As we approach the summer months, many educators lament the "summer slide." The months between June and September can vary between enriching camp or other learning experiences to days upon days spent playing video games or watching TV on the couch. Students often return to school having lost a reading level or a variety of math concepts.
As an inner-city elementary school teacher for 34 years, I made up and tested my original curricula in emotional intelligence, character education, values clarification, writing, reading, thinking, creativity, poetry and vocabulary. Call me an educator, developer, researcher and experimentalist in the classroom.
Teleporting, flying cars and Back To The Future style hover-boards. These have all been promised to us within the next few years, but there is little hope of seeing them any time soon. These far-fetched technologies fill us with excitement about what the future may hold, inspiring generations of dreamers to learn math, science and engineering.
You knew it was coming, didn't you? Edutopia has officially launched its new Games for Learning Community, and I am honored to be its facilitator. I'm excited to have a space where teachers can share best practices, ask questions around implementation and nerd out on gaming in the classroom.
Just recently I was lucky enough to attend a Hackjam session at the wonderful Educon conference here in Philadelphia. After we hacked Monopoly by reinventing the game, we were introduced to the tool Hackasaurus, which allows students to not only see, but manipulate the code on a website.
Game-Based Learning (GBL) is another great pedagogical model for engaging students, and the term is more expansive and complex than you might think. It can range from pencil and paper games to massive online games like World of Warcraft to everything in between. Overall, it's about balancing gameplay with the learning of important content. The focus is on retaining the information learned, and applying it. This application can take place within the game itself or outside of it.
Last May, my school started using an "educational" video game to teach our disadvantaged, overweight, and obese students about nutrition. I put "educational" in quotes, as I was pretty skeptical at first.