of these ideas influence how educators provide feedback to learners and opportunities to develop competencies along with the resultant sense of achievement?

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

May 12, 2012 at 3:04 pm

9 Year Old Boy’s Arcade Creation: An Example of Passion-Based Learning

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When I teach my class on Pedagogy and Learning, one of the first questions I ask my learners (both pre-service and in-service teachers) is, What do you consider your most significant and powerful learning experience?  None of them ever mention one that occurred within an institutional school setting. Caine’s most powerful learning experience, like my students, did not occur within the walls of a school building.

“Caine’s Arcade” — a short film about a 9-year-old boy who built an elaborate cardboard arcade in his dad’s used auto parts store in East L.A. — has gone viral with over 2 million views in less than a week.  It is being talked about by many news outlets and social media networks, and his Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/cainesarcade, has close the 100,000 likes.

Why is Caine’s story touching so many?  I believe it touches people’s hearts due to the authentic passion Caine shows for his craft.  Some the characteristics of Caine’s passion include:

  • Tinkering: His dad, “He takes apart all of his toys to see how they work.”
  • Foresight, planning, and attention to details: Caine, “I have fun passes, office speakers, business cards, tokens, and prizes.  The winning tickets come through the box arcade like they would in a real arcade.”
  • Open to feedback: Caine, “People told me that my soccer game was too easy so I added goalies.”
  • Encouraged to problem-solve:  Caine, “Dad, I want a claw machine for my arcade.” Dad, “Caine, then build one.”
  • Patience and tenacity: “Caine never gets discouraged waiting for customers.”
  • At least one caring adult:  His father and film maker, Nirvan Mullick, believed in and supported his efforts. Nirvan, “This kid is a genius.”
  • Joy:  Caine found joy in all parts of his business venture.
  • Game-based learning.  Caine created his own form of game-based learning and it was NOT technology-based.

Forbes magazine has even recognized and analyzed Caine’s success in their article 9 Hidden Factors of Caine’s Arcade Success:

  1. He asked permission: He asked permission to use some unused space and recyclable materials.
  2. He sought to serve others: Caine’s passion is focused on what others will experience.
  3. He had a benefactor: With indie filmmaker, Nirvan Mullick, a chain of wonderful events is set in motion.
  4. The visual is clutch: Caine certainly understood the importance of making something visually appealing and having a story.
  5. More than x-box:  There is excitement when adults see children and young people striving to do something other than electronic games.
  6. Familiar with yes: Caine appears to have heard the answer, yes, often in his life.
  7. He made use of remnants:  There is a certain allure in American entrepreneur circles for turning waste in wonder, of finding a diamond in the rough, so to speak.
  8. Preparation meets work:  His chance to meet Nirvan Mullick came because he was waiting and looking for a customer.
  9. Tears of joy: The hidden lesson is that Caine maintained an air of thankfulness and gratitude through his long summer and that rubbed off on others.

. . . and Seth Godin, the famous blogger, had this to say:

The first thing that made me smile was how willing Caine was to do his art regardless of how the world responded (it didn’t). Caine didn’t care. The goal wasn’t to be accepted, the goal was to do it right.

The second extraordinary thing is easy to miss. Around 3:30, you learn Caine’s folk-arithmetic trick of using square roots to validate the PIN numbers on each fun pass. Extraordinary.

And the third? Starting around the nine-minute mark, any entrepreneur with a heart is going to shed a few tears. In the immortal words of Caine Monroy, “and I thought they were here for me, and they were.” (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2012/04/lessons-from-caines-arcade.html)

Why is this type of ingenuity, innovation, and entrepreneurship not being nourish within the school walls?  How can we include passion-based learning as part of the curriculum?  For more information about passion-based learning, see:

Passion is not tangible but it can definitely be seen and felt as the following photos demonstrate.  Caine sees, for the first time, the crowd of people wanting to play his arcade games, the crowd he so patiently wished and waited for.

Caine told his dad that this was the best day of his whole life!

I wish for all children to have an arcade moment like Caine at least one time during their lives.

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

April 16, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Experiential Mobile Learning Activities Presentation

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I am presenting workshops on Experiential Mobile Learning Activities at the Digital Media Literacy Conference 2012 and the Mobile Learning Experience 2012.  What follows is the slide deck from and a description of my presentation.

This interactive, experiential BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) workshop has its foundation in two guiding principles: (1) Building a sense of community in the classroom helps address the whole learner including achievement and academic success, and (2) Mobile devices are extensions of young people. As such, they should be leveraged in the classroom.

Young people are connecting with one another through technology in unprecedented ways. Computers, wi-fi networks, and smart phones allow young people 24/7 access to technology and to one another. Using smart devices in educational settings as learning and community building tools can promote interpersonal communication and encourage young people to positively express their individuality and build their student-to-student, student-to-educator relationships. The activities that will be presented and experienced during this workshop use the technology that young people use – cell phones, social networking sites, laptops, blogs, and digital cameras. These activities focus upon and build diversity and cultural sensitivity, teamwork and problem solving, self-reflection and self-exploration, and communication and self-expression (adapted from Wolfe & Sparkman, 2009).

Through participation in this workshop, you can expect to:

  • Understand the importance of building community in the class.
  • Explore the research about the use of mobile devices by young people.
  • Learn through experience at least six community-building activities that you can use with your students.
  • Develop ideas and strategies for integrating mobile-driven team building activities into your classroom environment.

This workshop is divided into three parts:

  1. Exploring research on the importance of building a classroom community and how young people are using their mobile devices.
  2. Learning, playing, and experiencing team-building games using mobile devices – see http://community-building.weebly.com/ for a list and descriptions of these activities.
  3. Large group brainstorming through Wallwisher and discussion – how these ideas and activities can be integrated into one’s own work environment.

Supporting Research

Postscript

One of the DMIL2012 workshop participants, Billy Meinke, wrote about his experiences in my workshop in his blog, Digital Media and Learning (DML) 2012 Conference – Experience Notes:

The session, as she explained before we began, was much less of a talking-head lecture and more of an interactive experience. After describing recent research supporting the use of mobile devices in K-12 and Higher Education, she broke up the attendees into groups to take part in the same exercises she uses in her classroom. Using such tools as Cel.ly and Flickr’s mobile image uploading, she took us through simple activities that can be used to improve student engagement and build a sense of community in the classroom. Sure enough, no ice was left unbroken during that session and many participants continued conversations into the main room when she was done. I’ll be showing some of those activities to my mentors back at UH, hopefully seeing them put to use by instructors in the College of Education.

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

March 3, 2012 at 2:53 pm

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