Thursday, April 10, 2014

Twitter for Educators

Why would educators use Twitter?

a) Share resources with other educators.
b) Participate in real-time online Professional Development.
c) Get updates from other educational organizations.
d) Communicate with parents. 

1st. Focusing on personal interest gives us the following reasons why Twitter is a great tool among educators.
  • Teachers can follow leading educationalists and professors to gather information about teaching techniques.
  • It will enable them to stay updated about on goings of the world and developments in their field and elsewhere.
  • Study material can be availed by following eminent personalities.
  • Self-learning and education can be done for improving the quality of teaching.
2nd.  It is a great help for planning
  • Collaborating with other teachers , parents, students. If one finds similar interests with other academic, Twitter can be used to work together on research ideas, classroom solutions, and other topics.
  • Twitter can be used to review lessons and remind students what is going to be covered in class that day or the next.  Teachers say tweeting a few quick review questions and some good Web sites add depth to their lessons. In turn, students can tweet their own questions and observations.
  • Collaborating with other classrooms in the same school, district, or another country. Why work alone when you can connect with other college classrooms? That’s just what many college classes are doing these days.
  • Sharing some of your lesson plans. Educators and academics can come together to share and collaborate on lesson plans quite easily using Twitter.
  • One can create their own classroom hash tag. One way to keep classroom tweets organized is by having a shared hash tag that all students use. (Visit this List of Twitter Hashtags in Education)
3rd.  Teachers can help their students benefit a lot by using Twitter
  • Twitter is a great way to keep your students thinking after class. A quick provocative question about a social studies lesson, for example, that will keep their brains active.
  • Twitter helps students crystallize thoughts, focus attention, and make connections that weren’t possible a few years ago.
  • Teachers can help their students to connect to a wider audience by linking students of other countries. Employing Twitter to facilitate discussion and collaboration between students in their classrooms and their counterparts in different countries can be beneficial in several ways. (You may want to refer our article on Twitter Uses in Elementary classroom. )
  • Teachers can share their experiences with students in a more friendly way of teaching and learning.
  • Host reading discussions. Holding a reading discussion over Twitter gives everyone a chance to chime in, even shy students who might not otherwise speak up.
  • Without sharing phone numbers teachers can Tweet links to additional reading material, announcements and reminders.
  • Twitter allows for personalization of learning according to the student’s ability and interest.
  • Teachers can quickly provide students with multimedia source links (YouTube, Pinterest) through tweets.
  • Teachers can help students in exploring their knowledge. Twitter helps students improve their research skills.
Therefore Twitter can be a teacher’s new best friend which would help at all times during one’s career be it personal enhancement or professional.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

15 Great Simulations to Gamify Your Class

Guest post by Jacqui

I’ve been spending every spare moment editing the upcoming 7th Grade Technology Curriculum Textbook (click to be notified when it’s available–projected: June 2013). One unit I’ve fallen in love with is ‘Gamification of Education’. I haven’t spent a lot of time on that topic and am now over-the-top about its possibilities.
If you’re into gamifying your classes, you understand.

Here are 15 websites I’ve found that do an excellent job of using games to promote critical thinking, problem solving skills, and learning:

  • Bridge Builder—learn how to design and test bridges
  • Coffee Shop—run a coffee shop business
  • Electrocity—how does electricity contribute to the growth of communities
  • iCivics—experience what it means to be part of a democracy
  • Lemonade Stand—run a lemonade stand business
  • Life (Insurance)—manage your life and see why insurance is important
  • Making History: The Great War—WWI strategy game
  • MidWorld Online—learn French or Spanish while completing conquests
  • Minecraft (links to MinecraftEdu—fee required)
  • Mission US--students role play the American Revolution or the Civil War
  • Past/Present—life as an American immigrant in the early 1900’s
  • Science simulations—lots of choices at 7th grade level
  • Second Life—simulates just about anything if you can find it
  • SimCity—learn how to run a city
  • SimTower—learn how to run a skyscraper as a business

Suggestions for using Bridge Builder:
  • Students can build highly detailed bridges, landscapes and environments.
  • There are forty levels, so students won’t ‘finish’. They’ll blog about ‘learning’.
  • Critical thinking is encouraged because the game is not just about building, but designing and testing.
  • Expect to use basic physics and engineering
Suggestions on using Coffee Shop and Lemonade Stand:
  • Preview both. Pick one.
  • Create marketing materials—business cards, fliers, websites (leave these decisions to students)–using tech skills already learned. Students can use installed programs like Word or Publisher, or online widgets like Big Huge Labs. They decide what is needed to promote their business.
  • Play simulation.
  • Track business using Excel.
  • Evaluate data using Excel charts and graphs.
Suggestions for using Electrocity:
  • This game provides much insight into critical thinking and problem solving in the use/abuse of electricity, in the balance of good and evil experienced in serving the needs of people and the environment.
  • Not difficult to learn, but requires preparation. It’s fast-moving so will keep the attention of non-gamers.
Suggestions for using iCivics:
  • Founded by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to educate through games on topics of civics, democracy, government. For example, in We the Jury, students must decide a tough case while learning what jurors discuss in the deliberation room. They choose from different civil cases, analyze evidence, weigh testimony, and use the right arguments to reach a fair and impartial verdict.
  • Have students do a pre-blog about their knowledge on whichever civics topic they pick. When finished with the simulations, blog about what they learned that is different.
Suggestions for using Life (Insurance):
  • Life insurance isn’t a topic most students are knowledgable about so blog reflections on this simulation should be especially interesting
  • If students get done quickly, select another related simulation
Suggestions for using Making History:
  • places student in the role of national leader with the power to choose their own path and alter the course of history.
  • Students learn not just history, but International trade, religious and cultural strife, military campaigns, diplomatic negotiations
Suggestions for using MidWorld Online:
  • Perfect for students who struggle with a foreign language
  • As they play the game, have them translate their blogs to the French or Spanish they are learning
Suggestions for using Mission US:
  • There are two games—Crown or Colony about the American Revolution and Flight to Freedom about the Civil War. Each takes 1-2 classes. Both are easy to use and understand
  • There are many reflection tools provided to encourage deeper thinking by students. Have students include these answers in their blog posts
Suggestions for using Past/Present:
  • designed to impart decision-making and critical thinking skills in the study of American history.
  • interactive 3-D “virtual world” in which student “becomes” a fictional character caught up in the big issues of the early 1900s
  • designed to appeal to gamers as well as novices
Suggestions for using Science simulations:
  • lots of choices at 7th grade level. These aren’t as long as other simulations, but can be tightly focused on a topic. Have them use that facility as they share their goals and expectations
  • You can reasonably expect students to complete several of these in the time allotted for this unit. Have students select those that are connected thematically.
  • This is a good choice for non-gamers. They will have more time to reach a comfort level with the concept of ‘gamification’.
Suggestions on using Second Life:
  • a scavenger hunt of times that fulfill educational tasks students assign to themselves
  • an exploration of Greek/Roman architecture
  • explore five places being studied in their classes (art museums, Sistene Chapel, inside of a computer)
  • using a ‘sandbox’ to create a 3D object, test it and share it
  • walk in someone else’s shoes, maybe someone with a debilitating illness like schizophrenia
Suggestions for using SimTower:
  • Find a free download site (this page links to Abandonia)
  • Students can play this game endlessly. As they play, note what events and factors facilitate business growth and/or failure
Suggestions for using SimCity:

  • Find a free download site or buy the update—newly-aligned with ed standards
  • Students can play this game endlessly. As they play, note what events and factors facilitate business growth and/or failure
  • Encourages collaboration, time management and systems thinking