Designing Immersive Professional Development

As we progress, there is a continued push in education to “meet students where they are.” Teachers are aiming at creating a student-centered learning experience that immerses students by creating an environment in which the experiences are real, personal, and engaging. And hopefully, by submerging students head under stimuli, we can better hone their skills and make learning an experience they never want to leave, coming up for air only when necessary rather than drowning in content.

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Teaching Close Reading? Genius.it!

Teaching close reading is a painstakingly difficult task. It takes time. It takes patience. It takes creativity. There is no doubt that once students understand the nuances of HOW to conduct a close reading, that their comprehension skills and ability to think thoughtfully AND critically will get better. The problem is how to get them to this point. Continue reading “Teaching Close Reading? Genius.it!”

Hiding Easter Eggs in Google Drawings

If you’ve ever been to Walt Disney World, you know that it’s quite the experience. For a child (or adult in my case) there is so much to take in that you get lost in the essence that is Disney. That which was only possible in movies has been recreated right in the front of your eyes. And if you blink, you’ll miss it. Literally…”How” and “why” Disney does this is two-fold. Disney incorporates hidden “easter eggs” within their parks to create layers of detail aimed at enhancing the overall experience for its guests. And it doesn’t stop there. Disney parks and movies are littered with these “easter eggs”. From sights and sounds to hidden park secrets, to the elusive Mickeys, Disney took one experience and made it truly interactive. Consider the featured image above from the Disney movie Meet the Robinsons. Take a moment to scroll up and view the image and see if you can find the hidden easter eggs, then come back down.

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Getting Serious About Games: Part 4- Grades and Leaderboards

Figuring out how grades and the grading system will play out is probably the most daunting task of gamifying your class, but also the most logical to completing the gamified setting. Just deciding to use XP and AP and leaving it at that would be a major detriment to your students and the flow of the gamified class. And parents, much like their children, want to see how their child is performing in your class.

Once the basics of a gamified class are underway: XP, AP, and Badges, the next task is synthesizing all of the student work into one log to showcase their accomplishments. Enter the leaderboard…

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New Experiences

The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” (Into The Wild)

I am sorry for the delayed posts. A lot has been going on these past few months which hasn’t afforded me time to blog as often as I would like. With that, I am excited to announce the next journey in my career. After six years teaching English at my present high school, I will not be returning past this school year. I have been offered (and accepted) an opportunity to be the Director of Instructional Technology and Staff Development for another school district. It saddens me to be leaving my students, some of which I have formed a “Freedom Writers” relationship with as I have had them for three to four years. It is always difficult to move on and accept change, but it is invigorating to try new things amidst the uncertain.

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Getting Serious About Games: Part 3- Badges and Achievement Points (AP)

A police officer’s badge conveys power and authority. It helps exude a form of confidence only reminiscent of an old Clint Eastwood flick. Its psychological influence unbeknownst to many. Badges of course, are simple items, a way to visually show progress. Like a police officer, you complete your training and you receive your badge. The badge then symbolizes the progress you have made and the challenges you have overcome. Pretty straight forward…

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Getting Serious About Games: Part 2- Experience Points (XP)

“Our experience is coloured through and through by books and plays and the cinema, and it takes patience and skill to disentangle the things we have really learned from life for ourselves.”
C.S. Lewis

The use of experience points is one of the key elements of any great game. David Arneson, co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons, is first credited with the implementation of experience points. In tinkering with the gameplay, he found the players having so much fun, that they didn’t want to leave the characters they had built, and wanted to move that character from storyline to storyline, to watch him/her continue to develop. With this, the experience point system was created. Characters would earn experience points based on their success from game to game. After a certain number of points, a character would “level up.”

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