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.