One of the reasons I am taking part as a ‘student’ in the Gamestar Mechanic Summer Learning Program is to understand better how to give feedback to my students during our video game design unit. This morning, I received some fantastic feedback on my game (shared here yesterday) called The Odyssey of Tara. (I invite you to play the game).
Notice the balance of positive to advice, and also, how detailed the comments are. As the game designer, I can tell that not only did my teacher play my game, but they were making notes about each level, and offering up their own experiences as an outside player and as a game designer. That kind of duel views is helpful when creating a video game.
Now, I need to step back myself and see the game through their eyes.
August is “Connected Educator” month, which is another way of saying that folks are trying to make visible the power of networks, collaborations and connections that come about when teachers connect with other teachers. Of course, we do this mostly in our own buildings. But more and more, educators are reaching out to various online communities to find ways to share, explore, learn and borrow ideas from one another. I view the month as a way to showcase those kinds of connections, as partnership to the connections we have with our own colleagues in our own school buildings.
The diagram above is an attempt on my part to map out the various communities that I find myself part of, either as a contributor, creator or just active listener. The diagram is part of a webcomic I am also making, but it felt right to share it out on its own, too, although I still feel as if I am leaving something out …
I am immersed in a unit around adventure/story game design with the Gamestar Mechanic Summer Online Learning program. I decided to use an offshoot of The Odyssey to create my game. Notice how I also titled each section/chapter as part of the development of the story (exposition, climax, etc.) because I might use this as a demonstration of connecting story to game in the classroom.
I did try to make this game a little trickier than others, so let me know how it goes. Bring Tara home!
Two summers ago, I was a teacher-leader in the first-ever Massachusetts New Literacies Institute. The institute has continued, and my wife is taking part in this year’s event (that begins today). I had been hoping to visit the institute (and the institute organizers were very generous in offering me a keynote slot) but childcare issues popped up and I had to reluctantly decline.
Thinking about the institute, which was rich with discussion around conceptions of literacy in the digital age, I remembered this Voicethread that I created as a reflective tool for the week. I had fun listening back on it, situating myself back in time.
A piece that I wrote about being a reader of “expected text” that then pushes you towards the “unexpected” got posted this morning at one of my favorite blog sites — the Nerdy Book Club. Check it out, as I make connections from the predictability of Scooby-Doo stories to books that move us in different directions.
Guys Read: The Sports Pages is the third in a series of collections put out by Jon Scieszka and company as part of an effort to keep boys reading with high interest stories, narratives and humor. I passed this one along to my middle school soon (who loves sports) and he read it in one sitting. It took me a bit longer, but still, I was impressed with the stories here that span sports (from football to hockey to wrestling) and the mix of fiction and non-fiction.
I found it interesting (as a Yankees fan in a Red Sox household) that the stories that open and close the collection center around the Red Sox (including a story about a kid wanting to doom Derek Jeter). There are a lot of big name authors here — Gordon Korman, Dan Gutman, Tim Green, etc.) that will be familiar to most readers of adolescent fiction, and Scieska’s touch is light and deft, and his introduction and ending are both very funny, enough to grab even the most cynical boy reader.
And over at the Guys Read website, which encourages reading, there is an entire page of recommended sports-related books that is worth checking out.
I’ve read all three collections, and found the first one with funny stories and this one, about sports, to be the best of the bunch. The second collection, about thriller stories, could have been better, and I found myself disappointed by it for some reason. So, I was happy that The Sports Pages was well-done, and will find a place in my classroom library and the hands of a few kids this year.
I’m a few days in to the Gamestar Mechanic Summer Online Learning Program and I have made my way through the first unit of instruction — around designing platformer games (think: Mario Brothers). I’m getting great feedback from my instructor, and as I read through her comments, I am thinking of my role as a teacher and how I might tap into her view of games with critical but helpful comments.
Anyway, the activity at the end of the first unit was about using a classic game and redesigning it in Gamestar. I was leaning towards Donkey Kong, but then remembered this classic: Frogger. So, here is how I re-imagined Frogger. It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible either. You just have to move fast.
For some time, I’ve noticed folks using a site called Scoop.it to collect/curate information. I finally took the plunge recently during a collective curation suggestion by some friends in an inquiry study group at P2PU, and then branched off to create my own Scoop page around “writing in a digital age.” As I gather and find articles around this topic of how writing may/may not be changing with technology, I am adding them into the Scoop news. (So far, I think I have pretty interesting pieces up there.)
I’ll write more about Scoop another day (I am thinking of how this site compares to paper.li for gathering and distributing news and articles).