Monday, July 24, 2017

Schoolcraft - Mon., July 24, 2017

Mon., July 24, 2017

In the Games and Sims course I am taking this summer at Marlboro, I have become "Tiffany Star" and experienced and learned Jokaydia Grid, Second Life, and now Minecraft.  Each world is so different from each other and from school.  This last program is "Minecraft" and an article we read from James Paul Gee, "Good Video Games and Good Learning" made me think about how we could create "Schoolcraft."  Taking the key principles that Gee mentions and make them REAL in our schools.   For example, one of the principles is "risk taking" and that good video games lower the consequences of failure.  In schools, we operate on the "fear of failure" as "sticks" for students to learn.  We must innovate our schools by starting with our classrooms and making "failure a GOOD thing."  We also have to "customize a game to fit with the learning and playing styles."  Personalized learning will support this, but it's still so new and "risky" for educators when we are held to high stakes testing scores.  What if our SBAC tests were like video games, and preparing for them was a "well-ordered problem" - what a difference it would make in mastery of concepts for students.   Building a house in Minecraft requires math skills - four planks divide into tools, etc., so math content can be applied in a game setting.  I believe we must do the reverse, and make our schools/classrooms more like a game setting, if we truly want to engage today's learner for LIFELONG learning.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Resistance is Futile - Wed., July 19, 2017

Wed., July 19, 2017

On an infamous Star Trek Next Generation Episode, the "Borg" repeatedly said to all, "Resistance is Futile, prepare to be assimilated."  I remember at the time that my response was balderdash, technology does not have the power to be such a major part of who a person is.  Of course, there aren't true "cyborgs" as was on that episode, but there are students who live in a totally, and I mean totally different world than we do.

As classroom teachers, and principals, banning games or at least ignoring them is futile.  We must embrace them, learn them (as challenging as it is), and begin a conversation with our students about them.  As James Gee mentioned, students talk physics without being "required" to.  Learning can truly be in different formats, and gaming is one strategy whose time has come.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Maximizing Abilities - July 16, 2017

Sun., July 16, 2017

Taking five (5), yes five, grad classes this summer has been a challenge, but it's easier to overload when there aren't student's in the building.  Working as a principal and teacher and taking grad classes at the same time is more challenging.  I'll still have to take classes in the fall, but not as many hopefully because I'm "doubling up" now.

Two of the grad classes have had similar topics - accessibility for all.  With 504's and IEP's, equal access should automatically happen.  Needless to say, it doesn't because with those you have to have a diagnosed, documented disability that's affecting your ability to learn.   One of my classes had us watch a video about "Virtual Ability Island's" founder, Gentle Heron.  It's an uplifting, inspirational real life example of how to embrace diversity in the real world.  Gentle Heron said that she deals with "TABS" or Temporary Able Bodies, which we all know change as we age.  Real innovation about such an important topic.

In my other class, we talked about universal design and how all websites, etc. are to have access to all disabilities, known as Section 508.  There were several informative YouTube videos from Portland Community College called "To Care and Comply."  They pointed out that disabilities are barriers to learning, so it's to us as educators to open the door, NOT shut the door.  It's important, but more importantly is the RIGHT thing to do.  That's what VAI does as well.  There is no success without access virtually or in real life.  It's all about maximizing our abilities, no matter what they are.