Sunday, January 22, 2017

Education and Games

An Opportunity for Game Developers to Pool Sales and Marketing Efforts
I received this email last week and I assume it's a marketing come-on in which I pay fees for marketing under the auspices or guise of a "collaborative." Or maybe it is some brave sole trying to create a new channel and visibility for educational games. Maybe I'll check it out. Of course, a lot of our educational marketing is for Susan's homeschoolers.

John,

You probably know that one of my passions has been finding a way to increase the use of game-based learning in schools. And you probably also know that the sales channel has been the single greatest challenge in the education market.

I am now creating a sales and marketing collaborative so that education game companies can pool their sales and marketing resources, and have a better chance of selling into schools.

If you know of games companies that might be interested, or if you want to find out more, please let me know. I'll be at FETC next week, so if you're there, we can find a time to talk.

Thank you, and hope you have a great 2017,


MitchWeisburgh
Academic Business Advisors

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Instructional Design, Game Design, User Experience

There are three broadly overlapping disciplines which we need to reconcile as we design our student interactions and activities for our educational software.

1. Instructional design. Our goal is for the students to learn.  We all know that being told something is quite different from learning it.  There are many theories and models on how student learning and instruction works.  Most are, from the point of view that I care about, very flawed. Here are a few articles on the topic:

Why do I say that they are flawed from our point of view?
 The questions that we wrestle with are how best to help build literacy skills in elementary students using technology.  This puts us smack dab in the middle of the ongoing "Reading Wars." (See also the Atlantic Article on Reading Wars).  Simplistically, there are people who stress the fact that as students are given reading experiences, their minds will figure out the patterns and they will learn to read.  There are plenty of students for whom this works.  This is the Whole Word method. There is a another camp that says that if the students are given proper instruction in building phonics skills, they have the tools to learn to decipher text and learn to read.  There are many students for whom the phonics instruction approach works.  In the real world, a blended approach with both memorization of sight words, phonics instruction, and some broad exposure is generally adopted but the wards have raged for decades on what balance and sequence should this blend be built on. Common Core seems to have titled toward phonics but only slightly. Instead, CCSS emphasizes rigor and that the comprehension skills should be far more rigorous than previously expected. This assumes mastery of basic reading skills so it's not so involved in this age-old debate.

None of the educational models are directly applicable to this high stakes intense question of strategies for teaching reading.

2. Game design. Engaging students in education through the use of the techniques of video and computer games is the holy grail of much of edtech. As a former designer of Playstation games (I went Platinum back in teh PSX 1 Days), I am both a huge fan of this  idea and I come at it with some real understanding of the limits and difficulties of this approach.

3. User Experience. UIX. How to streamline and simplify and make navigation and use of a computer program as intuitive and pleasurable as possible. 

An important question underlying all of this is what grade and levels of students are our target audience? Here's the answer

Friday, February 26, 2016

Classroom Spelling

In classrooms, spelling is a perennial subject and challenge.  How best to organize the weekly spelling and vocabulary word lists?  There is really only one great choice for how best to organize a weekly or daily program for classroom spelling.

SpellingCity! It's the best! Key features:

  1. Thousands of list by grade!  There are compound words, frequently confused words, math words, science words, social studies words, and so many types of words. Did I mention literature-based word lists?
  2. Over 35 different learning games for spelling and vocabulary for your classroom
  3. Classroom management for learning spelling and vocabulary. Automated grade book, differentiated instruction, The entire spelling process of words and tests is automated for your classroom.
So there's only one choice for classroom spelling support, that's the VocabularySpellingCity.com service!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Educations 2016, What's New?


There's a lot of news:

The Federal Govenment finally moved on from NCLB & Race to the Top to ESSA. Teh big changesa re a shift towards state control of the testing and impact of failing the tests. The only Federal government is that the testing be at a rigorous level.

Another big change is lots more money for K, PreK, and 1st. This is really great to counteract all the focus on 2nd-5th where principals poured in resource since they tended to worry about THIS YEARS TEST!

There's no new money yet for early Science education but we can always hope. I'm hoping that a tech-based approach to elementary education based on the 5E educational model will be adopted by all the Title I schools around the country.  Here's some info on that:


The first part of the 5E model, Engage, introduces the new science concept by determining the student’s’ prior knowledge while revealing student misconceptions. Our online Engage activities include an interactive digital notebook followed by a short video clip, an additional follow up digital notebook activity and then students will hear listening comprehension questions. The offline Engage handout is a hands-on activity that can be used in whole group, in centers or 1:1.
Following the Engage is the Explore. When kindergarten, 1st grade and 2nd grade students Explore, they are provided with an opportunity to “play” as they identify and develop their current understanding of the foundational science concepts. While generating new ideas, elementary students will begin to develop their own questions. The offline Explore worksheet is called, “Take it a Step Further.” This handout provides students with a hands on, inquiry-based science activity that further enhances their ability to ask questions.
During the Explain phase, elementary students are provided a clear, concise description of the new concept which will include formal labels and essential vocabulary through a fun and captivating video clip. Within the Explain segment is a “Show What You Know” game-show-like assessment that checks for student understanding. The offline handout is a graphic organizer or mind map that also determines mastery of the foundational science concept.
The Elaborate phase of the 5E Instructional Model is meant to provide in-depth learning experiences. This is also where Science4Us blends in literacy, technology and engineering components through game-based activities. Kindergarten, 1st grade and 2nd grade students can swim in the science and enhance the overall experience by adding in cross-curricular fun. Offline handouts include many literacy concepts such as compare and contrast, fluency, categorizing and classifying and creative writing.
The final phase of the 5E model is the Evaluate. This was designed to assess overall student understanding of the foundational science concepts and the progress made towards learning the science objectives. The online interactive science assessment is graded automatically for teacher viewing. The offline assessment is specialized for kindergarten, 1st grade and second grade and it includes a standardized test prep version.

And the SAT has given up on the idea of beingg some sort of aptitude test and now it tests academic skills like everyone else. Prepworks won all the awards again this year for SAT adaptive test preparation software.

Prepworks explains that the new writing section on the new SAT is option. "The Redesigned SAT gives students the option of completing an essay. This essay is scored separately from the Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing sections, using a scale of 2-8 points. The essay prompts students to analyze evidence and explain how the author builds a persuasive argument. As compared to the old SAT, the new test gives students twice the amount of time (50 minutes) to complete the Essay."




Sunday, February 22, 2015

Free Educational Resources Curated by Social Media

I've been surprised by Symbaloo's success.  
Symbaloo is really really popular particularly in education.  
Users create collections of resources which get rated based on how many people download and use them.  A webmix can be saved onto the desk top of a computer, built into a webpage, or simply used as a webpage. Enjoy. And pass them on...


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Symbaloo Webmixes for Each Elementary Grade Level

I've found a collection of learning games for each elementary school grade.  They're fantastically done webmixes!  Free curated lists of learning games for each grade level!
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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Science4Us is a mission-driven project designed to address an ongoing weakness in elementary science education. For interested educators and parents, there are great free elementary science resources to give you a sense of the interactive part of the curriculum. There are also great materials for teacher PD and several hundred lessons for hands-on real world exercises in the curriculum for early elementary school students.

Science4Us was developed to address the need for a curriculum to deliver an investigative educational experience for early educational experience.

The development of Science4Us was started in 2010 with the goal of creating a science curriculum based on the 5E Instructional Model which could realistically be implemented in all schools across the country.

 The goal was to use technology and best practices to provide support for teachers and educational activities for students without the prohibitive costs for out-of-class teacher training and extensive kits. A
fter three years, countless trials, millions of dollars, Science4Us, a K-2nd digitally-delivered science curriculum, was introduced at NSTA in San Antonio in April 2013.

 In 2013, the Dept of Education, IES provided an SBIR Grant for game-based learning to support the refinement of the educational model of Science4Us.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Symbaloo Webmix on early science education, free

For those of you who don't know about Symbaloo, I have some fun news.  Bookmarking, or social bookmarking, has gotten really fun and simple.

Symbaloo is simply a way to save links and to share them. A collection of links in Symbalooland (I made up that word) is known as a webmix. Here's one made up of free science educational resources such as online exercises, interactive lessons, and science songs. It's aimed at kindergarten, first grade, and second grade. Enjoy. Download it!

http://www.symbaloo.com/mix/freek2sciencelessons


Here's three more webmixes that I'd recommend:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Literacy Learning Gifts to Teacher and Students

What's new you ask? Try this, all the Fry Word Lists are now available to use with 35 different interactive learning activities.  True!
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As background, sight words  or high frequency words are the words that fluent readers must recognize instantly and with little effort. These words appear most frequently in reading and writing in the English language. 
  • Dr. Fry's research findings:
    • 25 words make up  one-third of all published text.
    • 100 words comprise 50% of all of the words found in publications.
    • 300 words make up 65% of all written material.

The Fry list is one of many lists of sight words.  The other popular well known list are the Dolch words.

It is said that the Dolch word lists inspired Dr Suess to try to write an entire book of high interest but using all the simple Dolch word list. The result is the Cat in the Hat.  True or urban academic legend?

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Learning, Games, Simulations, and Such

A decade or so ago, it was a novel idea to suggest that learning could happen through playing electronic games and simulations.  
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Of course, teachers have created competitive situations for years and made all sorts of fun games for students.  But the entry of digital technology really changed the stakes.

Some games such as SimCity and Civilizations introduced the idea of how powerful these tools could be. But it doesn't seem like the discussion has greatly advanced. 

There seems to be a general confusion between simulations and games.  Simulations are technology based models or simulations of reality. Often they give the students control over some variables.  What is or isn't a simulator is an endlessly interesting question.

Take the PHeT simulations and the ExploreLearning Gizmos for instance. They are both great tools for students to explore how math and science works. Not games, simulations.

Is a music synthesizer a simulator? What about the Digital Frog and other digital tools intended to supplement or replace actual dissections?

Games are games. They have scores, competition or competitive play, immediate feedback, and often dramatic touches to enhance interest. Try playing PacMan with the sound-off and you'll see the importance of pucca pucca.

VocabularySpellingCity claims to be a game-based learning site. Their focus is on using elements of popular games and casual games as a way to motivate students to focus on their vocabulary and spelling words and the letters involved.  Their most popular games:
Word Search, Unscramble, Parts of Speech, Hangman (HangMouse), Crossword Puzzle, Handwriting Printables, Word-O-Rama Game Show Aim-2-Spell , Test and Teach , Coackroach Spelling , Letterfall and Word Find.

Game elements include: high score tables, immediate feedback on mistakes or successes, sound effects, and clever animations. 

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Angela Ma iers & Larry Ferrazo #CE13

This isn't an article, it's just notes from a #CE13, online chat of connected educators.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FHdHUzRnms
Choosing to matter.  #youmatter
Telling me that they matter because their contribution is needed. Everyone's genius can and should contribute.  It's not about inspiration or ego or self-esteem, it's about helping them find their passion and asking them to contribute with their genius....
Angela points out that students don't want to be passive.
It's not inspiration. It's a reality. People are needed.....
More about Choose2Matter: Choose2Matter http://choose2matter.org/

http://live.classroom20.com - K12 Online education connector.

Many book clubs in connected educator...
http://www.k12onlineconference.org

Larry was a community organizer for 19 years prior to being a teacher. The nexus is the drive to find a way to get people to drive themselves. Helping people find motivation....Look for intrinsic motivation.

My themes.
I'm a total education radical. The system as it now exists drives me nuts. Like Geoffrey Canada, I'm angry.  Teachers teach classes saying that its aimed at passing the AP test.  Courses are built around tests. It's all tied up in this circular accreditation thing which has long stopped meaning anything to most of the students going through it.

I became a radical by listening to my Dad.  I became a radical by going to HBS.  I 

An old community organizing principle.  The people most affected by a problem are often best positioned to know how to solve it.

Book Clubs:
Teacherpreneurs by CTQ (Barnett B et al)
The Connected Educator, by Sheryl and Lani 
Invent To Learn, by Sylvia Martinez

What School Leader NeedTo Know About Digital Technologies by Scott McLeod

donnaroman - that was awesome.  I can use that:  What do you want us to notice about you....?

angelamaiers  - Yes Jean---Consider my blog as an open inviation to share your genius with the world community! I try to highlight a teacher, student,leader doing work that matters! http://www.angelamaiers.com/category/teachers-with-habitudes

Judy Willis - Ignite
@judywillis
John Medina's book-Brain Rules
radteach.com
Never do anything for others that they can do for themselves...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Charter Schools in South Florida

Wow, these charter school things are multiplying.  Here's a list that I just ran across of Miami/Broward Charter School Chains:
Endeavor Schools - President Ricardo Campo, Brickell Ave, Miami 
CharterUSAFort Lauderdale, Florida 33308
Imagine Schools - local offices and schools with some major functions in South Fl. HQ in VA.
AcademicaMiami, Florida 33143


About Florida's Charter Schools from floridaschoolchoice.org/information/charter_schools/

Charter schools are public schools of choice. They are very popular—and among the fastest growing school choice options in Florida. Charter schools are largely free to innovate, and often provide more effective programs and choice to diverse groups of students.
Since 1996, the number of charter schools in Florida has grown to over 615 in 2013-14. Charter school student enrollment now tops 229,000 students.


In contrast, Kentucky has zero charter schools.

National Resources
http://www.calcharters.org/


Florida Charter School Growth from .
floridaschoolchoice.org


Friday, July 26, 2013

Kidsafe Gmail

While it seems quaint, having an email account remains the nexus of a person's online world. Their Facebook, Twitter, Wordpress, Pinterest, and Instagram identities are all based on an email.
Early on, each kid needs to have an email and it's important for parents to consider when and how to let them have one. Gmail is pretty popular and can be set up so it's a safe kids email system.  And I quote:

This is how I to set up a free email account so it's 100% safe. As a parent, you can preview all of your child's mail. Or, you can designate which users can send emails to her without you previewing them. Al the others go to you first. This way, you can throw away all the strange email about viagra etc

1. Sign up for a gmail account. Go to: www.gmail.com

2. Click on settings --> filters --> create new filter
Then, fill in these blanks:

to: your childs email address

Doesn't have: list peoples email addresses that you allow them to get email from UNMONITORED (here I have my dd's grandparents, myself, and a couple of kids that she is best friends with.) put OR between them so it looks like this : grandma@grandma.com OR mommy@mommy.com ORbstfriend@bestfriend.com OR bestfriend2@bestfriend.com

3. Go to "next step":

check all these:

Skip the Inbox (Archive it)
Forward it to: youremail@youremail.com
Delete it

This will send YOU all the email that is not from one of the people that you approve. All email from other senders will immediately be forwarded to you and deleted. You can then forward it or delete. You can also go in and add new friends when you think it's appropriate. Their spam folder will always remain empty. If you get something that you want them to see you can forward it to them from you instead if it showing from the original sender. You can always add more approved people later.

Two more points.

If your child would like to see pictures of who they are sending email to:


First, add people to your child's contact list and in the quick Contacts list you can run your mouse over the name and it gives an option to "change picture" I have pictures of her friends in there so she is sure she is emailing the right person.

Setting up an igoogle homepage for your child

This is great. I put her gmail account, her favorite sites (Time4Learning.com, SpellingCity.com, PBSkids.org, LearningGamesForKids.com) on it as well as a quote of the day, this day in history, a dictionary, and her gmail account.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Elementary Science Just Became Teachable

Science4Us is good news for everybody.  Science education in the United States remains a disappointment and a national priority. The lack of engagement and strength in science starts in the kindergarten, first, and second grades.
Science4Us's goal is make elementary science education a success within the reality of today’s educational environment.  Why teach our youngest learners about science? Isn’t physical science really advanced, covering things like E=mc2 and Newton’s laws of gravity?
Yes, physical science can be really advanced, but a lot of physical science has to do with how the world around us works. Kindergarten through Grade 2 students may not understand Einstein’s theories, but they know from experience how gravity works–even if they don’t know the name for it.


Science4Us is teacher-friendly and student-friendly. The curriculum delivery model in the classroom requires no additional professional training for teachers, while offering a variety of learning sequences and possible centers-based explorations as well as whole-class discussions. Science4Us provides students with recursive learning opportunities intended to highlight and correct naïve ideas and/or misconceptions. Students, whether pre-readers or literate, are guided through the multimedia experience at their own pace.


  • Articles/Resources
  • Science in the Classroom
    • Kindergarten Science Curriculum - Science is messy. We do not always know the answer when we start. We play. We explore. We poke around and stir things up. We try something not because we already know what will happen but because we want to know what will happen.
      As educators, we are accustomed to answer keys and red pens. Knowing the answers ahead of time, right or wrong. Contrary to this, our students are on a constant journey of discovery with something new and exciting around every corner. The Science4Us curriculum encourages students to explore freely and discover connections on their own. They may not ‘get’ everything they are poking around in, but with repeated exposure, they can become comfortable mucking about in science. They are ready to dive in and explore. We need to let them. Your students can learn science. Your students can do science. Your students can love science, and so can you!
    • 1st Grade Science Curriculum - Coming Soon!
    • 2nd Grade Science Curriculum - Coming Soon!
    • Review for 3rd-5th Grade Science - Coming Soon!
  • Science at Home
  • Science Fair Projects  This is a resource so that teachers and parents can help students have a successful science fair experience. Did you know that science fairs began in the US Post-WWII? Technological progress was in the air...it was the beginning of an era where progress accelerated into what became known in the 60s as the Space Age!
    •  

Monday, April 29, 2013

Summer time again? Need some ideas for summer study?

Summer vacation has a powerful nostalgic feel for so many people. Yet many of us have, at times, use the summer vacation from school for a chance to catch-up or get-ahead on some subjects at school. Here's some ideas.

Discuss using the Time4Learning Summer Study Summer Program with other parents in their forum.
Visit the Time4Learning summer skills building program to see how it can help for PreK-8th Grade. It's $19.95 per month.

VocabularySpellingCity has a great vocabulary and spelling summer program, not expensive! It includes some writing practice and plenty of games. It's $30 for the summer and includes a full year of membership on the site.

To improve your writing, a writing course might help. Try Time4Writing's writing courses online for summer practice.

And one more idea, how about some summer science study with Science4Us.