Friday, October 30, 2009

As October ends, the real fun is starting to begin

Educators and students throughout the Globaloria West Virginia have made great progress in the month of October and are entering the stage of Globaloria where the real fun begins!!

Educator and student blog posts are getting more and more reflective. Many students have learned how to embed music, links, photos and other multi-media in to their blog posts. Some are starting to focus their blog posts on their game topics, the challenges and fun of learning Flash, and the research that goes in to choosing a game topic, finding information about the issues surrounding that topic, and playing professionally-made educational games to find examples of game mechanics that facilitate both fun game play and learning. Also, students are beginning to take advantage of the Globaloria learning community and are visiting the wikis and blogs of students from other schools, leaving comments, and learning from each other.

School wikis are getting better as well. Educator and student learning logs are being written more consistently, more social profiles and avatars are being created, and paper proto-types and videos of student's presentatios are being uploaded.

Almost all of the educators in Globaloria have lead their classes through the mini-game project this month and students are expressng their excitement about learning Flash, dividing in to teams, and getting started on their social issue or educational game projects. Students are developing their game ideas, which range from games with civics topics (like the Bill of Rights, how the courts operate, and the election process) to games on responding to natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, and national health epidemics like obesity and swine flu.

While the month of October was a time of tremendous growth and accomplishment for Globaloria educators and students, the World Wide Workshop team had a productive month as well. David Lowenstein visited 9 Globaloria schools this month (5 of them with World Wide Workshop team member Rachel Rosenfeldt and 4 of them with Our Courts Exec. Director Abby Taylor).

The World Wide Workshop also convened a Globaloria Leadership Colloquium this month at the Governor's mansion to honor superintendents and principals who are supporting Globaloria educators in their schools and counties throughout the state. The luncheon, hosted by WV's First Lady Gayle Manchin, featured remarks by Globaloria WV Advisory co-chairs Dr. Idit Caperton and the First Lady, and also by Advisory Board members Dr. Steve Paine (State Superintendent of Schools), and B. Keith Fulton (Verizon WV President).

In addition, the World Wide Workshop President and Founder Dr. Idit Caperton and WV State Director David Lowenstein represented Globaloria at the National Academies of Science meeting in DC this month in which education, science, and government leaders gathered to discuss recommendations for equipping students with STEM skills through game-based learning.

As October winds down, our clocks fall back an hour but our Globaloria community is springing ahead!

Globaloria Goblins and Goodies

Happy Halloween fellow bloggers! Now that the first nine weeks of school has passed, hopefully Halloween has marked the end of "scary" part of starting a new Globaloria class. This is a holiday where children get to face the things that go bump in the night and haunt their nightmares for the reward of candy and treats-- and this first nine weeks of school can be thought of as our Halloween. We have all had the scares of getting students to buy in to the program, computer and technical glitches, and actionscript that fails to go Bump! or even to the next frame.

But, after looking over the wikis and blogs, we are seeing the sweet candy of student success and the fulfilling treats of student empowerment in their education.

While that may be an overly sweet analogy, I really do think it is true. Here are some examples to look over. Check out both Crittendon's User Gallery and Pressley Ridge for some really great examples of user wiki personalization. Check out Sandy River Middle's User Gallery for some great examples of students' progress on the minigame and their own game ideas. They even have different stages of the minigame on their projects pages to help demonstrate their progress. RTC has also got some additional work students have done with tweening and animations.

At the college level, check out some of the work at Shepherd University, including minigame and Flash art. Here is my favorite example so far. At MCTC, many of their students have great game ideas on their projects pages, ranging from polar bears fighting greenhouse emissions to bats and sonar. Here is a great example of some of the individual work being done by a Southern WV Community and Technical College student as well!

Gobble up all those treats and sweets, you and your students have earned them. But don't let the "sugar" rush wear off. Use the energy to fuel your class' momentum toward bigger and better things.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Blogging as a Medium

Greetings fellow bloggers!

Though we often talk about using our blogs as a tool, another way we could describe blogs is as a "medium." According to Merriam-Webster Online, a medium can be defined in the following ways: a publication or broadcast that carries advertising; a mode of artistic expression or communication; something (as a magnetic disk) on which information may be stored.

Mediums have changed and grown over time. Telegrams offered a medium for messages and lead the way to telephones allowing communication in real time. Then there was radio, which carried voices over great distances and to great numbers of people. Television followed shortly adding visuals to the audio. Not too long ago we added the internet as a medium which brought information in both visual and auditory formats to a greater depth and breadth than anything before it.

Most of the modern mediums have fallen short in one aspect; they are one-way methods of communication. Blogs are the answer to that lack. In blogs we can not only produce a "broadcast" to advertise ourselves, we can also connect to other blogs and their authors. With all of the different arrangements and images we can use it gives even the least visually talented of us a means of artistic expression. Even the information we value above all else can be forever stored in a location untouched by time or the elements. And best of all, the world can talk back to us. People in countries far away can pat us on the back, offer differing viewpoints, thank us for our insight, and offer more of their own.

I am usually not this long winded but that is another beauty of the blog, limitless digital storage. What moved me to write this post was a couple of our bloggers' recent blogs. Vicky posted a blog that not only shared a bit of insight, it also linked to several sites designed to show students more about themselves. When I first read her posting, my first thought was how fully she was using this medium. She was using this to not just give an assignment but to offer insight from other sources to her students. The other blogger was Jim who posted two blogs that not only showed off the skills of his students and their work but also himself and his kids. In that way, he also showed us the full depth this medium allows. Now, we can all see him as a teacher, father, learner, and inspiration.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Globaloria Growth Spurt

Good day fellow bloggers! I just want to say how wonderful it is to see the Globaloria classes growing. They aren't growing in number necessarily but in the strength of the message. I am seeing so much evidence of this strength from so many different angles.

In Kevin's latest blog, he praises his class, saying how great his kids held it together despite everything that went wrong for him. I've had those kind of days and feel for him.

Denise is having great success with her students. Even when she talks about the two steps forward, one step back that our kids sometimes encounter, it's clear how hard they are working her with questions and on task requirements trying to be successful. That kind of effort in a class is priceless.

We also have very creative students. Jeremy posted a quick blog encouraging us to visit his students blogs. Having creative kids is good--having creative and focused kids is great!

Perhaps the best thing, Vicky and Angie are having their students check out other school's blogs. The benefit I have already seen from this is that two new friends have commented on my blog and opened communication--from another school no less. One is asking for advice on blogging and another shares my love of all things X-Men and the importance of blogging. Way to go ladies!

This is what Globaloria is all about: students becoming empowered in their learning. We should all be very proud!

Until next time the soap box is yours.