I spent the previous three weeks at Cleveland Heights High School. It was extremely interesting to see how technology was used in the classroom. I was more interested in how students were using technology on their own time. When observing, I wanted to get a grasp of the students use of technology in the classroom, while designing a lesson that will enhance the students knowledge of their content and technological skills. I will lay out a three week summary of what I saw from a technology point of view and my interactions with students.
Week one was a little bit of a surprise to me. In class, the students used very little technology. If they used technology at all in the classroom, it was to look up a definition of a word. But everything that the students needed were in a long packet. There were other aspects of the course that were used through the app, Google Classroom. When talking to the students about using Google classroom, the general response was that the app was effective as a communication tool between classmates and teacher. My general take away from week one was that Google classroom and using technology more in the classroom will be effective for a good lesson.
In week two, I decided to take more of a social approach to my observations. I wanted to get a grasp of how students are interacting with one another outside of the classroom. The main answer I heard throughout the day was through social media. Apps such as: Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat were all mentioned by students as ways in which they interacted with one another. Most people liked using group chat functions that all of the apps offer. So this gave me a lot to think about going into the week of my lesson. What can I use to help with the “group chat” aspect of social interaction into a lesson. Luckily, I am closer to their age, so I knew a perfect way to get this going in a lesson.
Week Three: Teaching
I won’t lie. I was pretty nervous going to into this week to teach on my own. But, the lesson I have prepared was a great way to get technology and social interaction into the classroom. I used the Tpac model found in (Dalton 2004). I saw that with a good pedagogical practice, I could really connect to the students content and technological knowledge. I used a “Power Writing,” method for the students. I also wanted to provide scaffolding for the students by giving groups of students prompts to answer. The text says, “However, scaffolding can limit growth and actually cause students to disengage if it is too constraining or if there is no progression toward increase in independence” (Dalton 2004). Later, students would comment on other students work, thus bringing the social aspect into the classroom as they are interacting with one another. It was a really strong lesson and the students got a good amount out of it. They seemed to enjoy the freedom that they were given.
I feel that the students are using technology in their class at the bare minimum and could be using it more. Looking at the TPAC model, they are only getting content knowledge out of their lessons. But, there are signs of improvement as they will be getting into more advanced work as time goes on.
Squire states, “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). That is what I noticed in my second play of Madalin Stunt Cars 2. In my second play of the game, I tried the multiplayer version of the game. The game was interesting and made me wonder: how could this game/simulation be used in an ELA classroom? Well, the multiplayer function of the game allows this to come to life in a creative way!
Game room selection/creation
The multiplayer experience begins with either joining or creating a game room. As you can see from the small image, you can look up the name of the game room or username of the player. You also have the option of creating your own game room. Creating the room allows you to pick one of the three stages from the single player section. For the sake of time, I joined the first gaming room that I found.
In the game room.
While I was in the game room, it was hard to find anyone at first. But, as I became more familiar with the game, I began to find more people playing the game. It was exactly the same as the single player mode which was interesting to play. I had the same freedom that students crave in a simulation , but other payers could affect me rather than the simulation itself. I liked interacting with other players through the chat section of the multiplayer section. Overall, the game does a very good job from an interaction standpoint, and from a gameplay standpoint. The one critique I have was the connection between players. That is what made it difficult to find other players in the beginning.
Connection to Education
Obviously, this simulation would have more of a connection to a science/physics class. However, I believe that this game can be used in some sort of creative writing course in ELA. A teacher can use the multiplayer function of the game to create a game room and allow students to “create a story.” Students can use the chat function to write parts of the story while using the cars. The mindshift guide states: “By teaching ELA standards through a STEM-themed storyline, the game is fundamentally interdisciplinary in all the right ways” (22). By teaching ELA standards through this type of assignment, it allows an interdisciplinary experience for the students. Also, it allows the students to interact with one another, which is the main goal of these games. Content is wonderful, but social interaction is the main foundation of learning.
Final Thoughts on the game
I believe that the game is interesting.My main goal of playing this game was to see how a game which was not necessarily educational could be used in an educational setting. I have seen teachers use different video games such as Fortnite and 2k to help build relationships with students. From a learning standpoint, I feel that games like Madalin Stunt Cars 2 can be used for learning. The fact that there are themes from multiple disciplines in this game can allow the student to think about topics while having fun.
If I had a question for this game, my question would be: Do you think games like this can be used in unique ways? Explain with previous experience.
I decided to play Madalin Stunt Cars 2 for my gaming experience. At first glance the game seemed to be just a racing game. However, it turned out to be a complete interactive simulation which would be interesting for students. The game is a free game online. The game can be accessed through the website, agame.com. The game is easy to access on the site and also shows a video on how to play the game. I found the game to be very engaging towards the player in choosing the car and stage in which to drive in.
As you can see from the car selection screen, their are a variety of game modes to choose from. One could either play single or multiplayer modes. I played the single player early on in the gaming process to get a feel for the game. Along with the multiple game modes, there are multiple stages to choose from. The main attention grabber of the game is the selections of the car. This selection drew me in as I was not only looking at color, but the speed of the cars as well. I ended up choosing this gold sports car.
I thoroughly enjoyed playing the game as a whole. As I got into the game I drove around the stage to just get a feel for the game. I found straightaways on the track to see how fast the cars actually went. Cars reached anywhere from 285-300 KM/H! If you like speed than this game is for you! As you can from the stage, there are many obstacles on the track. I personally struggled with the loops (pictured above). I played for 20 minutes before finally landing the loop. There were many other obstacles as well including a road path above, ramps to jump the car, and huge tunnels. Ultimately, I had total control of my gaming experience. That was the most important aspect of the game to me. I also believe that the game does not get boring as quickly as some simulations do. With different stages and different cars, the game always stays interesting and engaging.
Connection to Class
I believe that this game is a simulation and not just a basic game. According to the Mindshift Guide to Gaming and Learning, this simulation is a type of long- form game.Mindshift Guide to Gaming and Learning states, “Long-form games tend to be more open-ended and intricate. These games often start simply and expand over time, so they can easily form the backbone of an entire curriculum” (23). Now how this could be used in the classroom is yet to be known. I believe that this could be a physics lesson. With all the different obstacles and motions and speeds, it would be interesting to see how a physics classroom setting would appreciate this.
Questions for Group
How do you think games like these, which aren’t necessarily built for the classroom, educational? How can teachers utilize games like this?
I am Joseph Berlin. I like being called either Joe or by my last name. I am from South Euclid Ohio and have lived there my whole life. I am really not a complicated person to figure out. I really like being around anyone and enjoy people’s company. I live a pretty hectic life outside of school at the moment. I work two jobs which take up a good amount of time; but, I am excited to have more time devoted to school. In terms of taking risks, I am a very easy going person. I am not to hard on myself and do not take myself too seriously. I believe that school should be a fun engaging experience so I act in that way in the classroom. I am passionate about all things when it comes to education, but, the most important issue to me is safety in the school. We live in a society where we have to keep our eyes open when we are in school. That should not be the case. Attached is a news article about a safety app called PREPARED. This app is being developed by students at Yale and have recently won the Miller Prize at Yale. It is extremely significant because it involves student and teacher involvement. It is also significant because of the speed of the app. The app initiates lock down in a mere 15 seconds. That can save lives as it is much faster than other methods. Finally, my best friend was one of the four developers; so, I am so proud to hear about the app and try to spread good word about it. I have had the privilege of having Dr. Shutkin two falls in a row before this fall. I feel that I know him quite well by now!
Before I get into the nuts and bolts of No child left behind, and my own experience with testing, I must confess; no child left behind to me makes schools sound like a war zone. Why use the name, no child left behind? To me that could demote and beat down the students’ spirit just hearing those words. I digress. No child left behind basically holds the schools themselves responsible for students progress and test scores. The students begin getting tested from a young age, and continue to take tests throughout their education. The better the results, the more money your school gets. If you do poorly, then, the school is negatively affected. This could be problematic for schools with less resources than more affluent districts. I feel it is completely wrong to judge students intelligence by simply giving them a long test to take over a course of many hours. I feel this way because of my own experience with the ACT. I was never a good test taker when it came to long standardized tests. My scores were always below the average of everyone else, but my gpa did not reflect my test scores. It was my senior year and my college advisor wanted me to take the ACT, to see if I could get more money off for college. I agreed and signed up for the test. Came test day, I was not mentally and emotionally ready to sit there and take a long test. I lost a game which was my dream to win since I was a young boy. I did not sleep more than four hours that entire week, and did the minimal amount of studying for this test. My results reflected that. I received a fourteen on the test. A fourteen. To my knowledge, the minimum score is a twelve. This obviously did not affect me because of my positive attitude, but it made me wonder. I got a fourteen on the ACT, but received a 3.4 gpa in one of the most difficult college prep schools in the country. I felt that one test didn’t show my knowledge as a student. I feel that a good amount of students agree with me as well. High stakes standardized tests should not show the true knowledge of a student. It could not only hurt the student in the college process, but could hurt the school district as well due to NCLB. Although my experience does not apply, some districts require a set score to graduate. The government should not be the one to tell the students if they are proficient or not. That is for the student to decide. If this act were not in place, I feel that students could have an education more freely and not have the added stress of taking tests. Yes, NCLB does have some benefits like telling the school what they could be do better. But, in the end if you are not doing well, lower income schools for example will struggle. That is where students can use vouchers and go to another school. This needs to be prevented and NCLB is the hinderance for students getting a good education anywhere.