Reflection on Gaming

When I started playing Kingdom Rush, I went through the tutorials and tried to comprehend the purpose of the game and tips to help me start out. None of it made sense to me since I had never heard of this game before, let alone played it before. I tried to play a few rounds and failed, so I Googled, “Kingdom Rush help” and found this source: Kingdom Rush Strategy. This site helped me to decide where to set my defenses and what to set them as at each location. Nothing hindered me while starting to play. All of the ‘new enemy’ information, ‘tips,’ the strategy site, and other pop up hints helped me continue on in the game.

I leveled up eventually. I felt very accomplished when I leveled up because it took so long for me to do so. It took a few times of me failing before succeeding. Leveling up in the classroom can also feel very accomplished by students. Especially for some of my special education students, it might take days, weeks, or months to ‘get’ a concept or skill. Once they finally get it, it’s like they go up a level and it is such a good feeling for both them and me as a teacher.

While playing this game, I learned that it is easy to give up hope and to give up completely at a task. If it weren’t for the required time limit, I probably would have given up at level one. I definitely got frustrated. Some of the rounds seemed to take forever and I thought I had done well enough to level up, but finally got to the end and I had failed that level. I think I would have rather it stopped me right away when it knew I failed the level instead of letting me continue through that round before telling me that I had failed. When I got frustrated, I would take a break and look at the strategy site again. When I started back up again, I would make changes and keep playing.

Some good learning experiences from playing Kingdom Rush were trying again after failing, trying something new, and gaining little successes along the way. Like I mentioned before, if it weren’t for the required time, I probably would not have tried as many times as I did after failing, but it was a good learning experience to not give up. I tried something new and out of my comfort zone and for a few hours was able to put myself in the shoes of my students who get frustrated at something in school. The little successes and awards along the way were nice little ‘cheerleaders’ to keep me going throughout each of the levels.

I never got in The Flow. I’m not very interested in any type of video games, so that hindered my ability to get into The Flow.

This experience can related to my students’ learning experiences because some content is not very interesting to them. Even though it is not interesting, we, as teachers, expect them to not only master the content, but enjoy the learning of the content. After going through this experience, I realized that it’s not always fair to expect that of students. Certain students will enjoy learning certain things and although they might master the content, they still might not enjoy learning about it. It’s unfair to expect them to be all in 100% of the time with every lesson. Hopefully, each student can find enjoyment in learning about something, but do not need to ‘like’ learning about everything that is taught. Especially if a student does not find enjoyment in learning about a specific subject or lesson, that student might have difficulty in trying and trying again to succeed in mastering that lesson, just like me and this game.

Playing Kingdom Rush and going through this module has affected me as a teacher. It has reminded me to keep in mind all students’ thoughts, interests, and learning preferences. Even though it won’t change what is being taught, it will change how it will be taught. Students might struggle learning a specific subject or lesson due to lack of interest. As a teacher, if I can encourage them to keep going until they succeed and show them signs along the way that they are doing well (just like the game), it will help them learn that subject or lesson.

Gaming to Learn

Embracing change was the first concept that stood out to me during this assignment for my Digital and Social Media class. Students today play video games and are interested in technology so much more than in the past. I was not in high school too long ago and the interest in digital media has increased tremendously since then! So why shouldn’t education? We, as teachers, need to accept the change and embrace it as we move forward with our students and classes.

In this article, Motivating People to Learn, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi discusses the concept of Flow, which is the mental state of “when a person is completely involved in what he or she is doing, when the concentration is very high, when the person knows moment by moment what the next steps should be.” One example of a time that Flow happens is when people (kids and adults) game. As educators, it is important to connect the concept of Flow with education in order to embrace the societal change and to reach students at a level of concentration that it is near impossible to break.

There are Nine Characteristics of Flow and Eight Characteristics of Gaming. The characteristics are very similar in many ways. Both mention constant feedback, failure is okay, goals are in mind at all times, and challenging tasks. All of those characteristics are also important in education. There were others listed in gaming that I thought could be very beneficial for education, even if it’s not directly related to Flow, such as socialization and rewarding all successful efforts.

Even though gaming, Flow, and education all connect and can be compatible, I do not think that gaming is the answer to all when it comes to teaching students. Gaming can take a lot of time to set up in order to provide the best lesson for students. Even though it is a great way to reach some students, it is not the only way to reach all students. I believe the best way is to use gaming often as a supplemental tool with lessons in order to facilitate the Flow concept with students. Based on when I have used Kahoot and review games like Jeopardy or Who Wants to be a Millionaire? students are actively engaged and seem to enjoy the class period so much more than if we were not playing those games. I use those games as a reward of some sort for if students work hard, we will play a review game and they seem to respond very well.

Have you ever used games to teach a lesson in your classroom? What benefits did it have? What drawbacks were there for teaching the lesson through a game?

Growing my PLN

For an assignment for my Digital and Social Media class, we were asked to think about our current PLN (Professional Learning Network) and how we could challenge ourselves to grow it to make it larger. The larger our network is, the better educators and professionals will be. This is my current PLN map:

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I used Coggle to create this map. It was very easy to use, but you only get one private map with a free account.

While creating this map, I realized that I need to participate in more professional development opportunities to help with my Professional Learning Network. Whether it is attending more tweet chats, conferences, or webinars, I need to expand my horizon to attend more. My goal is to attend one conference per semester. My school is pretty good with supporting teachers with professional development opportunities, so that is my first goal.

Another area of improvement that I need to focus on is USING new apps and web 2.0 tools. I have been lucky enough to see my cohort classmates use a number of apps, so I need to take the time and figure out ways to use those apps in my own classroom. This will require talking with my colleagues and doing research on my own to learn how to best use the tools.

A third area that I need to strategically expand in order to grow my PLN is using social media more often for an educational and professional use. My Digital and Social Media class has provided me a great start to use them, but I need to challenge myself to use it more and more!

Building my digital presence

The first thing that I did to build my positive digital presence is create an About Me page. This page is a great way to build a positive, professional image about myself that also leads more people to read my blog, Twitter account, and Pinterest page.

I added my About Me link to my gmail signature and Twitter page.

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After reading 10 Ways to Build Your Online Identity, I chose to implement a few ways to continue building my online presence.

  1. For my class assignment, I had to google myself to see what came up about me and how I can control those links. I plan to make this a habit. I am setting my goal to google myself at least once a week. It won’t take long and I think the results will be incredibly beneficial for me.
  2. As mentioned above, I included my blog in my email signature, so every email that I send will be a way of positively promoting my blog and professional social media mediums.
  3. I plan to participate in more professional, educational Tweet Chats. The ones that I have participated in already have been so beneficial and FUN! I am setting my goal to participate in two per month. There are a lot of schedule conflicts, but I am going to try to participate in more to expand my online professional learning network.

Cleaning up my digital footprint

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Image Source

After I found my online digital presence, I took some measures to clean up my digital footprint.

  • I deleted my account on Twicsy.com. I put my Twitter handle in the unsubscribe page and it deleted my account associated with that website.
  • I changed my settings on my Facebook account to “Friends Only” so the only people who can view any postings are my friends. I used to have a lot of settings set to “Friends of Friends” and I changed that.
  • I created a Google Alert with my name. With this, I will receive an email every time my name is mentioned or posted to the web.
  • I cleaned up some Twitter and Pinterest privacy settings. My Pinterest page will no longer show up on search engine searches.
  • Most of the images that came up on the image search were associated with other peoples’ Twitter pages, who I followed on Twitter.

After waiting a few days to see if my google search had updated, it hadn’t changed even with the changes I did to clean up my footprint. A few of the sites said it would take awhile to change or update, so I am still waiting on that.

I think it is important to model how to clean up my digital footprint to my students. Social media and the Internet in general can be a scary place for teenagers. Peer pressure, striving to be someone they’re not, bullying, and spending hours upon hours on the web are just a few challenges that teens face in technological society. Having a clean digital footprint is so important for their image as they get older and safety.

My Digital Presence

First…I googled myself.

When I googled myself, this is what showed up:

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On the first page, I found a variety of sites that were associated with my name. All of the links were about me or linked to me in some way, which tells me that there are not any other people with my name. Most of the links that show up have to do with my wedding and social media. I just got married in May, so “Allison Widrowicz” is a relatively new name, which is why not very many links are associated with it yet.

The top link in Google was my husband’s and my wedding website. The second one was Twicsy, which I had never heard of. It looks like it’s a website that collects pictures from Twitter. Since I’m new to Twitter, not much showed up on that website. As I continued down the page, there were links to social media pages, a link to our wedding DJ’s website with pictures, and it ends with the obituary of my brother-in-law who passed away two years ago.

The second page of google:

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On the second page, a couple more wedding links showed up, some information about my distant-relation in-laws, one of my Pinterest boards, the staff directory to my school’s website, and the rest either had my first name or last name associated, but not both. There was a total of 1,470 results from the google search.

I do not mind some of the posts that showed up under my name, but I do wonder why some of my social media posts showed up with a direct link associated with my name and others did not. They are not inappropriate or private, but they are direct links to my social media accounts, which I am not a fan of.

Second…I clicked on some links about me.

Here is a list of links that I clicked on that I did not initially recognize:

Third…Images associated with my name.

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Most of these images are from our wedding website, so it doesn’t surprise me that they showed up on the google search. There are a few pictures of people that I know from college, but am not sure why they showed up under my name. Overall, I do not mind these pictures that showed up.

I feel lucky in the fact that I know where the majority of my google search results came from. My married name is still ‘new,’ so I am glad that I can be proactive to continue a positive digital presence.