Monday, October 20, 2014

Gaming for learning

  Taking games to a whole new level.  Serious games- games that can have you in control of the serious things in life.  Making you the Captain, the decision maker. The gamer has to follow the facts to get to the solution to life problems.  As leader one has to weigh out major societal needs and worries food, disease, water, shelter and more while playing Serious Games.  After playing Quandry at least three times and testing out different solutions for each problem faced I really started seeing how great this could be for kids. 
                Not only is the story line fantastic with a sci-fi theme the problem solving method that is used only increases the fiero as it enhances the game as each problem is solved.  As Captain one has to sort out through the facts, solutions and opinions of the settlers to make a proposal to the council.  Presenting the best information to the council is very important in that the council will use the information to come up with a solution.  With the wrong or incomplete information is provided to the council the solution may not fit the problem as well as the Captain would have hoped.
                As an ESL teacher I could assess the students by how many points they receive as they go through the game to see if they are really understanding the material which is being presented.  As the captain goes through the game points are given as the solution comes together.   Sheep attacks, water parasites, or arguments that take on a life of their own such as perceived favoritism all are problems that the captain must solve to keep life on Braxos moving forward.  Problem solving is really key in this game.  As a teacher I could prompt discussion analyzing the different ways each student tried to solve the problem and what the results were of each solution and why they chose that solution over another. 
                The reading and understanding in this game is a large part of this game and therefore pushes the ESL student to practice the English language at a higher level.   ESL 1.1 criteria will be being met while working through this activity.


Friday, October 10, 2014

Game Playing

             Sound Factory – Simple fun, yet you have to know what the labels say as you go or one can quickly get lost in the game.  For language development the students will be talking about the story line of Dink the tire factory musician.  The basis of the game is for the player to gain new instruments.   With each new instrument it shows that the learner has the ability to follow visual and written instruction.  All of this while they compose a fun song while Dink is working.  Don’t forget if the boss catches you - game over.  This means you need to be able to read the prompt to stop all noise and continue your work without any distractions.  The final goal is to earn all the instrument through several days of work so you can record your own song.  I think this could work with two players taking turns helping each other along the way.   The teacher can be watching how well the students are able to follow instructions in English as they play the game.
                For assessment and to keep the fiero going in the classroom the students could have a competition. To see who gets the most instruments by the end of class or who gets to compose their own song first. 
                I think by using this simple idea the class could be creative and create their own imaginary game.  They may not be able to produce it but they could draw up a basic concept and write ideas about what they would like their own game to be like.  This could be done as a class or individually.  For this step using the walk-through would be helpful for the class to read so they have more of a background.  Though it is given in as part of a video in the start of the game as a teacher I would also like them to read the walk-through.  This would take language development farther and get much more creative.  Images from the game could be used at this time to help connect the two activities.
                 I played this game about five times.  I got to the second day and earned seven instruments.  I will probably play a couple more times, don’t tell anyone.    

                                                                                          Sound Factory

Gaming in the Classroom

              Gamification is about using the aspects of games to help in the process of learning or teaching.  Taking the competitiveness of games, rewards system and feedback to a systematic level where one can practice problem-solving skills, teach concepts, and to have the learner learn in a way that can inspire creativity by expanding the basic classroom.  By bringing the elements of games into a learning task one pushes the students’ abilities to new levels.  The concept or concepts which are being taught now stand out because one is practicing their skills in a manor different from other knowledge.  Whether it is new knowledge or previously practiced knowledge the information is now being used to engage the learner in a new task.  Also the students are an active participant in the lesson which makes them use the knowledge they have learned to be able to play the game. 
                In a game that is set up well the flow is what will keep the gamer playing.  With each task the game becomes slightly harder.  With the right flow the gamer will be learning with each step and have the tools for the task.  The player in turn  wishes it to be harder or they gamer will become boring.  Not too hard because frustration may win out.  In games feedback is immediate.  Score board, timers, coins, and prizes are just a few feedback indicators that one is doing well or poorly and needs help.  Still it is instant.  Wait too long for feedback and the gamer moves on.  It is all about balance. 
                With all this in mind using gamification for EFL/ ESL students is really one of just making sure the game fits the task.  People are so use to the concept of games and gaming that bringing them into the classroom is not really far-fetched.  Many games force the gamer to read.  Actually it was one of the biggest motivators for my son to learn to read.  He wanted to know what the was on the computer screen.  Also it forces the gamer to follow direction and comprehend the task to move on in the game.  In this way the gamer is forced to use previously know knowledge in a new way which makes the information become more relevant.

                In a classroom the teacher can use a game from the internet or teacher can design their own game.  By using the same concepts that a computer game uses.  Flow and Fiero are the two things that make the game what it is and for the player to keep moving forward in the game.  The flow keeps the gamer going and the to the goal.  It  is fiero which pulls the gamer to the end, the primal need to win.  The reason why we scream when we do win or when we don’t.  To me it is the release of the energy that one has while trying to win, the excitement and fear.  If that is created one knows it was a good game.  

Zac Hill

Monday, October 6, 2014

Twitter Crazy

If I were going to use Twitter the idea of a twitterpack seems like it would be useful in that it helps in finding a group of people that have the same interests as you.  This would help narrow in the craziness that Twitter can become.  Also in the article Blogging about the Web 2.0 Connected Classroom one could find out how to use hashtags and link to lists of educactional microblogs using hashtags.  There is so much information out there about breaking into the platform of Tweeting.
                As a tip for students I would suggest that they follow some political figures, depending on the age of the class, to stay up to date on current events.  They could also follow news and microbloggers to keep them up to speed with breaking news. 
Though there is so much information on this social media I will probably not use tweeting in  the future.  I have tried to use twitter before and it does not stick.  A week is about as long as I can handle without going crazy with hashtags.  I appreciate that many people feel this is a fantastic format to come together and share ideas.  I am just not one of them.
After reading the tips on The Teacher’sGuide to Twitter I realized even more that twitter is not my platform.  Following people and having an equal following back and talking about topics that seem important to people.  I have a hard enough time keeping my everyday social circle going to start worrying about another social circle really does stress me out.  Rules- yes there are always rules to every social circle.  I cannot keep up with one more social circles set of arbitrary rules of who and how often you need to comment to be considered relevant.  I find people post ideas on many different media formats and other formats work better for me, such as Pinterest.

Twitter Chat

              I attended the twitter #Langchat on Thursday the October 2nd about language acquisition in the classroom.  I found that the topic could have been very interesting.  Not totally sure about the format though.  I think the topic is very important and could go in several directions.  During the chat it seemed most were talking about the idea of not focusing on grammar and vocabulary test.  Most tweeters were focusing on the idea of reading and speaking the language instead.
              With this format I felt the conversations were stunted.  It seemed that some people were having several different conversations at once.  Statements were broad to specific and had no flow.  A post would show up and then five other people talking about something else then finally follow up about the post five people back.  I will be honest here, I am not a fan of twitter.  I find it hard to read.  Reading a twitter page is like reading a bunch of headline then having to follow the link to the actually “story”.  In this case you could follow different chats going on in the same chat room.  I get very lost in this though, to many headlines coming to me at once.  All screaming for attention at once.
                For the hour that I spent on the chat I could have read a couple articles about the same topic.   In this format maybe I could have been more productive if some information was given about a topic then the group comes together to discuss.  This was more topic - talk - chat.

                I understand the concept of always being in front of the crowd with the best ideas.  But sometimes restricting the amount of social media that one uses is a benefit.  A brain can only process  so much and implement so much at one time into a classroom.  With twitter I have always found it the step to far for me.  Other forms of social media are more comfortable for me to use on a daily basis.