Using Apps and Games to Deepen Understanding

After having just spent the last two hours 'playing games' with grade six I feel the need to write a blog post and explain my actions :) 

The current unit, Sharing the Planet, in this case, should be called, 'Spreading the Planet with Disease!'

Let me dissect this for you readers:
Box 1 of the PYP Planner
With the above explanation in mind, how do I justify 'playing games' for two hours?  It is no secret that if we give a student an iPad with little or no guidance, they will just ' play around.' They might learn something from it, but do they really know what they have learned and how to record, articulate to others, and share in their ePortfolio?

It is fascinating to watch students frantically press the iPad screen in the hope that something will happen and with the expectation, they can win! It is even more rewarding when I interact with students, observe, listen and facilitate with their inquiry.  

The objective of the simulation app, Plague Inc., might be to spread the disease and avoid a cure being found before it has taken over. However, the REAL learning intention in our classroom is to spread the disease and prevent a cure being found with a critical mind, by developing a strategy, applying previous knowledge, collaborating and learning from others.

Now, let us discuss the "frantic" approach in which grade six tackled this app, and bear in mind that they were asked to record their observations and findings using the below matrix.  Students were expected to document the changes/actions that help spread the disease and record the changes/actions that hinder the disease to spread and examples from the real world.

Question: How many students were actually recording during this "frantic" period?  You guessed it: very little! Remember, they were playing!  
At this point, the students noticeably started to slow down.  The noise levels dropped.  Students became engaged and serious about the task in hand.  It was not about winning that comes with gaming, it became about using prior knowledge to further the spread of their disease, about collaborating with their peers to hear and see what they are doing well and how they might replicate this in their simulation.

A particular stand out moment for me was from Isabella when she perceptively informed those around her that if they were starting in a cold country, they would need to make sure that the cold wouldn't hinder the spread of the disease.

Where would start the spread of a deadly disease and Why?

Students watch their screens, react to the news and come up with strategies to further spread the disease.

Related Blog Posts: Not all screentime is screen time

As always, we would love to hear your comments. Feel free to share and follow me on Twitter!

Mr Towse

It's Time to Type | World Creative Writing Month

What does technology integration mean for typing?

Increased Student Writing? Higher Quality Student Writing?

I believe that being able to type is one thing, but being able to type correctly is something else altogether. Daily, I am amazed by the speeds at which young people type on their mobile cell phones, and often a lot quicker than they can write with a pen or a keyboard for that matter, but are they able to do it properly and what skills are they developing along the way. 

What if we could put this to productive use....

Would your class enjoy competing against schools from around the world?

World Creative Writing Month is back, starting Wednesday 1st March 2017. This global creative writing competition will see students from near and far competing to rise to the top of the league table and walk knowing they gave their best effort and potentially won some awesome prizes. I am truly humbled to be flying the flag and wearing my "Night Zookeeper" badge here in Tokyo, Japan. Night Zookeeper started in the UK before launching in  Fargo USA and Osaka in Japan.

Find out more and sign up here at Night Zookeeper.

If you missed it last year, then check out my blog post: World Creative Writing Month 2016 

I was sharing stories with those near and far, and I am looking forward to being a part of the Night Zoo Ambassador team across the world and sharing stories in the Night-Times.

If you are interested in hearing more or help with signing up, I look forward to hearing from you +Mr Towse

#TechWithTowse - A Model for Professional Learning

Tech With Towse is Underway!

This month I have implemented a professional development model with schedule for ICT/IT/Technology as part of my role, and this is sent out in the first elementary school update of the month.  Staff complete a pre-sessions survey and sign up to the sessions they want - no pressure! 

On the calendar is has the scheduled date, title of the session and is given a star rating for its techie element.  I wanted to create a relaxed learning environment, where staff were comfortable and were able to interact with one another find they had similar tech related questions. I run two sessions on a Friday, one where the single subject teachers choose to attend and the other after school for our homeroom teachers.  This month's sessions were labelled 'Make Blogging Work For You', and with three sessions my goal was for staff to leave the session having Blogged and have done it in a way they hadn't previously.  

I believe that ICT tools and resources when used efficiently and not merely as a substitution tool because it helps tick a box have the power to transform teaching and learning - the aim of my sessions is for others to see that it doesn't take an Ed Tech Specialist to make this happen!

Technology, like any other tool we introduce, should, where possible be shared in a relaxed environment, and one thing I have learned makes this all the better is bringing snacks and refreshments!   

Contact me to hear more or arrange for a session at your school

Stop Motion - Click Click!!

During this year's grade two How We Express Ourselves unit students learned through inquiry (and Stop Motion Studio) that stories can engage their audience, communicate meaning, and express values. In addition to enjoying stories created by others, students also learned how to express one's self in creative ways by using their imagination.

In collaboration with our art teacher, Ms Diane, students learned how to share stories by making stop motion videos. The girls have been retelling traditional folktales and illustrating the stories by drawing pictures during art class.

Introducing iPads, we were able to take pictures of their modelled clay and turn their artwork into stop motion animations with the app, Stop Motion Studio. Students learned new skills and deepened their knowledge from grade one. Learning to make incremental changes between frames so in the final product the illusion of movement is created. Besides the technical know-how, this art form gives learners an opportunity to develop PYP Attitudes - with learning a new set of skills comes the need to preserve!  When we consider it take Nick Park creator of Wallace and Gromit claymation movies take over a year to bring his creations to the cinema.

Do any other of the Attitudes spring to mind?

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