Wizenworld

“I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.” By Winston Churchill

I learned about Wizenworld via Twitter. Wizenworld asked me to try out their game based math learning platform for students and this is my review. This short video will give you a quick back ground on what Wizenworld is:

Once I created an account, Wizenworld walks you through a quick tutorial. This tutorial is great as you don’t need to teach the students how to use the product. It also explains your mission is to defeat goons and free the Meings. There are six different environments with different meings in each.

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I soon began my math adventure by choosing the domain (fractions)  then a strand (recognizing fractions). The first game I tried immediately reminded me of  old school Zelda but as I continued to try all the games, I noticed they were all different. I liked that the games have students apply the concepts using manipulatives such as number lines or pictures. This is a great way for students that are taking online assessments to practice in a fun way.

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The games are engaging, adaptive and fun. There is formative analysis on class and student level that provides actionable data for teachers and students. They are in beta so they are looking for feedback on how they can improve. I sent in feedback about aligning standards to Common Core and they are working on it. I would love to know your thoughts if you try this in your classroom.

Using Kodable App in the Classroom

“I can’t live without my smartphone, but I really geek on coding. It’s not so much technology that I like, but puzzle solving.” Sylvia Day

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Last week I was lucky to meet the creators of KodableGrechen and Jon. Kodable is an amazing app that teaches programming to students K-2nd. It allows students to have an interactive learning experience using a gamification approach. That app will soon also have curriculum to help educators including lesson plans, vocabulary and activities. Jon and Grechen are also working on a web and android version which will be great for BYOT schools.

Kodable uses a scaffolding technique helping the students learn the positional arrows by dragging and dropping. Using key programing skills such as if – then statements the students steer a ‘fuzz’ character through a sequence of mazes. The students also earn coins and level up as incentives. Kodable connects with the Common Core curriculum. Here are just a few standards it meets: W.1.7, L.1.6, Math Mathematical Practices along with the many of the Anchor Standards.

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You can have multiple players allowing you to differentiate and lets the students work at their own pace. The level ‘Bugs Below’ is a fabulous feature letting the students learn to de-bug; acknowledging problem codes and using critical thinking skills to work out how to fix them. You can take it a step further in the classroom by having the students blog on HOW they solved the problem.

Meet the Fuzz Family

Other articles and blog posts about Kodable:

Kodable Teaches Kids To Code Before They Learn To Read

Kodable: the First Step in Coding

Kodable: Engage Their Minds

Kodable: Gets Kids Thinking About Logic and More 

Katching up with Kodable: Bugs Below! KidTech Summit, and STEM

Introspective of ‘A Whole New Mind’ By Daniel Pink

“Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting.”  ~Edmund Burke

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This week I finished the book A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink (@danielpink). It was an amazing ‘read’ (I did it as an audiobook) and one that made me look at things in a new way. I highly recommend this book to anyone but especially educators as it takes a look at our students as 21st Century learners.

Daniel Pink says, “We are moving from an economy and a society built on the logical, linear, computer like capabilities of the Information Age to an economy and a society built on the inventive, empathetic, big-picture capabilities of what’s rising in its place, the Conceptual Age” (1-2)

Pink states that there are six fundamental right-brain aptitudes and I have added some of my own thoughts as well for how to apply them to the classroom:

  • Design – Moving beyond function to engage the sense.  He discusses how improving school environments could increase test scores. If you think about it, where would you rather work/learn? At a desk and chair with pencil and paper or in a relaxed environment on a comfy couch or chair with your device. We need to get teachers comfortable in changing the environment so it is not as structured, no more rows or assigned seats. (To learn more about what I think the classroom environment should look like, check out my previous post: 21st Century Classroom Environment)
  • Story – Narrative added to products and services – not just argument. What do you remember about the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster? I remember the story of the first teacher going to space, not the facts about the disaster. With students, connecting facts/events to story will help them not ‘memorize’ but think deeper about the events. This can easily be done in the classroom with digital storytelling.
  • Symphony – Adding invention and big picture thinking (not just detail focus). This works well in the classroom with goal setting. Having students looking at the bigger picture is a great way for them not to work about just one grade but how they master a concept over time. Having symphony in the classroom allows students to be critical thinkers and problem solvers because you are looking for solutions for problems. Similar to Challenge Based Learning (CBL) style. 
  • Empathy – Going beyond logic and engaging emotion and intuition. In the classroom this is helping students having a global perspective and aware of people outside of themselves. This is part of the ‘hidden curriculum’ and part of building well-rounded students. Having students participate in community service events and getting them involved with emotions. In my classroom, I would engage the students in a few videos about the hunger problems in our world to make them aware. I then posed the question, how can we help? The students brainstormed ideas of ways that we could help and then we took it a step further and carried out those ideas for example we held a food drive. I always tied in the curriculum by having the students create persuasive ads to entice others to want to donate and I had them collect data on what items we had then graph the results.
  • Play – Bringing humor and light-heartedness to business and products. Pink discusses how we should blur the link between work and play. I don’t consider my job ‘work’ as I enjoy it, I can ‘work’ for hours on school stuff and not even realize how much time has gone by because I love it. To me, work is going to the gym, where I watch the clock and think, is this over yet? I am ‘doing it’, because I know it is good for me and I should, but I am not enjoying going to the gym. We need to do the same in schools. We need to make the classroom environment be a place where students ‘get lost in learning’ and not be looking at the clock thinking is it over yet. Pink discusses how game based learning (GBL) in the classroom can help students with this concept. Check our this site for more about GBL and A Whole New Mind
  • Meaning – the purpose is the journey, give meaning to life from inside yourself. In the classroom, we need to teach concepts that are related to the real world so students see the connection.

I think this would be a wonderful book study for schools or personal learning networks (PLN). Mr. Pink even provides you with discussion questions for this book and I found a Livebinder full of resources that would also guide your school/PLN to effectively use this for Professional Development by Julie Hart & Jill Rubinstein, from University of Colorado Denver.

I know I do not do this book justice but hopefully I have enticed you enough to read it. I would love to hear what others think of A Whole New Mind and I can’t wait to read more of his books. Next up, Drive! Happy Reading!

Creating Games with the Tiny Tap App Based on Common Core

“Any teacher that can be replaced by a computer, deserves to be. ” By David Thornburg

Tiny Tap

Tiny Tap is an app that I came across when I was waiting to get my oil changed in my car. I was sitting next to this little girl who was in Kindergarten and she was playing on the app. I asked her to tell me about it and she was showing me all the games she could play on the app and then the game she created on the app herself. Of course I had to also test out this new app and see how I could apply it to the classroom curriculum.

Tiny Tap is s a free iPad app that allows you to create simple games based on pictures that you take, find or ones you draw. The app is very user friendly, even a Kindergarten could make a game. 🙂 It is easy for teachers to use for differentiated instruction because students can play a game that is based on their needs. Within 10 mins I made a game that connected with the Math Common Core standard K.CC.7.

Here are the steps on how to create a game:

1. Click on create a game and add the title of your game.

2. Tap on the add photo and either upload pictures, take new pictures, find picture on the web or draw a picture based on your Common Core curriculum standard you want to address.

3. To create your question press the record button and start talking.

4. When you have finished recording, select the portion of your picture that is your answer by circling it.

5. Click on done and it will appear on your shelf.

If you want to go back and edit any of the games you created, you can at any time, by clicking on the edit button in the top right corner.  There is also a TinyTap Market where you can see what other people have created, some are free and some are paid. You can also edit others games once it is downloaded into your shelf.

The best part is students who have shown mastery can make games for students that still need to practice certain curriculum skills. This allows students to use their 21st century skills by allowing them to critically think, communicate and create.

I hope you enjoy this app as much as I have!

Reflecting on NCTIES Conference

“Change is the end result of all true learning.” by Leo Buscaglia

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The North Carolina Technology in Education Society (NCTIES) took place in Raleigh, NC this week. It was a great time to present my knowledge but also gain knowledge from others. After synthesizing everything I decided to share  some of my favorite sessions and resources.

1. Richard Bryne, @rmbyrne, was a featured speaker at the conference. One of his sessions was sharing 65 web tools in 50 mins. It was a fast paced session and some I knew but I learned some new tools as well. Three of my favorite that I learned and will be implementing are…

–  Pixabay:  Has free public domain images with no login required (Like the one at top of the page)

Meograph: Four-dimensional storytelling

Real Time Board: Great for online collaboration, sharing ideas or presentations.

2. The conference theme was ‘Game On’ and many sessions were on Game Based Learning. One of my favorite sessions curated all the GBL sites by type of game (ex. strategy, puzzle, role play etc). Check it out here: https://sites.google.com/site/kbkvgenz

3. Sam Walker, @swalker2, presented on how to use digital passport to help teach digital citizenship with gaming. Check it out here: https://digitalpassport.org/educator-registration

It was a pleasure to also present on the topics of Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) and Twitter for Educators.

Problem, Brain, Challenged Based Learning…Oh My! Distinguishing Between the Methods

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” by Albert Einstein

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Fill in the blank and you have heard about some type of ‘based learning’. With all these different terms and methods it is hard to distinguish one from the other.  Many overlap and this post will be my attempt to help distinguish between them all and provide resources if you want to learn more.

Problem Based Learning: (PBL) is student centered instruction where the student learns the content through solving different problems. If you want to get started  or learn more about Problem based learning here is a good site and PBL book

Project Based Learning: (PBL) is where students create a product based on an essential content question being posed. If you want to get started  or learn more about Project based learning here is a good site and PBL book

Challenge Based Learning: (CBL) is Apple’s approach at looking at a big idea and having the students explore and find a real world solution using technology. If you want to get started  or learn more about Challenge based learning here is a good site and CBL book.

Brain Based Learning: (BBL) is taking what we know about the brain, about development and about learning and combining those factors in intelligent ways to connect and excite students’ desire to learn. If you want to get started  or learn more about Brain based learning here is a good site and BBL book.

Passion Based Learning: is allowing students to study what they are passionate about. If you want to get started or learn more about Passion based learning here is a good site and  book.

Game Based Learning: (GBL) is when students learn through playing games. If you want to get started or learn more about Game based learning here is a good site, blog and  book.

Resource Based Learning: (RBL) is an instruction which gives importance to the role of resources in the teaching and learning process. If you want to get started or learn more about Resource based learning here is a good site and RBL book.

Experience Based Learning: (EBL) is learning through experience through critical and reflective thinking. If you want to get started or learn more about Experience based learning here is a good site and article.

Discovery Based Learning: (DBL) is having students learn through discovery. If you want to get started  or learn more about  Discovery based learning here is a good article and DBL book.

Inquiry Based Learning: (IBL) is learning through explanation and discovery. If you want to get started or learn more about Inquiry based learning here are two good sites by Northeastern Illinois University and Concepts to Classroom along with this IBL book.

Technology Based Learning: (TBL) is the infusion of technology and the curriculum. There is a Technology Based Learning book but TBL should be incorporated in all learning styles.

No matter what, as educators, we must engage all learners and equip them with the skills for the 21st century. I suggest student centered learning which is doing what is best based on the student. Yes, that could mean 8 different lesson plans but isn’t that why we are in education, to do what’s best for them!