My Google 20% Story

I have begun reflecting upon the books that I have been reading and this book is a great inspiration to my teaching practices; “The Google Story” by David A. Vise. You can read my reflections about this book here.

The Google Story

I have proven when education embraces some of the lessons learnt by Brin and Page into the life lessons being taught across the world that there is greater success and innovation. Every teacher can start this by simply asking the students about their creative ideas and providing the Google innovation “20% time” to develop and incubate these ideas.

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From Learning to Exploring

With only a week before school returns for 2015, I am beginning to consolidate my ideas into planning for the new school year. As the Digital Technologies Teacher K-7 (plus a year 11/12 course) I am keen to continually innovate and push the boundaries. I have a new leader in the STEM curriculum area, whom I believe will be supportive of innovation, and a very supportive Principal who has given me license to push towards innovation and making a difference in my field, but to always reflect and evaluate upon the implications.

When I plan for the new Australian Curriculum – Digital Technology I know there will be many challenges and a very steep learning curve to navigate. I took the opportunity to begin some coding with some students at the end of last year during the Hour Of Code, which was received well by some students, so I believe they are up for the challenge and change. My big idea for the year is to allow more freedom to the students in what they will explore and learn. I want them to take more responsibility for their learning and the direction of their work. I know some students will run with this and thrive in the new learning format and space that is being provided, and others will need guidance and modelling every step of the way. This is an effect of the education system we traditionally impose on our students.

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Workflow is Everything

Since moving to Google Apps For Education I have found myself continually satisfied with how the tools interact and the collaborative nature of them to comment and support students whilst they are working on their task. The tools I use and how I effectively use them to manage my work flow are:

Google Apps for Education

Google Apps for Education

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Digital Leaders Project

On the mid year school holidays I was a part of the wonderful CEGSA Conference in Adelaide. As a committee member this year and seeing all of the organisation falling into place was a wonderful experience for me. Personally I was involved in getting “The Ed Tech Crew” Podcast team to attend and broadcast many interviews with presenters and delegates.

Often when we attend such large conferences as delegates we are excited about the possibilities. We return to the classroom invigorated and inspired to make change and implement all for the wonderful ideas we have been presented with. Unfortunately although, all too often we keep up the “new and shiny ideas” for the short term but resort back to tradition and our old habits.

This year, one of the key note presentations was by Nick Jackson (Online Educational Designer at University of South Australia). His presentation on the Digital Leaders Project he initiated at his previous school in the UK.

This, like many presentations, lit a spark in the hearts and minds of several delegates, and at the end of the presentation Nick invited everyone to contact him for more information if they are interested.

Days later, as I trawled through my local hang-out place – Twitter, I noticed a conversation involving some delegates and Nick (@largerama) about an upcoming hangout. I got myself involved and began my journey.

Since then I have participated in the hangouts to discuss the porgress and projects of school’s programs. I have also had Nick visit our College to support me in my launch process. We discussed several ideas and after discussing with the students their interests I found the common thread for most was Minecraft. When this was offered to the students as an alternative lunchtime activity Minecraft Monday’s was born. Since this there has been a core group of students who attend each week with several coming intermittently. These students range from year 4-7 at the moment.

Minecraft

Minecraft

What I have observed from these students is that they are always working to improve through self monitoring, motivating and encouragement of all players. The students are working together to achieve a goal and share knowledge. Since this I decided to persue an offer to host a Minecraft camp at our College. This camp provides players the opportunity to paritcipate in a community of Minecraft players from within our College and beyond.  They will be explosed to curriculum learnign without even knowing.

My hopes as a result of hosting this camp is that the Minecrafters at Ocean View College are able to begin usign their time to develop and demonstrate digital resources using Minecraft to teachers. As this goal develops I will present the idea of participating as a Digital Leader at the ACEC2014 National Conference in October next year.

For more information about the Digital Leaders Project you can contact me through the messages below or watch the Google Hangouts at the links below.

Oz Digital Leaders Hangout 1 – 23 July 2013

Oz Digital Leaders Hangout 2 – 13 August 2013

Oz Digital Leaders Hangout 3 – 27 August 2013 with Michael French

Oz Digital Leaders Hangout 4 – 3 September 2013

Oz Digital Leaders Hangout 5 – 22 October 2013 with Amber Wurst (Year 9 Digital Leader Participant)

Let Them Loose

Gaming in education has long been a passion of mine. I presented this at the EdTechSA conference in July 2013, and since then have thoroughly enjoyed teaching the fundamentals of this to my year 6/7 students. There have been many occasions where I thought to myself why don’t I just let them play the games? I knew there would be light at the end of this tunnel. We have spent the last 10 weeks looking at the elements of a game, analyzing games for educational value and the tools available to make games.

I linked the elements of a game to a narrative story using “Wreck It Ralph” the movie to tell a story within a game. I asked students to plan their ideal game. To think about their favourite games and pick out the best bits and remix them together to create their game story.

Here are some outlines of just a few of the games. You will agree the ideas are fantastic and as we continue the development I will share the final products.

Idea 1 by Mitchell:

Speedy joe is trying to reach the generator that frees only the town from pixelation. The disaster of the game is that if you lose the game major mayhem takes over the world. The only resolution to the game is if speedy joe reaches the generator and saves everyone in the town. Sworn enemies major mayhem and sneaky steve form a relationship and become ultimate allies of evil. The final twist is when you complete the game speedy joe meets a guardian that grants him ever lasting power.

Idea 2 by Madison:

This game is about a hero who gets cursed by an evil wizard.You must go through all the levels and collect the golden Crystal at the end of each level. There is 5 level with 4 chapters, once you have completed the levels and obtained all the crystals you power-

Screen Capture of Sploder game Maker platforms

Screen Capture of Sploder game Maker platforms

up and the curse will be dropped.However at the last level you must defeat the wizard,there will also be different bad guys to fight on the way.

Idea 3 by Josh and Maureen

It is just a normal day and the henchmen come and randomly start attacking the kingdom and people in the village. Tulio has to get out of the kingdom and  try to find the dragon who started all of this with his partner Kevin. On his journey he bumps into the king who pretends to be good but is an evil Cat King from Outer Space name Monty. Monty joins forces with Melvin who is the dragon and Tulio including Kevin must stop them before it’s too late. So the player will have to try to succeed levels to stop Melvin the dragon and Monty the evil cat king.

Idea 4 by Jessica:

What happens is that you have to build a massive hotel and celebrities come to live in your hotel but you have to answer the fact right for them to stay in your hotel.If you get the facts wrong you will get another change in 5 hours time. Once you finish a level you will get 2000 coins to build a new floor. The next level comes when all the celebrities are in your hotel also before you level up you must do a quiz on the celebs fact.When you level up you will move on to a different category like animals.

Idea 5 by Tegan and Kate:

A boy/girl is kidnapped and put onto a large ship. The boy/girl is then pushed rather roughly onto a beach. A guy/girl is stuck in on mystery island and is trying to find food to survive BUT she or he comes across angry monsters and robots. She or he needs to find their way back home before these angry villains steal her food. She/he will need to fight the angry villains to survive.

NB. I have requested permission to share these ideas from the students.

Another game from Sploder game maker

Another game from Sploder game maker

As you can see the ideas really did run wild when I set them loose to explore and imaging. Now to the development stage…I am not from any coding or computer science background so it was necessary for me to develop some skills on this. I spent some time playing in Scratch, which I found quite easy to control and thought the students would pick it up easily. When we had some practice using this tool, I was unfortunately mistaken and the students found it quite hard  to ‘program’. So I was challenged to find another tool that would give instant results with little programming.

I put the question out to my professional network an were supported with a number of links including ‘Gamestar Mechanic‘ and ‘Sploder‘. These both fulfilled the request. I had already had Minecraft installed on out computers as this is a huge draw-card for many of these students. Now is th time to see how their creativity and ingenuity can create these games.

Minecraft

Minecraft

I look forward to sharing these and more completed games.

Please support my students in their game making by writing comments of encouragement and feedback  that I can pass on to them.

Rachael