Technology Pursuit

Blending Technology Into the Language Arts Classroom

Month: April 2017

GameJam Takeaways: #games4ed Chat 4/27/17


Thursday night, I enjoyed my very first chat with the amazing Tammie Schrader @tammieschrader, who first led an Edtech Interactive on planning a regional game jam, followed by an entire hour where we got to chat about it on Twitter.

Let me tell you–the amount of planning Schrader puts into her game jams: Remarkable! If you’re planning ANY type of an out-of-classroom game jam in the future, you definitely want to review this webinar first

So many ideas were tossed around during the #games4ed chat that followed that there’s no way I could read them all the first time through the chat–a second time of reading the chat archives (found here!) was needed for me to get through everything!

Schrader shared so many essential things that need to be covered when planning and hosting a regional game jam that I can’t list them all here. However, I do have my favorite takeaways:

  1. Location, Location, Location! Schrader spent a lot of time scouting potential venues for her game jam. In fact, there are so many potential places: schools, of course, but also libraries, community centers, and college unions. The time span of the game jam heavily impacts your venue choice. Schrader hosted an all night jam (what an exciting jam idea!), but hosting it at a school forces you to follow even more administrative rules for that location. Another alternative you might want to look into is a private tech business that wouldn’t just be supportive of your mission, but also have the tech infrastructure you need if you’re planning a digital chat.

That said, maybe you decide on your school. Nothing wrong with it. If you do, though, host it in the media center or commons area. Rearrange the furniture. Make it seem as “unschoollike” as possible

2. Donations!  Schrader first started with a grant that helped fund the game jam, but other businesses also donated prizes and, most importantly for teenagers: FOOD.  Actually, just important for any game jam.

3. Staffing. If you’re hosting a digital game jam, find some computer science mentors to come in and help advise groups. Schrader used local college students. But the staffing doesn’t end there. Adult volunteers will still be needed to help with supervision and keeping food stocked.

4. Theme. Perhaps my favorite idea was using a them for a game jam. Asking students to create a game jam that deals with a community problem, or the Hero’s Journey, or any other idea provides a starting line for the groups.

Join us for #games4ed on Twitter any Thursday night at 8pmET/7pmCT




The Easter Egg: The 4/20/17 #games4ed Chat

Nearly every week I participate in the #games4ed chat, and every week I am so blessed to learn new takeaways from some of my favorite Twitter peeps! Last night’s chat focused on Easter Eggs in games, and here are some of my favorite ideas:


Tale Blazer: New to me, Tale Blazer is MIT’s AR software that allows teachers and students to build mobile games around any subject. It sounds like it has amazing potential and can’t wait to play with it more!


Easter Eggs Throughout the School: I loved the concept of planting eggs for the entire student body. One very simple idea was putting Easter Eggs in the daily announcements–something that would be great for middle and high school students. Another idea shared was setting up Easter Eggs during Back to School nights or Student Orientation Days–a great way to get incoming freshmen to interact with their surroundings more!

Games that use Easter Eggs–Literally: While planning the chat, I ran across some great idea for actually using eggs, like using eggs to teach prefixes, roots and suffixes. Other uses could be for math problems or any type of game that connects two ideas together–Great for tactile learners!

Full Transcripts from the Easter Egg chat can be found here.


If you’ve never been to a #games4ed Twitter chat, come check it out! Every Thursday, 8pmET/7pmCT/6pmMT/5pmPT!





The Peer Review Process

It’s spring, three weeks left with my seniors, and time to review what worked well this year–and what didn’t. And one thing that I’m never fully happy with is my peer review process.

I’ve used myriad ways: Google forms, Google docs, plain old hard copy. This year I used, which is a handy tool and helped the organization of it all.

But still, I’ve never been content. Some students take it seriously. Some don’t. Although I know these are teenagers, and I may not get 100% engagement every minute of every day, some peer review half-heartedly.

I don’t blame them. I blame myself–at least partly. As a teacher, I don’t feel like I’ve yet truly prepared them all for peer review. In fact, there have been years I bypassed using peer review completely–after all, I decided, I’m the teacher. Shouldn’t they get their feedback from me?

Then I think back to my masters degree workshops. I learned just as much about writing reading and thinking through giving feedback on others’ papers as I did getting feedback for my own. Perhaps even more.

This past week, I read Starr Sackstein’s new book Peer Feedback in the Classroom, which gave me a great idea: Jigsaw peer review. Rather than having students assess all aspects of writing, Sackstein describes how “expert groups” focus on one area of writing, such as introduction, analysis, and organization.

I love the advantage of having students focus on one area. It’s less overwhelming to them, especially for those who aren’t completely confident in their feedback.

This is certainly something I’ll try next year–and if you get a chance, take a read of Peer Feedback in the Classroom. It applies to ANY type of peer feedback, whether it be writing, art, science projects, or any type of student creation.


Listen Up! Two New Gaming Podcasts

A few weeks ago, I finished forensics season. I was spent. Exhausted. Dare I say–a bit burned out.

What better way to get rejuvenated than to tune into a couple new podcasts while out walking in the spring weather?

  1. Legends of Edgames Podcast: The Legends of Learning crew launched their podcast this past January, focusing on #GBL in the classroom. This past weekend, I listened to Episode #4 with guest Chris Aviles, gamification guru. Anything with Chris is a great read (or in this case, listen) as he shared his insights and learnings about gaming in the classroom. Plus, if you’re a middle school science teacher, you definitely need to check out the hundreds of games Legends of Learning website now has to offer!      
  2. Well PlayED Podcast: Michael Matera and Tisha Richmond talk about gamification, game-based learning, and just plain old playful learning. Just launched, this podcast promises to be another staple in the game-loving-teacher’s toolbelt. In the first episode, Michael and Tisha share the reasons they love gamifying their learning and their overall process in how they started.


Of course, there are always amazing Twitter chats to join for game-based learning and gamification! All three of the chats are filled with great minds, always welcoming new folks and lurkers!

Tuesdays, 7pmCT: #MinecraftEDU

Wednesdays, 7pmCT: #XPLAP

Thursdays, 7pmCT: #games4ed


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