Video games and simulations have always been part of my instructional DNA. I started out with a basic but powerfully engaging archeology simulation during my first month in the classroom, used text-based games to teach medieval Japan, added PC based simulations to highlight economic impacts, integrated cutscenes into instruction, encouraged the use of game specific wikis for building content knowledge and have watched first person shooter console games used to embed students into World War II.
I’ve also had the chance to work with a variety of software developers to pilot several different computer and online based simulations. So . . . yes. A firm believer in the use of video games and gaming theory as part of teaching and learning.
But not until recently have I given much thought to using board games in the same way as video games and sims. Most social studies teachers have incorporated some sort of paper-based or board game-based simulation as part of they do. But there is a whole different level of board game out there. This is more than just Monopoly or the simple roll the dice to see what happens to your Gold Rush bound wagon train. Read more
It’s official. Zoom In just went live. And you and your kids so need this.
I know that I’ve mentioned Zoom In before. But a year ago, the tool was still in beta. The signup process was a bit clunky and the lessons were still in development. So I was incredibly excited to find out that last month, Zoom In is officially official. The site has been remodeled, signup is a snap, and all 18 lessons are ready to go.
If you missed my earlier excitement about Zoom In, here’s a brief recap. Zoom In is a free, web-based platform that helps students build literacy and historical thinking skills through “deep dives” into primary and secondary sources.
Zoom In’s online learning environment features 18 content-rich U.S. history units that supplement your regular instruction and help you use technology to support students’ mastery of both content and skills required by the most recent state and national social studies standards: Read more
That’s right. Two Podstock Golden Tickets.
I know you’ve heard of Podstock. ESSDACK’s annual summer edtech get together? In Wichita’s Old Town? Lots of fun people and great learning? Moonlight Madness? Pine wood derby? Dance and reception? Great door prizes and give aways? Did I mention incredible PLN?
It’s basically a bunch of awesome folks getting together to learn more about how to improve education. It’s about creativity, about inspiration, about finding the best tools for our kids. And we’ll use whatever it takes – technology, PBL, gaming, online widgets . . . we’ll try anything as long as it helps kids learn.
Podstock got started a few years ago when Kevin Honeycutt wanted to mash up some tech learning with the anniversary of Woodstock. We decorated with album covers, wore tie dye t-shirts, and learned a ton about podcasting. And every year since, we’ve picked a fun theme. Last year it was super heroes. Before that it was the 80s. We’ve done 1950s diners. 1960s revolution.
This year? Read more
As you count down the final days and hours, many of you are having students create final products and assessments. We often ask kids to create these end of year projects in textual form. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. Writing is proof of thinking. But there are are other types of assessments that can also measure levels of thinking that we sometimes forget about, ignore, or just don’t know about.
The Instructional Arc of the National Council for the Social Studies and my own C4 Framework ask kids to solve problems and communicate solutions. Both are based on the national and state literacy standards that ask students share research and solutions in a variety of ways:
- Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
- Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
- Present adaptations of arguments and explanations on topics of interest to others to reach audiences and venues outside the classroom using print and oral technologies (e.g., posters, essays, letters, debates, speeches, reports, and maps) and digital technologies (e.g., Internet, social media, and digital documentary).
The problem seems to almost always revolve around finding and using a tool that free, easy to use, and that supports the Instructional Arc and literacy standards. One possible answer? Read more