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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Getting Serious About Games: Part 1- What is it?

I’ve never been one to shy away from trying something new. The thought of failure doesn’t scare me, so when I first began my foray into “gamification”, my ultimate goal was to seek new and exciting ways in which I would ultimately better engage students in my classroom.

So I began foraging for resources and asking questions… What new and exciting things are out there? What are other teachers doing in their classrooms? What are students into that will help me gain their attention in class? I read blogs… numerous blogs, conducted a vast amount of research, read about varying pedagogies, and reached out to a few unsuspecting educators who had begun their own transition to “gamification”. I don’t want to go off on a tangent, but this part of the research- “reaching out to a few unsuspecting educators” scares people, and I’m not sure why…

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5 Ed-tech Programs to (RE)engage Students in the Classroom

As teachers, we think it’s the student’s job to be engaged in every lesson we teach. Listen to us lecture, take notes, and understand our every word. And we think that a well behaved student is an engaged student (and this couldn’t be any further from the truth). Being an 80’s kid myself, I think we have all seen what a behaved, yet unengaged student looks like, cue Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

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Which LMS is MVP?

I’m not going to discuss the reasons why you should be teaching using an LMS (here’s to hoping you already are). The benefits are endless. Instead, my goal is to break down a few of the different choices of Learning Management Systems, in order to find the best “bang for your buck”. I will be examining 3 that I feel have the most potential. With so many choices of programs to use, which one truly is deserving of the title MVP?

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Rigor or Difficulty… You Decide

There’s a silent war being fought in the minds of educators around the globe. To many, they hide behind an old paradigm, “if it’s difficult, it must be good.” You can’t step foot in the realm of education without hearing the words “rigor” and “difficulty” being dropped on the daily. But what do they mean? And is one truly better than the other?
I read this quote the other day: Hard Hurts; Rigor Invigorates…

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A Little Adventure Never Killed Nobody

When I was a kid, I remember reading a series of books called The Lone Wolf Series. These books had me hooked. as it is written in second person, placing you, the reader, in the role of protagonist Lone Wolf himself. This wasn’t your normal book. This was Dungeons and Dragons (for the old school gamers out there), meets Zelda. Nerdy? Maybe… But it drew me in. What hooked me was the constant opportunity to make my own choices, each one changing the overall course/direction the story would take, and ultimately, the final outcome of the book. It was a game interwoven in the contextualization of a novel. Imagery? Check. Characterization? You bet. A dignified plot? Of course- and one that spanned a whopping 28 books to boot.

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