BlogPost Four: Reflection About Students

Having spent some observation hours at Hathaway Brown’s middle school, particularly in a seventh-grade English classroom, taught by Leslie Coleman.  The middle school is all girls, and the school is rather diverse in race and religion.

In regards to technology, each student is given an iPad on behalf of the school that they use for homework and for collaborative work, such as group projects, Google Docs, or videography and photography.  Because of their iPads, the students seem to be rather connected with technology; for example, on their iPads, students tend to check their emails before class begins and respond adequately.  The iPads enable the students to stay connected and to multi-task, increasing their productivity throughout the day.

Also in class, Ms. Coleman will present with PowerPoints and also use images on a SmartBoard to show to the class, accommodating to various types of learners.  Moreover, the presentations are posted onto her class site online, so that students can access them on their iPads when they go home.

Outside of class, students use many of the prominent social media platforms that are used by college students and my generation of individuals.  “I use Snapchat for pretty much all of my communication,” one of the students said before class.  Snapchat seems to be the most-used social media platform amongst the ladies at Hathaway Brown, for as I understand it, the ladies use the platform to communicate for basic and school, administrative needs.  Unlike my generation, who uses Snapchat for basic conversation with the picture option, these students tend to use the “chat” feature on Snapchat significantly more often; alternatively, my generation would send text messages.

All in all, the use of technology by the students, both inside and outside of the classroom, fosters their learning, because students are practicing their soft skills and are also reinforcing the ideas that they learned in the classroom.  According to Lambert, the first step of creating a digital storybook is “owning your insights,” meaning that the thoughts of the students are to be owned by the students (54).  Students are innovative when using technology to their advantage, because the technology prompts the students to think in various ways that are not always “by the books”; nonetheless, students must own their thoughts and insights when using technology to create a digital storybook.

More than anything, technology connects us to other people, and that is what I have noticed to be the biggest goal achieved through the usage of technology in the classroom with Ms. Coleman.  In the example of Ms. Coleman using pictures and a slideshow to accommodate those who have various learning experiences, Ms. Coleman is making sure that all of her students can learn the material in the classroom: technology connecting people.  All of the ladies at Hathaway Brown use their iPads to connect with one another, their teachers, the classes that they are taking, and the world around them.

 

 

Resources

Lambert, J. (2012) Chapter 5: Seven Steps of Digital Storytelling, Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community. (4th Edition). Routledge : New York, NY. pp. 53-69.

 

Advertisements

Video Gaming 2: Ripping More Fort for Educational Purposes

Continuing to play Fortnite, and with more time to reflect on the game and the ways in which it is educational.  Instead of focusing on the gameplay, I decided to think specifically about the ways in which Fortnite incorporates soft skills and teaches some intangible skills that are not as easily learned in a classroom: communication, collaboration, group strategy/attention to detail, and trust.  

Communication

Because the game is played with many players that are working together to beat the other teams, a great deal of communication is necessary.  Playing Fortnite effectively requires immense communication, and the more games that are played, the better that communication becomes because of the continuous practice and the ability to communicate with various people any given moment.  In the words of Squire, “The most intense social learning is found in massively multiplayer games, games where players interact with thousands of other players in real time over the Internet ” (Squire, 2006).  Letting your teammates know where enemies are located, sharing your resources with your teammates, and expressing the damage you’ve done to enemies are probably the three most essential ways in which one communicates during Fortnite.  By practicing communication, players take these skills with them into the world around them: into their school, into their families, and eventually into their work places.

Fortnite exemplifies the communication that is specific, precise, and progressing of what is being talked about.  Without specificity, then the communication does not propel the team forward, or, in real life, propel the conversation in the workplace forward.  CEO of Epic Games, Tim Sweeney, who created Fortnite, stated, “In many ways ‘Fortnite’ is like a social network. People are just in the game with strangers; they’re playing with friends and using ‘Fortnite’ as a foundation to communicate.”  The communication involved in Fortnite is foundational.  Isn’t education supposed to be foundational?

Below is a video of a Fortnite player making a video regarding communication in a squad.

 

Collaboration

Because the game is played in groups, a lot of collaboration is essential to success.  In that collaboration, players learn to utilize their strengths and to recognize where they are helpful and also a weakness to their squad.  Easily relatable to the classroom, students must learn to differentiate their strengths from their weaknesses, insofar that they can incorporate a growth mindset to learn the more difficult topics and to keep fostering the understanding of their strengths.  When playing Fortnite, I have found that I am exceptionally good with throwing weapons, like grenades, etcetera; however, I am not the best at building.  Knowing these traits about me as a player helps my squad to be a cohesive unit.  For example, I wouldn’t choose to try and win a build battle against an opponent that is very good at building; however, when pushing another team into battle, I am productive if I throw items at the opposing team.  “The immersive quality of the game deeply engaged students and showed them how the skills they were learning applied to the real world,” writes Gee; in the case of Fortnite, which is considered to have been designed to be addictive (“immersive,” in the words of Gee), the collaborative efforts of the group are real life on display.  The world works in group projects, so students are learning how to collaborate by doing exactly that, collaborating.

Group Strategy/Attention to Detail

In order to collaborate well and to communicate effectively, in Fortnite, classrooms, and the world alike, one must incorporate a strategy amongst the group and pay attention to details.  “The long-form strategy games offer an engaging motivation for students to understand and internalize the material” (MindShift, 25).  A strategy must be in place because it is a goal.  Without a goal, we as individuals have no direction in which we can specify our efforts.  Similarly, in Fortnite, having a strategy allows for direction for the squad: where to rotate, how to fight enemies, who will carry what resources.  Without a group strategy, the squad will be in shambles and surely will not win the game.

Moreover, in order to adequately utilize the group strategy, players must pay great attention to details, so as to address each situation appropriately.  In Fortnite, if one does not pay attention to details, and for example, does not reload his/her weapon, then the results would be fatal, as the player couldn’t shoot an enemy.  Another example, if a squad does not notice an oncoming squad, then they will be ambushed and forced into a scramble.  These debacles can be avoided by paying attention to details: movements, sounds, colors, numbers, etcetera.  In the classroom, paying attention to details is also vital.  Doing a math problem and neglecting the part of the problem that says to multiply, and one divides, will result in the incorrect answer every time.  The principal remains: practicing paying attention to details will make players/students more aware and better at paying attention to details.

 

Trust

How is someone supposed to work in a group and rely on another if trust is not present? Trust is necessary in all aspects of life, but especially when working with others in a group.  In implementing group strategy, while paying attention to details, communication and collaboration go out the windows if the members of the group cannot trust each other.  In Fortnite, you must trust your teammates when they are confident in their abilities over yours, or another member of your squad’s abilities; furthermore, when your teammates want to do something differently than you, you must trust that they will succeed and do well in their endeavors, despite the different thoughts they instill as opposed to yours.

When you trust your group members, you can begin to communicate and foster that communication.  Then you can work on collaboration and foster that, as well.  Finally, you hone the skills of the group strategy and paying specific attention to details, because those, paired with trust, are the basis of being a successful Fortnite player, student, worker, teammate, or anything similar.

 

Stay tuned as I continue the quest for the victory royales, comparing them to education in the classroom…

Video Gaming 1: Ripping Fort for Educational Purposes

As the game itself is dying down, Fortnite has been a gargantuas pastime for individuals over the last year and more.  Released on July 21, 2017, Fortnite took the world by storm, obtaining over 250 million players by March 2019, less than two years after having been released (Mansoor).  Because so many people play the game, insofar that many are addicted, studies and an interest that transcended mere players arose, and the interest included teachers, because their students were seemingly more invested in Fortnite than in their studies.  Having started playing personally in May 2018, I have decided to explore the explosive uprising in Fortnite, particularly, the ways in which Fortnite can be educational.

Premise: the game mode that will be focused on throughout the semester will be the Battle Royale mode, which is a player-vs.-player mode, where real people face real people.  

Much like Call of Duty or another game of the like, Fortnite “allows players to develop good intuitions about what works and about how what they are doing at the present moment fits into the trajectory of the game as a whole” (Gee).  In Fortnite, players will pickup guns and materials throughout the game, so as to try and be the final team alive (teams can consist of one, two, three, or four players working collectively).  During gameplay, players will be tasked with shooting other players to eliminate them, building bases and other means of transportation, and also harvesting the materials (wood, brick, and steel) used to build.  Referring to the quote by Gee, the game is a constant competition, so what happens in an individual fight affects the way that the rest of the game will progress.

In order to fight, one must understand how health works: all players start the game with 100 health, but they can also replenish their health and take shield.  The maximum health that a player may have is 100 shield and 100 health, both of which are restored through taking items like a shield potion, med kit, etcetera.  Once your health is gone, you’re eliminated.  In games where a player is playing with another person, or two, or three, the teammates of the player can get his/her “reboot card,” and if the reboot card is initiated at a specific location, and within a certain time, then the player will come back to life.

Understanding the premise of the game, let’s take a further look at how Fortnite actually can be educational.  Overarching, Fortnite is a strategy game.  How can I, or we as a squad, be the last team standing?  Players use endless tactics and different strategies while playing the game, and that begins right when choosing where to start the game.  From there, strategy comes into play when choosing what guns to use, what material to use, where to move around during the game, whether to approach enemies or to refrain from fighting, etcetera.  Below is a picture of the current Fortnite map, where all 100 players in a game land and battle it out:

FortniteBattleRoyaleSeason9Map.jpg

On the map, a storm will approach, in which players will die if they do not get out of the storm.  The storm damage ticker increases with every timed storm that passes, so players must get out of the storm to survive.  Strategy again increases as players find a way to escape the storm, whether that is by foot, through the air, or on a vehicle.  Because of the infinite strategies that can be implemented in Fortnite, Fortnite is an epitome of a strategy game, which “offer an engaging motivation for students to understand and internalize the material” (MindShift).

Furthermore, Fortnite draws on ideas of a creative, “design your own” game, because the players in Fortnite are constantly building in the world around them.  By building and creating in the world, the lesson is taught to “adjust settings and manipulate the relationship between components within a particular framework” (MindShift).  Because of the creativity and motor skills involved in building in Fortnite, Fortnite is overly qualified as a “design your own” game.

Each player in the game dresses up and competes in various challenges within the game; thus, by competing in challenges and dressing up as costumes, some famous like Batman and others created by Fortnite, Fortnite emerges as a game that is a spinoff of a role-playing game and also a puzzler game (MindShift). By leveling up and completing challenges, players unlock more challenges and more skins, and the cycle continues.  Below is a picture of the various “skins” (characters) and challenges, relatively, within the game at this moment:

7.png

475cdf3f0d9f31030070b5e6668a7473.jpg

fortnite_rewards_and_challenages_leaked.jpeg

Finally, at the very least, Fortnite helps to teach its players soft skills that are advantageous and necessary throughout life: teamwork, strategic thinking, collaboration, and communication.  Checkout this article for a comparison by a doctor of Fortnite and Minecraft, another, world-renowned game that is deciphered for its learning capabilities.

Throughout the rest of the semester, I anticipate to further examine the soft skills aspect of Fortnite, because I can clearly see those being taught effectively through the game.  To that end, I hope that any readers will comment or ask questions about the game/study.  Do you buy into the hype that the game can be educational?  It took some convincing for me, but with an open mind and an observation of alternate perspectives, Fortnite can be seen and utilized by teachers as an educational tool for their students.

 

 

Resources:

Iqbal, Mansoor. “Fortnite Usage and Revenue Statistics (2018).” Business of Apps, 25 Mar. 2019, http://www.businessofapps.com/data/fortnite-statistics/.

Gee, J.P. (2007) Good video games + good learning : collected essays on video games, learning, and literacy. Chapter 4: Good video games, the human mind, and good learning. New York : Peter Lang. pp. 22-44.

MindShift Guide to Digital Games & Learning

 

 

Introduction to Joe Clark 2019

Personal Information:

1)  Joe Clark

2)  My hometown is Strongsville, OH, but I am currently residing in Rocky River, OH.

3)  I love to be with people, so anytime that I am with my family, friends, and loved ones, I am ecstatic.  Other than that, I thoroughly enjoy playing basketball, which is something that my friends and I do nearly every day.  Playing chess is another favorite pastime of mine, as my uncle taught me to play when I was young, and I have loved it ever since.  Also, I love to ride a bike and have taken extensive trips doing so; there is nothing more exciting than hopping on a bike in one city and ending up in another several miles away!  For this semester, I would love to start to learn to play the guitar or the piano, because I love music and want to be able to play.

Learning Style and More:

4)  In order for me to take risks in a classroom, I simply need authenticity from the teacher and from classmates; without authenticity, then there is no genuine relationship amongst classmates or between a teacher and students.

What I Have Been Reading:

5)  I’m trying to get into the whole teaching thing still, so I am not reading about teaching in and of itself; however, I have been reading a lot about what makes people impressionable and how we as individuals can leave a positive lasting effect on others.  To that end, I really want to speak to others and be an orator.  Checkout Jim Valvano’s acceptance speech of the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award in 1993 at the ESPY’s: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHKzH6zR8xE.  Jimmy V hits the nail on the head with our innate value as human beings.

About Dr. Shutkin:

6)  What has inspired your passion about technology and the vastness that technology entails?  Further, how have you become, and how do you continue to become, thoroughly educated about technology?

Power and Control in American Education

Signed in 2001, “the No Child Left Behind Act requires local school districts to implement a public-school choice for parents with children in unsafe and/or failing schools” (Spring 227-228).  Thus, this act started the initiation that provides funds to students that are attending schools in poorer areas, where the schools are failing and not performing to the standards needing to be met.  When a student is attending these schools and desires to go elsewhere, the student must be allowed to transfer “when a school is determined ‘persistently dangerous’ or when a student becomes the victim of a violent crime at school” (Spring 228).  The No Child Left Behind Act is giving families the choice of schools, so that families are able to send their students/children to schools where the families think that their students will thrive.  Of course, though, there are negative aspects to the act as well; in order to determine whether the act is good or bad, a list of pros and cons must be weighed.

The perks of the act are that families can send their children to schools where the family is comfortable.  Students are not placed in crime’s way, and students protect their futures by not attending failing schools (Spring, 228).  Other benefits of the No Child Left Behind Act are that the act holds teachers accountable for the success of their students, socioeconomic gaps were minimized, and test scores increased (Vittana).  Because student performance influenced how schools were received and what types of funding would be granted to them, teachers were held responsible to guarantee that their students were prepared and performing well.  Prior to the act, teachers could use the excuse that “oh, those students were poor learners” when students did not meet requirements; however, the act guaranteed utmost effort from teachers and directly improved test scores as a result.  Further, the act made it so that the socioeconomic gap was closed: less financially stable households received aid, and students with disabilities received additional assistance in the form of an IEP, or individualized education program.  Finally, the No Child Left Behind Act made sure that all children were receiving an equity within their education, as those who desperately needed help received it, whether the help needed was additional scaffolding or financial aid.

Alternatively, the act had negative aspects to it.  Schools that were not achieving the adequate yearly progress (AYP) two years in a row were forced to receive technical assistance and also were required to grant parents the options to send their children to another school within the district (Spring, 228).  Because of this allowance for leaving, while it grants parents the ability to send their children to the best school around, it prevents others from attending the school that works well for them.  Because some students were unable to get across the district, they had no other choice but to stay at the school that was not performing well.  The largest problem that came as a result were when the schools in an entire district were closed as a result of not meeting the AYP.  Eventually, when schools persistently do not improve, the school would be closed, and if this happens in an entire district, the student is in a sticky situation.  Where does one go to school?  Unfortunately, teacher salaries often took a hit when students did not perform well, with the thought that teachers would improve if their salary tanked like their students.  Additionally, the act made it so that overachieving students and also underachieving students would not receive attention: the mindset of “this student will pass anyway,” or “this student is awful regardless” took prevalence (Vittana).  Lastly, with emphasis placed on standardized tests, no accommodations were made for students that simply do not test well; for example, anxieties and other issues that inhibit good test scores were not accredited.

With all of these pros and cons in place, the No Child Left Behind Act, in my humble opinion, was actually solid.  The act was a great starting place in order to better education, because the plan was a good way to make sure all students succeed.  With extra effort from teachers, making sure that even the best and worst students have their needs met, then the act would have been rather successful.  Teachers should be held responsible, and there is no problem with knocking a teacher’s salary if his/her students repetitively are not doing well.  From personal experience, a teacher that I had in the past, who genuinely was awful when it came to preparing students and advancing their knowledge, was fired and let go.  A teacher receiving a pay knock is better than being fired, especially since it is a slap on the wrist to be better.  Finally, the act still allows families to send their students wherever the family feels is best; to me, there is never anything wrong with the freedom and autonomy to send students to whatever school a parent/family wants.  Having lived in a community where teachers went on strike for eight weeks, I saw the direct effect of teachers not doing well in the classroom (granted, it was for other reasons- a teacher cannot teach well if the teacher is not even there); thus, many students pulled out of the school and went elsewhere, public or private.  Without harming others, people should do everything that they can to better themselves, because their gifts and talents will be used to better everyone.

 

Works Cited

Spring, Joel H. American Education. Boston: McGraw Hill Higher Education, 2010.

“Crystal Lombardo.” Vittana.org, 18 Oct. 2017, vittana.org/19-no-child-left-behind-pros-and-cons.

Queer Theory

In order to dismantle “socially invented categories of man and woman,” and further, in order to create a classroom that is inclusive for all, teachers can take several steps.  Above all, teachers (and all people) should demonstrate love and respect for individuals from all walks of life, with whatever beliefs that they have.  Of course, alternatively, the statement “don’t judge others” only applies to judging the worth of the souls of others, because judging others’ actions is imperative, but holding their actions against others is unacceptable.  To that end, this is all the more reason that teachers need to exemplify respect in their classrooms: if the teacher is dismissive of students who have an opposing view (whether it entails queer theory or not), then students will also be dismissive of the student that do not share their views.  Secondly, in addition to respect, teachers should simply remain neutral on the issue.  If teachers allude alliance towards one set of beliefs, then the students, especially those on the negative end of the beliefs, will question the validity of their thoughts.  Because of this reality, teachers should remain neutral so as to simply educate their students into holistic people and to endorse all thoughts and ideas.  All thoughts and ideas, if respectful (and preferably educated), are worth discussing and addressing, because it propels conversation, growth, and development.

 

Staying neutral enables the desired discussion that propels growth, but don’t take just my word for it, the following quote is from an article examining neutrality among teachers:

“An example of effective neutrality is when an educator facilitates a discussion between students so both sides of an argument can be represented. And that is what schools should be about: learning to engage in constructive dialogue and hear different points of view” (Anti-Defamation League).

The more viewpoints that are presented to a student, the more that he/she can grow as a person, in mind, body, and spirit.  Through interpersonal connection and discussion, students will relate with others and create bonds, further developing their identities and coherencies.  When teachers facilitate these discussions and genuinely participate in them, while remaining neutral, then the teacher is fully committing himself/herself to the development of the students.  Students will buy into the teacher’s authenticity and, most importantly, feel comfortable in the learning environment, the classroom.  The article then continues to say that “Teachers can never be neutral about kids being targeted for discrimination and cruelty,” which bolsters the apparent truth that teachers must demand and uphold respect in the classroom to help the students to grow (Anti-Defamation League).  Therefore, the best way to create an inclusive classroom and combat injustices is for teachers to love their students and to guarantee respect from students and for students, and then to remain neutral on complicated issues.

Specifically referring to the “heteronormative standards in the education system,” teachers should exemplify healthy relationships in his/her life, whether they are romantic or not.  In doing this, students will grasp what a healthy relationship looks like with all aspects of gender.  Teachers should not shy away from conversing about these relationships, but they also should not shove the material down students’ throats, as that will just deter students from paying attention whatsoever to the matter.  Modesty is key: talk about the debate of gender, but don’t overdo it.  Always holding respect, teachers will have advantageous discussion with students that will catalyze growth amongst the students; living out healthy relationships with diverse people will be teachers living out that which they teach.  This authentic display of interaction with all people denounces disrespect towards people, and teachers then do not fall prey to the saying of “Do as I say, not as I do.”

 

 

Sources

“When Do Teachers Stay Neutral?” Anti-Defamation League, http://www.adl.org/education/resources/tools-and-strategies/classroom-conversations/when-do-teachers-stay-neutral.