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GBL & Digital Media Creation!

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1 week in and my students appear to be engaged, enthused and enjoying what it is that they are doing. The two discovery units that I am running for Yr 9 this year have a strong Inquiry focus through largely implementing ICT and IT ideology!

GBL, or Games Based Learning, is something that I heard about several years ago and is an idea that has not really taken off here in Oz as yet. I know that the discussions around GBL are becoming more in depth and that Educator’s around the country are trying to implement more of a Games Based focus within their teaching and learning practices. The work of people such as Mark Prensky and Adrian Camm (his Games in Education Wiki is Excellent) have certainly pushed the notion of GBL into many educators minds. The mention that GBL also received in both the 2010 and now 2011 K-12 Edition of the Horizon Report also have assisted GBL to be seen as a more serious method of teaching in the 21st Century. The Horizon Report 2010 states –

“The interest in game-based learning has accelerated considerably in recent years, driven by clear successes in military and industrial training as well as by emerging research into the cognitive benefits of game play. Developers and researchers are working in every area of game-based learning, including games that are goal-oriented; social game environments; non-digital games that are easy to construct and play; games developed expressly for education; and commercial games that lend themselves to refining team and group skills. At the low end of game technology, there are literally thousands of ways games can be — and are already being — applied in learning contexts. More complex approaches like role-playing, collaborative problem solving, and other forms of simulated experiences have broad applicability across a wide range of disciplines, and are beginning to be explored in more classrooms.”

The discovery that I am running with two Yr 9 classes is seeing my students talk about and discuss the relevance of GBL and weather or not they as students, as digital learners, see a place for GBL in the education system. It has been interesting to see their notion between games and gaming and how these seem to differ. That playing a game and gaming involve different skills and can be worlds apart. As a class we view the following You Tube Video which explained quite well, albeit quite fast, the differences between educational games and gaming for entertainment. We held several discussions about the notions shown in the video which promoted plenty of rich and relevant thoughts to be shared.

Students have since been asked to complete a research paper on GBL and what it involves, how can we assist other people to see the benefits of GBL in a classroom, and what examples of GBL can we get involved in to promote GBL amongst the educational community.

One major aim for this unit is to have each and every one of my students having developed, researched and constructed a Serious Game that can be used within a classroom setting! I am sure that they will rise to that challenge!

Over the past 2 years working with Secondary students in a 1:1 Program, it has been an amazing journey to see them progress with their ICT skills and to see them create the outstanding pieces that they have. The use of CORE Apple Technology and the Applications via iLife and iWork have certainly assisted both students and teachers alike with the learning and teaching that occurs. My discovery unit titled Digital Media Creation has been based around a Document written by Marco Torres and Ross Kallen, which was sponsored by Apple, called ‘A Curriculum for Digital Media Creation‘. I have modified the lesson involved to suit the needs of my students as well as the resources on offer at my College.

The discovery essentially involves the students looking at film and media creation, from the thought processes of thinking up ideas for a project, to creating the storyboard, to then placing that storyboard in to action! As the document mentions “Every day digital media becomes more important as a means for receiving, producing, sharing and broadcasting information tools and resources that were once the exclusive property of a few are now available to many more people.”

This week will see my students create a 60sec video staring a day in the life of… an inanimate object! A rock, water bottle, laptop… whatever! This should be a laugh! I am sure all of the students will do extremely well! I will aim to have all film uploaded by the end of the week  to you all to see!

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And I’m Back!

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Here I am back at work having left off straight from where i left myself and my workload in 2010. I was thinking that the beginning of 2011 back at school would be somewhat of a smooth process. WRONG! It seems there is truly no rest for the wicked and in the world of ICT it seems that things keep evolving, changing and occasionally, crashing and burning to make life difficult!

But… In saying this i would not have it any other way! In the week and bit i have now been back it has been one of the most hectic work times of my life but i have enjoyed every minute of it. I have rolled out with the assistance of my great Tech’s 130+ MacBooks for classroom use, ensured that all 130+ iPads are up and running for all our students involved in the DEECD iPads for Learning Trial, and made sure that all students in our 1:1 MacBook program in years 8 and 9 have smooth running machines, all of which were re-imaged and raring to go!

Next week I hold two 1:1 Laptop Information Sessions for parents and Students in Yr 7. Parents and students will be spoken to myself of course about our 1:1 Program as well as Tony Richards from ITMadeSimple, who discuss the importance of Cyber Saftey and Cyber Bullying. We also have one of our Apple Supplier representatives from Mac1 talking as well on MacBook care and support. This has been a great night in the past with 80-90% of all parents and their students attending.

A key focus for myself this year, along with teaching my Yr 9 Discovery units on Game Based Learning and Digital media Creation, is to get in to the junior section of the school to assist teachers in that area embed ICT more frequently in to teaching and learning practices. We will be running a buddy program with our Prep and Yr 6 students based upon the use of iPads, integrate and place a greater focus on the use of our IWB’s, and aim to get all students up and running on the all mighty Ultranet!

Since we’ve started back i have already been contacted by two Colleges to come and see the great work our students and teachers are doing with the iPads as well as being visited by the Independent Evaluators of the DEECD iPads for Learning Trial who are keen to see and hear all that’s happening in regards to the trial!

I am keen also this year to utilise the expertise of the excellent people i work with across the college! I have staff who are excelling in the use of Web 2.0 tools, cloud computing and the use of all Apple Applications, especially those associated with iWork and iLife. I even have a staff member creating his own iPad/iPhone4 Applications for use with his prep class! I will certainly keep you informed.

Personally, i have applied to become an ADE (Apple Distinguished Educator) and am hoping that I receive the magical message that informs me that i have been successful! And if not, so be it. I will also continue to run my ‘Tech day Thursday’s’ to assist all staff at my College, especially with all and anything ICT.

Let 2011 begin!

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My 211 Happenings!

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Well. Here we go. What will 2011 hold for me? What are my aims and goals and challenges?

I must say that I am looking forward to this year. I have a number of things that I have in the pipe works in which I am greatly looking forward to. This year will see me teaching Year 9 for the first time in my teaching career. Not that I see this a challenge as I have been fortunate enough to teach the same cohort of students the past two years. Rather than being a generalist class teacher as I have been in the past, I will be teaching two ICT based Discovery Units (Electives) covering two areas I am very interested in.

Game Based Learning has certainly grabbed the attention of educators in the last 18 months and had been a proven hit for those educational settings that have trialed the teaching of this. I look forward to investigating through inquiry why games, video games in particular, are so popular and how they are created. Students will also be given the chance to create their own basic games and to then share these with others. People such as @adrian_camm have been somewhat of an inspiration for me after hearing him speak about game based learning at the recent Ulearn10 Conference in Christchurch. Adrian’s Games In Education Wiki can be found HERE.

The other Discovery that I will undertaking will be titled ‘Digital Media Creation’. This will involve my students looking at film and how technology assists in the creation of certain programs. My students will investigate how films are made, primarily documentaries, and put in to action the creation of storyboards, working with audio and various techniques as well as investigating lighting and trouble shooting lighting issues. I have a core group of budding IT Savvy students who are keen to get involved in this and I greatly look forward to rolling with this.

Another large part of my role for this year will be to Peer Coach staff at my College. Working closely with staff and assisting them as much as I can in regards with implementing ICT in to their teaching and learning programs is something which I enjoy and through the ICT Peer Coaching Professional Learning that I undertook in 2010, I feel I have a great grounding to really set some great Peer Coaching in practice.

The 1:1 MacBook and iPad Trails that I coordinate are certainly two things that I am deeply passionate about! Having seen our Secondary students grow in to the excellent Digital Learners that they are today and to witness the great things they are able to create on their MacBooks is outstanding. The iPad trial also with our Year 6 cohort has been a revelation at our College and has paved the way in opening the eyes of parents, staff and other students in just how valuable mobile technology is and how beneficial it can be.

Teaching teachers and sharing my experiences is also something I look forward to in 2011. I look forward to presenting at several conferences and have already been booked in for a few! Sharing the experiences of our iPad trial and our 1:1 MacBook program are always great fun.

So there. I am sure there are another 24 things I have failed to mention and there will be zero shortage of things to be done in 2011 but, if I didn’t enjoy it, I would do it!

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P.L. Workshops!

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This evening at my College we ran our first ever Professional Learning Workshops in replace of our more traditional staff meeting, and from what staff were saying afterwards, it was appeared to be a great success!

Staff were given the option to attend two half hour workshops, which were being presented by other staff who wanted to share their own knowledge in particular areas. We had workshops covering all major curriculum areas such as ICT, Numeracy, Literacy, PBS (Behaviour management) and Science just to name a few. Staff were asked to access a Google Doc in which they were to choose their preferences. This doc also told them what the PL Workshop was about as well as who was presenting.

On a personal level, I decided to share with staff one of the fantastic breakout sessions that i attended at Ulearn10 in Christchurch two months ago, the Apple sMACdown! All things, and several not, Apple related! I ran through with staff exactly what the presenters ran through at Ulearn and you yourself can see all of this excellent teaching and learning content here at the sMACdown site!

It was great to able to show my staff great tips and hints to use on their MacBooks and see them putting these in to action. Simple tricks such as zooming in on a screen (hold Ctrl+scroll up with two fingers) and taking selected screen shots of anything that is on the screen (Command+Shift+4) were great tools which were new to most staff! It is great to watch the thrill that adults get out of learning new things and doing them right away!

As the presenters at Ulearn were sharing their great hints and tips, those attending were also required to share their great tools and knowledge as well via Wallwisher, the sMACdown wall can be found HERE. Feel free to add to the site if you wish! The more teaching and learning ideas the better!

The second session that i attended was based on Web 2.0 tools. This session was ran by to colleagues, kate and Sam, who also went to, and presented at, Ulearn with me. Kate and Sam have created a Blog based on all things Web 2.0, titled Web20hyeah!

Kate and Sam took us through several great Web 2.0 tools which they are currently using within their class such as AMAP, Jog the Web, Wallwisher and Simple Diagrams.

If you have not ran a Professional Workshop session like this at your educational setting, i strongly encourage you to do so, or at least, push those who have control in doing so… in to doing so! It is an excellent way for staff to choose what professional learning suits their needs as a teacher.

I will certainly be keeping you all posted on how staff have further responded to these sessions in the coming days!

Thank for reading!