Friday, March 15, 2013

Games + Global + Math = Excited Students!


My school just had the wonderful opportunity to participate in World Maths Day. World Maths Day is part of the World Education Games which is "an annual global online challenge to get all students (4-18 years of age) excited about learning, and to give the top students in all schools an opportunity to see how they measure up against the best in the world."

Basically, for free, you can enroll your students at http://www.worldeducationgames.com/. Then the fun begins. Students log on and play one minute games with other students in their age group from around the world.

As students play, they see an avatar and the name of the country of the student they are playing. As students answer questions correctly, a bar moves across the screen showing their success. Students can also watch as their competitor's bar moves across the screen. Each game is only a minute so students stay motivated as they try to keep up with their competitors.

After one day of play, I got the following email from a math teacher:

OH MY GOODNESS! The kids are SO hyped about World Math Games!

Yesterday another teacher said to me.

If we could play World Maths Games everyday, my kids would know their math facts perfectly.

When I went into a classroom to watch students play during the live event (which runs from March 5th to March 6th), it didn't look (or sound) like a typical math class. Kids were partially standing at their computers, talking excitedly across the room, and were deeply focused on achievement. I have written before about the power of games to engage students (see Videos Games Could Save Schools and Running to Get to Math Class) and these games were no different.

While I had been attracted to the World Maths Game for its potential for students to make global connections, I was fascinated by the different ways students were engaged with the games. One student really want to compete against her peers. She would call out "One, two, three" and students would all start a game together. They loved competing against the other students in the room. Others were intrigued by where other students were from. I heard many students commenting on the countries of their opponents and occasionally a student would just call out the name of a country. Other students really wanted to know how they measured up to students around the world and continually check the Hall of Fame board set up in the game.

Despite a snow day on the second day of the event, World Maths Day was a huge success for our school. Over 52,000 correct math questions were answered, over 400 students participated, and hundreds of students had fun doing math. I look forward to expanding our involvement in the games next year, including fundraising for the UNICEF School-in-a-box program. Until then I will continue to look for opportunties for students where they:
  • experience success
  • have fun while learning
  • make global connections

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Final Session of Virtual Book Club - How will you "Rock the World?"

Our final session of Virtual Book Club discussing Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds by Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis is already this Monday, March 18th at 7:30pm EST (that’s Tuesday, March 19th at 12:30am GMT)! For your time zone, click here. We will be discussing Chapter Twelve - Rock the World!

Use this link (https://sas.elluminate.com/m.jnlp?sid=2007066&password=M.065891D192F8072208BF5756999CE0) to log onto the live session or watch this space for a posting of the recording afterwards.

I can't believe it is our final session. This Virtual Book Club has been a wonderful space to connect with educators from all levels that are passionate about their work, are life-long learners, and are willing to share all they know as well as question what they are still learning about.

As I plan for the final session, I am looking for any remaining questions that we haven't addressed yet. Please take a moment to leave a comment on this blog with topics you would like to see covered in the last session. Whether it is a question you have about how global projects work, ideas about how to set up rubrics for collaborative projects, challenges using wikis or blogs, or comments about the value of connected learning, let me know so that we can take some time on this last day to chat and reflect on the subjects that are important to you.

If you missed the session last week, listen to the most recent recording here: Virtual Book Club March 4th/5th and please share your thoughts on this blog: Virtual Book Club. Our focus was Chapter Nine - Celebration and Chapter Ten Designing and Managing a Global Collaborative Project.
I think the big themes of the session were these:
  • Find as many opportunities as possible to give students feedback about their work, whether it is an awards ceremony gala, a carefully written note or just pulling chairs into a circle to talk. Kids are starved for feedback - feed them!
  • Be creative when thinking about time and space - using Skype, VoiceThread or Blackboard Collaborate might allow experts, parents or other teachers to be a part of your celebration.
  • Take time to reflect and celebrate projects as a professional. Whether it is privately, publicly, online or face-to-face, take a breath and consider what worked well and what you want to repeat.
  • Start somewhere with a global project - join one that already exists, start with a teacher you know in another place, plan your own, but START.
And if you are just finding us in time for this last session, please feel free to drop in! We welcome all educators that want to learn more about global projects or share what they have already learned.
Hope to "see" you there!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Website of the Week - Voki

http://www.voki.com/
Create an animated avatar that speaks, create a customized avatar that uses text-to-speech to say what you write. Vokis can be embedded in Blogs, wikis and websites.

http://www.voki.com/

Ideas for the classroom:

1) In History, research a famous historical figure: have them "saying" a famous quote.
2) In Language Arts, create a voki for a character in a novel. Have them "saying" a line of dialogue.
3) In World Language, have students introduce themselves in the target language
4) In Math, have students define mathematical terms.
5) In Science, have vokis report the results of a lab.

For more ideas, check out: Voki Lesson Plans

Monday, March 4, 2013

Meeting #5 of Virtual Book Club - How do you celebrate?

I can't believe our 5th meeting of the Virtual Book Club discussing Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds by Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis is already this Monday, March 4th at 7:30pm EST (that’s Tuesday, March 5th at 12:30am GMT)! For your time zone, click here. We will be discussing Chapters Nine and Ten – Celebrating, Designing, and Managing Global Collaborative Projects.
Add your voice to our group! Use this link (https://sas.elluminate.com/m.jnlp?sid=2007066&password=M.065891D192F8072208BF5756999CE0) to log onto the live session or watch this space for a posting of the recording afterwards.

I am really looking forward to sharing ideas about how to best celebrate student projects. This is a weak point of mine so I'm excited to review the ideas in Chapter Nine with teachers. And I'm already thinking about how we can celebrate the closing of Virtual Book Club at the following meeting. Ideas welcome!

Chapter Ten also has so much rich material for discussion. This chapter really walks you through how to design and manage a global project. It will be so meaningful for our network of teachers to share what they have done that works, what new ideas they got from the book and what questions they still have.

Join us and add your expert or novice voice!