Data Collection

For my Enhancing Learning Through Action Research class, we were asked to choose one way to collect data. One example of how I collect data for my class quizzes is by using Google Forms. I enjoy using Forms because they are easy to create, easy to grade, and easy to see results for my entire class. I recently gave a quiz to my Entrepreneurship class and out of 19 students, was able to see what the average, median, and range were as soon as I was done grading them.

Below is a screenshot of this particular quiz that shows how easily accessible that information was to me.

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Using Google Forms, I can also see data results based on an overall summary, question by question, or by individual. If I were to choose to ask multiple choice or true/false questions, it would provide me a pie chart with the answers that the students answered. Forms would automatically grade those types of questions as well. The graphs that Forms creates are very visually appealing for me to analyze the data.

Here is a link to this full quiz.

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My Classroom Gamification System

For my final project for Using Digital and Social Media in the Classroom, I had the opportunity to create a gamification system that I could potentially use in my own classroom. It was challenging, yet exciting to design something that my students would enjoy but also benefit from academically and behaviorally.

While looking for different options, I was looking for a system that I could tweak to fit what I needed. I chose the platform, Class Dojo, to complete this project. Class Dojo focuses on behavior and students are able to gain and lose points depending on their behavior while in my classroom. Once they earn so many points, they reach certain levels where they can choose between reward options. They are working toward points individually, as well as classes.

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Students can earn points and lose points depending on their behavior. Positive behavior is emphasized more than negative behavior. By focusing on behavior, the students will also benefit academically because they will be able to focus on their school work they are working on instead of worrying about what their peers are doing or how they are acting.

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In this link, I go into greater detail about my plan to use this gamification system in my classroom. Please feel free to leave a comment or contact me if you have any questions!

Global Collaboration Projects

Thinking about a global collaboration project that would benefit my students in my classroom is such a fun task. It’s a bit crazy thinking about how my students in a little town in Iowa could potentially make connections with other students from not only around the United States but also around the world.

My 9th grade students lack basic skills such as communication and writing. A global collaboration project would be a great motivator for my students to improve these skills! First, my students would participate in The Amazing Race – Global Project to learn more about certain cities in different countries. They would then post on the project’s Padlet in order to meet other students from around the world.

From there, we would use SMART Learning Software Technology that is discussed in this article, First global collaboration project between special education classes completed. Students will write letters to each other once a week about specified topics by myself and other teachers of the students’ global partners.

After establishing a connection with their global partners, I would incorporate other projects that could be done by my students with the help of their partners to get to know different cultures. I would incorporate many of these tools: Online Collaborative Learning Tools.

Some advantages for my students to participate in this global collaboration project is to experience working with students from around the country and world. They would get to improve their writing, communication, and technological skills throughout this project. They would gain responsibility by keeping up with the writing prompts and communicating with a potential language barrier. Some challenges my students will face will be writing in such a way that students (who English may not be their first language) will need to understand and learning new technological tools.

Very useful source: Global Collaboration Day.

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.