I grew up at the super tail end of Gen X. And I always felt a little different than the true Gen X friends I grew up with. But I didn't quite feel that I fit in with the Gen Y (as they were called when we were growing up). My siblings are Gen Y, now known as "Millenials." And I am actually in a subcategory known as "Xennials". We had a non-digital childhood, but a digital adulthood. We rode bikes, played Atari, and didn't get a cell phone until well into adulthood when they were available for the everyday person. But, we did have access to computers. And we know The Oregon Trail was the best game ever invented for the computer. Don't even try to change my mind. That green screen with floating yellow-green squares shooting at passing deer and buffalo would either save your life, or cause you to starve. We learned that there was a direct correlation between how much supplies we carried in our wagon and whether or not we would be able to ford the river. And for those of us growing up in California, this was the beginning of integrating technology into our history curriculum.
Fast forward thirty-five years, and here we are purposefully integrating technology into school curriculum. Not everyone is willfully doing this, but many of us seek out ways to do so. Right now, I am researching ways to gamify my classroom for the next school year...which begins in a little over a month. I have a hope that we will stay safe and have everything online. Which means that my gamification is even more critical now.
In his TED Talk, Gabe Zicherman, entreprenuer and author asks, "Do our kids have ADD, or is our world too freaking slow for them to appreciate it?" Since his talk in 2011, our world has gamified in ways I didn't even think about until now. Gamification is creating game-like experiences in the real world--points for shopping at stores, videos while gassing up the car, and the sounds in C major when needing to take out your debit card from the machine!
One example I thought of, was something I would never have thought of as being gamification--my car's dashboard. Until 2014, I was driving a silver 1999 Toyota Corolla. I bought it new that year and it drove like a dream. It had an awesome tape deck, and was my first car with automatic windows. I named her Bullet. The dashboard dials all had hands like a clock to show her speed and amount of gas in the tank. Now, my current car, Cherry, totally different. She has all the things I wanted in a "big girl" car. She has air conditioning in the back, cup holders every which way, and a special light above my gear shift that lights up at night so I can see what I'm touching.
Now, you may be asking yourself, "How is this car gamified?" Oh, trust me. It is.
Gone are the days when I would say to myself, "I wonder how many more miles I can drive before I hit a true empty?" Or remember when we had to do the math and write down our mileage to see how many miles we got to the gallon? Yeah, that's all gone now. My dashboard tells me EXACTLY how many miles I have left in my tank through a little electronic dashboard that looks (coincidentally?) like a tv screen. And she also keeps track of my miles per gallon. I can flip through its channels and it tells me when my next oil change should be, how much air is currently in each of my tires, and my personal favorite--which of my tires are bumping around too much. That one is FUN! At times, I find myself purposely going over bumpy parts of a road just to see the tires change from stable to bumpy. Oh, I totally forgot to mention that there's a racing game too! Cherry tells me what my best mileage is. I'll be honest, I feel like we cheated a bit to get it. I put her in cruise control at 75-80 mph on I-5 on a trip back from San Diego the first year we got her. I haven't been able to beat my high score since. Beginner's luck, I guess.
And because our life is so fast-paced, and our technology is outdated almost the second we buy it, shouldn't our school system also be up to speed? It isn't. You might think it is, but it isn't. Just like we can use social media experiences to keep students engaged in class, we can gamify the classroom to teach the standards in an exciting and "new" way. According to Zicherman, the "average IQ is rising .36 points of IQ per year....Fluid intelligence began increasing in the 1990's. Coincidence? I think not." The 1990's is when the technology of video games really began to take off. Companies like Nintendo and Sega were fighting to stay on top as being the most popular home video gaming system. And now, they not only have home gaming systems with which to compete, but online games, and gaming apps for hand-held devices and cell phones. And yet, most classroom teachers do not attempt to integrate these games into their lesson designs.
Katie Salen, Executive Director at Institute of Design in New York City, NY states, "The heart of everythnig we are doing, is, we are trying to help kids understand how to be in charge of their own learning." The school where she works, teaches students using game-based design. Students are learning the curriculum through the experience of playing and designing games. These games are both digital and non-digital. These students are transferring their knowledge in amazing ways. This is also preparing them to think critically, work colloboartively, and have an eye for design. And the best part? Their learning is preparing them for the digital world in which they live. They will be ready to create their own jobs in the future.
My current driving question for my master's degree is, "Does designing lessons for students addressing inequities create a more harmonizing classroom?" And while I don't talk about it much in my blog, I do internalize how inequities can shape a student's learning experience.
I will be teaching fifth grade next year (as well as coaching my co-workers on integrating art & engineering into their lessons). And with that, I am super excited that my teammate had created a blues music-writing unit that goes with our reading curriculum. Sadly, due to the quarantine, they were unable to use it last year. I, however, am a music lover/creator, and grew up listening to the blues. I cannot be more excited to create online learning for this unit!
So to start, I decided that a hyperdoc would be the way to create this lesson. The graphic above, I created using Picktochart and added it to my hyperdoc. This website is PERFECT for creating hyperdocs. It's meant to create infographics, and it has amazing visuals. I had only learned of it a few days ago, and was able to maneuver it well.
No hyperdoc would be complete without things to click here and there. I used relevent pictures and icons as links. In these links, I uploaded a link to "howling" blues from the early days when slaves were working in the fields. I then added a Google doc for students to share their thoughts on the music and why the music is relevant today. I created an EdPuzzle (my first one ever) for the students to hear a more "modern" blues artist and answer questions along the way. They can click on a link to a VTS lesson I created using Google Forms, and type in their questions when finished using Jamboard. This was my first time using Jamboard, and it seems like the perfect job for this!
When I created a video of the standard blues progression, I needed to show students exactly how to create blues music on Garage Band for the iPad. The iPad version and the computer version, are very different experiences. I found that Screencastify wasn't allowing me to use it. I've never used it before and was having trouble, so opted for my iPad's own screencasting to demonstrate where to click and for how long to hold the notes. I then air dropped the screencast to my laptop. Next, I created a separate audio of my voice explaining what to click. For this, I used Voicethread and watched the video as I spoke. I saved that voice recording as an MP3 file to my desktop (for quick access). On my laptop, I opened up an app I haven't used in AGES--iMovie. From there, I imported both the video and the audio and was able to create the movie!
When reading about blended models of instruction in a flipped classroom, I am just amazed at how many people are not taking advantage of this! If I were a kid in today's classroom, I would eat it up! In the blog post, "The Pedagogy of Blended Learning," the blogger says that students should have more agency. They should have more choice in their learning. I completely agree. It takes a lot of time and effort to create, not only meaningful lessons, but enganging lessons. The hyperdoc lesson I created is an introductory to our unit. It is a way for students to choose what interests them in learning about the Blues. They can then use this information further in the unit, when learning how slavery has shaped our country.
In Catlin Tucker's blog post "Flipped Classroom 101: Challenges, Benefits, and Design Tips", The writer give the advice, "Don’t just ask students to watch a video. Pair the video content with an activity that encourages students to think about, analyze, or evaluate the information. This is exactly why I decided to create an EdPuzzle using the song "I Got The Blues" by Sam Myers. It's not enough to just listen to a song. ESPECIALLY a blues song. Blues is complex in its simplicity. And it can take more than just one listen to really appreciate it. By using EdPuzzle, I am able to have students analyze what they are hearing, both musically, and lyrically. This will foster their critical thinking skills.
One of my roles at my school, is director of the school play. And I LOVE it. I get to see shy students come out of their shell and really shine. Students who normally wouldn't be seen together outside of the classroom, come together for a common goal and make lasting friendships. It's something really worth doing.
In my daily role, I do not use Google Forms very often. I don't really need to. But also, technology is an issue becuase I'm a specialist. However, for the school play, I created a questionaire via Google Forms. I put it on my classroom website, so that I could direct students to it when needed. I had the 4th and 5h grade teachers have their students fill it out during their homeroom time, thus saving me the headache of finding enough technology for them to do it in my room. I wish I had thought of it sooner than I did! It had all their answers in a nicely organized spreadsheet. I was able to see what role(s) they were intersted in, and what they were willing to do to help with set design, etc. I also used the opportunity to answer any questions in the form before they even began the survey. This included a statement about how they are commited to the play and had even had to type in their name as aknowledgment. This made my life sooooo much easier. I no longer had to spend the first ten minutes of classtime answer questions daily about the school play. I could just refer them to the play section of my website! In order to include families, I also translated everything. And now, I just open the form when I'm ready for the next group of students!
While exploring websites talking about Google Forms, I came across one blog that mentioned that when she uses them, she has the spreadsheet color coded. WOW! I don't know how to do that, and her tutorial looked as though I could follow it, but I don't have a need for that yet. During distance learning, we weren't allowed to give students grades. However, this could certainly come in handy in the future to keep track of student progress (i.e. on grade level, almost, or far below).
I also saw some "add ons" to Google Forms in my exploration. Many of them were for the spreadsheet itself, but one I saw, looked interesting. It can give your students a certificate upon completion. You design what is "proficient", and a student receiving that grade, or above, can receive your certificate. I thought this was a great incentive for students!
The three Google Forms I created this week, will help me in the future. The first, will allow me to guage how students are feeling at the beginning of the day. By doing this, I can track their mental well-being, as well as allowing them to vent anything they wish, knowing I'd be the one to see it. This could help in our grade level student concerns meetings, help me to check in with students who may need a little extra check-in, and help foster better classroom discussions. In turn, it could help me with data for my driving question.
The second Google Form, is for me to help bridge the communication gap between school and home. In it, I ask for the best way for me to contact parents. I also ask for current phone number, email, and what their student likes/dislikes about shool. Using Class Dojo will also keep them in the loop, so I ask about their experience with that.
The last Google Form I created this week, will allow students to continue their art studies, even though they will not be seeing me on a regular basis like in the past. During VTS (Visual Thinking Strategies), I ask students to look at a picture (I do not tell them anything about it, nor the artist), and tell me about what is happening. In doing so, students are able to exercise their English language skills, critical thinking skills, collaborate, gain art vocabulary, connect reading strategies to the art in their readings, and have more insight to connect the art to their own lives. In this form, I structure the questions so that it can be scaffolded in a way that supports the students. This particular form is for the third week in fifth grade. These students have been using VTS for four years now, and should be able to answer the questions easily.
My oh my has technology been on the forefront of my mind lately! Yesterday, I was able to experience my very first Twitter Hashtag Chat. Talk about a fast-paced two-thumbs-flying experience!
How priveledged are you?
If you're reading this, you probably have the means to own either a smart phone, tablet, or computer. If you're reading this, you probably have higher education. Most people wouldn't give this blog more than a mere glance, as it is geared toward educators.
What types of biases do we hold when we, as educators, are planning lessons or units? Other than socioeconomic, and skin color, there are many biases that we may not even think about. Here's a short list of some off the top of my head:
When I went on these websites, I was specifically looking for lessons that brought up racism and equity. I wanted to know what specifically I should say or do in order to show my students that all are welcome and all can speak their truth. I first went to Common Sense Media, as I had had success last week in getting lessons about digital citizenship. I clicked on the News & Media Literacy Resource Center. But I didn't see anything that really spoke to what I was looking for for 5th grade. I kept going, searching for something that spoke to me. I read a teacher's blog post about their experience teaching remotely during the COVID-19 Quarantine and how they gamified their Civics class, it didn't quite give me the specific answers I was looking for, but I pressed on.
And then I saw it. A hyperdoc. Something I could wrap my head around!
This amazing person has created a hyperdoc for their students about Juneteenth. Although it was for an 11th grade class, it spoke to me. It had all the bells and whistles I would've liked when I was young and searching for answers. This teacher allows their students to explore the information and make art to express their knowledge. THIS is the learning within the learning we want. When we are free to explore, we make the learning more personal to ourselves. We thirst to learn more because it is relevant to us.
During distance learning, I've been able to adapt quite nicely. I love going paperless, and incorporating technology into my classroom.
A few years ago, I was looking for editing software for my online business so I can make Youtube videos and videos about my products. Although Screenflow is a paid software, it has far exceeded my expectations. With it, I am able to make screen recordings, video selfie recordings, voice recordings, and any of these simultaneously or as stand alones.
Music is a passion of mine, and my go-to for creating music is GarageBand. In this app, I'm able to record my own music, mix it, or use a template of sounds to create my own music as a DJ might in a club! This app is PERFECT for students too! A few years ago, I created a lesson plan for students to create their own music and then use it in a video.
That's another great thing about these two programs--I'm able to use the music I create in GarageBand for my Screenflow videos. AND when I upload them to Youtube, I don't have to worry about copyright infringements! Win!
Sarah Magallano teaches 5th grade. She also coaches teachers on integrating art & engineering into their lesson plans.