Sunday, April 3, 2016

App of the Week: Anchor.FM

Anchor is a new social media platform where the discussion happens completely in audio recordings. Users get 2 minutes to introduce their topic and then anyone listening can respond with a 1 minute recording.  It's sort of a mix between blogging, twitter, and podcasting.  Here's my first go, I'd love to hear what you think.  Let's make some waves!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Sharing a video from your Google Drive

Here's a quick video that I made to help if you are sending links to a video that you have saved in Google Drive to make sure that everyone can view it.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Minecraft for Reading Comprehension Research Study Results

I've finally completed my research paper and case study of using Minecraft to develop reading comprehension.  I had a great time conducting the study and was quite pleased with the impact the activity had on the students.  Although the value did not determine that the intervention was statistically significant, most likely due to the small sample size, the students in the class that used Minecraft on average scored 10% higher on a 15 point comprehension test than the students from the class that used a traditional sequence of events graphic organizer to retell the story.

The most important factor that I saw when observing the students using Minecraft was their engagement level.  The entire class was immediately engrossed in the task from the word go.  They intuitively organized themselves divying up tasks, communicating progress, and researching actual building in Johannesburg.  No one asked them to do this.  They did it because they were interested and wanted to make it the best that they could.

Here is a part of a group's retelling of the Journey to Jo'Burg short novel that they read using Minecraft.

If you would like to read the whole report here is the link.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

App of the Week: Minecraft, It's Uses in Education Part 3

In PYP 7 (Grade 4) the students have been studying Materials and their varying properties.  They have been testing different materials and categorizing them in many ways.  They also had the opportunity to test the "digital" materials that are found in Minecraft.  They tested and recorded their findings on different objects and types of materials translucence, opaqueness, flammability,  hardness, and whether it was a liquid or a solid.
For hardness the students created a measure of how many times the avatar needed to hit an item before it broke.  The students tested Grass, Stone, Nether Black, TNT, Emerald, Bedrock, Obsidian, and a pig.  From the chart we can see that, in the game, Bedrock is unbreakable and that Obsidian is the next hardest substance they came across.  

Let's keep looking for more educational applications for Minecraft!   

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

App of the Week: Minecraft, It's Uses in Education Part 2

I've recently been conducting the study for my master's research project, I will be posting the findings of that soon, but I thought I'd share a bit now.

The students have been using Minecraft to recreate the settings from the book Journey to Jo'Burg, that they have recently read as a class, and then use those settings to retell the story.  The project aims to develop the students' reading comprehension.  The book tells the story of a brother and sister who travel from their village to the city of Johannesburg during the time of Apartheid.  Their baby sister had become very ill and they needed to go tell their mother who lived and worked in the city. 

It was very impressive to see how quickly the students organized themselves, doling out building responsibilities and then speaking roles.  As the teacher I did not have to motivate them or pull them along in any way.  They were off and going.  Since we only had a limited time I had to stop them, do their displeasure, from completing every detail they found in the book.  

One of the boys immediately got on Google and searched for images of Johannesburg buildings in order to recreate the city accurately.

Here are some of the other scenes that they created from the story.
Barn on the orange farm they slept in on the first night

Overview of the entire journey

Johannesburg with 'pink house' where the mother worked 

Working train station where the police raid asking for everyone's passes

Hospital with a long line where they take the sick baby

Orange farm


Soweto arial view
The students loved this project and developed a lot more than just their reading comprehension skills.


App of the Week: Minecraft, It's Uses in Education Part 1

Minecraft is one of the, if not the most popular Apps/Software on the market at the moment.  The game use simple graphic building blocks for players to use to create whole new worlds.  Minecraft is a "Sandbox" game, which means that players can interact with the environment to create their own experience.  

Utilizing the game's open, creative aspect and the amount of engagement that students pour into the activities when they are use Minecraft, there is huge educational potential to impact learning.  Here are a few examples of how we have been using Minecraft with our students.

In Art the students have been focussing on 'perspective' and in particular 'vanishing point perspective', like that in which Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper was painted in.  The students studied the painting and discussed how all the lines of perspective converge to a single point, in this case Jesus is centered at that point, and the windows in the background are smaller than the people in the foreground demonstrating depth. 
The students then were asked to draw a room using 'vanishing point perspective'

Student 1
Student 2

Student 3
Minecraft also happens to be built wholly around 'vanishing point perspective'.  The center of the screen is always the point where all lines of perspective converge, making some things seem far away (smaller) and others closer (larger).  For the activity using Minecraft the students were asked to recreate The Last Supper with certain specifications.

Finally the students were given the task to draw the corridor.  Here are those same three students from the initial room drawings, corridor drawings.

Student 1
Student 2

Student 3

Monday, October 19, 2015

APP of the WEEK: Prodigy Math Game

Prodigy is a game that I have been using with my own kids for about a year now and I have been super pleased with, but up until now it has only been accessible through the website.  Prodigy has now come out with an App for the iPad that works both online and off, which is a huge bonus.  

The game itself has the student create an avatar and traverse a magical land, meeting different guides who give them various tasks to complete.  During these adventures, the students have to complete math problems to battle the creatures they encounter.  

As a teacher I can set up my class view their progress and any areas of difficulty.  I can assign "homework" for my students to "complete".  What's great about this is that the students don't even realize that they are doing an assignment.  The math content that I assign, say "addition of three digit numbers with carrying over", is woven directly into the game.  Once they have completed the specific math problems assigned Prodigy gives them problems from other areas of math at their level.  

They game is very engaging and kids, as far as I've seen, play much more after their assigned "homework".