Riptides and Pearltrees

Week Nine Essential Question:  How can I use Pearltrees to differentiate content in the classroom?

Colin and I both got a late start on this week’s assignment to learn how to use Pearltrees.  We didn’t plan to collaborate, but a conversation that we had been having over Twitter and e-mail drifted into a Google Chat while each of us was getting started with Pearltrees.  Pretty quickly we figured out how to link to each other, and then we started sharing discoveries back and forth.  Colin saved me a lot of work by posting several great links from his diigo library into the MinecraftEdu team pearl.  It was very cool to see the changes happening to our Pearltree in real time as we were each working simultaneously on different parts of it.

I realized afterward that we had just had our own differentiated learning experiences.  Colin caught on to how to add pearls much faster than I did, and his work freed me up to add some comment pearls.  We both worked on reorganizing and had some hands-on learning about joining teams, deleting pearls and links, etc.  We worked at our own pace, learned from each other, and were able to focus on the aspects that were most interesting and useful to us.   Here’s a link to my Pearltree.

I think Pearltrees would be a great graphic organizer for students.  I can imagine using it for K-W-L.  A team of students could start by creating a central pearl identifying a key topic.  They could add pearls to it listing what they already know (K) about that topic, including links to useful websites, images, etc.  Next, they could link pearls from what they know to what they want to know (W)– questions that they have, related topics they’re curious about, etc.  As team members explore each other’s pearls, they would probably think of new questions and interesting topics to add.  For the final stage of the project, the students could research some of their questions and new topics and add whole new Pearltrees with what they learned (L), and maybe even create new teams based on new shared interests or questions.

As happened with Colin and me, I think there would be natural differentiation in this process and in the content students explore.  Students would be free to add pearls anywhere they had questions or particular interests, and students could share knowledge and resources with each other by adding more comment pearls and weblink pearls.

I think working in Pearltrees simultaneously and seeing the realtime changes to the connections would be motivating for students.  I also think they would enjoy the power to collaborate and share expertise and questions with each other.  A paper K-W-L chart can be a useful graphic organizer, but I think a K-W-L Pearltree would be so much more dynamic and engaging.

Life in the MOOC

Well, I felt like the swimming lessons were going along nicely, and I was learning to paddle around and do some pretty cool things out there in the big cyberspace ocean.  I was really looking forward to the UAS spring break week– no new homework assignments for a week, and I could maybe even get ahead a little during the peace and quiet while my kids were at school.  And then their spring break was the next week, so we’d have some good family time together because I’d have all that work done ahead of time.  Ha!  Want to make God laugh?  Tell Him you’ve made plans.

My daughter caught a nasty virus at the beginning of our UAS spring break, and I spent pretty much the whole week taking care of her.  Of course I was rewarded for my efforts by coming down with the same virus myself just as she was recovering.  And somehow I never do accurately gauge just how much time my Girl Scout volunteer commitments are going to take… so the past few weeks have been a blur of illness and Girl Scout cookies.

Add to that the enormity of Project 2 and the Week Nine Pearltrees project and the looming prospect of Week Ten and the final project, and I feel like I’ve been caught in a riptide that has pulled me underwater and is dragging me out to sea.  I just want to catch my breath!  And maybe lie on the beach for a while. I wish!

I have continued to learn about Minecraft.  My son showed me how to generate a flat world in the regular Minecraft game, so I started building Proportion World there.  Then I discovered that there are some special teacher blocks in MinecraftEdu and decided to start over building Proportion World in MinecraftEdu.  So unfortunately, progress has been slow, but I think when I am done, I will have a useful world that I can share with Nathan and other teachers to use for teaching proportions and three dimensional scale relationships.  It won’t be fancy, but I think it will still be very engaging and memorable for students to complete their math lesson in MinecraftEdu.

Meanwhile, Colin has done amazing things in MinecraftEdu.  He figured out how to import a Google map into a MinecraftEdu world, and he set up a server so that those of us included in the MinecraftEdu trial version can visit his Douglas Island/Juneau world.  In an amusing coincidental connection to my blog theme, I seem to find myself underwater most of the time there because I’m still not that great at maneuvering around in Minecraft.  Oh well.  Learning to swim in yet another world.

I can’t wait to have some time to visit my classmates’ blogs and explore their projects for Assignment 2.  I hope that will happen soon.  So much to learn!


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My diigo library (weekly)

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Playing the game: meeting standards and differentiating instruction

Week Eight Essential Question:  How might video games enhance my students’ learning?

Revelation:  Minecraft is a geeky game.  Maybe you already knew this.  It became apparent to me when I encountered students who denied having ever played the game but demonstrated obvious proficiency in the MinecraftEdu tutorial.  It might be geeky, but it’s still a game, and being given a whole class period to play a computer game was a novelty for these high school students.

I had the privilege to be a guest in Nathan Adams’ high school classroom when he introduced the MinecraftEdu Tutorial World to two of his classes.  In the Tutorial World, the students learned how to navigate through Minecraft and how to dig and build by completing a series of “hands-on” challenges.  All of the students, from the genuine novices to the professed experts, were engaged in the tutorial challenges.  We could most easily observe that they had mastered the building skills; we could see the structures that they built.  The students also demonstrated perseverance in problem-solving as they used trial and error to figure out how to navigate through the Tutorial World, communication and collaboration skills as they asked for and gave help to each other, and spatial reasoning– a key skill in Minecraft.

Nathan, Colin, and I have been talking about ways to use Minecraft in the classroom to meet Nathan’s instructional goals.  Colin is working on creating a Minecraft map of Douglas Island that Nathan and his students can use to model and explore ecosystems.

My plan is to use Minecraft to create a proportional reasoning challenge for the students in Mr. Adams’ prealgebra class.  I have been learning how to play in Creative Mode in Minecraft to create “Proportion World.”  In Proportion World, students will first take a tour of a couple of sets of proportional models that I am building.  Each pair of models is accompanied by signs that describe the scale relationship between the models.  The next part of the challenge will be for each student to build a scale model of a given structure.  The final challenge will be for each student to build an original structure, build a scale model of that structure, and post signs to describe the scale relationship between the two.  After all students have completed the challenges, the whole class will tour the world together, and each student will give a live oral presentation to the class describing his or her models and problem-solving process.  I think I can create a scoring rubric that ties the Proportion World challenges to several Alaska Standards for Mathematical Practice and Content.

Minecraft can be used to meet all of the Alaska Standards for Mathematical Practice K-12 (2012):

  1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them
  2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively
  3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others
  4. Model with mathematics
  5. Use appropriate tools strategically
  6. Attend to precision
  7. Look for and make use of structure
  8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning

The challenges I am creating in Proportion World will meet the Alaska Standards for Mathematical Content (2012) for Ratios and Proportional Relationships:

  • Grade 6:  Understand ratio concepts and use ratio reasoning to solve problems.
  • Grade 7:  Analyze proportional relationships and use them to solve real-world and mathematical problems.

and Geometry:

  • Grade 6 and 7:  Solve real-world and mathematical problems involving area, surface area, and volume.
  • Grade 8:  Understand congruence and similarity using physical models, transparencies, or geometry software.

I must give credit to my sixteen year old son Sam as a key member of my PLN for this whole MOOC experience, and especially for simulation and video game expertise.  Since he was in kindergarten, he has enjoyed escaping into virtual worlds in his downtime, the more complex, the better.  He’s not the kind of person to let video games interfere with his responsibilities, so I’ve never had to monitor or limit his screen time.  To tell you the truth, I’ve never really paid that much attention to what he has been up to until I started taking this class.  Recently he has been helping me learn how to play some of these games (including Minecraft).  Now I marvel at his virtual world accomplishments.

The second game I explored for Week Eight is Zoo Tycoon for PC (Microsoft Corporation, 2003).  It’s not a new game; I think I gave it to Sam for his birthday some time when he was in elementary school.  He popped the disk in my laptop the other night and started creating a new zoo, and within a couple of hours, he had a profitable enterprise going.  Zoo Tycoon is a simulation game, sort of like The Sims, where you start with a bare piece of land and a budget, and you have a whole array of categories from which you can purchase structures, animals, and habitat features for your zoo.  Guests start visiting your zoo, generating income but also demanding services (food, drink, restrooms, etc.), so the game becomes a challenge of planning, estimating, budgeting, cost/benefit analysis, spatial reasoning, artistic creativity, and more.

I invited my thirteen year old daughter, who is not a big video game fan, to try the Zoo Tycoon tutorials with me.  In a short time, she had figured out the basics of the game.  I think she would have no trouble going on to develop a successful zoo.  As far as classroom application, I think the game would be good for mental math and all kinds of accounting skills, but I’m not sure exactly where it would fit in the middle school curriculum.

Tracie recommended the third game I explored this week when I asked in our Twitter chat if anyone knew of any good algebra games.  Lure of the Labyrinth is a free online game designed to develop prealgebra skills.  The website has an excellent section for educators explaining how the game fits with curriculum standards and how to implement the game successfully in your classroom.  It also features two modes of play, Play Game and Play Puzzles.  In the Play Game mode, the students work their way through a series of challenges to achieve the overall goal of rescuing pets from monsters.  In the Play Puzzles mode, students just solve the individual puzzle challenges, focusing on particular prealgebra skills without engaging in the pet rescue story plot.

As a digital immigrant, I am amazed at the way all of these games are designed for the player to learn how to play by playing.  I find myself constantly wondering where the help button is.  It takes real patience, perseverance, and clever reasoning to figure these games out.  I definitely have not been giving kids enough credit!  What’s great is that the games are engaging and motivating enough that kids will do what it takes to solve the puzzles.  When those solutions involve skills and concepts that match our curriculum goals and standards, I think we should embrace games in our classrooms.  And we should learn from the games themselves how we can make the rest of our instruction more engaging and motivating, too.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have proportional structures to build, snow leopards to feed, and pets to rescue from labyrinth monsters…

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My diigo library (weekly)

  • MInecraft music note blocks Skyrim theme

    tags: #diffimooc minecraft

  • tags: #diffimooc

    • A negative? The stories are limited to just 10 characters and 10 exchanges. So you really need to focus on what is “said” in your story.


      A positive? The stories are limited to just 10 characters and 10 exchanges. So, because kids are limited in what they can say, it seems like a great tool for summarizing strategies.

  • tags: #diffimooc

    • Well, there’s a new form of professional development sweeping the nation that aims to change all that. Edcamps are unconferences for educators where learners share their experiences and their professional expertise in a collaborative, interactive learning environment. Edcamps are based on Open Space Technology (OST) which states that “whoever comes are the right people and whatever happens are the only things that could have” (Boule, 2011).
    • made up of sessions that are determined on the day of the event: Edcamps do not have scheduled presentations. During the morning of the event, the schedule is created in conjunction with everyone there. I know it sounds crazy, but it works! Sessions end up being spontaneous, interactive, and responsive to participants’ needs.
    • Edcamps were founded when a group of teachers, including me, were inspired by a local Barcamp unconference on computer programming. Since the first Edcamp was held in Philadelphia in May 2010, over 50 Edcamps have been held by teachers in the United States, Chile, and Sweeden. (Interested in holding your own Edcamp? Visit the Edcamp wiki at
    • Lately, Edcamps have received some criticism due to the interactive, unpredictable format. How can you guarantee that every Edcamp session is based on the latest research? Quite simply, you can’t. Edcamps should be used as one meaningful item on the professional development menu. There will always be a place for traditional professional development to ensure that faculties are using the latest research and effectively employing the most fundamental strategies purported by the educational organization. However, using the Edcamp format to honor teachers’ expertise and provide interactive learning opportunities is a worthy process.
  • The kids are using tablets to teach their peers.

    tags: #diffimooc

  • tags: #diffimooc

    • If the design requires me to do an extensive amount of talking, showing, and prompting, then I’m likely minimizing the retention and learning for the participant. In short, if I’m doing the work, then I’m also doing the learning. (Hat tip to a great teacher in Toledo who always says that!) My students should be the ones doing the work; I should be guiding the experience.
        • What I also liked about it was that it was so much fun because you would either be listening, taking pictures, or video taping the people who made the whole session. ~Alan
        • Edcamp was the best thing that we could have done in the whole year. ~Cole

         The next time you plan a lesson or unit, let the students do the heavy lifting. Kids can do anything if we let them!






  • tags: augmented reality #diffimooc

  • tags: augmented reality #diffimooc

  • tags: augmented reality #diffimooc

    • 1. Google Sky Map


      This is an augmented reality app which makes learning about astronomy interesting and fun. Instead of looking at descriptions of constellations in a book and then attempting to identify them in the sky, you can use Google Sky Map to directly identify stars and constellations using the camera on your smartphone.

    • 2. FETCH! Lunch Rush


      Recently released by PBS KIDS, FETCH! Lunch Rush is an augmented reality app to teach math skills to elementary students through the use of visualization. Designed in 3-D, the app uses your smartphone camera to place graphics on your camera over real-world surroundings. The app then teaches elementary students to add and subtract using real-world scenarios which allow for visualization while solving math problems.

    • 3. GeoGoggle


      GeoGoggle is a great helper when it comes to acquiring geography skills and judging distances to specific destinations. Students can learn geographical measurement such as latitude and longitude by applying GeoGoggle to real-world surroundings.

    • 4. ZooBurst


      This is a nifty augmented reality app to help elementary level students learn through visual imaging. With this app, students get to interact and become a part of a story. ZooBurst allows you to engage in digital storytelling by designing storybooks complete with 3-D characters.

    • The digital storybooks can be customized using a library of thousands of images and and users can add Adobe flash animations, narrations, and speech balloons to the story. Once the book is completed, students can become a part of the story via webcam. They can also click on the characters in the story to learn more about them.
    • The digital storybook created by ZooBurst can be rotated enabling you to view it from any angle. ZooBurst can also be used to help students create presentations and communicate complex ideas which would otherwise be difficult to explain. Check out this video presentation to get a better idea of how ZooBurst works.
    • 5. Acrossair


      Acrossair is a browser which can be used in real-world surroundings and in the classroom for learning and discussion. The browser can carry apps that push the boundaries of the uses of augmented reality. You can find locations near you and share your locations with friends. Students can also create interactive classroom projects, and participate in interactive photo walls displaying wiki and multimedia on a classroom topic.

    • Another fun feature of acrossair is that it enables you to engage in classroom discussions via Twitter AR. After sending out your tweet, you can launch acrossair to check out the latest tweets by people near you via geotagging technology. Imagine holding up your phone and seeing tweets by the people around you.
  • tags: #diffimooc augmented reality

  • tags: #diffimooc aurasma

  • tags: #diffimooc minecraft

    • Augmented Reality, AR for short, is the term used for adding additional information to the world we perceive around us. Different combinations of hardware and software offer a wide variety of possible experiences.
  • tags: #diffimooc minecraft

  • tags: #diffimooc minecraft

  • tags: #diffimooc minecraft

  • tags: #diffimooc minecraft

  • tags: #diffimooc minecraft

    • This year, I want the activity to be student-managed and student moderated. To clarify, the Middle School/High School Techxperts will run the server for the Grade 2-5 Minecraft activity which will begin in the new year. This will give me the opportunity to interact with the students and just play. It’s a win-win as far as I’m concerned.
    • Multiplayer games like these are tremendous levelers. I am very much a beginner with Minecraft and after a 6 month hiatus, it was all I could do to remember how to fly and move around. The Techxperts were so supportive. When I expressed my need for a refresher course, Pascal suggested I try building myself a spawn point, to (and I quote) “get myself back in the game.” In the world of tech coaching, Pascal modeled perfectly the notion of Positive Presuppositions – assuming the very best of a person, to encourage and support. It blows my mind. I can’t wait for the Grade 2-5s to join in and show the Techxperts how great they are. Because they are. Simply amazing.
    • We refined some of our guidelines based on student feedback, including:
       – If you’ve built something, put a sign with your name on it, so we know who made it.
       – Ask if you’re not sure about how/where to build something – someone will help.
    • A group of students worked on developing a training area, so newbies like me would have a place to learn without accidentally smashing things (yeah, sorry about that Rogan). I look forward to learning the ropes soon!
    • One of the younger students asked if it was ok to copy something that someone had built. The general consensus among players was that it was fine. Then Liam added, “As long as you acknowledge it,” and Mohit said, “You’ve got to modify it a little bit though – remix is ok.” I then gave an example of the hot air balloons (in the first photo). Rogan made the first one (with the colours of the Union Jack on it), and Kenneth made his own one, changing the colours to those of the Irish Flag.
    • I’m not sure if they realised it, but they now have firsthand experience with Creative Commons – they know what it feels like to be a creator and have your work used. Tacit permission has been given to the group to adapt and remix, as long as attribution occurs.
    • This blog post is proving hard to write. I have rewritten this paragraph about 14 times, mostly because I am trying not to sound embittered! I am saddened that the educational potential in games has once again been overlooked.
    • Anyway, at the end of the first session, I wasn’t sure how things were going to work out. I’m convinced Minecraft has spectacular educational value, but this activity is my own qualitative research experiment.
    • As soon as I had logged in, I realised I had completely forgotten ALL commands, including, crucially, how to move and how to talk! By guessing that if I pressed ‘t’ it might let me talk, I managed to chat to the few kids that were logged in and were already excitedly talking away (hopefully unaware of how utterly useless their teacher was at that moment). I asked them how to move – they told me to double-click the space bar, and up I flew.
    • One of the students, Kenneth (G3) wanted to show me his house, so I began to follow him. Unfortunately, night was falling in our little world, so I could no longer see where he was going. I could still chat, so typed, “I can’t see where I’m going! Where are you?”


      [Advance notice: I think this is AWESOME!] Kenneth solved the problem by putting down a series of glow blocks, which emitted enough light so I could see where he was going – a modern day Hansel & Gretel breadcrumb trail. Genius!

    • My next obstacle came when I wanted to take some screenshots of a pool built at the top of a mountain. Every time I pressed shift+command+4, I started to sink (as the command for going down is shift). I complained in the chat that I kept sinking when trying to take a screenshot, and once again, Kenneth came to my rescue. He suggested building a block beneath me, so I wouldn’t fall.
    • Day 2 of our server being open showed remarkable progress. Evidence of collaboration was everywhere.
    • Organisation was appearing amidst the chaos.


      So what learning have I seen to date? How long have you got?

    • Collaboration & Team work – A culture of collaboration appears to have existed from the beginning. According so some of the players, some people log in and say, “Who needs some help?” and away they go. I have been particularly pleased to see that Grade 7 students have been working alongside Grade 2/3 students on particular projects. This isn’t something I directed them to do (though I am certainly fostering it now), it’s just something that happened.
    • Now we’re starting to get players come up with creative ideas which require a slew of people to assist them. Generally speaking it seems to be a very open culture where suggestions are more often than not accepted and enhanced by the involvement of each new member. A sense of pride in their accomplishments show they understand the value of hard work, and how it feels to have completed something they have put effort into achieving.
    • Creativity & Innovation
    • They have organised their world to make it more efficient and more aesthetically pleasing. It’s quite literally a privilege to watch.
    • Mathematical Understanding – spacial awareness, area, construction, volume… Interaction with Minecraft can only serve to enhance a student’s comprehension of mathematical skills and concepts.
    • Minecraft is a combination of frustration, excitement, and pure adrenaline. It widens your mind and you can get inspired very easily from other people’s creations. You can also learn various tips from more experienced players and most of all you just have fun.
    • a culture of remix and amplification.
    • everyone has something to contribute, something to add, something with which to inspire others.


    • Leadership and peer-learning opportunities – Games level the playing field. Tom Chatfield notes that, “A virtual world is a tremendous leveller in terms of wealth, age, appearance, ethnicity and such like…” It means a child can be an expert, a student can be the most knowledgeable source of information. What a powerful concept for a young person  – I have something of value to offer my peers and teachers.
    • This fits in beautifully with  Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger’s Communities of Practice theory of learning, where,


      “It is through the process of sharing information and experiences with the group that the members learn from each other, and have an opportunity to develop themselves personally and professionally.”

    • communities of practice as “passion communities” constructed via social networking, where members are usually held to quite rigorous standards in their area of passion. To the novice, feedback is given, support is provided, but standards are not be lowered.
    • I hope every parent of a student playing Minecraft takes the time to sit next to their child and really ask them what they’re doing, why it’s important to them, how/why they create things, and what they’re learning. I’m sure they’d be gobsmacked at the responses.
  • tags: #diffimooc minecraft

  • tags: #diffimooc minecraft

  • tags: #diffimooc minecraft

  • tags: #diffimooc minecraft

  • tags: #diffimooc minecraft

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Delving into MinecraftEdu

Essential Question:  What tool did you learn this week to assist you in differentiating the learning process for students?

This week I began to learn to play MinecraftEdu and began to explore its power as an educational tool.  Colin has been working with the good folks at MinecraftEdu to get one or two high school special ed classrooms set up with a server and seat licenses for our group’s Project 2.

I decided to try the Tutorial World myself to see what I could learn and to try to get ideas for how we could use MinecraftEdu for Project 2.  I worked my way through the Tutorial World, discovering how to walk and steer my avatar, how to jump, climb, and swim, and how to dig and build.  I learned how to collect and use some basic tools, and then I came to the Shape-Building Challenge:

Shape-Building Challenge instructions

As you can tell from the sign, the tutorial world is set up so that groups of students can work together within it.  The Shape-Building Challenge is set up with twelve identical stations.  I wish I had had a team working with me!  I went to station 1 to work through the challenge by myself.  The photo below shows my avatar looking at the four piles of raw material supplied for the challenge:  dirt, sand, gravel, and cobblestone.


(I couldn’t figure out how to take a screenshot from within the game, so I used my iPhone to take a digital photo.  Seems very low-tech after the last seven weeks…)

Here is a photo of one of the shapes I had to duplicate and the beginnings of my construction (the four dirt blocks on the lower left).  You can also see some of the shapes and my matching constructions in the background.


I know my constructions don’t look like much, but they are the result of several hours of learning how to install and run MinecraftEdu and how to engage with the MinecraftEdu Tutorial World.  It took a lot of experimentation and problem solving to get to the point where I could build those little block structures.

What are Minecraft and MinecraftEdu?

At its most basic level, Minecraft, created by Mojang AB of Sweden, is a game about breaking and placing blocks.  You can buy versions for the Mac/PC, iOS and Android, and Xbox 360.  You can play single-player or multi-player over a local area network or the internet.  You can play in Creative or Survival mode in an infinite number of worlds.  In Survival mode, you face hunger and hostile creatures, and you must gather your own resources.  In Creative mode, you play in a peaceful world with instant access to unlimited resources.  Since its inception in 2009, the game has been continually evolving.

MinecraftEdu is a collaboration between educators and programmers in the United States and Finland working with Mojang AB to make Minecraft affordable and accessible to schools everywhere and to provide unique tools specifically for classroom use.  The MinecraftEdu custom mod is available to pilot schools that purchase Minecraft through MinecraftEdu.  The custom mod allows the teacher to write assignments and instructions and add information blocks within the game, and it gives the teacher special controls within the game.

From the website:  “The game is being used to teach more than just computer skills. It easily lends itself to science, technology, engineering and math explorations (STEM). But beyond that, language teachers are strengthening communication skills, civics teachers are exploring how societies function, and history teachers are having their students recreate ancient civilizations. It is not an exaggeration to say that the only limit is imagination!”

How can we use Minecraft to differentiate instruction?

Minecraft was designed to be open-ended and modifiable.  Players can explore and create within the Minecraft worlds in infinite ways.  I think it is an ideal tool for differentiation. In her blog post, “Massively Misunderstood Minecraft,” Kerilee Beasley lists these learning benefits:

  • collaboration and teamwork
  • creativity and innovation
  • mathematical understanding
  • leadership and peer learning

I highly recommend reading her other blog posts on Minecraft and other tech topics:  Tip of the Iceberg.  I also recommend the MinecraftEdu wiki as a source for lesson ideas and inspiration.

Kerilee writes about Minecraft being a “tremendous leveler.”  She herself is a Minecraft novice, and she openly relies upon her students to guide and mentor her.  Similarly, my son has been playing Minecraft for more than two years now, and this week he has been patiently amused by my clumsy efforts to learn to move around in the Tutorial World.  He knows that he could just tell me how to do everything, but he also understands how much more empowering it is for me to discover things myself, with small hints and nudges from him when I am on the verge of frustration.

Minecraft allows an open-ended approach to challenges.  Learners bring their own strengths and preferences to each challenge, and they can observe and learn new creative strategies from each other.  Minecraft offers a great opportunity for metacognition; teachers can encourage students to share their thought processes as they solve the kinds of multi-step problems that Minecraft presents.  Exploring Minecraft as an education tool is helping me to see the potential for game playing as a very powerful, motivating source of learning.

Life in the MOOC in Week Seven

This week I discovered that AR is not just Accelerated Reader (the annoying computer based multiple choice reading comprehension tests that are killing my seventh grade daughter’s love of reading).  I explored some of the links Dr. Graham shared on Augmented Reality, and I feel like I got a little sneak peek at the digital future.  (Minority Report?)

I think it would be great fun to try ZooBurst, and Tracie’s video tutorial on thinglink has inspired me so much that I really wish I had time to add thinglinks to one of my Minecraft photos instead of posting this plain old blog.  And as you may have noticed, I figured out how to include links in my blog instead of just pasting the URL next to the text.  And my autoposting of my diigo library seems to have worked after all, although I don’t think I like the list format, so I’ll have to decide what to do about that.

Chip and Colin shared some great resources from ASTE, and I finally got around to watching some of the YouTube videos of Minecraft, like the cell model.  I also discovered some entertaining Minecraft music video parodies and two really amazing Minecraft creations:  a CPU and a Minecraft musical note block construction that plays the theme to Skyrim.  And so much more!

I think it was Nathan who created a webpage for our Project 2 group.  I am learning more about how to use that space to collaborate with the group.  In the mean time, we have another Google hangout scheduled for tomorrow evening.  Now that I’ve explored the Minecraft world a little bit, I am very excited about seeing what students will do with it.


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My diigo library (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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Differentiating the process

Week Six Essential Question:  What does it mean to differentiate the process (content, strategies for instruction) in the classroom?

Please visit my Storify page to see my answer to this week’s essential question:

This week in the diffiMOOC…  I connected with a wonderful group of folks who would like to work together on Project 2:  Nathan has graciously offered his classroom (with its exciting advanced technology resources like an overhead projector and transparency film that you can put through the copier!) and his students to explore a digital age learning experience with us.  Chip and Colin are leading us boldly into the simulated cubic world of  I think Tracey and I are hoping we can keep up and trying to make sense of it all.  We managed a four-way Google hangout this evening, although I think I have a hardware issue with my microphone.  I’ll need to work on that.

I spent some time learning more about diigo.  I’ve learned how simple it is to add to my lists (just click “edit” for the item I want to add, and then select the list).  I guess my automated link to this blog didn’t work.  I’ll have to try to set it up again.  Here’s the link:

I’ve been thinking a lot about the changes in the educational landscape since I left the classroom more than thirteen years ago.  I attended a masters program in childhood (K-6) education at Boston University in 1991 and then taught in a multi-age classroom (grades 3-5) in Salem, Massachusetts, 1992-1999.  At the time, the buzzwords were whole language, hands-on science, math with manipulatives, literature-based instruction, cooperative learning, flexible grouping, integrated curriculum, and multiple intelligences.  I was the first teacher in my school to have a whiteboard, the kind you write on with Expo markers, and, no, it wasn’t magnetic.  The most exciting thing was that my class was participating in a service learning project through a grant that allowed us to have four or five Macintosh computers that were networked to each other (but not to the internet).  That was cutting edge technology in our school district.  I remember trying to persuade the administration that a fax machine was a worthwhile investment.

I am happy to be learning how far technology has advanced and how to begin to use some of the many new tools available.  The pace of change is incredible.  As far as all the education buzzwords, I think those ideas are still current, and they are all tools in the differentiation toolbox.

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