Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Flatdaddy tips & more E-Literacy

Screenleap       is a fantastic tool for distance learning. Flatdaddy needed to share Haiku learning platform with me. Using Screenleap, he talked me through the tutorial as I watched him navigate his own screen from my laptop here in New Mexico.  This tech to tech connection gave me the impression that screenleap could be a useful conferencing tool to use with my own students absent from class. Students who attend ski academy, who move temporarily, who hunt for weeks at a time would not have to have the excuse of losing a classroom connection.  Does this excuse students from meeting daily in the classroom?  I think it makes a class of students reliant on each other if what they are missing is truly interactive. This is why I teach lessons that revolve around situation gaming both online and offline. Admittedly, I can improve how I actually blend the learning environments.

image courtesy of Wikipedia. 
Scribblenaut was introduced to me by daughter.  It seems that elementary age up to adult are drawn to this emergent puzzle action video game. "Write Anything, Solve Everything"  The 2 dimensional graphics are simple while the complexity lies in understanding a puzzle without any written instruction. The player problem solves by recording words that become interactive objects in the game. The more nouns that are recorded in a notebook icon, the easier it is for the avatar to employ actions that lead to puzzle solving. Your thoughts, nouns,synonyms are  "tools to cut down trees" or items "to create a classroom"(scenarios).   For students unable to think of extended vocabulary there is a link to social networks like Facebook, Twitter with unlimited assistance.  Rules are learned through through repeat experience but rules change the more the game is played.  When a level is played more than three times, the game is designed to expect you to increase your vocabulary, identifying new words utilized as new tools for solving the same puzzle.  This is a super E Literacy tool for building vocabulary.
Wikipedia helped me understand that Scribblenaut used a "data driven approach, and a significant portion of the development time was spent researching nouns and their properties, and categorizing them into the Objectnaut database. Originally it was a Japanese game (created in 2009) under the name Flash Puzzle: Maxwell's Mysterious Notebook (ヒラメキパズル マックスウェルの不思議なノート Hirameki Pazuru: Makkusuweru no Fushigi na Nōto?) on January 27, 2011."


I really liked perusing this website that helped launch Scribblenaut, http://kotaku.com/    Designers, publishers, bloggers, artists share forum space, edits, ideas, insider scooprs. Intertextuality abounds!
 Example blog from Kotaku hints at  true edutainment and rewards new perspectives on gaming. As educators we need to get students to synthesize bodies of evidence into something new, something that has never been done before.  Students need to critic, analyze and defend that creativty.  Funomena is an indie gaming company from San Francisco behind this the dialogue surrounding a game integrating pedometer and a fight against childhood obesity.  Phys ed teachers- check this out.  Mr. Robinson's health class could design games like this too. So, as a teacher, gaming, discussion, critic, inquiry, analysis, it is all at your fingertips. 

Thanks to the  Academy of Interactive Arts & Science I now know what cross curricular, cross genres appeal to the video culture.  Awards in music composition, design, etc. are cataloged at this site.  I found this category which gives the game player responsibility, similar to Scribblenaut.
Orcs Must Die! won best in strategy games. This is defined to be titles in which the user directs or manipulates resources to create a set of conditions that result in success as determined within the confines of the game. These games can offer the user the chance to simulate or to virtually reproduce an experience, real or imaginary, which would require some form of equipment. Strategy games emphasize the planning of tactics rather than the execution. 

Again- phys ed department, who says gaming isn't healthy? Fifa Soccer 12, simulates real game executions that could be utilized before and after playing soccer together in class. 

       I liked this webpage that listed other edutainment selections
       I didn't really review many games listed, just not enough time....

Games for Change- This is a favorite site of mine.
I downloaded the Ipad app for  Guess My Race- I think it mixes inference and investigation well. The descriptions of peoples' cultural heritage appeal to text to self connections. I would use this as a bellringer routine. Groups of students assigned to an Ipad would play each scenario, reading aloud and deciding their choice together.  We'd meet for a group discussion after and hopefully it would lead to demographic research.  This is a game which would be useful once or twice. I would expect students to congregate and collaborate on designing a new level for this game based on their research.  We would share our design with gamers at Games for Change. Ethnicities of China would be a level that would really stump many of my students. Can I design that?

What? The THING is Jewish? Smash that Stereotype slide show on history of comic book heroes that are not male, white and Christian.  Go PBS and Independent Lens.  So I can't stop I must play Hunt for the Noor Stone brought me to this great comic series, The 99.  And the documentary. As I'm playing I begin to look for literacy connections to gaming. I fear that I am draining the fun out of learning.  But it is true- this is a great example of improving reading comprehension for middle and high school students at differentiated levels of learning. I think it would appeal to informational text lovers.
Hunt for the Noor Stone 
 The game moves through still comic book images. The captions can be read by the player and are read aloud by an embedded voice. Once into the game, those who read with difficulty should partner with someone who reads quickly. Together, they can learn cultural etiquette, Arabic and history which leads to riddles solved throughout the game. The player needs to interpret what is found in the graphic images and maps.  A notebook icon keeps track of whatever knowledge is gained. The quicker a player can recall information, the quicker they can beat the clock.  I discovered that a player is blocked if they do not conform to expectations of etiquette as practiced in Arabic.
Cons-

  • The timer runs quicker than my computer can load new pages, so I had to play through the first level three times. Luckily you can skip the reading of the introduction.
  • It didn't load on my Ipad.  
  • It isn't really like the 3D games our students might play on their own time but it is better than a textbook study.
Here are some less exciting links but useful to teaching:

Hotchalk lessons page      

Aesop's platform for organizing complicated schedules like one sub for several teachers.


Some games for purchase are drawing my attention:
The Curfew


  • My game picks were based on improving literacy that meets Common Core standards.  The Common Core expects all students to have fluency in writing, vocabulary and reading.  But this is not what will be assessed.  Assessment shifts from a focus on developing reading, writing skills and fluency to expressing understanding, reading critically, investigating inference. Students need to sythesize bodies of knowledge that will answer their own inquiries and show how they came to this conclusion.  Sounds like gaming to me!   


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