Read Around the Planet Makes Me Happy!

Feb 26, 2013 by

I’m helping facilitate a wonderful series of video conferences this week and next in my school district, and I wanted to share a little bit of the excitement as students in Michigan connect with others in Texas, Pennsylvania, New York, Oklahoma, and many other states! Read Around the Planet is a huge collaboration in celebration of reading that happens alongside many other celebrations in the U.S. and schools for “March is Reading Month”. Students get to work on real world presentation skills, public speaking, and share their love of literature with their peers in the next school over, the next city down the road, or the neighboring state or country! I created a Storify to share what we’ve experienced thus far in our district, and if you can’t see it below, I encourage you to check it out here. If you’re participating in Read Around the Planet as well,...

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What Video Games Have to Teach us About Learning & Literacy – Part 3

Dec 30, 2012 by

This post is long overdue, as I finished What Video Games have to Teach us About Learning & Literacy by James Paul Gee more than a month ago, along with the other members of Book Club 106. It was a monumental achievement for me personally as I hadn’t ever read an “academic” text outside of required reading for courses. In fact, I haven’t read many books at all outside of required course readings for several years now. Thankfully, there were enough people out there on the Internet to encourage me to get through the heavier early chapters of this book, and finish with a wonderful, if exhaustively long, conclusion about several learning principles that can be derived from good video game design. Before diving into the final wrap up of this work, I wanted to share the two final Google+ Hangout discussions I had with a few more members...

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Reading Rainbow Remixed….and an App!

Dec 4, 2012 by

For anyone who may be in their mid 20s to late 30s, and grew up watching PBS, the following remixed and auto-tuned video may bring on sudden waves of nostalgia. Please be advised that those under the age of 12 may exhibit signs of confusion. Please ignore them, and then share how amazing Reading Rainbow was with them! But wait, there’s more! Although Reading Rainbow went off the air in 2006, Levar Burton has managed to revive the essence of the show in an app for iPads, and it’s free!! Read books by yourself or with a narrator, play games, or watch special videos exploring the world with Levar Burton! There’s really a lot of great stuff in the app, but this is a much different model than what you would expect from the old PBS television show. While the show was free (tax payer funded, and free for...

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What Video Games Have to Teach us About Learning & Literacy – Part 2

Nov 1, 2012 by

As part of my ongoing attempt to force myself back into regular reading habits (academic, fiction, or otherwise), I was excited to have a new voice added to the Book Club 106 discussion last week of James Paul Gee’s What Video Games Have to Teach us About Learning & Literacy. Ben Harwood, a technologist with Skidmore College in upstate New York joined me to talk about chapters 3 and 4 of the seminal title from 2002 that explores the effective structuring of learning environments through the analogy of video game design. Our Google+ Hangout was cut short due to our schedules, but I’m looking forward to an excellent video discussion this evening of chapter 5 after last week’s exploration of learning theories and just how effective we can expect learners to be if there isn’t “play time” built into regular instructional practice. You are more than welcome to watch the 45...

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What Video Games Have to Teach us About Learning & Literacy – Part 1

Oct 16, 2012 by

Last night was the inaugural discussion for Book Club 106, the loosely organized online book club that I formed last month with the goal of forcing me to actually read a book, while enjoying a nice weekly chat with other curious educators. Despite the power being out at my place for more than two hours, and the Google+ Hangout for the event starting almost half an hour late, it was a terrific conversation! Two of the other book club members attended, and while L Patrick Brewer had to duck out early due to a finicky satellite Internet connection, Johnathon Beals and I carried on a great conversation that touched on video games, Huizinga’s Homo Ludens book, social context needed for critical learning, and a host of other topics from the book. If you’d like to watch the 60 minute discussion between Johnathon and myself below (and can spare the time), I’d love to...

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Pulling Off an Online Book Club

Oct 5, 2012 by

There’s less than one week to go before the first discussion in what is increasingly my complex attempt to encourage the internet to force me to read a book. It started with the a simple concept; Ben doesn’t read books anymore (I’ve read 1 book this year cover to cover, and even that feels like a fluke), Ben wants to start reading more, so Ben has decided to put his shame out there publicly for the internet to see in hopes that some kind souls will participate in a book discussion, forcing Ben to read. Along the way I’m hoping to gain a greater understanding of how a lot of Googles various tools work in conjunction with one another, and already lamenting the huge rift between Google Apps K-12 accounts and the rest of the Google Apps ecosystem. So it was with great excitement that almost 2 dozen people...

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