Monday, October 24, 2016

Getting Hooked on Games = Getting Hooked on Learning?!

This week we our assignment was to play Kingdom Rush for 3 hours! YES!

Image result for kingdom rush

Image found using Google Image Search

Best GRAD SCHOOL HOMEWORK EVER! The only issue I had is that I do not have time to prepare for conferences, complete this blog post, AND get hooked on a game! Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened!

When I first began playing this game, it didn't really get me excited. It is like the first few weeks of school, mostly exposition and learning the ins and outs of a game or routine. The game reminds me of Plants Vs. Zombies because each level has many waves of enemies over an extended amount of time. As the levels get tougher, you spend more time defeating the waves of enemies. I began to enjoy the game as I leveled up and was able to build more spectacular towers! Once I discovered all of the different things the higher level towers could do, it became really entertaining to watch the waves of enemies get decimated by zapping, exploding, or ax throwing! I already know I tend to get lost in games once I start. I spent many hours in my youth building amazing theme parks on the PC game, Roller Coaster Tycoon.

While playing Kingdom Rush, I did get frustrated at first, especially when the snowy guy kept freezing my towers. I usually took a break for a while after losing. The play of each level takes so long that it was easier to come back to it later and try again. I did reach a certain Flow level while playing the game, otherwise I wouldn't still be playing!

And now, for the main event, how can educators connect gaming to learning?

I think the first month of school is like the first few levels of a game. Both the teacher and the students are figuring out the routines. The teacher is figuring out their students so they can plan for their classroom and the students are figuring out how this particular classroom works. Teachers can make this a smooth process through building a classroom community and helping students to feel like they are "leveling up" each day. Teachers don't need a total gamification system in order to make this happen. If you can consistently show students evidence of their own progress in the midst of a few trial and errors, you can get them closer to that feeling of purpose and flow in their work.

We have big celebrations in my class when a student gets over a hump they have been struggling with, behaviorally or academically. In my classroom, using GoNoodle with a simple point system and visual leveling up gets my students really excited. It would be interesting to try and expand something like that to academics. We focus on letter identification, if students could visually "level up" every time they remember a new letter, they may be more motivated to commit the letters to memory.  

In the future, I would like to try creating my own Gamification for students in relation to preschool academic skills. The students would get a huge kick out of seeing their progress in a fun way, and be motivated to keep improving, even if it gets hard sometimes.

I'm so sad to see this assignment conclude. It's not every day you can say you are playing a game because you have to!

Thanks for reading! Peters out!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Do you want to Network?

This week we had to create a Personal learning map! I'm notorious with my struggles surrounding navigation so when it was time to create a map, I thought, "Oh no! That can be so overwhelming!". Now, I knew I wasn't creating a map for people to follow navigational directions, but I'm not a visual thinker and making a map out of things like social media was tough for me to wrap my head around.

I decided to stick with a simple input/output based model. I did not want to list all 528 contacts I follow on Twitter; that could get to be a bit much, however, I did pick a few hash tags and Twitter handles that I have gained resources from. Through this project I realized the vast amount of resources that I already pull from in regards to social media. I was able to recognize that my weakest resources are podcasts. I used to listen to podcasts more often, probably before we got Netflix! I really want to get back into Podcasts and find some high quality podcasts for my areas of interest.

I created my PLN using the ActivInspire software we use with our Promethean boards in the Waterloo Community School District. I love how this software makes plugging in images, text, and shapes easy, quick and fun. I listed @WCSDtechboy, Ron Morlan, as one of my resources. Ron is one of the technology people working for Waterloo Schools. He's created many tutorials for teachers of the ActivInspire software which has really helped make my flipcharts less like PowerPoint and more like a tool for creating and sustaining student engagement. Ron has also given me feedback for a grant I'm writing! PLNs are huge for times when you are writing grants!

I usually use ClassFlow to search for and download flipcharts I want to use in my classroom. I've created many flipcharts of my own for my preschool students. One of my next steps is to upload a few of the flipcharts I've created onto the ClassFlow website. I think this will expand my PLN and digital footprint. Additionally, I want to take some time to dive in and search through available podcasts. A third way I want to expand my PLN is at the Iowa Technology Education Conference! I'm hoping to follow more people on Twitter from this conference and increase my network of educators passionate about technology!

I enjoyed this project because creating this map of my PLN reinforced that I am not teaching in isolation. People are watching what I'm doing, creating, writing, and teaching via Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, the Bloomz app and so much more! I don't have to figure out how to reinvent the wheels, I only have to figure out who has already created a wheel I can add to my teaching sports car (#I Wish!). The encouragement of connecting with other passionate educators is something everyone can wrap their heads around!

So how about YOU?! How deep and wide is your PLN? Add me to yours and I'll add you to mine!

Thanks for reading! Peters out!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Digital Footprints...

This week I took on the challenge of looking myself up on Google. Unfortunately, Jill Peters is a very common name of some exceptional people! Check out the number of results on Google for my name and some of the things that pop up!

One question I had to contemplate was, is there anything out there I was surprised by? I was surprised that even after creating an landing page, my information did not show up on a Google search! For this reason I wasn't too concerned about removing certain photos or posts from the web. I did try narrowing my Google search to Jill Peters Teacher. This search had some inaccurate results:

I do show up in a more specific search, but as a teacher at my former school. I helped edit the school website, I need to request for my name and bio to be removed from my old school and perhaps offer to put more details on my new school's website. Their website is pretty bland and "under construction".

My favorite thing that shows up when I further narrowed my search was the Hawkeye Community College Faculty Directory Page:

I like this result because last summer I jumped into teaching technology camps at Hawkeye for students through Black Rocket. This experience really stretched me and got me excited about all of the things students can do with technology.

My next goal is to purchase my own domain for a reasonable amount. I like this aspect of owning some of my own presence on the web. Additionally, I've joined Linked In to add to my professional contacts. The very awesome part about Linked in is how quickly you can connect with your contacts. One of the developers of the robots I'm writing a grant for added me as a contact! 

Students need to be aware sooner rather than later of the impact of their digital footprint. Things you post can be seen by more people than you think! Even in my case, if someone took the time to dig through all of the Google Search results for my name, they may come across something older or irrelevant to my current professional push. 

Try it! Google yourself! I wonder what Google will reveal about you?

Thanks for reading! Peters Out!