Monday, December 6, 2010

Being Thankful After Thanksgiving

Over the Thanksgiving Day holiday, we all give thanks for the good things in our lives. As the holidays rush by, the semester draws to a close, and things seem to get hectic, I offer the following suggestions for what we as Globaloria educators can be thankful for as well.

the hard work performed by our motivated and exceptional students.

the hard won victories of our less than motivated students.

the added opportunities to learn new skills and techniques in Flash.

the occasional frustrations and pains that signal true growth.

the opportunity to be a part of data-driven research.

the reports; reminding us how it feels to be a learner and contributor.

the new friends made around the state, country, and world.

the constructive support we offer each other.

all the good we see in our results.

all we learn from the setbacks and stumbles we experience

Thanks for the opportunity to share my voice.

Until next time the soapbox is yours,

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Dip Into Serendipity

According to wikipedia, serendipity is the effect by which one accidentally stumbles upon something fortunate, especially while looking for something entirely unrelated.
Sometimes we ask students to do one thing and they end up stumbling on something new all on their own.

I had this happen last week when I asked my students to update their blogs, learning logs, and versions of their most recent project. My student, Sierra, not only uploaded her most recent progress and blogged about it, she figured out how to insert a link directly to the file from her blog. She was so proud of herself and so was I. She had taken what direction was given to her and added a whole new dimension to it.

Encourage your students to take a little dip in serendipity as often as they can.

Until next time the soap box is yours.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Globaloria Educators Are Superheros

We all knew that they had superpowers - no reference to a documentary film about charter schools intended. But on Halloween they decided to dress as their super-alter egos all day.

Introducing: the Galactic Tech Crusader

and the Wiki Witch of the Web

Both are able to open minds of previously bored students in a single bound. Note that the Wiki Witch also goes by WWW for short. Thanks to East Austin College Prep Academy administrator Marisol Rocha for the photo of GTC.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Often, in our commercial society, we applaud all the antics of our favorite stars. The biggest problem I have with this is that WE should be our favorite stars. Too often in the past year as a mentor, I would see students' wikis that showcased images of their favorite actors and musicians more than anything else. There is nothing wrong with having imagery that depicts our likes and dislikes. I just think we should blow our own horns a bit more.

So, in this post, I thought I would highlight some students who have really put themselves onto their wiki user page. First, at South Charleston Middle school, Kaitlin shows her love of softball. Nicole at George Washington High School shared a great picture of her beautiful daughter.

Like the sun, the star you see the most of often seems to shine the brightest. But, in a nebula, millions of stars are born and shine just as bright. Our students should see their own light as brightly as that of their idols.

Until next time, the soapbox is yours.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Globaloria game design leads students to interact with big ideas. Here's an example from the blog of a 7th grader in East Austin:

If we stop caring and start damaging these coral reefs would just be a huge open space of land. The people in this movie think that these coral reefs could be endangered because of overfishing. Which means that if we could fish less we could stop damaging these coral reefs. I'm not saying that we should stop fishing but just fish less because that's how we are losing our fish living in the coral reefs. And not only are coral reefs beneficial to the fish and plants, but they are also beneficial to us. They are a lot like the rainforest this is also where we can also get our medicines from the coral reefs. So if these coral reefs are beneficial to us why shouldn't we care for it? Another way we can stop harming it is by not dumping stuff in the water anymore. Toxic waste kills the animals and kils the plants and it kills the whole coral reef. And as I say if we have no more coral reefs it will not be good for anybody. It kills the plants and kills all the other organisms and could also harm us.

Juan is thinking of a problem in the world, and begin to connect to possible solutions. He thinks about another ecosystem in trouble, the rainforest, and makes connections. The students in East Austin are just beginning to design games using these big ideas, and I will share more about the games here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Creativity in the Globaloria Classroom

Recently in a sixth grade Globaloria class at East Austin College Prep Academy, I heard one student muse aloud ‘but how is that like a game?’ The students were doing some research about social issues, which are central to the Globaloria game concept process. He was reading about ocean pollution. It was interesting to him but it struck him that it was NOT fun in the way you might expect a game to be. That day, the student answered his own question with an idea, which quickly drew a comment from another student, who was a sudden collaborator. A spark caught and quickly led to the bright light of their discussion.

This excitement and spontaneous creativity is happening before with kids even begin to make their game. Students know there is a big difference in this class. I think most kids haven’t given the difference a name yet. To be sure, they know there is much more to come.

What sparks have you noticed in Globaloria classrooms?

Laura Minnigerode is research manager for Globaloria in Austin, Texas.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Eastern Greenbrier Middle School Students Recognized

Two Eastern Greenbrier Middle School students were recognized for their Globaloria games they created in Mrs. Melanie Sheppard's class during the 2009-10 school year. Malachi received a laptop and Adobe Flash software for his grand prize game. His classmate, Ryan earned a digital video camera for his game.

Ryan (left) and Malachi(right) spoke to the audience in a crowded (standing room only) board room. They complemented their educator, Melanie Sheppard, for "making them work hard" and spoke quite eloquently about their Globaloria experience. Both students are in Jennifer Hayes' Globaloria class this year at EGMS.

So, the final awards have been presented...and the new school year is off to a fantastic start. I am looking forward to the new competitions added to the realm this year. Good luck to all Globaloria students (and their educators) in creating games this year.

Yours in Education,

Monica Beane

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sandy River Middle School Students Awarded Laptops

Sandy River MS students, Kaitlyn and Billy, are all smiles with their laptops in hand at the McDowell County BOE meeting..also pictured are Ingrida Barker (Globaloria educator), McDowell County BOE members, and Superintendent Jim Brown.

Tuesday, I traveled to Welch, WV to present laptop computers to Sandy River Middle School students Kaitlyn and Billy. Their game entitled, "The Race to Justice" was selected as the winner of the first Civics Games Competition.

In front of a packed board room, Kaitlyn and Billy, members of the team "The Fox Racers," demonstrated their game and responded to questions from Superintendent Jim Brown and McDowell County Board of Education members.

I was very impressed with Kaitlyn and Billy's communication and presentation skills in such a crowded room full of high school students and adults. About 20 members of the Mt. View High School HISTA organization were in attendance as well. The look on their faces when Kaitlyn and Billy received their very own personal laptops was "PRICELESS"...and when I asked how many were interested in Globaloria, hands raised across the room.

The final presentation of laptops will take place next Tuesday in Greenbrier County...more blogging to come...

Monica Ann Beane, NBCT

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Raleigh County Students Awarded Laptops

Wow! It was very exciting to be part of a historic event for Globaloria in WV. Last night, David Lowenstein and I were privileged to present laptops to the winners of the first Globaloria STEM Games Competition. Madison Meadows and Celia Laverty, students in Mrs. Tracy Halsey's game design course, were presented personal laptops as their reward for designing the winning game in the competition that was chaired by Senator Jay Rockefeller.

Being honored in front of the Raleigh County Board of Education allowed these students the opportunity to tell about their experiences with Globaloria as well as demonstrate their winning game to members of the board and others in attendance.

I look forward to co-presenting Malachi McCutcheon, a student in Greenbrier County with his laptop on September 14. Malachi's game "Math Runner" tied with Madison and Celia's game "WV Animal Rescue Squad" in this inagural competition.

2010-11 is going to be a great Globaloria year!

Yours in Education,

Monica Beane, NBCT

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sandy River Middle School Team on

"The Race to Justice", the winning game in the 1st Annual Globaloria Civics Games Competition is now featured on former Supreme Cour Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's Click here to play.

Designed by Sandy River Middle School Team, The Fox Racers, this game teaches you about civic law in a fun game-play setting, where you have to race to the courthouse to argue your case.

The front page of the iCivics website reads,

Civics and the World Wide Workshop Foundation are proud to present The Race to Justice, a student-designed game about civil law. The Race to Justice is the Grand prize winner from the 1st Annual Globaloria Civics Games Competition. Game designers Kaitlyn and Billy are incoming 8th grade students from the Sandy River Middle School in Avondale, West Virginia. They came out on top in a field of 25 teams from middle and high schools across West Virginia who researched, designed and programmed their own original civics games, using the Globaloria platform and curriculum.
Congrats to our winners, and to all the competitors in a truly excellent field!

We second that congratulations! The bar is set mighty high for next years' Civics Games contestants. We can't wait to play them!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Starting the new school year off "the Globaloria Way"

As the 2010-2011 school year begins this month, 50 Globaloria educators throughout the state of West Virginia are delivering their content standards and objectives in highly innovative and engaging ways that students across the nation have been waiting for.

Globaloria educators and their classrooms are equipped with flip cams, laptops, web voice and video conferencing capabilities, and skills that were sharpened at Globaloria’s July and August Summer Academies at the West Virginia Center for Professional Development. The trainings at WVCPD, which were lead by World Wide Workshop staff and Globaloria mentor educators, provided both beginner and returning Globaloria educators with on-going teacher professional development to engage students in harnessing Web 2.0 tools to research, report out on, and produce digital artifacts that demonstrate subject mastery.

More than twelve hundred students in 41 West Virginia schools will participate in Globaloria this year. They will be taught by 50 education leaders who teach a plethora of different subjects in a variety of different settings. The diverse Globaloria-WV educator community consists of professors who teach game design courses at community colleges, educators who lead classrooms at alternative education centers, and teachers in WV public middle schools and high schools who lead classes ranging from Math, Drafting, Language Arts, and Digital Imaging, to Social Studies, Music, Biology, Chemistry, and Earth Science.

These diverse classrooms have a common--but significant-- link. They are all made up of West Virginia students who will be creating blogs on the subjects they are learning about, conducting on-line research, making multi-media presentations on their findings, producing educational video games, and creating wikis to collaborate, share code and work in teams with other Globaloria students from around the state, just as their educators did this summer. They will do things "the Globaloria Way."

By David Lowenstein, State Director, Globaloria-WV

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ripples and Stones

Throw a stone in a lake and watch the ripples as they spread out and eventually fade.

Take a moment this year to really look at what you have accomplished. When you look at your students' games in the Game Gallery, don't think about if they got as far as you wanted them to or how you are going to retool your approach for greater success. Think instead of the students' struggles at the beginning of the class. Don't look at the grade they received, see the creativity of their work and great effect you have had on every single student in your class.

Toss a stone in a lake and eventually the ripples will go away but the lake is forever changed by the presence of the stone. So no matter how great or little the change you saw in your student's work, your stone has caused a change that they will carry for the rest of their education.

Until next time, the soap box is yours.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Introducing: Alessandro Le Porta, New Foundation Team Member

Greetings Globaloria Educators! I'm very excited to introduce Alessandro, the newest addition to our team here at the World Wide Workshop Foundation.

 As has become a tradition, find below Alessandro's entrance interview:

Rachel: When did you join the World Wide Workshop?
Alessandro: I joined on March 1st, 2010.
R: What is your role here?
A: I am an Assistant Programs Coordinator, currently responsible for helping to update the Globaloria curriculum. 
R: What are you most looking forward to in working with the Foundation and the Globaloria community?
A: Honestly, the project is so awesome and rewarding (and I myself don't have any one specific skill I tie myself to), so I love working on whatever needs to be done. If I have to choose, though, working on the way in which students will learn the material we present is really interesting to me, because it requires me to put myself in their shoes and analyze how people think. Thinking about the process of thought is something I have always enjoyed, and it's no different here.
R: That's a very "Globaloria" attitude! You're going to fit in here great! Where are you from?
A: Thanks! I already feel at home here.
R: Where are you from originally?
A: I am from the middle of nowhere in upstate New York, about five hours by car away from New York City.
R: What are your hobbies?
A: Listening to music of most types, playing video games, cooperative storytelling of all forms (story circles, tabletop RPGs, live-action roleplay, improv acting), martial arts (swordfighting, shotokan karate), dance (ballroom mostly).
R: A man of many talents! RPG games are definitely great examples of social gaming. What would you say is your favorite game?
A: Final Fantasy VI. It has a wonderful storyline full of excellent characters, is fun to play, and covered many adult and interesting topics long before video games were thought of as a medium where you could do that sort of thing. What is the most interesting thing about you?
R: What would you say is the most interesting thing about you?
A: I think in references. Whenever I learn a new thing or have a new experience, my mind joins nodes of thoughts together, building tons of connections in a graph that stretches out to all the concepts I've ever encountered. Because of this, I find little happy moments in all sorts of thoughts, simply because they connect me back to something I enjoy, even though perhaps the content of the two thoughts is completely different. It makes life incredibly interesting and full of wonder.
R: What message do you have for the Globaloria community?
A: I know it's crunch-time in your Globaloria classrooms, but from what I've seen, you guys are doing amazing work! Keep looking up! Globaloria--like life--is full of wonder and happy experiences, and if you keep yourself positive and keep an open mind, you'll do just fine. :-)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Adding Navigation in Flash

As you know, one of the most important elements of creating a functioning game is learning how to add navigation in Flash. To help you master this key skill, Meredith has made some great demo videos. You can find them listed in the Resource Bank on the Educator's Wiki and embedded here below:

Demo 1: Buttons and Button States (3:20) 
Assignment: Create a button with three states: up, down, and over. 

Demo 2: Create a Game Demo Skeleton with Three Scenes (5:22)
Assignment: Create a game skeleton with three scenes each on a different layer. Create a layer for labels, and put labels on the first frame of each scene. Create a layer for ActionScript and put stop();s on the last frame of each scene. 

Demo 3: Add Buttons to the Game Skeleton (5:55)
Assignment: Add a play and an about button to the intro scene. Add "back to intro" buttons to the play scene and the about scene. 

Thanks Meredith!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Looking Towards the Goal, Not the End

Its official, we have hit the home-stretch towards summer. Sports are picking back up for some students, the weather is prompting outdoor thoughts, and everyone is starting to plan for vacation.

Teachers are no different.

As I have pointed out before, it's important to focus the process and not just the end result. We can't count our chickens before the hatch and we can't count our semester over until our students present. Check out the Globaloria format for evaluating presentations and this excellent example.

I like to think of this as a well written essay. You have to plan for your topic, decide what you are going to present to the audience, present that information, and then remind the audience what has been presented. Now is the time to prepare them for the "closing paragraph" of this great and wonderful essay we have been part of this year.

What are your goals for the students to close the year? What should be the focus of their presentations? How will your “essay” end?

The soapbox is yours,

Friday, April 9, 2010

What Adults can Learn from Kids

Listen to this remarkable speech from 13-year-old writer and child prodigy, Adora Svitak. 
She claims:
It shouldn't just be a teacher at the head of the classroom telling students do this, do that. The students Students should teach their teachers. Learning between grownups and kids should be reciprocal. 
We couldn't agree more!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Out with the Old...

A recent study unveiled at the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) annual conference in Washington, D.C. last month reveals what U.S. students like and want most when it comes to technology.

Julie Evans, CEO of the nonprofit group Project Tomorrow, discussed the latest findings from her organization’s annual Speak Up survey of students, parents, teachers, and school administrators.

The newest findings from the student data with most relevance to Globaloria is that students are extremely interested in replacing their traditional textbooks with what Evans defines as “a truly interactive learning experience.” According to the research, U.S. middle school and high school students want an online environment that includes educational games and simulations, as well as links to outside experts and web sites. Sound familiar? Can you say Globaloria?!

Project Tomorrow’s study reinforces the need for a program like Globaloria that transforms the static and stagnant classrooms that are failing to engage students in to the highly interactive and collaborative learning environments that students so deeply desire.

By David Lowenstein, State Director, Globaloria-WV

Friday, April 2, 2010

Goals for Q4

It's been incredible to see all the drive, enthusiasm and chutzpah the Globaloria Educator's community has been generating as we charge into our fourth (and final) quarter in year 3 of the Globaloria-WV pilot! Many of you have been posting your goals on your blogs, which is a great way to share ideas with your students and fellow educators.

I've pulled out some highlights, but I encourage you to explore all the educator's blogs to read about their ideas and share your own in their comment threads.

Jim Allder from GEHS writes,
Fact: We have had an incredible amount of snow.

Fact: The loss of literally weeks of school has given us a legitimate reason for being behind in our goals.

Fact: In the end, you can either have reasons or results.....Reasons don't count.

So, whenever we are in the classroom, or when we have the opportunities online, we must make the most of it.
Denise Stalnaker at RTC has set 3 goals for herself:
1. Improve my students' civic blog posts. I have been having my students do the post but not encouraging real thought into the process.

2. Help manage time. I would like to be able to work with my students to manage their time and production to get a good game sample completed.

3. Work on my own game. I started a game and I would like to get more of that game finished because as I work on it my Flash skills improve. This enables me to better help my students. 
Kevin Warfield at GEHS has three goals of his own:
1) Blog more and try to promote more blogging outside of the classroom. At this stage of the class, I would like the students to blog about problems they are having or topics they would like to cover in class. This would allow me to have problem specific classes. 2) To guide my students to get their wikis in order and 3) to help my students gather there presentation materials and practice presenting in front of people.
Liz Daigle at GEHS reminds us,
In life, Timing is everything. Working to reach deadlines in the real world is hard and complicated and sometimes things happen (20 snowdays) that interfere with us accomplishing what we want. It can truly feel discouraging. But do we stop and give up because we have not made the progress we expected of ourselves? NO, NO, NO! It's time to rally the forces. Time to reassess the situation, adjust expectations, and maybe work overtime to reach our goal.
And Tracy Halsey from Liberty High School is raring to go!
Our class has been very busy trying to finish the team development topics by March 26, 2010. This date was selected as the deadline to ensure that we will have a full month to get our games assembled and in working condition by May 4th (our targeted date for presentations).

The closer to the deadline we get, the more excited I become! I am confident that one of our teams will win the STEM Competition! They have been working so hard and everything is really coming together.
Thanks to all of you for your dedication and enthusiasm! With this attitude, Q4 is going to be a crowing achievement.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Blogging to Combat a Callous World

Most of us have seen the news covering the beating a middle school girl received over a text message. If you haven't heard about this yet, see this article in The Miami Herald.

I was stunned that such a profound act of violence could be sparked by technology as impersonal as text messaging. Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti was quoted as saying, "It seems we have a culture of callousness with our kids." And I can understand why he would see it that way.

While technology certainly can be distancing, I see the formation of community through blogging as part of the solution. How can we in Globaloria use blogging as an interactive counter to the apparent social disconnect and anonymity afforded by text threats, cyberbullying, and the escalation that can follow? Let's help our students understand how to build virtual communities by teaching them skills as both bloggers and commenters. In Globaloria we have the chance to help students master and productively utilize the social tools they need to foster meaningful connections in their future.

What are your thoughts and ideas?

Now its your turn on the soapbox.


Texting photo courtesy of Alton, Wikimedia

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

1st Annual Civics Games Competition Team Demos

Last week, Globaloria students in Civics Track classrooms turned in their game demos for the 1st Annual Civics Games Competition. While this is just a step in the submission process with dates for final games and presentations to come, the Globaloria program celebrates the process and project milestones that show student achievement and learning as they work toward their final game.

Check out student's games from classrooms all over West Virginia making games about civics divided into three groups:

1) Games about civic ideals
2) Games about the function of government
3) Games about the role of citizens

We're excited to see how creative and thoughtful these games demos are so early in their development! Congradulations to our civics classrooms for their amazing work.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Compass Bearing for the Future

As a Globaloria educator, I am often asked 1) how I can possibly incorporate this innovative curriculum into my class and 2) why go to all the extra effort?

Many teachers have trouble letting go of their traditional methods despite the new direction 21st century education is heading. There are many educators who are apprehensive about Globaloria, claiming "I'm already comfortable with how I teach my class, so why change it?"

What they fail to see is that the world is already changing, whether they decide to adapt or not.
Globaloria is leading the way in helping teachers and students grow along with the world, and I'm always finding other exciting signs pointing to where education is heading.

While I was conducting research for my biology class, I discovered a site called ZOOKEYS, an open source digital scientific journal, rooted in the belief that knowledge should be collaborative and shared. Another site I recently discovered is called the Encyclopedia of Life, an online biodiversity resource site that encourages its readers to become contributors.

Although these sites are both very specific to my area of expertise, they are built on a philosophy we all have learned to embrace with the Globaloria program: the importance of virtual sharing and collaboration. With so many new collaborative resources such as these flourishing, it is becoming impossible to ignore how relevant the skills and practices Globaloria instills in our students are for success in higher-education and the 21st-century job market.

I am curious to know how the Globaloria learning philosophy is manifesting in subjects other than the sciences. Can you find similar examples of how technology is changing practices in your content areas? An understanding of the direction your discipline is headed may help put Globaloria in greater context for students, parents, and fellow educators.

Until next time, the soapbox is yours.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Announcing: 1st Annual STEM Game Competition

In 1957, Russia's launch of the Sputnik satellite piqued widespread fear that if America didn't shape-up, we might lose our status as global leaders in science and technology.

The "Sputnik moment" lead to America's unprecedented national commitment to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). The public, private and educational sectors within the United States focused massive resources on developing the nation's STEM capacities. As a result, the U.S. became the first nation to land human beings on the moon in 1969, and what would later be known as the Internet was developed, revolutionizing communications, education, and commerce.

In 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon

Fast-forward to 2010 and it is clear that America faces a "new Sputnik moment."

Other countries have developed national broadband strategies and are graduating most of the world's new engineers, mathematicians, and scientists. The U.S. must innovate or abdicate its leadership in this area.

In recognition of this crisis and the need to re-focus on STEM, the World Wide Workshop, in collaboration with the West Virginia Department of Education and US Senator Jay Rockefeller as Honorary Chair, launched the 1st Annual Globaloria-WV STEM Games Competition on Wednesday, March 10.

From left to right: Monica Beane (WV Dept. of Ed); Gaston Caperton (Former Governor & Globaloria Advisory Board member); Jay Rockefeller (US Senator); Idit Caperton (Founder & President of World Wide Workshop); and David Lowenstein (State Director, Globaloria-WV)

Globaloria students in West Virginia public schools who choose to create web games that teach Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics concepts are eligible to enter the competition. A panel of distinguished STEM practitioners, policy makers, and game design experts will judge the students’ games. Winners will be announced on June 10. The student team that receives the highest score will win free laptops and get to present their game to the leadership at the White House Office of Science Technology Policy. Their games will also be featured on several websites nationwide.

We are excited to establish West Virginia as a national leader in STEM-learning with the Globaloria-WV community. In the words of World Wide Workshop founder and president, Dr. Idit Harel Caperton:
"The Globaloria program – through its wiki-based game design and Web 2.0 curriculum and its constructionist learning theory – has been advancing the STEM skills of West Virginia students and educators since the program’s inception. Now, with the 1st Annual Globaloria-WV STEM Games Competition, we are significantly enhancing our contribution to the nationwide effort to move America to the top of the pack in math and science education.”

By David Lowenstein, State Director, Globaloria-WV

Friday, March 5, 2010

Learning to Swim

We are always hearing about how our world is becoming so connected, and the production of web content so complex, that it is impossible to make sense of it all.

In a sense, the sheer amount of information available to us is so massive, we might as well have none at all because we can't seem to understand of any of it. Barry Schwartz writes and speaks a great deal on "The Paradox of Choice" where he argues that the near infinite variety of stuff available to us is paralyzing.

It makes you wonder: Can information make us ignorant?

The economic crisis of 2008 seems to suggest as much. How could so many people, with access to more information than has ever been available, have been so oblivious to the consequences of their actions?

But let's not throw up our hands just yet. This need to find new ways to represent complex information is being met--not in spite of technology but through it.

A few months ago, I discovered this informational graphic on the economic crisis by Jonathan Jarvis. With the expressive tools available to him, he has managed to take one of the most perplexing economic events in history, and present it in a way that even children could understand:

On The Crisis of Credit Visualized site Jonathan explains that this presentation is part of his larger mission dedicated to "exploring the use of new media to make sense of a increasingly complex world."

That is also the spirit of the Globaloria program: to cultivate the new media literacy and skills needed to makes sense of--and participate in-- our complex world. By creating educational games, Globaloria students are learning how to represent knowledge just like Jonathan, arming them with the ability to turn information into real knowledge as they navigate the uncharted territories of communication technologies.

Perhaps the great philosopher Democritus put it best around 400 BC when he said, "Water can be both good and bad; of use and dangerous. To the danger, however, a remedy has been found: learning to swim."


Monday, March 1, 2010

Staying Informed on Education Technology News

As members of a state-wide learning community, it’s not only important that we stay informed on what’s happening in Globaloria classrooms throughout West Virginia, but that we also stay knowledgeable about state, national, and international news regarding efforts to harness technology for education and social change. It’s a good idea to bookmark a few websites that can keep us up-to-date.

One website that can help us stay well-informed on all things dealing with education technology is eSchool News. The eSchool News website currently features articles on a new U.S. Commerce Department report that points to 40% of Americans who lack high-speed internet access home, as well as on a survey indicating that educators are not discussing STEM careers with students.

Another good on-line resource – particularly for national and international news related to video games and politics - is Recent posts on this website include an article about 50 college students at a school in Vermont who are working on a web-based game that educates boys on the effects of violence against women.

These are just a few websites that can keep us informed on the latest and greatest information, practices, and opportunities to harness technology for education.

By: David Lowenstein, State Director, Globaloria WV

If Life Gives You Snow...Make Snow Cones!

Like most of the state, I am trying to get my feet back under me after all of the snow days. Just like driving on a snow day, sometimes it’s hard to get the traction you need. Too much gas and you spin your wheels; too heavy on the brake and you slide out of control. Sometimes, even with your best effort, the car just seems to head the wrong way.

The best way to make good positive headway is to find the right balance between catching up and moving on. For most of us, the Globaloria curriculum is a great tool to do just that. Those work in a self-paced environment and can pick up from where they left off before the snow. Several of our classes have other criteria that also have to be caught up. This can include any of our content standards to be covered and other activities that were that were left out in the snow.

In my Global Biology class (where I teach biology with the Globaloria platform and modified curriculum), I have been trying to wrap up a unit on mitosis that had stretched on for far too long. To handle this restart period, as well as refresh their FLASH skills, I am going to be meeting with each group this week and they are going to tell me what they will be adding to their project to teach about either mitosis or why cells stay so small. This will let them review the material once more after being tested, review the FLASH skills they have learned so far, and evaluate how to put the two together.

So, in following the title of this post, when presented with an abundance of snow, I am doing my best to make snow cones. What are your recipes for catching up after these stretches of bad weather? Share your ideas and suggestions by commenting on this posting.

Until next time, the snow cone stand is yours.

Bill Dorsey

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Benefits of Learning Online Outweighs the Dangers

The MacArthur Foundation Spotlight on Digitial Media and Learning has an interesting article up on a new report from Harvard’s Youth and Media Policy Working Group on media safety, privacy and quality. Amongst their findings, this conclusion stands out:
As we seek to protect youth from the unforeseen risks of online engagement, it is essential that we do not in turn foreclose the benefits made possible by self‐directed, informal learning and socializing through new technologies or experimentation with teaching using new technologies in the classroom.
As leaders of Globaloria classrooms, all of you can personally attest to the benefits of online engagement. Read the rest of the report here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Globaloria Students Share Their Works-in-Progress

Despite the cold and snowy start to the 2010 that has caused numerous school delays and closings, Globaloria students are shining as bright as the sun and making incredible progress! Presentations by students from South Harrison High School, Randolph Technical Center, Sandy River Middle School, and Pressley Ridge School, as well as special presentations to the Globaloria Advisory Board made by students from Riverside High School and Capital High School in 2010 not only showcased the development of students’ games, but also their growing technology proficiencies, research talents, communication and collaboration skills, and leadership abilities.

Presentations varied in topic, ranging from power point decks that displayed students’ research and ideas on protecting our environment, to how to combat world poverty and hunger, to game demos focused on civics concepts.

Listening and watching Globaloria West Virginia students present their research findings, demonstrate their game demos, and speak on what they’ve learned and how they want to educate others through the creation of original web games has renewed my spirit of optimism about our nation’s future.

Globaloria WV students are great ambassadors of their generation; they are highly intelligent, compassionate, witty, and eager to create a better tomorrow for themselves, their communities, and the world. That is why it is so gratifying to be a part of the Globaloria learning community that is preparing today’s youth for leadership and success in the 21st century.

By: David Lowenstein
State Director, Globaloria WV

Monday, February 22, 2010

Time for Time Management

"Time keeps on slippin', slippin',slippin' into the future."
- lyrics from "Fly Like and Eagle," Steve Miller Band

Sometimes, I think the members of the Steve Miller Band must have been teachers, because our schedules often feel just like that. As the pressures of the day go on, it can often become very easy to shortcut processes and projects; trying to fit it all in to our schedule. Even when it feels like an overload, it is all just a matter of time management.

In Globaloria, the Course Schedule is a great tool for planning ahead and it is easier than a standard lesson plan. Using this tool can help a teacher and their class feel more organized and secure in their delivery. For new teachers especially, this is a tool that can help a lot of the tension and insecurities in tackling new things like Flash and ActionScript. It allows us to plan ahead and take comfortable "bites" of material while still making forward progress. Just take a look at Heather's , Aaron's, and MCTC's schedules for different examples of how they can be used.

A second tool that can assist in time management is the Learning Log. This tool lets students and teachers reflect on successes and struggles. As a teacher, seeing what topics have stalled your class for an extra hour or day can help you adjust the future and make it easier for all parties involved. It can even help you to see what skills the students are mastering faster to alleviate extra time on redundant lessons.

In your experience with the program, have you discovered any special tips for time management in Globaloria? Please share your insights with the community!


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Globaloria Spotlight

Click on the image to visit the Globaloria Spotlight

Thanks to all of you in the Globaloria-WV educator's community for installing the Globaloria Spotlight Widget on your blog! We're so excited to see what great pictures, blog posts, game elements, videos and more you submit to the Spotlight to give your students' achievements recognition across the state.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Disaster in Haiti: Response and Reflection

For weeks now we have been awash in news regarding the devastation in Haiti. People all over the world have been amazing in their empathy and response. I am sure that we have also seen how quickly and decidedly our students have responded in our schools. At Capital, the student council has been coming to homerooms on a near daily basis to collect donations. My students have emptied their pockets in response. I think it is equally important to think about humanitarian aid in all its forms.

Money is a wonderful way to help from a distance but not the only method. Another way our society can help is to educate. That is a strength of the Globaloria program: using socially responsible games to enlighten and inspire.

Title screen from Ayiti: The Cost of Life

A perfect tie-in for our students is the game called Ayiti: The Cost of Life, supported in part by UNICEF. This game is set in the rural regions of Haiti and shows just how hard life is in that country even prior to the earthquake. Playing this game has put Haiti's tragic current events in context for myself and my students.

First-year teachers: as your classes come to the "Playing to Learn" unit, direct your students to try playing Ayiti. It will help connect our use of the term social-issue game with an actual social issue that they are all aware of today. Experienced teachers: you can offer playing this game as a suggestion for students who have completed their work for the day.

Please encourage your students to visit the following organizations:
Save the Children
Help Haiti Now
Famine Relief Foundation
Doctors Without Borders
Mercy Corps

Even though this is a terrible disaster with massive damages and loss of life, it is a perfect example of how people from around the world can come together to make a difference.

Let's help our students understand their place in the world and think critically about how they might assume responsibilities as Global Citizens.

Until next time, the soap box is yours.


images courtesy U.S. Armed Forces and are part of the public domain

Monday, January 25, 2010

Starting out the Spring Semester

Heather McChesney shares images from her first day of class

From a read of the Globaloria community's blogs, it looks like the spring semester is off to a great start!

Our conversation at the January Academy on student motivation was extremely fruitful, inspiring such insights as Tracy Halsey and Larry Thackett's ideas about relevancy and feedback.

Tracy writes, "One of the reasons I applied to the Globaloria program is because I knew students would be interested and therefore hoped student motivation would be increased. For the most part, it has proven to be true. If you can see a relevancy to your life then you become an active participant. Another thing I try to do is provide feedback to my students."

And Larry resolves, "to help [my students] keep that motivation by:
  • Involving them in the learning process by stressing the importance of collaboration and teamwork. Letting them know that their input is important to everyone's success.
  • Relating the work they will be doing, and how they do it, to the real-world of work they will face after they graduate.
  • Stressing that their success, or failure, is in their hands. I am there to help and guide, but they will have to work to succeed."
Dionne added to the discussion by stressing the importance of getting to know the specific needs of your students:
To foster student motivation, it is imperative that I know my students: their strengths, areas of improvement, and how they feel about school and learning. As I learn about my students, I begin to understand what they need to be successful, and am able to set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) goals with them and help to provide them with the knowledge base and skills necessary to accomplish those goals. As they see small levels of success, and we recognize their accomplishment, they have an internal sense of gratification, and they continue to work, thus becoming more successful. After all, like success, motivation is continuous.
These insights and more were extremely helpful, and already they seem to be paying off!

A Spring-start educator, Heather McChesney had a great first day, and has already posted some pictures of her Globaloria class on her blog. And Tracy, starting her second semester, shares some gorgeous game scenes from her talented students.

Larry has hit the ground running, exclaiming, "Wow! Just finished my first Globaloria game design class and I am nothing short of amazed!"

It's exciting to see you all applying your new abilities and rejuvenated verve to in your classrooms. Fostering student motivation certainly can be hard, but judging from your accomplishments this week, I have to second Jim Allder's advice that motivating yourself can be infectious:
As a Globaloria educator, I have found that the more I invest myself in self-learning, the more motivated I become to teach the next lesson. It is exciting to share new information. (why do you think gossip shows and magazines are so popular?) And those around us are sure to pick up on this excitement and become more self motivated.

This comes a little "back to the basics", but I believe the best way that I can motivate others is by being prepared and learning the skills myself. In music, this involves studying scores, listening to professional recordings, in some cases communicating with the composer, and researching the story behind the composition. In Globarloria, it is accomplished by taking on personal flash projects, finding tutorials, looking for things to blog about, and keeping up the wiki.

Through this preparation, we make ourselves more confident, proficient, and MOTIVATED. This type of motivation is sure to rub off on others.
Keep up your self-learning as the year progresses, and don't hesitate to reach out to your peers, mentors, or the Foundation team for support when you need it!

Good luck!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Rewards of the Journey

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

Scaling a mountain begins with a small step and ends with a great accomplishment. Sometimes the target at the end can seem so far away that we neglect the milestones, which make the journey worthwhile. To help keep you and your students fresh and excited, make sure to celebrate the "footholds" along the way. Each step, no matter how painful or stressful, brings your classroom a little closer to your goals.

It's the week after our January 2010 Academy, and it's clear we are really reaching the peak. You can especially see this in the Spring-Start educators' fantastic game demos. Their game ideas, presentations, and Flash skills represent less a small step, than a giant leap!

Another accomplishment is the community we have established. We look to each other for encouragement, advice and collaboration. From mentors to mentees, educator peers to educator peers, teachers to students, students to one another and the Foundation staff to us all, the Globaloria community is truly a united support system.

Transferring this ethic of support to my classroom is my goal-- and just as challenging as it can be to really hone my abilities with the Globaloria program and platform, I am gratified that my students are taking their own small steps forward right beside me. Together, our achievements (be they footholds or peaks) offer deep and lasting rewards.

Never forget: the hard-earned steps of your journey are as important as the destination.

Until next time, the soap box is yours.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Fostering Student Motivation

Greetings Globaloria Educators and welcome to the January 2010 Mid-Year Academy!

As Bill has pointed out, it’s the New Year and time to make our resolutions; not just for change in your life, but positive change in your Globaloria classrooms. Many of you have been extremely proactive in responding to Bill’s challenge on your own blogs—and it's been remarkable to see how many of you have “resolved” to give your students exactly what Bill has given you: motivation.

As leaders of a program designed to foster the power of self-learning, you know that student motivation is a key component of success. But it's not always clear how best to generate a culture of passion in the classroom, and (harder still) how to sustain it through the many challenges students and teachers face in the process game-creation.

Your overnight blogging assignment tonight is to reflect on your own struggles with student motivation (in Globaloria and throughout your teaching career) and share strategies you've developed to ignite passion and channel it into productive learning.

Good luck, and happy blogging!


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

It's early January and time once again to make our resolutions. We all have different goals: to spend less, to save more, to eat healthier, to live fuller, and to break a sweat at the gym--knowing all too well that our success will vary. The fact is, it's a struggle to make lasting changes in our lives; but these resolutions are made year after year because we know that whatever the outcome, the most important thing is to keep trying.

Luckily, we in the Globaloria community have a special advantage. As teachers, we make changes all the time. We try to change the way students learn, to turn indifference into passion, to broaden views of the world; and in some cases, offer support in the classroom when there is none at home. As many of us know first hand, a dedicated educator can change lives.

Globaloria is a resolution too: to change the way we teach and learn in the 21st-century. Through successes and setbacks, our classes have surprised and inspired us with all we've been able to accomplish. So here we are in January 2010 and the school year halfway over, but as those of us who have been here before know, it isn't all downhill from here. There are plenty of Globaloria challenges--and rewards--to come. This halfway mark is a great opportunity to reflect, adapt, and aim higher.

In fact, I think I'm going to make a few more resolutions:

I resolve to think about what I've done well and figure out how I can perpetuate my successes in the Spring semester. I will not feel defeated about the struggles I've faced. I will take on old challenges with new perspectives. I will commit to helping my students, my school and my community leap into the digital age. Finally, I resolve never to forget why I became a teacher in the first place--to make change.

I propose a blog prompt for all Globaloria educators: Update your blogs with your own Globaloria resolutions for next semester. I extend the challenge to our new Spring Start educators as well. What are your goals for Globaloria in your classroom?

I'm inspired by the accomplishments of the Globaloria community so far this year, and can't wait to read about all you plan to do in the months to come!

Until next time, the soap box is yours.

Bill Dorsey