Video Gaming Wrap-Up

Following my last post, I have done more exploration to try and figure out my last question of how exactly I will be able to monitor progress and hold whole-class discussions when every student may be at different points in the game. One solution that I have come up with for monitoring progress is the ability for students to create passwords in the game. The game provides them with a username and password that they can log back in with, so they could give me their information and I can keep track of where they are throughout the game. 

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One solution that I have come to realize for how I could hold class discussions for the game is that even though everyone might be at different levels, the game can still be talked about because each level essentially has the same components. All students can contribute to discussing the different shapes they needed in levels, the hamsters they used to get there and the thought process they used to solve each level. 

In doing my video game exploration, I have come to many realizations about how they might be used in the classroom that I never would have thought of before. I now am able to see that video games are much more than those played on consoles with remote controllers as a fun after school activity. Video games can be important parts in the classroom in keeping students engaged but also allowing them to learn. I would now agree with Gee in the article “Good video games + good learning” that “Video games are action and goal directed preparations for, and stimulations of, embodied experience” (23). Standards can be picked out to influence what goals you want your students to achieve from playing the specific game you choose. 

I really enjoyed the experience that my learning circle gave me by picking out this game. The engineering aspect is something different then I would normally expect a teacher to use, but the game includes many different mathematical aspects that can also be used. I believe that the game Hamster Run definitely includes many of the different aspects that are included in a good video game and that is why I would choose to use this specific game in my classroom. 

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Video Gaming Post Two

As I continue to play the game that my learning circle chose, Hamster Run, I am able to find more and more components that I did not originally see. One thing that I noticed is the ability to create different paths for the hamster. This aspect fosters a lot of creativity for the students because they are able to build the paths however they like and there is not one correct answer. I also noticed the different shapes that are available for each level change and this aspect also changes how the students would go about approaching each level. 

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While working my way through the levels I have not experienced yet, I began to search for what standards I would want to select to assess my students with as they play the game. Two standards that I selected were the technology standards 3-5.DT.1.b. give examples of how requirements for a product can limit the design possibilities for that product and 3-5.DT.1.c. describe a process as a series of actions and how it is used to produce a result. The first standard can be demonstrated throughout the game because each level has only a limited amount of possibilities that the shapes can come together to reach the product, the carrot. The second standard is also present in the game as students will be able to describe the process of placing each block into a specific spot to produce the result.

Even though I picked a standard for grades 3-5, this game is still very much appropriate for grade K-2 as well because of how differentiated it can be. A standard that I may choose for a child in those grades to focus on would be K-2.DT.2.a., observe and describe details of an object’s design. For example, the level pictured below could be created by the student then described as adding a square on top of the original square and a triangle on top of that square. They could also say how the design already came with two triangles and two squares, so they did not need to add that in the beginning.

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I think the ability to use this game across many grade levels shows how much it can be differentiated and how great it would be for teachers to use in their classrooms. The only challenge that I still see with this game is one from the article “Teaching with Video games: How Experience Impacts Classroom Intelligence” by Amanda Bell. She states, “One challenge is that students usually play digital games individually and reach different points in the game at different times, making student progress a challenge to monitor and whole-class conversations difficult to structure” (514). Since students are all at different paces and will work through the game at different speeds, trying to see how exactly to incorporate discussion on it in the classroom may be more difficult. I want to find out a way to do this as I continue to work through the game.

 

Video Gaming Post One

“The goal of education is not to increase the amount of knowledge but to create the possibilities for a child to invent and discover, to create men who are capable of doing new things” -Jean Piaget 

Trying new things that one is unfamiliar with may often feel uncomfortable or challenging, but we never know what we can discover until we do so. When I was younger, I only remember video games on the computer being played during computer class. We never really had the opportunity to play with and explore them during normal class time because most of our learning was done on paper with little technology. As my learning circle began to discuss video gaming in the classroom, we discovered that a lot of current research sees many benefits of this fairly newer learning enhancer. In trying to gain more knowledge and insight to how technology and video gaming affect the classroom, I became aware that video games have the previously mentioned ability to allow children to invent and discover new things that they may be unfamiliar to, like Piaget stated.

When trying to decide on a video game, my learning circle kept into consideration Gee’s ideas that “good video games represent a technology that illuminate how the human mind works, incorporate good learning principles and have a great deal to teach us about learning in and out of schools” (22). We searched through many Early Childhood Educational websites and were looking to find a very interactive site that had games of many subject areas and concepts. We stumbled across and began to explore the popular children website PBS Kids, where we began with mathematics games because we thought those would be the most interesting. We were proven wrong, however, because many of them were drill and practice that lost our attention quickly. Upon more searching and playing, we found the game “Hamster Run” from the “Ruff Ruffman Show”, which was full of different interactive activities. This page focuses around science and engineering with different videos to watch, activities to do off the computer and finally the game. 

In beginning the game, you first click an arrow that brings you to a screen where the directions and purpose of the game are discussed from the main character Ruff Ruffman. He tells us that the hamsters can not reach their food, the carrot, and you must build different structures that help lead them to the food.

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Next, the player is brought to the options of Play or Create, however creating your own course is not accessible until the user has unlocked different levels beforehand. Once the player has pressed play, they are brought to a screen where they must select the level that they want to play. You must beat the levels in order so that you can move on to the following level.

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Before the level begins, the student chooses the hamster they want to play with and more hamsters become unlocked as levels are beaten. The next screen shows the path the hamster needs to take to reach the carrot and Ruff instructs them to “use only the square blocks to get the hamster to the carrot”.

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Once you figure out where the building blocks should go for the hamster to reach his destination, you press “Go”. When the hamster reaches the carrot, the screen gives a positive encouraging word to the player.

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If the hamster does not reach the carrot, he continues to move back and forth where he is stuck and you must press undo to try again. 

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This game was very interactive and thought provoking for students to explore. One thing I enjoyed about it was that it allows for differentiation and creativity with the many choices the individual students are allowed to make. The game also does not just stop when the levels are beaten because it then allows students to create their own mazes for the hamster to go through. I think this game accomplished the goals of the MindShift article because it was very efficient, effective and had academic rigor so that the students are able to enjoy the game while maintaining their focus throughout playing. 

 

 

Introductions

Hello, my name is Nicole Heffington and I prefer to be called Nicole along with the pronoun she. I am a junior Early Childhood Education major and my hometown is in Mentor, Ohio where I have lived my whole life. If possible, I would love to be able to return to my hometown to teach at the elementary school I attended. I am a member of both John Carroll’s women’s basketball team and Love Your Melon organization on campus and have enjoyed the experiences I have had in both of these activities. This semester I plan on trying to dedicate more of my time to volunteering in the community both through my major and in general. Also in my free time, I enjoy hanging out with friends, traveling to new places and reading. 

In order to feel comfortable taking intellectual and creative risks in a college classroom, I prefer to be in classes with people I know and am comfortable with because that allows me to be more outspoken and relaxed. Also, I like when teachers do not call on students to answer questions, but rather let them raise their hands to answer on their own, so they are not put on the spot feeling bad if we do not know the answer. Lastly, to feel more comfortable taking risks I like when teachers have assignments that are more open ended and opinionated versus right and wrong answers because I feel that allows students to be more original and come up with their own innovative ideas.

Something that matters most to me about education is that teachers come to class with the utmost passion and preparation that they possibly can each and every day. I think this especially applies to the classrooms of Early Childhood because these are the children’s first years of schooling, so a passionate teacher will cause the students to enjoy school from the start. The essay “The Role of Passion in Learning and Teaching” by Hamdi Serin helps to show my interests/ concerns as a preservice teacher. This essay talks about how passion is the heart of effective teaching and really increases motivation and excitement in the classroom for learning. The article also talks about how passion can also make the classroom more serious because of the teacher showing “high levels of interest in the subject and putting a high standard on them” (61). I think this displays how much passion affects the classroom environment and is important for me to express from the beginning of preservice teaching into my actual teaching career. 

Lastly, one question I would like to ask would be: do you think technology overall positively or negatively impacts learning with how much more it has become a part of the classroom?

 

Power & Control in American Education

I think that school choice has both many pros and cons. For the pros, I think that it is very important that it forces schools to make annual yearly progress because this puts pressure on the schools with bad teachers and weak administrators, like the attached video had stated. However, this seems ineffective in the sense that teachers who teach in poor school systems but are good teachers may have trouble getting their class to meet AYP and it may not be their fault, but the school districts fault instead. Though, this will heavily affect the teacher whose class does not meet AYP because it makes her look bad, which I do not see as fair. I do think that some form of standardized testing is good to be able to measure students progress, but what about students who are simply poor test takers and are forced to sit and take these mandatory standardized tests because of No Child Left Behind? I do not believe it is fair for them and I believe this act fails here because I agree that it “puts too much emphasis on tests scores and does not appreciate other improvements” in the classroom which is also stated in the video. One aspect of this act that I do think is a major benefit is the allowance of students to transfer schools if their school does not meet AYP two years in a row or if the school is seen as persistently dangerous (Spring 253). This allows students who are bullied or who are consistently meeting their test scores but are stuck in a school with those who continuously fail to have a second chance. So, overall I do believe that No Child Left Behind does mean well and does have many good aspects to it. I do think that some parts of it such as the amount of focus on testing could be changed to be a little less emphasized, though.

One experience I have had where testing had determined if I could graduate was OGT tests. These were tests that the whole grade had to take for English, Math, Social Studies, and Science. It was a standardized test given by the state and you had to pass all four of the subjects in order to be allowed to graduate. I personally did not think that this was very fair because if you are just simply a bad test taker, this takes away all the hard work that you actually put into their classes. One standardized test should not be allowed to have that much power over all the work students put in for four years. The good thing about this test however was that those who failed a certain subject were allowed to retake that section over again, which I think was a good way that the state kind of tweaked No Child Left Behind for the better. If No Child Left Behind was not in place, these tests would not have been mandatory and the key to determine if someone will graduate. So, I do not agree in this sense that this act should be able to implement one test that determines so much of a child’s future.

Multicultural and Multilingual Education

Both African Americans and Irish Americans are two examples of ethnic groups whose migrations have “raised issues in national school systems regarding multicultural and multilingual student populations” (Spring 179). Although the two groups share similarities in their experiences, there are also differences between them. One difference between the two groups is that African Americans were considered a dominant culture that was forcefully brought into the United States for the purpose of being slaves whereas the Irish are considered an immigrant  culture because they freely came here on their own to try and gain a more prosperous life (Spring 186). The discrimination towards African Americans is very common because of the visible difference in their skin tone from the start. In American classrooms, a main issue we discussed was the issue of white washing. The minority students are not forced to give up their culture, but they begin to assimilate towards/ embrace the culture of the more dominant group in the classrooms, the white students. White teachers seem to provide false facts to “hide” or make certain history seem more positive such as the times during slavery. Another issue in American classrooms is that black students will say they feel discrimination in the classrooms, but lack power to be able to stand up against whites. “Whites feel more negativity towards blacks than they do towards Hispanics, Asians, and legal and illegal immigrants and perceive them as lazy, violent, and less intelligent” (Spring 193). These premade judgements are carried into the classroom and it is simply not fair towards the African Americans. For the Irish, even though they were not forced to come here and came here on their own, they still received a lot of discrimination. They were less obvious to point out because their skin color was similar to whites, but they were seen as lazy and a bunch of drunks. Though they were not seen or heard of as a group of slaves, it appeared they were given equal negative treatment as the African Americans were.

One similarity between the experiences of the two groups is the immediate discrimination they both received when they came to America. Neither group has had or continues to have an easy life in the workplace, education system, or in society as a whole. Today, there is still obvious discrimination and one reason mentioned in the article is that in the education system, teachers “have attempted to insert culture into the education, instead of inserting education into the culture” (Ladson-Billings 285). Children from all cultures are put into classrooms, but not all the minority cultures are taught and embraced in the classroom by the teachers which puts certain cultures like the ones previously mentioned at a disadvantage.

I believe there are many steps we can take to eliminate prejudice against all groups of students in the American education system. One step we can take is to end the white washing and instead accept the past for what it was and try to embrace the cultures that were so aggressively discriminated against before. It is important that teachers become aware of the differences within their classrooms and try to understand their backgrounds. They should try to attend church where their students do and live where their students live so they are better able to understand their situations and be more relatable to the diverse culture. Another step that can be taken is to encourage that students with different cultural backgrounds are talking and playing with each other in school as early as elementary school so they have friends from all groups and do not develop prejudiced feelings towards certain groups later on. I think that the large issue of discrimination and racism can be stopped, but it will take more than just saying what you can do to help and instead taking some sort of action to help.

Service Learning

  1. There are many examples of cultural bias that Dunn-Kenney describes in this article. Her quote “A candidate with bias towards certain children and families would be, potentially at least, a harmful influence on some of the children that he or she was assigned to teach”(38) applies to the bias of the future teachers who are partaking in this service experience. One example of cultural bias she points out were students that frequently asked whether the site was safe, as it was in an African American neighborhood of extreme poverty, even though no negative incidents were reported by either the students or the center personnel during the service time period. She also pointed out that one of the students who questioned the safety ended up realizing how quick the kids were to be affectionate with them. Another example of cultural bias was that inconsistent participation by residents at the center would make students mad who then blamed it on disorganization. They failed to see that children who came with their parents had to leave when their parents left and that living in poverty would lead to parental frustration and fatigue, so they could not always go not for the reason that they were disorganized. Students planning playgroups wanted to “teach the children some manners” which was biased in assuming they were not taught manners because of their status and they came to realize that they picked up quickly and children living in poverty do have manners. Another student assumed children were unloved and came from violent homes because of their excitement in helping set up the activities despite their ripped clothing, where they live, and how they smelled. A final example of cultural bias I noticed in the article was that Theresa did not feel appreciated by the center or families when they needed to reschedule or did not show up for her play group, but never tried to understand their situation and would immediately jump to the conclusion that the people were not grateful for her help.
  2. My service experience is at The Intergenerational School in Cleveland on Wednesday mornings. It is K-8 and is primarily underprivileged African American children who attend the school. We are there to aid students in a specific classroom with simple reading and math tasks who are not fully grasping the concepts needed for that grade level. One example of a cultural bias I noticed at my service site was that a lot of the students tend to run out of the classroom and are not controlled very well. The teacher seems to let them get away with it pretty easy and does not seem to ever want to yell at them for their actions which is bias because they think they already have hard lives outside of school. There are a few white children in the classroom that I have noticed that do get yelled at more than the other students. This shows the cultural bias in the classroom of my service site.
  3. One “aha” moment I noticed at my service site while I was working individually with a student was when she did not know any letters of her alphabet and kept saying she wanted to be done and go back to her classroom. I immediately thought she was trying to be disobedient and just did not want to do her letters, but then she told me that her parents do not help or make her practice at home ever. This raised the “aha” moment in me because she did not have anyone giving her support and extra help to get her to learn better and it was not just her trying to get out of working on the letters. Another “aha” moment that a peer in my service site had noticed was that when it was time for the girl to return to her classroom she began to hide under the table and cry saying she did not want to return. The girl started to speak up louder telling her she had to go back and we began to notice that she would hide more with the louder tone. This lead us to “aha” because we thought that maybe past experiences in the classroom or at home with being yelled at was hard for her and that there may be a better way to communicate with her in a way that would not frustrate her.
  4. I believe my service has really opened my eyes and help me to be more reflective of myself as well as being less quickly to make first judgements before learning more about situations first. I am starting to learn that some of the students at my site have rougher home lives than it appears and do not receive some of the extra support they need in their learning process. This allows me to learn more about the patience I need to have in trying to understand the best ways to help each student because they all learn differently. My service has helped me to become a more accepting person and to really analyze situations before getting annoyed when the children do not listen to me.