Tag: design

Five Things To Do INSTEAD of Watching a Movie Before Break

Dear teacher,

It’s the last week of school before break. You are reaching your limits, and so are your students. Your personal holiday busyness is bleeding into your classroom…and you just want to put a movie in. I get it, I’ve been there. But before you do, think.

  • Did you know that watching a movie for entertainment (not tied to curriculum), is not considered fair use and is a violation of copyright?
  • What message are we sending students and parents by watching a movie during instructional time?
  • Could this time be used for something else?

Instead of watching a movie this last week before break, here are five options to consider:

5 by Leo Reynolds is licensed under CC-BY-NC-SA
  1. Design: 
  2. Create:
    • Build a makerspace with everyday objects
    • Make commercials and record (even use YOUR phone)
  3. Play:
    • Pull that book of reader’s theater out and put one together
    • Bring back art activities in the classroom: paint, draw, sketch, build
  4. Investigate:
  5. Code:
    • Give students more time to get in and play with all those great sites that you discovered during the Hour of Code week.

It may be tempting to pop that movie in, but look at all of these meaningful activities that could happen instead. Imagine the problem-solving, critical-thinking, creativity, collaboration, and fun that could take place. Share what you end up doing with your students – I’d love to know!



One Hook

photo (19)The visit to UCF’s Emerging Media campus allowed us to see the intersection of many of the ideas we’ve been studying. We’ve studied game theory and design, and learning is the process that continually happens throughout the course of this program. Therefore, it seemed natural that we look at all three concepts in a unique way.

Design, learning, and games all seem to work synchronously anymore. So, as an educator, how does this look in the classroom? What impact does gaming and design have on my students’ learning? More than I can even imagine.

I often defer to Ian Jukes and Lee Crockett’s work in media literacy because of the powerful impression it left on me. The thermal brain scans, MRIs, and CAT scans of todays networked students are simply awe-inspiring. Their brains function in such drastically different manners than previous generations, that it is hard not to reconcile the fact that learning is different. But the process of learning in the form of traditional education has not! We are losing kids and their own vested interest in education before they even reach intermediate grade levels.

We need to shake it up. We need to challenge the traditional design of school and bring in gaming techniques in which students are familiar. If they are given the ability to learn through exploration and utilize just-in-time and on-demand counsel, they will be much more invested and engaged in their learning. If they are encouraged to learn from their community and work together for the greater good, they will be pioneers of collaboration that can solve problems. If they are required to assess situations, make quick decisions, and continue to work through the results, they will increase problem-solving skills and become more aware of their thinking.

Our trip inside FIEA simply confirmed the future of gaming in our lives. If it is so ubiquitous with life today, then it should be with learning as well. Small changes to the manner in which we approach learning with our students could make huge improvements. Gamifying one thing could be the hook for a student. And that one hook could make all the difference.

Castles in the Sand

Field trip time!  Paul (professor and surfer extraordinare) took all of us to the beach to introduce our design class that we’ll be doing as part of the program.  Instead of simply telling us what we’ll be doing, we were challenged in a series of activities that gave us a glimpse of how design and learning work together.  One challenge involved building a functional sandcastle in 1 square meter that kept sand dry, but was as close to the water as possible.  My team talked through some ideas and quickly started creating breaks in the sand and a moat.  Then, our new friend Elliott walked by…

I knew that a child could build a sandcastle much better than I, so I asked him if he wanted to help us with the really important task of building a sandcastle.  He quickly replied, “yeah, I got a bucket and a shovel”.  I then told him we only had 10 minutes to try and build a good sandcastle, so he needed to hurry.  Elliott took off in a flash and returned with his sandcastle building supplies.  We showed him what we were doing and he followed up by saying, “you need wet sand”.  He ran down to the water and grabbed a bucket full of water, then proceeded to fill the bucket with sand to create a cement-like mixture.  While he was creating this mixture, he told me “you have to get wet sand so it can stay”.  Just when I thought we were ready to flip the bucket over and create our “tower”, he stopped me and advised “you need some more sand and then push your hand down to compact it, then we turn it over”.  He IS a kid, he WOULD know…Our time soon dwindled and he helped put some more sand around the castle to create the final sandcastle product.  We thanked him for his help and he was back on his way with his grandpa.

Upon evaluation of each group’s sandcastle, we didn’t fair so well because we had built too far away from the water and were considered “safe” builders.  I pointed out that we should get extra points because we commissioned a child to help us build and there’s nothing better than having the help of someone who knows how to build sandcastles like a kid…no one seemed to buy it..but it did start making me think…

Design is often the most simplistic AND complex when done through the eyes of a child.  Children can somehow dream up amazing ideas, create a plan of attack, and most often execute their plans to craft something amazing…original…inventive…or functional in ways never imagined.  To me, design and learning both involve frameworks..the foundations are laid, the blueprints are drafted, and the work begins to fulfill the said plans.  What if design was truly considered within the context of learning?  Would learning look different?  Would kids be more willing to take an active part?  Would our ideas go far beyond what had ever been considered?

I don’t know the answers yet, but I’m hoping that I learn how to address a learning problem and re-imagine its design…hopefully through the eyes of a child making castles in the sand.