Posts Tagged ‘game-based learning’
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):
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.
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:
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:
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.
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/.
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!
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/)
Bots and Coding
Finally. the learners will move into coding the bots: Sphero, Dash and Bot, and Ozobot.
Learners will code their Spheros and Ollies using the Tynker app.
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/
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 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
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:
- The Thing or Process
- The Product
- 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).
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 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?
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?
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:
- He asked permission: He asked permission to use some unused space and recyclable materials.
- He sought to serve others: Caine’s passion is focused on what others will experience.
- He had a benefactor: With indie filmmaker, Nirvan Mullick, a chain of wonderful events is set in motion.
- The visual is clutch: Caine certainly understood the importance of making something visually appealing and having a story.
- More than x-box: There is excitement when adults see children and young people striving to do something other than electronic games.
- Familiar with yes: Caine appears to have heard the answer, yes, often in his life.
- 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.
- Preparation meets work: His chance to meet Nirvan Mullick came because he was waiting and looking for a customer.
- 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:
- Nine Tenets of Passion-Based Learning
- PBL is Passion-Based Learning: Show Me Your Passion
- Passion-based learning in the 21st century: An interview with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach
- Guidelines of Passion-Based Learning
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.
As of the writing of this post, there are approximately a million apps available. On my daily Twitter feeds, I see list after list of apps for educational use.
- Monster List of Apps for People with Autism
- 22 Best Apps for Education
- 250 best iPad apps: education
Yesterday, I saw a post from TechCrunch The Top 20 iPhone and iPad Games Of 2011. I downloaded and have been playing Cut the Rope for two days now. It has been giving me hours of joy. See Cut the Rope: Experiments Review. If I was still teaching my 3rd through 5th grade gifted students, I would definitely introduce them to this game.
I have been critical of the use of educational apps and games in the classroom in that many of them have been developed by adults in business ventures. They are more like worksheets on steroids rather than games and apps for higher-order thinking. I also wonder as I read through the lists of recommended apps if the kids, themselves, would find them educational and interesting . . . worth their personal time in using and playing with them.
As such, I test out technology tools and games from the standpoint of a user rather than an educator . . . asking if I’d like to use it if I were one of today’s young students. Based on my own experiences as a gamer, educator and kid at heart (one of my 4th grade students gave me the compliment, “You haven’t forgotten what it is like to be a kid.”), I developed my own criteria for evaluating the potential of apps for educational use and engagement:
- Does it have cool graphics and an interesting interface?
- Is there a game-like and/or creative intent to the app?
- Is it fun and entertaining?
- Does it make the user laugh with joy?
- Does it require creativity, ingenuity, imagination, and problem-solving in its use?
- Do the tasks get more complicated, requiring more skills as the user works through the game-app?
- Does the user have the opportunity to gain points and level-up?
- Does it have an addictive quality (yes, I believe in this) in that it calls for continuous play?
- Does using the app create a state of flow?
- Are there opportunities to connect with other users for socializing? problem-solving? strategizing?
As I said, I am currently spending my time playing Cut the Rope (physics and geometry). Past personal addictions have included Scrabble (language arts) and building in Second Life (geometry and spatial reasoning). Friends’ and colleagues’ game and app passions have included World of Warcraft (economics, social bargaining/cooperation) and Angry Birds (physics).
Excluded from the list is a question about educational value. A good educator can extract learnings from any app that meets most of the criteria discussed above. If educational value can be extracted from Angry Birds, then it is possible with almost any app :-D
It is important to note that one person’s app and game joys may not be another person’s, but most offer educational opportunities. An educator can leverage what students are using and playing in their own lives and explore ways they can be integrated into the curriculum to learn different content area concepts. The role of the educator is this era of learning of that of facilitator. What a great way to facilitate learning – to leverage what the learners are using in their own lives to teach broader content-related concepts.
The bottom line becomes focusing on quality rather than quantity – to find those apps and games that have potential for long term use and engagement. Following a constructivist model of education, an effective educator can assist students to extract their own meanings from an app of personal interest, helping them make larger world connections (which includes addressing those ever present content-related standards).