Week 6 Blog

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Personally, I do not feel that I can contribute much to the Minecraft experience. We met as a group on Tuesday to discuss some ideas. There were some great ideas for the experience including the following: help center, badges, and having a leaderboard, just to name a few.

I met again with Scott and Nicole to discuss a collaborative space. We decided that Live Minutes would be a great collaborative tool to talk to teachers and share resources. We were able to get into it to see how it might work for the project.

The gamer types are interesting to look at and to think about how they will impact students in the game.   Achievers will want to get into the game and complete the task quickly and efficiently. Killers will find ways to be the best and to be the winner of challenges. Socialites will work more collaboratively and be using the chat feature to talk with other players. Finally, the explorers will be spending more time in the game to discover and learn more than just how to complete the task. I would say that giving student longer amounts of time to work might help to meet the needs of all the different types of gamers.

I still have a lot to learn about Minecraft and the experience for students. I am just working to learn and figure out ways that I can contribute.

Week 5 Reflection

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This week I have learned a lot from classmates and I was able to share some ideas. A couple of students commented on my blog and enjoyed the resources. I was able to share some of the gaming that I am using form math in my classroom. Others shared games that they are using across subjects. I also read blogs about ideas for projects that other students had.

I shared IXL math and splash math in my blog. I had a couple of students comment on it and enjoy the resources, especially splash math. Amanda shared Planet Turtle with me, which is similar to Splash Math. I enjoyed looking at Planet Turtle because it also incorporates challenges and communication between students much like MInecraft does.

One interesting project that Cindy had was to have her students create traditional longhouses within Minecraft. I really liked her idea of making a traditional project more modern and engaging for students. She also talked about bringing elders in to work alongside the students. I really like the idea as long as the elders understood the project and were accepting of it.

Most of us agreed in our blogs that games are very interesting and self-motivating for students. Students are able to work at their own pace within the games which is a huge part of differentiation.

#diffimooc Week 5 Blog: How are games providing new opportunities for differentiation in the classroom?

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Games in the classroom are highly motivating for students and they can usually work at their own pace. The differentiation is built into games because of the nature of gaming in the classroom. Students are usually able to work at their own pace in games. My students are using games to deepen their understanding in math and language arts.

When students are given the freedom to create within games, their creativity comes out. Students are given the opportunity to follow their own interests when they are given the flexibility in games such as Minecraft (Ossola, 2015). When students are given the flexibility, they can be creative and work at their own pace. Games provide a different opportunity to learn various concepts where we might be able to reach students with different learning styles. Teachers can differentiate tasks within Minecraft and students use the chat feature to communicate difficult concepts within the game (Teacher Take Advantage of Minecraft in the Classroom).

The games that I have been using in my classroom are math and language arts games. I have been using IXL math and language arts for students to practice 2nd grade skills. Monforton encourages his students to play math games in his technology classes. IXL is a game that makes learning math and language arts fun (2015). While students practice at their own pace, they are earning rewards and metals within the game. Splash math is an app/website that my students have been using in the classroom, it is common core aligned and students have the opportunity to practice math skills at their own pace. It is a fun and engaging way for students to practice skills (2005).

Games provide differentiation in the classroom because they are usually self-paced. Students have the option to do as much or as little as they can do within the games. I have been using IXL and Splash Math to help deepen my students understanding in math and language arts.

References:

“Monforton Teacher Instructs Coding to Kids.” The Belgrade News. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.

<http://www.belgrade-news.com/news/article_6716d926-ae2a-11e4-959b-13ebce844c1c.html&gt;.

Ossola, Alexandra. “Teaching in the Age of Minecraft.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media

Company, 6 Feb. 2015. Web. 11 Feb. 2015. <http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/02/teaching-in-the-age-of-minecraft/385231/&gt;.

“Practice Math & Language Arts | K–12.” IXL Math and English. 1 Jan. 2015. Web. 12

Feb. 2015. <http://www.ixl.com/&gt;.

“Splash Math – Fun Math Practice for Grades 1-5.” Splash Math. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.

<https://www.splashmath.com/&gt;.

“Teachers Take Advantage of Minecraft in the Classroom.” Education World:. Web. 12

Feb. 2015. <http://www.educationworld.com/a_news/teachers-take-advantage-minecraft-classroom-60294258&gt;.

Week 4 Reflection

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After reading and responding to blogs this week, many agree that the first step to preparing parents for differentiation is building positive relationships with them. Once you have those relationships established, it is much easier to communicate with parents about gaming and differentiation in the classroom. You need to build partnerships and trust with the families.

I discussed the importatnce of studnets communicating with their parents. If students are doing the explaining of what is going on parents might be more accepting. They are able to communicate with their child, they can see the enthusiasm that their child has fro wht is going on in the classroom.

Most would agree that there are a lot of parents who are accepting of gaming in the classroom. If you can justify the learning and importance behind it, parents are more receptive.

Week 4 Blog: How do we prepare parents for differentiation, and gaming/gamification in the classroom?

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Preparing parents for differentiation begins with building positive relationships with parents. Most parents are more willing to be acceptable of new changes and and ideas in the classroom when they trust you and have a positive relationship with you. We are making the shift to 21st century learning and most parents are accepatable of that, the edutopia article provide a guide to help parents understand 21st century tools (2012).

Tomlinson (2001) discusses different types of parents and how to prepare them for differentiation. There are the parents of the advanced learners who we must listen to and learn from. On the other hand you have the parents who stay away from school and it is critical for us to try to reach out to these parents.

Many studnets use technology and gaming outside the house. Integration of technology helps to prepare our students for the world of work and the world outside of school (Smith & Throne, 2009). Parents understand the world outside of school and the importantce of technology. Discussing this with parents will likely help them to be more accepting of gaming and differentiation through technology in the classroom.

The article Wonderful Wednesdays discusses inviting parents into the classroom on a weekly schedule to participate alongside their child as they are learning (Crowe, 2004). If parents are in our classroom weekly working alongside their child, they are given the opportunity to see what is going on in the classroom.   Parents then can build relationships and have firsthand experience with differentiation and gaming in your classroom.

Often times, teaachers become defensive when they are questioned by parents. Parents just want to understand what is going on and they want the best for their child. The reading and research this week gave some interesting advice on ways to work with parents.

References:

“A Parent’s Guide to 21st Century Learning.” Edutopia. The George Lucas Education

Foundation, 1 Jan. 2012. Web. <http://www.edutopia.org/pdfs/guides/edutopia-parents-guide-21st-century-learning.pdf&gt;.

Crowe, Caltha. “Responsive Classroom®.” Wonderful Wednesdays. Responsive

Classroom Newsletter, 1 Jan. 2004. Web. 6 Feb. 2015. <https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/article/wonderful-wednesdays&gt;.

Smith, Grace E., and Stephanie Throne. Differentiating Instruction with

Technology in Middle School Classrooms. Eugene, Or.: International

Society for Technology in Education, 2009. Print.

Tomlinson, Carol A. How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-ability

Classrooms. 2nd ed. Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2001. Print.

Week 3 Reflection

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This week made me put a lot of thought into the way my classroom is organized and how I can provide more opportunities for letting learning happen. One of the main things from the readings and blogs this week that I took away was how I am grouping my students and having them interact with each other. Another theme that came out in blogs this week is how to help those lowest learners in your classrooms.

I read and responded to classmates’ blogs this week discussing the importance of having students interact with each other. This year, I have a very difficult class, who really like to talk so I have tried to isolate them from each other. Now I am planning to re-arrange my classroom to provide more partners and group interactions. Andrea teaches online and she provides opportunities for her students to work together to make sense of the material. It made me think about how we learn and that we learn most from teaching. Grouping students allows them to teach each other and deepen their understanding.

I discussed how to differentiate to help your lowest learners while still challenging my highest learners. The new higher math standards provide challenges for providing interventions for my lower learners. I was able to discuss this with another classmate that teaches math. We have agreed that providing interventions is challenging but rewarding.

This week really made me think about and re-evaluate the organization of my class and the learning opportunities that I am providing for my students.

#diffimooc Week 3 Blog

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How do you make decisions about your own actions for students in a differentiated classroom? What is your criteria for intervention and/or for letting learning happen?

Much of my differentiated instruction in my classroom begins with pre and post assessments. I like to find out where my students are so that I am able to differentiate my instruction. Moon supports the fact that differentiated instruction should begin with “carefully constructed, purposely executed assessments”. Once I have done my pre- assessment, I make my decisions about instruction.

My criteria for intervention and/or letting learning happen depends on formal assessments and informal observations. My focus is generally on my lowest students. I need to try to find better ways to challenge and differentiate for my high students. I was reminded of the fact that assessment should not just be given as pre and post assessments but should always be ongoing (Methods of Differentiation in the Classroom, 2010). After doing the reading this week, I began to think of better ways to let learning happen and to differentiate in my classroom.

This year, I have a large class with many difficult students and a wide range of abilities. It has been difficult for differentiation to happen in my class because of the dynamics of the classroom. Differentiated instruction requires modification of instruction to address student needs (Smith & Throne, 2009). I need to move beyond the format of having direct instruction and whole group participation to providing better learning opportunities for my students (Tomlinson, 2001).

There are definitely some changes I plan to make in my class this year to allow more learning and intervention take place. The first step for me is changing the physical layout of my class back to cooperative groups or “learning centers or workstations” (Gibson). I changed this in the beginning of the year because of all the visiting that was taking place in the groups, now I want to try to turn that into learning opportunities between the students. This is my first step in making changes to for intervention and letting learning happen. There were some great ideas in the reading this week and I am open to more suggestions.

References:

Gibson, Vicki. “Differentiating Instruction: Making It Happen in Classrooms.”

Treasures. Print.

Methods of Differentiation in the Classroom. 1 Jan. 2010. Web. 29 Jan. 2015.

<http://www.bbcactive.com/BBCActiveIdeasandResources/MethodsofDifferentiationintheClassroom.aspx&gt;.

Moon, Tonya R. “The Role Of Assessment In Differentiation.” Theory Into

Practice: 226-33. Print.

Smith, Grace E., and Stephanie Throne. Differentiating Instruction with

Technology in Middle School Classrooms. Eugene, Or.: International

Society for Technology in Education, 2009. Print.

Tomlinson, Carol A. How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-ability

Classrooms. 2nd ed. Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2001. Print.

#diffimooc Week 2 Reflection

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Minecraft was the theme this week, and it is something that I don’t know a whole lot about. I learned from other blogs this week. I was able to explore a comic strip and find some great resources that the same classmate posted. I enjoyed seeing the information in a comic strip format. Comic strips can be a great way to engage students with new information and for them to demonstrate their understanding of information.

I learned that a lot of classmates know about as much as me about Minecraft, which is very little. After finding this out, we were able to discuss how we can use students in our classrooms to teach us and other classmates. It is often difficult for educators to step out of the teacher role but it allows our students to deepen their understanding by explaining and it makes them feel valuable when they are able to share their knowledge.

I was able to share some information in my blog with classmates. One part of differentiation that I mentioned was the creative side of Minecraft. I was able to share this with others who may not have thought about creativity being differentiation. Minecraft is allowing students to create at their own pace and level and for them to be the decision makers. Some very interesting and informative conversations happened for me this week.