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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Game-Based Learning & Bloxels in the Classroom

With technology more readily available than ever before, teachers are turning to game-based learning to engage their students with tech tools. Game-based learning teaches standards and objectives to students through the use of games. “Generally, game based learning is designed to balance subject matter with gameplay and the ability of the player to retain and apply said subject matter to the real world” (EdTech Review, 2013). It’s no surprise that many teachers are turning to digital gaming to reinforce concepts in the classroom. “Like novels, films, plays, and other media, games can be high-quality materials a teacher uses to enable students to access the curriculum” (Farber, 2016, para. 2).

Teachers know that many of their students are motivated by video games. For many students, the thrill of fighting off the “bad guys” and making it to the next level is bliss. How can today’s teacher motivate and engage their students in a digital gamified world? Bring the video games into the classroom! “There is a focused movement to reinvent the traditional classroom paradigm and rearrange the entire school experience — a trend that is largely being driven by the influence of innovative learning approaches” (Johnson et al., 2015, p. 38). The power of using technology for game-based learning is not only innovative, but challenges students to apply 21st-century skills; creativity, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking.

 I recently discovered Bloxels at a local technology conference, IntegratED. I took on the persona of a child and became infatuated with creating pixelated pictures by placing small cubes into a grid. Bloxels is a hands-on way to create your very own video game. Using this Bloxels Gameboard, students are able to create scenery for backgrounds, characters, speech bubbles, levels, and just about any component you can think of that a video game would need. Once your design is created, simply scan it with the Bloxels free app, and voila! You now have a fully functioning video game created by young learners.

Wondering how Bloxels can fit into your curriculum? Bloxels was created with the teacher in mind. Bloxels EDU includes educational blog posts, lesson plans, a teacher’s guide, and ways Bloxels can be applied to the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards.

Here are some ideas to motivate your students with 
game-based learning and Bloxels:

Book-Based Video Game
Put a digital 21st-century spin on book reports! Challenge your students to create a video game based on a book. Use the Bloxels Gameboard to recreate the setting and the book’s main character. Add text (white cubes) along the way to share important plot points or book trivia. Students can work in partners or teams to create multiple characters or settings.

Historical Video Game
  Create a video game based on a historical event or person. Use the Bloxels Gameboard to build historical sites and characters. For example, if you’re studying presidents, have your students use the provided cubes to build the character and places that represent important events during the president’s life. Make sure your students add text (white cubes) sharing important facts along the way.

Animal Lifecycle Video Game
   Bloxel characters don’t have to be people! After studying animal life cycles, have your choose an animal to build a video game around. Create multiple characters and scenes, each one representing a different stage in the animal’s life cycle. For example, a frog life cycle video game may include scenes of a pond and land, along with characters that represent tadpoles, pollywogs, and an adult frog.

Thinking about giving game-based learning a try but not convinced it’s worth the effort? Current research shows that game-based learning can have a substantial impact on student learning. A Vanderbilt University study of 1,000 students in seven states found, “Students who played the games outperformed their peers on standardized tests. Additionally, teachers saw dramatic increases in engagement and performance” (Polikov, 2017). So, if you’re struggling to engage your class or help your students retain content, Bloxels and game-based learning may be just what you’re looking for! 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Favorite Elementary Websites for the Chromebook

A new school year is around the corner, marking my second year as an Instructional Technology Coach and my 9th year as a teacher. Every year I have the chance to apply and explore new websites along with finding additional ways to engage students with the tried and true applications I've been implementing for years. I picked a few of my favorites websites with a lot of classroom potential. If you haven't integrated these in your classroom, they are definitely worth trying during this school year!


Thursday, July 13, 2017

I Vlogged My Way Through #ISTE17

ISTE may not have realized they gave me an early birthday present this year.

Let me set the scene:

On May 15th, three days before my 30th birthday, I was teaching a lesson in a 3rd grade classroom. Don't ask me what that lesson was, because all I can remember is seeing a boldly worded email from my coworker stating: YOU WON A TRIP TO ISTE! In disbelief, I checked my Twitter to see this:


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

I'm Going to ISTE: A Type-A Guide on Preparing for the BIG Event!

ISTE 2017 is just around the corner! This blog post came to me on a last minute whim after realizing how overly prepared I like to be for conferences, and ISTE is no exception! Now, I'll admit that I have a very type-A personality. I like to have every detail planned out before I long distance travel or my anxiety goes through the roof! I am hopeful that the combination of previous ISTE experiences and the obsessive need to be overly prepared will help those of you who made need a tip or two to get ready for the ISTE conference & events!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Warhol Inspired Digital Art Using Google Drawing

I have the amazing opportunity to be a part of many classrooms as a tech coach. The fifth-grade teachers have been leading a famous artist unit, and as an art enthusiast, I couldn't help but join in! If you follow my Instagram, you got a sneak peak at some of the beautiful pieces of art the fifth graders have been creating. I love to paint and draw, however, I also wanted the opportunity to share some beginner graphic design lessons with students. Right away I knew the perfect artist for digital art inspiration would be Andy Warhol! 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

End of the School Year Ideas for Your Classroom

I loved the last few days of school because it was the time we could come together to celebrate one another. No matter how challenging my class has been throughout the school year, I always cry on the last day! And I don't mean a few tears here and there... I mean I start bawling my eyes out! In nine short months, my students become family. As a Tech Coach, I don't have a classroom of my own this year, but it's fun taking a trip down memory lane to reflect on some of my favorite end of the year traditions!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Flipped Classrooms: Are They a Flop?

As a technology coach, I am actively searching for the next best thing in digital education. While flipped classrooms aren’t exactly a new trend, the term has continued to grow in popularity over the last few years. I wanted to know, are flipped classrooms something to flip over, or just a flop?

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