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The beginning

August 5, 2011

I am a science teacher. I am also a new mom.  Here is where I will share my adventures.

Currently we are one week away from beginning an exciting new school year.  This will be my second year of teaching.  Last year was an adventure, let me tell ya.  This year will be even more exciting!

Right now I am completing an online course called 3D Game Lab.  I found the course at the end of the school year and have anticipated its arrival.  It is only open from August 1-22 so I am trying to find any time that I have to work on it – which is difficult with a ten month old! 3D Game Lab is basically an online course on how to teach through games.  Students (heck, teachers too) love games and this is a way to teach students without making them feel like they are being taught formally.

Within 3D Game Lab, there was a “quest” to reflect on a video and other information.  Here is the video:

I was encouraged to post my reflection on a digital journal or blog.  I previously had neither and now I do!  So, here is my reflection (you’ll probably want to watch the video first so that this makes more sense):

I like what Jim Gee says about games being a form of assessment.  Before I looked at this quest, I was curious about how I would assess the students appropriately using this form of teaching and learning.  I have always been under the impression that something formal – a test, a paper, etc – was needed in order to assess their learning of an entire unit.  Jim shared with us that games in themselves are a form of assessment.  They don’t separate learning from assessing.  Therefore, I could use the games in order to assess the students as they complete the learning.  I really like this because then students won’t complete an entire homework assignment then find out that they have been doing it wrong the whole time.  They can be assessed as they go and will be rewarded as they go.  Constant rewards and feedback is a great way to motivate kids.

 I also like that he said anybody can both teach and learn.  I always try to partner or group my kids so that they can bounce ideas off of one another.  I find that students who work together often create something better than each could on their own.  This also brings in what Jim said about groups are often smarter than the smartest person in the group.  I often use student groups in order to teach the class about certain subjects.  This shows me that everyone can teach.  In addition, I am planning to do a self-paced program next year so this plays into the fact that he says everyone can learn. This philosophy has been very important to me in planning for next year.  I have to make sure that I build in structure so that everyone will be able to keep up in the class and learn enough.

I definitely think that digital tools will change my school.  My district really embraces new things – especially my specific principal.  My principal’s motto is, “Make new mistakes.”  He always wants us to try new things and if we fail, so what.  I really like this because it allows us, as teachers, to do what we think is best for the kids.  It also forces us to assess how that new action is working in our classrooms.  I am looking forward to using 3D Game Lab next year in my chemistry classroom.  Therefore, even if on a small scale, digital tools will make their appearance next year at my school and I really hope and anticipate them to catch on even more.

I know that this is just the beginning, but with the current public view on education, I think others might be interested to see the adventures of a real person who happens to be a teacher, in a real classroom, in a real high school.

See you soon!

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