Elegy for a Dead World – Writing as Gaming

The son, Goat 2, over at Learning, Play, Etc. has gotten my attention with a new game called Elegy for Dead Planet. The concept is fascinating, “Explore dead civilizations, write about what you find, and share your stories with the world.” It is not yet launched but appears to intertwine a gaming story with prompts for the gamer to complete and share. I could see my Tech Club running wild with this and even mElegy for a Dead World - Who is Shey most reluctant writers in my regular class could easily be sucked in. I just hope there is an opportunity to pilot the game in the classroom. As of yet, there seems to be no link for educators. Perhaps this will be another sneak attack like MinecraftEDU. My fingers are crossed that they will offer a trial for education. This could really inspire my students!

For an introductory video, see – https://youtu.be/bfps2HKE4B4

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Dialogue

Lately, I have had the good fortune to carry on conversations about subjects I love. Yesterday I joined a master gardener’s class and found myself in garden nerd heaven. I can’t remember the last time I have had the opportunity to talk gardening with knowledgeable people who are passionate about growing plants, food, weeds, and bugs. I was intoxicated with excitement as I drove home thinking about all of the great things to come. This afternoon I spoke with my son, GOAT 2, on the phone for 90 minutes about education and technology and now I’m all charged up again. We are both passionate about what is going right and what is going wrong in education and how we can improve a student’s experience in the classroom and thereby increase the likelihood of success.

goat-1065636_640This all translates into thoughts about the new semester that starts tomorrow. One of the things that I try to avoid in class is straight lecture. As a technology teacher, my instruction generally consists of an explanation about what the students are about to do, a few instructions or a demonstration, and then I “release the hounds” to set to the task. Because I teach in a computer lab, I have the luxury of partnering with a bunch of instant project simulators with screens. I have set things up so that students can easily access the necessary tools to complete their creations. I am able to walk around and facilitate, answering questions, guiding research, and generally encouraging students to push themselves into new learning.

This semester I will be out of the lab so it can be used for test practice and testing. (Let’s leave that for another post.) As I prepare to teach technology with one computer, I know my teaching beliefs are about to be tested. I have decided to use this as an opportunity to demonstrate to my students the difference between lecture and dialogue and how we can successfully avoid the former and enjoy the latter. I want to ensure that my students are engaged in my lessons the same way I was engaged in my conversations with the gardeners and GOAT 2. I want to ask the right questions to help them understand and I want them to feel free to ask questions of me and each other to clarify instructions, to enable precise learning, and to inspire leaps of faith and big ideas.  In other words, I want them to talk more than I do. I want them to carry on a dialogue, to have conversations and to be engaged with their lessons.road-sign-63983_1280

My methods are vague at present and based on the way I teach with computers: give the necessary information and then “release the hounds” to complete the job. This will be my challenge and it begins tomorrow. I need to make some scribble drawings now to prepare. The results, whether glory or gore, will be reported next.

 

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Deadly Islands – An Idea to Pursue

This looks like a great activity to get students excited about writing, maps, and collaboration. It is now on my radar to try! It’s sort of a Survivor meets National Geographic. I could envision the addition of some natural disasters to student created islands.

The Deadly Islands

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From the original post by :

In one of the notes I mentioned I wanted to try the ‘island’ project. I got inspired by Mr. Stanley’s presentation, but adjusted the activity to my groups. First of all, it’s the project for the end of our course, so I wanted my students to revise what they’ve learnt in the last couple of months. The project is divided into three stages:

  • Designing an island

Every group (3-4 students) draws their island. It should be quite big (there will be post-its on them!) and colourful. They should also draw some particularly nice places, name and number them (Valley of the Elves, City that Never Sleeps etc.).

  • Describing threats

Naturally, as the project is called Deadly island, all those pretty places must be very dangerous, so the students make the lists of those traps and describe the threat. Valley of the Elves may be a place where the elves kill visitors, City that Never Sleeps may be a zombie-town etc. Children tend to be extremely creative when it comes to such places.

  • Making a list of challenges

The visitors will be in danger on the islands and the only thing that helps would be their knowledge of English, so the students have to make a list of challenges: name 20 animals in English/ explain 2nd conditional etc. Because of how much time would this task take, my students made the previous stages in one lesson (90 minutes), this stage was their homework (every student has to come up with 3-4 challenges) and the next lesson started with group work and making their lists. Naturally, if you don’t want to make it a revision, you may change the challenges to more entertaining ones: sing a song/ jump like a rabbit around the classroom etc.

Now, when all is done, it’s time for the game!

Each student visits every island and decides to investigate one of the numbered places (since they look so inviting). The creator of the place reads its description and tells the visitor that their death is unavoidable unless they take the challenge of answering a question. If the visitor answers it correctly, they survive; if not – they die, the visitor and the creator should make a short description of the event. Then the student makes a short report of what has happened in this place on a post-it and places it on the map, next to the place they visited.

When all the places are explored and post-its are on the maps, I make a huge map of Deadly Islands and it’s a nice poster on a wall, just to remind students, when they’re back in September, how useful English may be when facing zombies or elves.

Just to tell you a couple of examples of dangerous sites:

The most interesting place on this island is a fire breathing llama’s cave. Danger: this llama (Suzy) is fire breathing! (@ Poopland Island)

Rainbow Volcano – if you go there, the Nyan Cat will stuff you with sweets until you explode! (@ Chernobyl Toilet Island)

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A New Toy for Blogging

Well, it’s probably just new to ME, but Zemanta is a lovely add-on for Firefox which provides images, links and articles related to whatever you are posting. It all shows up in a sidebar as you work.  The appropriate citations seem to be

Image representing Zemanta as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

linked in too, so there’s less fear of upsetting someone’s copyrighted material.  I just started using this 10 minutes ago, but I think we’re going to have a long, happy relationship!

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Let’s Give ’em Something to Blog About

Plinky

Need something to blog about?  Plinky may have the answer.  Like my favorite quickie daily inspiration, oneword.com, Plinky.com offers daily ideas for topics to blog about.  Of course teachers will find them useful to inspire students.  The

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prompt listed today suggests using third person to describe the scariest moment in your life.  Me?  I’ve got a humdinger about discovering that I had a fear of heights, AFTER I had reached the top of the Duomo in Italy.  Really bad timing!

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Never a Dull Moment

Although it’s been a while since I’ve posted on THIS blog, I’ve been a busy girl.  I am always amazed at all of the new tech resources I discover every day.  This morning I’ve discovered/re-visited 3 fantastic resources:

TEFL Clips calling itself “a site dedicated to the possibilities for YouTube and other video sharing sites in the classroom. Every week a new lesson plan will be uploaded” this site is informative and insightful.  There is a great description of how to load youtube videos to itunes so you can use them in the classroom (where youtube is strictly verboten).  The lessons are useful and clever and include a lesson plan, student worksheets and video clip information.   This is definitely a site to be bookmarked and returned to over and over.

Ed Galaxy, A Cool Site for Nerdy Teachers speaks my language.  His MindMap is a wonderful example how to put fascinating tool to good use.  I found the TEFL site from here.  Check out the “Top Posts” section.  There are great ideas and tools for genuine technology integration.  So much to explore!

Kim Cofino offers a presentation called “Hardware is not Enough” which describes how a Technology Coach and a classroom teacher can create genuine integration of technology in the classroom.

What a wonderful way to spend a rainy Sunday morning!  It’s been a very enlightening couple of hours.  I’m very thankful to be able to advantage of everything these wonderful techies have to offer.

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Christmas before Halloween

Oh lookie, there’s a present under the pumpkin! What could it be? It’s Domo Animate! Kevin H. sent this lovely little demo through the Tech friends Ning. Follow the link and have a look.

DomoNation.com: A gathering of Tech Friends by dogtrax

Like it? Create your own at DomoNation.com. It’s free and fun!

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