Tag Archives: Collaboration

Minecraft in the Classroom: A Real-world Example

You may have seen the above video floating around from the PBS Idea Channel, posing the question of whether the video game Minecraft is the “Ultimate Education tool“. With over 200,000 views and over 6500 likes, it got me wondering how many of these viewers have actually seen Minecraft being used in the classroom? Before last week, I hadn’t — which made a recent opportunity even more exciting.  Part of our e-Learning for Educators team was invited to visit a local elementary school to see how they’ve been using Minecraft — and what I saw was pretty inspiring.

To give you an idea of what it is like to play Minecraft, it has been described as “first person legos” mixed with “The Sims” (and maybe with a few other games thrown in). The game is considered a “sandbox” game with an open world, giving players a large amount of freedom when it comes to playing the game.  In the standard version of Minecraft, there are four different modes to the game: survival, creative, adventure, and hardcore. While not all of the modes of the standard version are ideal for educational use, there is an educational version of the game called MinecraftEdu that was created for teachers by teachers.

During our visit, we observed a second grade class using the standard Minecraft‘s “creative mode” to collaboratively build an interactive world. The students were divided into four groups, with each group being assigned a time period to create within Minecraft together — but each at their own computer. When creating their worlds, they had to think about what to include and what to build, making sure to justify why they included what they did.

Students can leave signs for other players.
Players have the ability to leave signs throughout their worlds. In this project, students used signs to ask questions or to clarify what they were building.

Here’s a little rundown of the time periods and what I saw:

  • 1850: I learned from a couple students that they were currently reading the Little House on the Prairie books, which I believe was the inspiration for this time period. This world was complete with a dry goods store, pigs (and other farm animals) and other period appropriate creations. One student in this group was building a “dugout” house and confidently explained to me what it was and why it was there! :)
  • 1950: The school we visited was built around1950, so students had to think about how their city was different in 1950. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see much of this time period.
  • 2013: Students had to recreate Columbia in the present. I was given a “tour” of the school as it is today (in Minecraft, of course) and the local grocery store (I think it was a Gerbes). I believe I even spotted the local mall!
  • Future: I didn’t get an exact date for this time period, but I think it may have been  around 50 years in the future. According to their teacher, this was the time period the students had the hardest time with. I did see buildings equipped with “solar panels” (while Minecraft doesn’t have solar panels yet within the game, they designated materials to stand in for solar panels) and other evidence of a future of renewable energy, giving you an idea of how this project is getting their mental wheels turning.
future
Future: The glass ceiling of this building was meant to represent solar panels.

Watching the engagement in this classroom was amazing — the students enjoyed what they were doing and, based on my conversations with them, they were definitely practicing some higher-level thinking. This doesn’t mean there were no hitches. At times, it seemed difficult to get them to stop building in their worlds. Despite these minor issues, I could really see the future of this software having a place in education. While I’m not sure about it being the “ultimate tool”, Minecraft is proving to be a unique and rewarding addition to the classroom.

This is just one way of how Minecraft is being used with students. Check out MinecraftEdu‘s Real-world Example page to see more great ways this software is already being used in the classroom.

What are your thoughts on Minecraft as the “Ultimate Education Tool”? In what ways do you see yourself using Minecraft with your students?

[This post was provided by Zoë Hyatt, an instructional developer for the eMINTS National Center and eLearning for Educators.]

Learning Exercises to Promote Thinking

When getting our brains started for the day, it is best exercised by thinking about something that triggers emotions and connections to the world around us. As eMINTS teachers we look for ways to integrate inquiry into our classrooms on a daily basis jumping balloons for sale. This helps to engage the brain, exercise it and just get it going for the day. However, coming up with thoughtful questions everyday can be taxing! Wonderopolis helps bring thought provoking questions into the classroom, which enhances the opportunity to do more inquiry. “Do Insects Work Out?”  This is a Wonderopolis “Wonder of the day”, and each day they present questions for pondering. What might student answers be to this very question? What hypothesis can be formed to explain their reasoning? norgesbesteonlinecasinoer Getting the creative Slot Machines jucies flowing is just one way to use this great resource.

Besides a daily question, Wonderopolis also provides students with videos, photos, and additional thought provoking questions in a “Did you know?” format. Students can practice their computer literacy skills by exploring questions that they develop based on the resources provided here. Questioning is a skill that students often struggle with, but what they casino online may not 2013 / 5155 / giochi di casino online /SCO – Parte 1 – Parte 2 – Revoca della convenzione di concessione n. realize is how many questions they have when they get excited about a topic.

The National Center of Family Literacy are the designers of this great resource. They have also included ideas for brain-breaks, bell-ringers, energizers, and more. These are just a few ways this resource can be integrated into the classroom on a daily or weekly basis.

Wonderopolis is a great way to exercise the brain while focusing on the world around us. What might be some daily learning exercises that can stimulate thinking or get the brain moving in your classroom?

__________________________________________________________________________________

To find out how to share Wonderopolis right from your classroom website click here.

[This post was provided by Amy Blades, an instructional specialist for the eMINTS National Center.]

 

To Tweat or Not to Tweat

So Twitter can have value to learning in the classroom, but how?

We’re studying rocketry and just getting started with blogging and tweeting this year.  I wanted to demonstrate how we could reach out to experts.  So, I asked what questions we had for Astronaut Clay Anderson.  A student was curious about what Zero G feels like.  We tweeted and later that day, students were thrilled to see we had received a tweet back.  One simple exchange.  We had just exchanged a message with an astronaut.

It made me wonder, what about other fields? Meteorology. Zoology. Geology.  How would I find these experts?  Then, I came across a list “100 Scientists on Twitter: Organized by Category.”   What if Twitter is not just a tool to connect with other classrooms, but to connect with experts in the field? Powerful.

So, you might be wondering, how do I get started?

Want to have a classroom chat that kids can have individual accounts in a small, classroom environment? Allow kids to start out with a version of Twitter that is only available in your classroom? Try Twiducate.  At the end of the day, ask every student to tweet what they’ve learned.  Twitter allows you to share with the world, Twiducate allows your kids to share with each other.

Want to work with your kids to develop Social Media Norms?  Have a class discussion about what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate to share.  Build a classroom community where kids support each other.  Whether sending a tweet from a classroom account on Twitter, or an individual account on Twiducate, help students understand that if you wouldn’t shout it in a crowded shopping mall, you shouldn’t share it on social media!  Post the norms.  Watch how kids take ownership in what they’ve decided upon as their norms.

Wondering how you will fit in time to tweet?  You may be thinking, I don’t have time to add one more thing to my classroom.  Ask one kid to take on the role each day or week.  Give him or her a “Media” badge.  Allow him to share what’s happening, 140 at a time.

Thinking about how you will find other classrooms that tweet?  Don’t worry!  I’m building a Twitter list.  Pick one or two to get started with.  You don’t have to follow hundreds of classrooms to get started.  Start small. Chat with a class in Australia or Illinois or your own school.

This is the second in a series of posts on using Twitter in the classroom.  Next up, five ways to use Twitter in the classroom. Our class tweets at @greatdaytolearn. Our Google Doc “Classrooms That Tweet” is growing everyday!  If your class is on Twittter, please add your name! If you’d like to get connected, check out the Twitter list “Classrooms That Tweet!

This post was originally published at Venspired.com September 9, 2012. Blogger and gifted teacher Krissy Venosdale has graciously given permission for us to share her work here on NT&L. Be sure to jump over to Venspired to see what else Krissy is doing with her students.

I Tweat. Therefore, I Learn

I Tweet.
I tweeted one request, “Please share your location and current outdoor temperature with my class today.”   Throughout the day, the tweets poured in from Australia, Sweden, Spain, New Jersey, Brazil, and the list goes on.  As I shared with students, they looked at the temperatures and their questions reminded me that using Twitter as a connection point with the world has true value for learning.

  • Why are some of the temperatures being reported in Celsius instead of Fahrenheit?
  • How do I convert a Celsius temperature to Fahrenheit? Is there a formula for that?
  • Why is it so cold in Australia right now?
  • What time is it in Sweden?
  • They just said “Morning”, what time is it there?
  • Can we put these on a map so we can see how much of the world we covered?
  • How do I pin something on a Google map?

Time zones. Patterns. Data. Metric System. Weather. Google map creation. Geography. Continents. Temperature conversion. Collaboration. The world.  Learning.  From one tweet.

I’m not saying that tweeting automatically equals learning.  But, look what happens when tweeting (or any tech tool!) is used in the classroom to connect.  Real thinking and learning.  The kind where kids deepen their understand of the world around them.

This is the first in a series of posts.  Next?  The day we tweeted an astronaut and he tweeted us back. For real. Our class tweets at @greatdaytolearn. Our Google Doc “Classrooms That Tweet” is growing everyday!  If your class is on Twittter, please add your name! If you’d like to get connected, check out the Twitter list “Classrooms That Tweet!

This post was originally published at Venspired.com September 8, 2012. Blogger and gifted teacher Krissy Venosdale has graciously given permission for us to share her work here on NT&L. Be sure to jump over to Venspired to see what else Krissy is doing with her students.

Staying Connected & Collaborating

School is out for summer (unless of course you are teaching summer school) and you might be finding that you miss those colleagues you normally see day to day. Your normal routine of getting to talk with, share your classroom ideas and success, and bounce ideas off of for some upcoming projects has been put on hold but does it really have to stop. I say no!!!

Click for Source

Why not check out some virtual options? Tools like Edmodo, Facebook, and Twitter can help you to continue your collegial collaboration, stay connected, and possibly take it a step further. You might even extend your normal summertime routines to include expanding your professional learning with a little lightly structured, informal PD.What’s better…they are free tools and are easy to use.

Edmodo is a great option for setting up a virtual classroom or collaborative sharing space (they call these groups). Everyone in your group will need to create an account (FYI adults are considered Teachers and kids are Students) One person will need to create the Group and then share the Code Edmodo creates with everyone that will be a part of that group. Then let the sharing begin. Resource links and documents are easy to share as well as basic communications. Check out the Edmodo Help page for help getting started or attend a Webinar for more ideas and support. I attended a webinar last week and got a lot of great ideas for not only the teachers that I train but also for schools and organizations that I work with.

Facebook Groups are another option for sharing and learning from others. eMINTS has their own Facebook group where these Networked Teaching & Learning posts are shared but also other resources. Anyone belonging to the group can share on the eMINTS group page as well. Members can add posts, links, share photos/video, conduct polls, and upload files. If your team members already have Facebook accounts and are ready for an group online presence to do these kinds of things, maybe creating a Facebook Group is the answer for you. If you need some help there are very easy steps to follow and you can even set privacy settings to allow only your Friends in your group. Learn more about Facebook Groups from Facebook or from a post from Zac back in August 2011.

Twitter offers an even easy way to connect with no need to create pages or groups on a different website. Basically all that needs to happen is that each person in your collaborative circle needs to have a Twitter account. You each need to share your usernames and “follow” each other. Start by sharing your thoughts, ideas, opinions, resources, tools, and inspirations and watch your Wwitter homepage for what others are sharing back. With Twitter there is no pressure or need to be wordy, chatty, long-winded, etc…all you need are 140 characters. Need some help with Twitter? Check out their support page for basic support and more.

With all of these tools it does take some discipline and conscious effort to be a productive member but as long as everyone shares a little you can all learn a lot.

What are some things you are collaborating on this summer and what tools work for your group?

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialists for the eMINTS National Center.

Get Ready to Jump to Google Drive

Almost everyone associated with eMINTS – teachers, administrators, instructional specialists -has adopted Google Docs as their preferred online collaboration and production tool. Now, Google is taking their cloud-loving system a step further with Drive. Watch…

With Google Drive, creating and collaborating is still a key feature. However, now storing and finding your files are as effortless as… well… everything else on Google. Plus, Google Drive has a downloadable app to make synching easy, much like DropBox. Each user receives 5GB of storage for free with an option to upgrade for a small fee.

For more details on the benefits of switching over to Google Drive, read Google’s blog post on this new feature. There’s also a Droid app for even more syncing options. Below are a few more articles and blog posts on Google’s newest product:

When do you plan to make the leap to Google Drive? How will this affect your DropBox use? What advantages do you see to Google Drive over the old version of Google Docs?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger for the eMINTS National Center.

Crocodoc

I have to share a great new tool that a friend of mine, Debbie Perkins, shared with me; Crocodoc.   I love this new little tool.

Basically this tool allows you to upload PDF’s, documents, or images, share them with anyone and then the people you share it with can add comments, highlights, and text  to whatever you uploaded.    So if I upload an article and share it with someone, that person or persons can add whatever they would like.  And yes, they can add at the same time.

I see a lot of ways that this can be used.  You could upload an article and have individuals or groups highlight and comment on what they feel are the most value points.  Documents that need corrections could be uploaded, like sentences or paragraphs, and then corrections could be made by many individuals with their comments as to why they made the correction they did.  You could upload several examples or quotes that you want viewed and have the people you share it with choose their favorite or the one they have a connection to and then make a comment about why they made that choice.  An image could be uploaded and then captions for the image could be added as comments.

I see so many possibilities for this. What could you do this?

Terri Brines and Debbie Perkins are instructional specialists with the eMINTS National Center.

Stop Motion Animation Made Easy – Part 1

Click for source.

Have you ever watched a movie like Wallace and Grommit  or The Nightmare Before Christmas or even films like Toy Story or Up and wished that you were good enough to do that? Have you ever marveled in amazement in what it takes to animate and the frames and frames of footage that have to be created and put in place to produce even one minute of video. The intricacies of this kind of project have to be mind-boggling, right?

Well, I’ve got good news! Animation and creating animated projects is easier that one might think. In fact, not only is it easy to do for one person….but better yet, it’s even easier if you use a team approach with interdependent roles! In fact, it is proving to be, in our district, one of the most engaging ways for students to create a culminating project. They can create movies fast and they love it so much they can’t STOP!!

Stop-motion animation is essentially collecting a series of photographs and rendering them together at a rate of anywhere from 8 frames a second to 30 frames a second. Thanks to some amazing web 2.0 tools, kids (even our youngest) can do this with ease.

At the most basic level, for stop-motion animation projects to be created, you need a storyboard/script, camera, some props, and software that “sticks” all the photographs together. If you are using a PC, a good option is Jellycam. Jellycam has a quick and simple tutorial that will walk a learner through the specifics of the software in just a couple of minutes. It allows the user to easily capture and manipulate the pictures taken with a web cam within the program. Users determine how many images per second and can play back the video as it is being created. It also allows for adding credits and music within the software. JellyCam is a completely free download.

Creating a stop-motion animation project can also be easily created on an iPad2. One favorite App for doing this is StoMo. In this App, you capture images directly into your iPad using the capture button. You can set the rate of pictures being seen per second, arrange and re-arrange the images captured, playback projects as you work on them and use either the front or rear camera. When you export the project to the library, the images are rendered together and the “film” is put in the iPhotos library to be viewed. StoMo does not allow users to add music, voice over, or text to the film but once a project is finished it can be exported to iMovie, Moviemaker, or some other movie editing software to add music, voice over, or text.

Click for source.

Both of these applications have a key feature that is critical for stop motion creators – onion skinning. If you think about the skin of an onion, it is somewhat transparent. In stop-motion animation it is critical to be able to see the last image taken and be able to compare it to the one about to be taken. Onion skinning allows for the creator to move objects in the films as much or little as desired. Another classroom benefit of onion skinning allows for students, who’s “filming” schedule is often interrupted by the bell, to come back the next day and pick up where left off. They can see the last image captured and begin from there on a new day.

As a teacher, the best part of stop-motion animation projects is that the students REALLY need each other to complete a quality project quickly! In a group of four students each has a vital role. One person serves as the project manager, or director of the project. That person focuses on the vision and directs the project as it progresses. One person needs to focus completely on the software. That person knows exactly how the software works, captures images, and keeps the program running. The other two members of a group are moving manipulatives (characters and props) to create the animated sequences. It takes everyone in the group doing their parts to be successful.

Check out some examples of student stop-motion animation projects below and start planning a project for your students. Stay tuned for the next Stop Motion Animation installment sharing more classroom examples, how-to’s, tips, and resources for classroom stop motion projects.

How might your students express what they have learned with a stop motion animation project in your classroom?

Allison Byford is the Instructional Technology Coordinator with the Springdale Public Schools in Arkansas and is an eMINTS PD4ETS graduate.

Online Tool: Nota

We are always looking for new online tools that allow students to collaborate and share information. The tool Nota is one such tool with these capabilities and so much more. Check out the Nota notebook below that I created in order to help introduce this exiting and new collaborative tool.

As you can see, Nota allows users to create an interactive poster or graphic that can be embedded on almost any site or social networking tool. One can also follow a direct link and access a notebook the old-fashioned way. Some basic drawing and composition tools provide the ability to create an informative and visually-appealing infographic. Users can also insert media from a number of sources such as YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, and even one’s own hard drive.

What sets Nota apart from some other display/presentation tools is its interactivity. Users can allow their audience to add comments that work like post-it notes. Nota has video conferencing capabilities that are rare for such a tool. An access counter will tell the notebook’s owner how many views a notebook has attained. There’s even a message board users can insert into a notebook. Finally, a feature I discovered by accident while preparing this post, Nota updates in real time. So, if you embed a blank Nota on a website or blog, as you add features, the embedded version updates simultaneously.

To get started, register for an account with Nota and set up your first notebook. Add pages that visitors can access for further information. If needed, you can hide a page or limit commenting. In order to share your notebook, use social media to take your notebook’s message further.

How have you used Nota with your students? What possibilities could you see for teaching and learning with Nota’s tools? What ideas do you have for managing a Nota notebook with students?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger for the eMINTS National Center.

Tuesday’s Tool: Evernote – Making Research a Bit Easier

In a recent session our cohort talked about teaching students information literacy skills. The group spent a lot of time dialoguing about how to help student organize and use the information they find online. Most everyone agreed that no matter what age they work with students lack the ability to paraphrase or summarize information, gather information in one assessable place (not left at home on their desk), and properly cite sources.

Teaching skills on how to summarize and paraphrase, is a strategy that can be used on a daily basis. Teaching these skills can be embedded into many types of lessons whether studying changes in the Earth’s surface or Spanish explorers.

The web offers quite a few online tools designed to aide in the research process for both recording research information and the location where that resource came from. Some of these tools also allow for sharing and/or collaboration between students and teachers.

Evernote

Who knows why, but I somehow forgot to share my very favorite tool of all for this purpose…..Evernote. Evernote allows a user to take notes anywhere and sync them with all their devices when they have a web connection. A user can include text notes, web clips, audio notes, and image notes using the webcam on their computer. Notes can be tagged so that searching notes is a simple task and notes can be share with others and multiple users can collaborate on projects. Unfortunately there is no built-in citation builder but those are easy enough to create using sites like Son of Citation or the Citation Maker in Recipes4Success and then can be easily copied and pasted into Evernote.

With Evernote, a user creates a free account and then has access to their Evernote notebooks whenever and where ever through a web browser or downloadable application for Windows or Mac. Evernote is even available on many mobile devices.

What are tools you might suggest students use to support them in researching on their quest to complete authentic projects?