Sunday, November 25, 2012

Final Project Progress Report

screen shot of Ibook
The Ibook is coming along quite well. We have decided to break the book into three chapters: "Making the Team", "Practice", and "Game Day". We have almost finished the first two chapters. The only things we are missing are the book trailers and the lesson plan video. We should be able to finish in the next few days.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Blog post #12

Xbox 360 logo
The Assignment

Students at Steuart W. Weller Elementary School in Ashburn, VA are playing video games in their classroom. The schools have partnered with Microsoft and are using the Xbox 360 with the kinect attachment to teach their students nearly every subject.
1. Visit the Microsoft in education page. Read the overview of the program and watch the videos (you might have to click watch as wvm link on the bottom).
2. Click the school tab at the top of the page. This shows over 200 activities that can the done with the kinect.
3.Visit their facebook page. This page is filled with even more good ideas and articles on the kinect.
4.Read the article Gesturing to Learn.
Select two or three of the activities under the school tab on the Microsoft in education page. Write a blog post describing what the kinect is and how you would use this technology in your classroom. What are some of the other advantages of using the Xbox in the classroom? The disadvantages? Write the blog post following the quality blog post guidelines.

The blog post

Video games have elolved a long way since the days of the cartridge. Just twenty-five years ago video games were only using eight bits of memory and if you wanted a multiplayer experience that required friends coming together and sitting on the same couch. Today the video game world is filled with 3-D images, and the multiplayer can connect you with anywhere in the world. The games themselves receives too much of the credit when this topic arises. The true evolving element here is the system console. It has been the games that have been forced to keep up with them.

In 2010 Microsoft released the kinect for the Xbox 360 gaming console. The kinect allows players to interact with the game without the use of a controller. It does this by using a camera with motion capture software to recognize the players into front of it. The camera tracks the movement and that movement is the required input to make the game work.

Today Microsoft is partnering with school to bring this technology into the classroom. They even provide some sample activities and lesson plans that will keep the students engaged and excited about learning. The following are three games that have the potential to meet these goals.

Fast Facts Students can increase their fluency by practicing these facts while playing the fast-paced game, "Meter Reader", in "Body and Brain Connection".

1. Teach students mental strategies for quickly adding numbers together into the teens.
2. Students play the game Meter Reader.
3. Students quickly compute sums and lean their bodies to indicate whether the answer is less than, equal to, or greater than 10.
4. While one student plays the game, the rest of the class can practice writing down the sums as quickly as possible to test their own fluency.

Additional activities

Students call out the answer as they lean. The class counts the number of problems that can be solved by using specific math strategies such as “fast nines,” “doubles,” “neighbors ” or “neighbors plus one.” Common Core connections This activity relates to mathematical content 1–5 standards.​

This game will encourage students to become fluent in math. As the instructs states "fluency is key to math success for children." While this can still be seen as a game there is no denying that the proper use of this game will allow students to take a more proactive approach to math.

Exploring the periodic table

If the elements on the periodic table could talk, what would they say? Playing "Googly Eyes", in kinect fun labs, gives students a chance to bring an element from the periodic table to life.

1. Assign each student an element from the periodic table to research.
2. Students document the properties and characteristics of their element.
3. Students construct a simple 3D paper model of their element. Have them color it and add more features (at your discretion).
4. Students render their 3D paper models as 3D animated models in the game. They record clips of themselves “acting” as their assigned elements during the game. They also describe and record their elements’ characteristics.
5. Show all clips to the class, and have students take notes throughout the showing.
6. Students turn in their notes and/or collaborate with their peers to promote knowledge sharing.

Additional activity Explore the effects of combining elements and the new characteristics that would result. Then discuss yielding equations and the mathematical properties governing this process.

Common Core connections This activity relates to mathematical content K–12 standards.

I need to do a little more research on the movie captures on the Xbox. I think this would make for a very interesting movie project for the students. I would tell them that we are making a movie but in reality they would be learning the elements.


​Students dress up as their favorite historical character and transform them into an avatar! Playing Kinect Me in Kinect Fun Labs helps bring historical figures to life and enriches students’ sense and appreciation of history, understanding of historical figures, and awareness of character.

1. Students choose a famous person from history.
2. They research the life of the person.
3. They prepare a costume similar to what the historical figure wore.
4. Wearing their costume, students pose in front of the camera to create their avatar likeness. While posing, they explain why they chose the figure and the clothes.
5. Then they act out their character, moving and talking as their historical figure.
6. Their historical avatar does whatever they do on the screen.

Additional activities

Groups of students reenact a famous situation from the life of the historical figure. Students try to guess who the figure is as the scene is acted out.

Common Core connections This activity relates to speaking and listening 6–12 standards.

This activity would be treated like a movie. Rather than just one student at time, it would be more effective to have several students act out a historical situation. This will influence the student to do research on the chosen person and to be creative will acting out the scene.

The amazing thing about the Xbox 360 is that it is no longer just a gaming system. The console has the power to connect classrooms over the video connect software. This will allow students to see that they are not alone in the world.

The Xbox 360 has so many different apps that I could write a blog post everyday for a year and still not capture the potential of this wonderful device. The world of tomorrow is going to be built on the back of technology, and this will be a good way to introduce technology to our students.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Blog Post #11

Using Technology in Ms. Cassidy's Class

Ms. Cassidy's approach to teaching is very refreshing. She allows her first graders to use technology in their classroom to learn. To some people technology is a computer with Microsoft Office installed. She goes above and beyond the word processor to show her students the digital world via blogs, wikis, and other approved websites. She also allows her students to use these tools and become more than just a listener, they know have the power to let their voices be heard around the world.

First graders having power? What's going on here? Ms. Cassidy knows the secret to teaching her students. She keeps them engaged with the technology in her classroom. She doesn't require them to unplug to come to class. Her students are excited to write on their blogs for a global audience rather than just writing something just their teacher. Ms. Cassidy benefits from this as well. She now has an outlet to allow her students demonstrate their knowledge of the subject matter. When someone is able to explain something to someone else, it shows knowledge of the subject. Through wikis the students can both learn from other students or they can write pages to educate other students. One wiki project her class created involved her students explaining the alphabet to others with pictures. They worked with another first grade class in Alabama to make a very impressive collection of letters. Another way they use the wikis was to ask people about the holidays they celebrate. It wasn't long before they have a long list of these as well.

The learning goes beyond the computer. The one thing that all this can teach a child is that teamwork is a powerful tool. If students are going to be able to participate in this new global economy, then they must be prepared to work with everyone not just the people next to them. The technology also goes beyond the computer. Ms. Cassidy has a set of Nintendo DSs for her class to use. They can play educational games on the Nintendo DSs, but there's more. Each system comes with a free feature called picochat. Picochat allows the linked systems to become a chat room. This can be used to send messages to each student, or to have the student send messages to the teacher. This could be very useful when asking questions during lectures. The students can just send the answers to the teacher.

Overall Ms. Cassidy has designed a wonderful teaching style. I could see myself taking several pages out her book. I really like the blog post idea. I would use it with the science classes the most. I think a blog about the experiments in the class where the students would post their results along with a short explanation of what happen would be effective. The only problem I see with this is some experiments would be instantaneous. Pictures may or may not be very informative. The way around this is to make a short movie. This will also reinforce the need to use the best tool for the job. I like the wiki idea as well. Math classes would be very interesting if we used the wiki as a virtual textbook. Since math has a lot of rules and strategies, we could use different pages for different topics. We could have one page for the basics, another for fractions and so on.

The problem with my ideas is that I think an older child will benefit more from the lessons. If the subject material is complex enough to be interesting then the child will stay engaged, how if I have them taking pictures of a rock at the bottom of an aquarium and writing about how rocks don't float, then the technology may seem like "busy work" to them. The only way to avoid this is to carefully plan each lesson where the technology will provide not only a more professional option, but also allow the students to be creative as well.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

C4T #3

lisa thurmann

My teacher this time is Ms. Lisa Thurmann. She is a professor at Kean University. Her blog post was a basically a progress report on all of her projects. The most impressive project she is working on is the inaugural mobile learning summit. I told her that I am looking forward to the day that teachers can begin use mobile devices in the classroom. The post also said the summit was on November 2nd. I hope she writes a post about how it goes.

For the second post I had to comment on a pervious post. She sent a tweet saying that the convention was delayed because of hurricane sandy. The pervious post was about her preparing for her EdCamp. She was really nervous that some of her guests where not going to grasp the idea of the "unconvention". During the opening remarks she asked everyone to follow these guidelines.

1. Listen. Everyone has something to contribute.
2. Participate. You have something to add to the conversation.
3. Think with your feet.
4. Have a good time.

I thanked her for sharing her experiences with us. I also told her that I liked the "guidelines" she posted, but not just for the camp but in everyday life as well. In closing I thanked her for all the work she does.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

C4K October

The first post for this month was by Reilly. He is a 4th grader in Mr. Wriths' class at Union Pleasant Elementary in Hamburg, New York. He posted his poem "Morning Greetings." When I read his work I had to double-check that he was a 4th grader. The level of writing demonstrated by Reilly was amazing. The descriptions he used were so believable that one feels as if they are part of his world. I praised him in this regard and asked him to continue writing. I honestly believe has gift, and if he continues to nurture this, he will be a bestselling author one day.

The second post was from a girl named Shannon. She is a student in Mr. Gwaltney's 10th grade class in Portland, Oregon. She is partnering with teachers in order to increase her knowledge of modern history. Shannon also talked about her recent project on the Age of Reformation. She thinks she covered the information part well, however she feared that her presentation was not "fun". I told her that I was interested in the partnering projects. I also told her not to be afraid to be creative, because creativity can inspire us to do amazing things. I hope she continues to learn more through this, not just about history, but about herself as well.

The third post was from Kailin. She is a third grader in Mr. Capp's class. She wrote a poem about a frog that was rooting for the wrong team. Luckily the frog fell out his log and received a mild concussion. When he woke up he was cheering for the wrong team. The second half of the poem was about the cheer he starting saying. This cheer is one of Kailan's softball cheers. After I read this, I told her that I loved her poem. I also told her that it is wonderful that she can find inspiration and humor in everyday life. I asked the following questions. What happens to the frog next? Did his new team win? I ended my reply by telling her to never lose her creativity. I also told her that she has the power to change the world with her words and if she keeps writing people will keep reading.

Next up is Jabari. He is a grade 4 student at the Lochearn School in Alberta, Canada. His latest blog post was a short animoto animation about Parkland in Alberta. His pictures were all very neat and the music was upbeat. I told him that I really liked his animoto and that his pictures have inspired me to vacation there one day. I when asked him what would be the one thing I would have to do when I visited.

Lastly was a special edition C4K, instead of a student the comments revolved around Dr. Vitulli and Santoli. They are currently in Ireland teaching others about how to use visual arts in conjunction with literacy. I told them how proud I was that they were willing to go to such great lengths to help others. I hope they also learn a lot from this experience. According to the program they provided it looks like they will have plenty to do. In closing I told them to have fun.

Special Blog Assignment

A World Where Grades Will Be Left Behind
An article in the USA Today talks about a world where education is affordable and accessible to anyone. This will be achieved by the expanding use of online learning. To encourage this shift of thinking the author, Mary Marklein, says that in a few years lectures will be fun. The example they give is teaching a psychics lesson with a game similar to angry birds. Sebastian Thrun, Google vice president and researcher, goes on to say that learning should be fun. In his vision teachers wouldn't be just lecturing to twenty or one hundred students, instead he sees reaching thousands and hundreds of thousands of people. He has seen these numbers before. He taught an artificial intelligence class online and had about 160,000 students. He says this experience is like "taking the red pill" with this new power you can teach on such a large scale that it will seem like wonderland, or you can take the "blue pill" and go back to teaching 20 students. Lastly he claims that with this new teaching method education will now answer to the students.

This entire article is flawed. Grades will always be an important part of education. I never understood why grades are seen as a reward punishment system. That is the logic that is flawed. I was raised and taught that if you do your best then you will get the grade you deserve, and if you didn't then you got a lower grade. How is that punishment? I think people are confusing punishment for reflection. This argument is brought up in an age where parents can't even discipline their children without the fear of being accused of child abuse. It is this sort of mentality that will destroy the education system. The article says that failure is no longer an option. Who are they trying to fool? Failure is not only an option; it is an important part of growing up. We learn the most from our mistakes.

Now to further my point from a logical standpoint, we need to say what a "grade" is. Traditionally grades are given a letter with an "A" representing 100% to 90% completion or correctness, "B" from 89% to 80%, "C" from 79% to 70%, "D" from 69% to 60% and "F" from 59% to 0%. The article says,"Classes will involve a sequence of increasingly more challenging exercises and quizzes aimed at helping students master a particular concept or skill." How does the computer program know when it is time to go to the next lesson? The computer will have to see if a certain percentage was reached to see if the student is ready. This percentage is still the very definition of a grade. Does this mean the true argument here is whether we should show the students their grade?

Assuming the computer program can be altered to not rely on a "grade algorithm", can you imagine the torment of being behind a computer screen for hours or days just to have to keep repeating the same lesson over and over? Obviously you do not understand the material. How long will it take the professor to email you back after you ask him a question, seeing that he has 160,000 students in one class? The next argument will be that they can skip the lesson. That will be worse. If lessons are skipped the students will not learn the fundamentals of the skill they are trying to acquire. If there is not a safe guard against laziness then the system will be in serious jeopardy.

Near the end of the article they give themselves a neat little loophole. "Instruction will be free, but related services might involve a fee. Among those are certification and exams, which will be conducted separately from the learning process." That means the only grade that matters to them is the grade you get at the very end of career as a student. How can a student prepare for these types of tests without knowing how they are doing in the classroom?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Smart Board Project

Blog post #10

PC Mac Pencil Mock

Does anyone remember the "I'm a Mac and I'm a PC" commercials? The commercials were basically an older gentleman playing the part of the PC and a younger person the playing part of the Mac. In each commercial the Mac always out performs the PC. So what is this cartoon trying to say? The cartoon is trying to say two different things. First that papermate pencils are poor quality therefor so are PCs. The second is hipster's priorities are not correct. If a ticonderoga (Mac) is the most expensive purchase in their life, then something is wrong.


Adventures in Pencil Integration

stack of pencils
Mr. John Spencer uses a large amount of satire to relay the importance of integrating technology into the classroom. His preferred method is to mock the integration of pencils into a pre-pencil classroom. The idea of this is purposely silly by today's point of view. How can classrooms possibly perform without pencils? How can classrooms perform without new technology? Two of his blogs that demonstrate this are "Why Were Your Kids Playing Games?" and "The Con Academy".

"Why Were Your Kids Playing Games?"

What is the purpose of playing games? Some people claim that games are fun. What is fun? Fun is the act enjoying an activity. What happens when the students start having fun while leaning? Could then learning be adapted to be a game? The easy answer for Mr. Tom's class is no. All learning in his school must be preparing students to pass the rote memorization tests. Mr. Tom argues that soldiers and doctors use games to learn, why can't his students? The students were engaged and learning, so this should have been a productive teaching method. The principal's rebuttal was these are students, not soldiers or doctors, and all efforts are to go toward passing the memorization tests. Mr. Tom concedes his argument and implements a new solution. He will create an algorithm factory and integrate it into the reading and writing projects, thus creating the factory game.

What are the two underlying points in this story? The first one is that learning should be able to be fun. If students are having fun while learning they will retain that knowledge. This will be important after they pass the memorization tests. The second point addresses these memorization tests and the "factory game". It is clear that today's system is designed to produce only one kind of student. The memorization test requirements ensure that this will happen. In the age we live in we need to create a variety of students. No longer can only one type of student be afforded.

"The Con Academy"

The Trojan horse was a free gift, so is the con academy. This view clearly defines Mr. Spencer's thoughts for this new method of teaching. He continues to say that this new method would be useful for those teachers that did not know how to teach and that this would be unhealthy for the students. The "con academy" is similar to a flipped classroom, the difference being that a real flipped classroom is more project based and allows for students to inquire about their studies. Mr. Spencer then tells us that "pencils" are better used for writing essays and solving problems. The students should be able to work together or independently, which would be hard to do with the "con" system. He also says that the role of the teacher will be replaced with this system, and that would be a disaster.


Don't teach your kids this, please

no computers allowed sign
Dr. McLeod is author of the blog "Dangerously Irrelevant". He is the producer of the "Did You Know" series. He is also the director of CASTLE, which is the center dedicated to the technological needs of school administrators. The post is about him telling everyone not to teach kid's about technology. He points out how the world has gotten this far without teaching these things, as well as the potential dangers associated with technology. He continues to say that we need to just rid our kids from this and go back to pencil and paper. Lastly he begs everyone to not expose kids to technology because he is doing that with his own kids, and they will have a competitive edge later on in their lives.

The point he making is that if we want our kids to have the same advantage that the kids have in countries like Japan, then we must begin to teach our kids these new basic fundamentals. It will be these new fundamentals that will propel everyone, not just students into the future.