Thursday, October 28, 2010

Teaching Logic Using Board Games

Today I had the privilege of fore knowledge of a planned network outage so I brought in some board games and cards that had been used in an outreach 10 years ago to keep students occupied. My 7th and 8th graders were mystified by Kerplunk, a game that came before their 1999 birth years lol! It got me thinking that it's possible to teach logical thinking "unplugged" using certain board games that promote logical thinking:
  • Kerplunk: modern version of Pick Up Sticks where marbles fall through a column, winner has fewest number of marbles in receptacle
  • Mancala: strategy game that requires counting, and quickly or your opponents confuse you
  • Ludo, Parcheesi or Sorry: game of chance and strategy as you try to get all your pieces "home" while keeping your opponents from reaching "home" first
  • Dominoes:
  • Uno:
  • Go:
  • Monopoly:
The thing is these games may be old fashioned to us because we are of the "7 channel"-"do homework every night"-"play board games or play outside" because "there was nothing else to do" generation. These games are not familiar to our students because they are about 100 generations away from ours, their teachers. So for your next fundng cycle, be sure to invest in a few board games to take your logic-teaching lessons offline and to a whole new level.

CS Unplugged

I have been using CS Unplugged to reinforce computer science concepts after teaching technical skills that have been abstracted. CS Unplugged is a great curriculum for teaching computer science concepts to students without being plugged to a computer. I've found students are able to complete the worksheet activities with little to no assistance, though I have class discussions to ensure students take away the main point of the activities. I expect that for students younger than 7th grade may require more guided discussions in addition to an ending discussion to ensure the main concept is taken away.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Anytime-Anywhere Learning

It's 11pm on a Wednesday evening, final email check, lo and behold there are changes to the class wiki. Students are working on the class project, sharing resources by commenting on each others' pages...isn't this the learning we educators want to see? I thought students would only work during class time...I go to sleep happy that they are enjoying the activity enough to show off at home :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Oh So Connected!

Reflecting on today's classes and I feel...Oh So Connected! Using Web 2.0 tools, my students have created blogs and are now using wikis. Having covered internet research (search engines), depending on how much they remember, they're now equipped to find information on any subject for school.

I will not be able to cover word processing before time ends with 2 classes, but I am confident that the Web 2.0 tools and cloud computing are what this generation needs to learn...even Microsoft is getting in line with online office productivity and smartphone apps.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Class Blogging as a Computing Activity

Image © 2010 M.Agbowo
Blogging is a Web 2.0 tool, meaning users can contribute to online discourse without knowing how to manually code (WYSIWYG-What You See Is What You Get). I had students create their own and write in wikis daily as a computing activity for the following reasons:
  • technology exercise: to wrestle with setting up the blog as a means of reading and following directions, and the experience of setting up an online account
  • writing exercise: students can always more time for language production and idea generation, so blogs allow a space for free writing
  • communication exercise: blogs allow students to read and comment on other student's thoughts, and collaborate on ideas, all remotely, which is a 21st century skill
All in all, except for a few students who just missed the idea, I am satisfied that students understood a bit of technology and a lot of writing and idea generation.

We started off with Edublogs, which seemed so simple. Well, we really started off with trying to sign up for Google's Blogger and some of the other common blogs, but students were not allowed due to their correct years of birth. And some students did not have e-mail accounts so there was no possibility. Edublogs was to accommodate students without e-mail accounts, but there were networking issues where we could not always access the site.

Though Edublogs did not work out for us at this time, the site is very robust in student and class blogging, with lots of ideas and resources for the innovative teacher, and a blogging contest for students. In fact, I ran across a 9-step how-to guide for class blogging.

Some students started blogs through Webs, TypePad (not sure about age restriction), WordPress (Edublogs is the education version of WordPress; not sure about age restriction), and students with existing e-mail accounts were able to create Blogger blogs.

After some research I ran across KidBlog, which seems promising, because everyone is linked through a class page, where I or each student can create student accounts and a list of blogs is generated for the class. More to come on this :)

    Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    Teaching Standards are a good thing

    I have the privilege of being evaluated since I'm a new teacher. My rubric will be the California Standards for the Teaching Profession (full document), which have to do with students, curriculum and learning, and growing as an educator.

    I like to multi-task, kill two birds with one stone, so I will also infuse my technology standards via ISTE NETS for Teachers concurrently, which luckily are similar.

    There is a lot of dialog about teacher quality, merit pay for student test scores, and a whole new industry on professional development classes, teacher testing, etc. All I wish to add is that when teachers honestly meet the standards and are happy in their jobs, you've got great, motivated employees. When something is amiss, not so great.