What Is Gamification?

Gamification is the latest trend in education but what exactly is it?

Gamification involves bringing game elements to ordinary or already established practices.  The use of gaming technology to teach attracts many students who are more enticed by video games than textbooks.  Games can be used for teaching, studying, practice, and assessment.

Gamification creates scenarios of challenge and reward that shape behavior and expand skills.  These techniques have become common place in marketing, self-improvement, even politics. With schools attempting to engage a generation born into the digital world, these techniques provide an opportunity to draw in those children that are struggling or otherwise not interested.

Why Gamify School?

As stated above, gamifying appeals to many students.  It creates a level playing field, also, since students are working to their abilities and progress at their own pace.  Working independently helps remove stigma and encourage students to keep going to earn more rewards.

The elements of any game, digital, card, or board, that make you want to keep playing even when you don’t win is the key to how and gamifying works. Reaching those who would otherwise be disengaged is the main goal.

To Game or Not to Game?

How Do I Gamify My Classroom?

You may be sold on the idea but where to start.  The idea of creating levels, rewards, interactive interfaces, and score keeping software can be overwhelming.  Thankfully, there are many resources online.

Gamification does not just involve using games or technology within the classroom.  The overriding principle is to entice students to learn by using gaming concepts such as rewards, points, do-overs, the opportunity to fail and start over, interaction, choice, instant results, and expanding capabilities.

There are services online who can create a gamified class for you. There are also numerous tutorials and youtube videos to help you along the way. The greatest advice to doing this is plan ahead of time and don’t be afraid to just try it!

Gaming in School

Playing educational games is not something new to education.  It has existed for many years, gamification take it to a new level by making the entire class part of a gaming system.

Gamification can be very expensive and requires a large investment of time and effort on the part of the teacher. Both of these may make it impractical for some schools.  However, applying some of the gaming principles outside of the digital design can still help to engage those students in need of additional motivation.

Motivating students to keep learning and want to do better is the first step in becoming a lifelong learner.  Gamification could be the tool to achieve this in your classroom.  For more information about gamifying your class, please visit our Pinterest board Technology in Education.

 

 

 

 

 

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Put on a fun play today!

Shakespeare Learning Fun

Making Shakespeare Fun

Who Goes There?

The Old Bard of England is not just something to fill up an English Literature Curriculum, his rich language and complex plots provide ample meat for substantial higher order thinking. However, it is often difficult to hook someone, particularly children, and draw them into the magic. Shakespeare, fun? Surely, you jest! But alas, I do not.

Studies show that the study of literature and poetry exercise the brain, allowing for deeper thought processes. We all know that exercise is important, our brain, like a muscle, must be engaged to develop. Exposure of children to serious literary works leads to adults better able to analyze, sythethize, and interact. All of these skills are necessary for a successful career.

How Doth One Proceed?

Engaging children in Shakespeare is as simple as drawing them into the story and making it their own. One way of doing this is by a staged reading or performance of a Shakespearean play where the children not only play the parts but are charged with the technical production of the play as well.

The idea of a camp style Shakespeare experience, or Shakespeare Days, is the perfect set up for bringing children to the Global theatre in a way that will leave them wanting more. Here is brief guide to having your own Shakespeare Days experience in your classroom, with your homeschool group, or at
your home. This is the perfect activity for afterschool or school breaks.

1. Choose a play: With so many great works to choose from, this is not as easy as it sounds. The good news is that scripts are readily available. Student edition scripts are even available for free online.
2. Assign roles: Find someone for each part. Students can play more than one part if need be. Hand out scripts. Ask students to review and study their lines. There is no need to memorize the lines if you are short on time. The point is the exposure, not the performance.
3. Present the story: Gather together and read aloud an easy to understand version of your chosen play to the participants. There are several sources out there that condense plays and make them read like story books. As you read explain the twists and turns, allow the children to ask questions.
4. Create the props: Choose a selection of props for the students to create and use for their play. You do not need many, just enough to make it feel like they are really there. It is important to find time for arts and crafts so you “dress” your “stage”.
5. Have a few rehearsals: Take two to three classes/days to rehearse your play. Remember to plan out or block the movements of the actors so that the scenes progress smoothly. No need to get fancy, just run through it the best you can so that children get familiar with the language and scenes.
6. Include time for fun: All work and no play makes for boring days. Find something enjoyable for the children to do unrelated to the play, even just for a short time, once their practice ends each day.
7. Pull together costumes: Discuss how people dressed back in Shakespeare’s day. Have students make up costumes from what they have at home or can easily construct. It is more about getting into character than looking professional.
8. Invite your audience: Throngs of crowds are not needed here, perhaps just parents or the class next door. Allow the children to showcase what they have learned and accomplished.

Jubilation and Success, A Path to the Future

In the span of a week, or less depending on how long you have each day, the children who may have balked at having to sit and read a play independently have been transported back in time with the help of a little glue, paint, and extra effort. Learning by doing is learning that sticks.

Let’s all find ways to build bridges for our students not just to the future, but to the past, as well. Falling in love with learning leads to lifelong learners, which makes this world a better place.

How can you open the minds of your students and make them hungry for more?
A special thanks to Theresa Zappe for sharing her Shakespeare Days model with Global Learn Day.

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Outdoors

The Outdoor Revolution

Give Them More

There is a push in modern education for more.  More hours. More requirements. More technology. More studying. More subjects to cover. Just more!  How about more time outside?  This may seem counter to a modern, progressive education but it is a growing trend with established roots.

 

Time outdoors in all kinds of weather is not anything new.  Charlotte Mason, a famous educator from the turn of the twentieth century, advocated long hours outside exploring, playing, and experiencing nature. Her methods presented a gentler approach to education that also build a strong foundation.

 

In this high paced, cutting edge world, Ms. Mason’s techniques are gaining popularity and a fresh take.  Nature based education is nothing new but it is gaining momentum as we realize our children are deprived of the simple pleasures of the great outdoors there is actually a new disorder! Nature Deficit Disorder is a widespread problem with an easy cure, give kids more time outdoors.

 

Around the World

In Finland, where education is nearly the opposite of the rest of the world, children are given multiple recesses, play breaks outdoors in any weather–even the cold, Nordic winter.  Up to four outdoor times are planned each day for unstructured play.  This play does not take away from education, it is education for these children.

 

In an effort to return to nature, there is a new movement in Germany called Waldkingergarten or Forest School.  These schools are housed in the great forests of Germany.  Students are dropped off in the morning and picked up sometime in the afternoon.  They spend their entire days outside, even having meals together on the forest floor.

 

You may wonder what do these children learn from days of wandering the forest?  Well, recent studies have shown that “Forest Kindergarten children come well-prepared for school and that they are often ahead of their school mates physically, mentally and in their social behaviour.”

 

In the United States, a similar movement is occurring with Tinkergarten.  Bringing young children outdoors to experience and create, this program is building an education foundation built on curiosity and teamwork.

 

What Does All this Mean for Education?

As we forge ahead into the tech-savvy twenty-first century, we must be mindful of not cutting our children off from their roots in nature.  The importance of learning the latest innovation must never crowd out children’s need to be children.  Children play, wiggle, and wonder – that is their nature.  By creating space, time, and opportunity for young people to unplug, stretch their legs, and breath fresh air, we will not be wasting valuable time but investing in the health and well being of future generations.

As One Planet, One People, understanding, appreciating, and conserving the natural world serves everyone around the planet.  Providing the latest technology will change the face of education and teach something new. However, some things never change, and children were built to learn and explore, especially outdoors.  Play, laughter, and dreams are a language that unite us all.

 

Where are you exploring? What have you learned from these experiences?

Join us for our Global Learn Day 2017 Voyage!

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MeetOurTeam

Meet the Crew – Peter

Peter
Meet Peter!

My name is Peter. I currently live in West Palm Beach Florida. Some things I do for fun is go to the gym to lift weights, play football or basketball with the boys or go swimming. I prefer to be outdoors. I like to try new things so I will literally do anything that seems like it will turn out to be fun.

Why Global Learn Day?

The way I got involved in Global Learn Day was one day during one of the weekly office staff meeting at Online Training Institute the topic came up. The question “Who thinks this is something they would be interested in being a part of? ” was asked. It all sounded really interesting to me, so I volunteered to join the GLD team.

This event means the ability to learn about different parts of the world from the people who live there. It means that no matter where or when there is always the opportunity to learn something new!

Learning

My Dad is my learning inspiration. Throughout my life I’ve always watched my dad do his best to better himself. Not only did I learn materials I would need for school he also taught me how to be the man I am today. Since birth he has been raising me by himself. He always told me, “No one can take away your education from you.”  That was one of his ways to keep me focused and going down the right path in life.

I look everywhere to learn something new. Books, people, the Internet or sometimes even Social Media . There is really no limit to where you can look and learn something new.

I don’t really have one specific thing that I like to learn. I am a young person and I love to ask questions. Why? Because there is no such thing as a dumb question and if you never ask you will never know! Asking questions is another way of learning.

My favorite book is “Because of Winn-Dixie” by Kate DiCamillo.

 

Thanks Peter for sharing a bit about yourself!

What is your reason for Joining our Voyage? Have you joined our event on Facebook yet?

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You can Learn and have Fun!

Fun Ways to Learn Today

Remember to EXPECT

Most of us accept that it is important for all people to receive an education. It is what helps propel us forward as a species, the ability to learn and adapt – to innovate. That doesn’t mean that we are all inspired to learn. There are some who have no interest in education, even if it would benefit them when looking long term.

How do we inspire others to love learning?

Many would say that the answer is to help those being educated have FUN while they learn. Here are some ideas for you to embrace today!

  1. Experiment! Do you want to see a child light up? Tell them you are going to help them work through an experiment! My personal experience tells me that when I tie experiments in with Science projects children respond positively. Try engaging your learners with Snowflake Science and then use this experiment!
  2. X-Ray! Be transparent. Just as an X-ray gives you an image of the structure of the body, so too do we want to encourage a strong foundation, through explaining at an age appropriate level, but not being dishonest. We need to know about the world in ways that are appropriate for our age and development.
  3. Play! While sitting in a more traditional classroom is useful for learning, there are many who can’t sit still for seat work and regular activities. In these instances, play can be stimulating and educational! Recently, my family sat in a circle, laughing, as we learned how to sign “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See” by Bill Martin and Eric Carle. We were having fun, laughing when we couldn’t keep up and we each learned at least a dozen new signs! When my children began to be quizzed on states and capitals in school, we began playing a game to help them remember the important information. As we drive, we look for license plates that belong to states other than the one we are in. The first person to spy the plate calls out the state name. Then it is a race to see who remembers the capital first! My son is already ready for this section in school because we’ve been playing since his sister went through it. Play can help us learn facts and problem solving skills, and often, it doesn’t feel like we are learning!
  4. Explore! In the US we have National Parks all around us. We can explore and learn all at the same time. The fun of the exploration often masks the education that we are embracing. In Europe, there are castles, churches and museums every where one turns. In exploring our surroundings we are often blessed with an extraordinary educational opportunity. If you don’t have time to go and see something in person, consider going on a Virtual Field Trip.
  5. Create! Have you ever learned how to properly do something via trial and error? Creating a model car is an excellent way to engage in learning. Many people love using their hands, and when you create you are using additional parts of your brain and allowing yourself to look at the material in a new way.
  6. Technology! Incorporating technology is another way to have fun while learning. Yesterday’s flash cards are often today’s apps. Quizlet is used by students of all ages to help them remember information using flashcards, quizzes and even competitions with other classmates. There are plenty of apps available for Android and Apple devices that can help make learning fun.

Just because one is learning does not mean that one isn’t having fun. Fun and learning are not mutually exclusive and for many they are inclusive of each other. Embrace finding your path to learning fun through trial and error! Then, you will be building a bridge to your future.

 

Consider joining us on our voyage! GLD 2017 is less than two months away!

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MeetOurTeam

Get to Know – Jennifer

Recently, one of our GLD crew created her introduction video. For those who would prefer to read it, you may continue below!

 

Hi I’m Jennifer Elia! I’m from New Jersey and this is my first Global Learn Day and I’m so excited to be a part of this team! When I was a child I loved to read. I mean, I still do but I would read anything that was put in front of me. In fact, I would read the same cereal box every morning just because it was words and it was there and so I couldn’t resist it!

But, my favorite book was Madeline. You know the big house in Paris all covered with vines. I wanted to be Madeline and I begged my parents to send me to boarding school in Paris so that I could live there and be just like her. That book had such an influence on me that all I wanted to do was learn to speak French! And when I got to Middle School I got that opportunity and I studied it all through high school. I became a French major in college and then I was a French professor for twelve years. Now, I’m a home school mom and so learning and education is a part of my everyday and still so important to me. It is something I really enjoy.

I think back about my education and I have had so many amazing teachers and professors, many of whom I’m still friends with today in person and on Facebook. But the biggest influence to me in terms of learning was my mom because from the time we could sit at the table we were doing lessons every morning for a couple hours. We read books. We did math problems. We did SRA kits, which we thought were the coolest thing. Even though we didn’t realize that this wasn’t what everybody did in the morning, when they were home, on their summer break or in preschool. We cooked. We made diagrams. Um… Diaramas. She would take us to the library twice a week and we would have to check out a certain number of books and read them and then we would write book reports and Venn diagrams and do character studies.

It was just such a part of my childhood and it really taught me the value of learning and how great it is to be able to teach something to someone else and enjoy everything that you are learning. So, even though I wasn’t home schooled as a child I always say that my mom is the one who taught me how to home school because she taught me the joy of learning and teaching and how to bring everything to my children and make it important.

When I finished school I realized that I still wanted to learn, even though I had learned so much I enjoyed it. Growing up my best friends were a dictionary, my Time Life Atlas and then the encyclopedia which I would stay up almost all night reading and then just do cross references with it and there was so much in there. It was just such an incredible resource to have in our home. So I realized that I didn’t want my learning to end. There was still so much out there and learning doesn’t have to end because there is just more than you can ever take in. It’s like a good book that you just don’t want to keep turning the page and learning more and more. Novels come to an end but the best thing is that learning never does because you can always pick something else to learn about and there is always new information. Even if you are studying history there’s more books than you can read. And that is why I am always learning, I always want to learn. My mom always used to joke with me that I would never have brain problems because I am always wanting to learn something new. She was actually impressed with how many things I constantly study even though I have always considered her my mentor as far as learning and teaching.

My current learning obsession though is gardening. I have been reading about it for the last few years and finally built my own 800 sq ft garden last year. And so, I am reading about different kinds of plants, how I can use them, what to plant where, how to help my soil, how to get rid of pests, how to be more organic, be more productive and make the soil healthier for my family and my children. My garden is my hobby but it is also a help for my family.

So, my question for you is… What have you learned today? And, what book really changed your life and want to be a life long learner. I’m so glad that you are here and hope that you come along with us. Thank you and take care.

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Coding for Math

Technology in Education

Tool or Hindrance?

 

It seems that everywhere I look, I see kids with technology. Like many, I have had mixed feelings about this increased presence in the hands of younger and younger children. I paid for my own cell phone as a teen and young adult, but my child has one as part of her every day tools. Granted, she is an avid reader and I have found that the gas and book money I save by being able to check out books and download them to a cell phone covers the cost of the plan she has. It is still a huge difference from when I was young.

Recently, I watched a video on Facebook that equated technology usage to cocaine for children. That is a jarring comparison, especially coming from the After School Special and DARE generation. It caused me to question if there is a way to find harmony between Technology and my children. Can technology be a helpful tool without the harmful effects?

Math and Programming?

 

In my search, I came across a blog by Jonathan Mugan a researcher and author. You can read it here. In his post, Dr. Mugan walks parents and educators through a “how to” in order to use programming to teach our children Math. It seems like fun to me, and I am not all that interested in programming! Disclaimer: This is probably because I LOVE to learn.

This fantastic blog post walks the educator through using Python and how to effectively teach basic arithmetic on up to PEMDAS and Variables. I can see where this could be useful for many kids! It is also an excellent example of technology being used effectively to teach.

 

Back to my child…

 

We had a rough school year and Math was often a struggle. Do you remember the Summer Slide post? This can also be an effective tool in a parent’s arsenal to combat it! I can’t wait to set this up for my mini me to work through. It will break up the usage of the Kahn Academy, which we are on daily and also will provide a new skill. Who knows, could this spark a “First Moment of Lasting Excitement?” Will a new path to software programmer begin?

 

In reality, anything that I can use as a tool to educate could also be abused and turned into a problem. As Dr. Mugan shows with his blog post, Technology can absolutely help with education. In fact, programming to learn Math is Innovative and could be Transformative for many. This could be a child’s “AHA Moment”.

 

So, go check out the blog post and maybe take some time to learn how to program! Consider joining our voyage if you have not already!

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Virtual Field Trips

Virtual Field Trips Part 1

Learning by Doing

 

There is a special kind of learning that occurs when children get to experience a topic rather than just study it. Their eyes light up, their minds engage, and their spirits soar. Using multiple senses make lasting impressions and pique curiosity.  If you want to keep learning fresh, you need to change up how it is done from time to time. The age old concept of field trips meets the new virtual world to create a learning platform like never before.

 

The Field Trip that Comes to You

 

Think back to third grade.  Whether it was five years or thirty-five years ago, you probably remember your annual field trip.  It was the pinnacle of excitement for the year.

With rising costs, budget cuts, and greater demands on classroom time, fitting in a field trip has become more difficult over the years. The sheer price of transportation is often more than can be reasonably met by the school and individual students.

What if you are studying the far away lands of Africa or Australia from your Illinois classroom?  Sure it would be great to experience these lands first hand, but what principal is going to approve that trip? Could you even imagine the fundraising it would require? How does that permission slip work?

Virtual field trips open doors to every teacher in every location!  Now, students in Paris can visit the Smithsonian in an afternoon.  A fourth grade class in Massachusetts can sail around the world and still make it to baseball practice and dinner.  The experience comes right to your locations with the touch of a fingertip!

Come back next week as we explain how to conduct a Virtual Field Trip!

 

For your consideration – If you could take a field trip anywhere, where would you go? Why?

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Hovercraft and Education

Hovercraft and Education

I was recently on Twitter and came across videos of science classes that were racing hovercrafts as part of their lessons. It reminded me of my daughter’s third grade class. Students were divided into small groups and taught how to design a robot. They then got to build the robot and the student groups raced them the last week of school. This was genius! Not only did the children learn about robotics but they had to work as a team and build something.

 

After seeing the Twitter post, I went and looked up more information about students building hovercrafts. I came across a short article in Popular Mechanics.  It is great that a well-known magazine would talk about something (like teaching technology students how to build hovercraft) and a few years later schools from all over are replicating it. Sometimes, we learn better by doing.

 

In some parts of world action is still how students learn the majority of their knowledge. In industrial countries that call to action in the classroom is a key to innovation. Rather than learn about coding software through a book or someone yelling to a student, students get on a computer and code. The difference between these two methods is the first is teacher-centered learning and the second is student-centered. This visual by Paul Curtis offers a better explanation.

 

Who knows if by participating in this learning activity, a future designer for Toyota, Ford or Mercedes is created? Who knows if participating in designing or building a hovercraft or robot is going to spark excitement that lasts a student’s lifetime? Who knows if by participating in this learning activity, a future designer for Toyota, Ford or Mercedes? Previous Global Learn Day presenter, Dr. Terrence R. Redding, shared his thoughts about this when talking about “The First Moment of Lasting Excitement”. You can learn more about that here!

 

This is more of what Global Learn Day celebrates! Education opens doors, it excites us and helps us learn who we are and where we belong. Education builds a bridge to a better future. Across the globe, we are a learning people. We share our previous experiences and hopefully, we learn from them. Education, and our thirst for knowledge, is what helps us to unite and become “One People, One Planet”.

What excites you about learning? What incites you to learn more?

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