Weaving my way through this week’s set of new programs was a daunting task. Designing and constructing a video game through Scratch, aggregating interesting blog posts through Technorati, and connecting a Cmap were all completely new tasks to me. However, I feel as if I am more receptive to new forms of technology as a result of this class. Prior to this class, I was hesitant even to use Twitter. Now, I have plunged in head first and feel as if I am a more savvy technology user than even just a few weeks earlier.
Scratch is an interesting construct: it is made for people without C++, or any type of programming experience. There are easy step-by-step puzzle pieces to add on to your “sprites,” or characters, in order to form your own video game. I tried to design the beginning of my video game from the perspective of an English teacher. In order to fully develop a “game,” you would need to figure out what goals your students need to ultimately achieve, and whether you want to reward them along the way with prizes, tokens, etc.
I took a different approach: I thought that this video game program could lend itself well to story boarding. Over the summer, I took a literacy class in which I had to design my own graphic novel. This program appeared to be very similar in what it could produce. So, I decided to start a story board with the two sprites. If I completed the story board, it would probably take me many, many days to construct. That is one disadvantage of developing your own video game in the classroom: it takes a long time to develop your concept, to implement your ideas, and to finally edit for any changes.
However, you could have your students create their own video games. This task would be more aligned with inquiry-oriented learning, which is defined by experience and exploration (Coffman, 2009). The teacher could provide minimum details that must be present in the video game, just as Dr. Coffman did for our assignment, as well as a rubric describing their expectations. Students could spend as much time as they wanted making their video game their own construct, applying their 21st century skills.
As I was searching through Technorati, I was honestly having a difficult time finding blogs that possessed worthy content. I usually search for blogs within news sources, which makes it a little easier to see information that can be verified. Within Technorati, I looked at the category of “Top 100.” Most of the blogs were about celebrity gossip, rather than anything that I could find to be appropriate for my own personal learning, or for my future classroom.
I finally found a few blogs that would be worth checking daily. One example is under the travel category with Nomadic Matt. I checked a lot of right-on-topic categories to my content area, English, but I found that one of my personal interests could also lend itself well to the classroom setting. Many English prompts involve “What would you do with a million dollars?” A lot of students who I have observed want to travel the world when they respond to this question. Travel blogs could lend themselves to sparking students’ interests in world events and geography, as well as giving them a more interesting topic to write about (motivation is key!).
Coffman, T. (2009). Engaging students through inquiry-oriented learning and technology. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Education.