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Luddite October 6, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — grannynannycook @ 10:36 pm
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What tools can we use both in and out of Minecraft, to create a convincing case that learning occurred? 

Somehow in my research roamings through assessment of learning with Minecraftedu, I encountered the unfamiliar terms narratology  and  ludology.  Not that it pertains to the assignment per say, but it was very interesting learning from a neutral presentation about the big debate between the two.  Whether or not the information source is accurate, I do not know, but the video seems to be an explanation even I can understand (caution, the F word can be heard in this clip).  Although I understand how both concepts can apply to education, I’m not sure I understand the debate as a whole.  Here are the definitions.

Narratology – noun
the branch of knowledge or literary criticism that deals with the structure and function of narrative and its themes, conventions, and symbols
Ludology – noun
the study of games and gaming, especially video games
“ludology, like the games it studies, is not about story and discourse at all but about actions and events”
a member of any of the bands of English workers who destroyed machinery, especially in cotton and woolen mills, that they believed was threatening their jobs (1811–16).
a person opposed to increased industrialization or new technology

Now, back to the assigned topic.  Of course, assessment is the method teachers use to determine if learning has occurred, if learning goals have been met.  From what I have read, it seems that the most important way to determine what progress students make is to use authentic formative assessment, i.e., check up on the students while they are completing the tasks.  For example, in Minecraftedu, listening and watching game participants and noting observations are informal formative assessment.

There are lots of ways to perform formative assessment, here are a few reliable ideas:

53 Ways to Check for Understanding

 Tools for Formative Assessment –

56 Different Examples of Formative Assessment

Formative (Informal) Assessment Strategies


Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything. (simply because I have been following her forever)


The MOOCs in which I have participated have used “frictionless” formative assessment.  Features of Social Media that enable formative assessment might work for a definition for now, as no official definition of the concept was found.  As a MOOC student, I have experienced assessment via: Livetext, video, screen cast-o-matic, screen shots, blogs, twitter, google plus (hangouts), Edmodo, and polls.  “To assess basic comprehension, attitudes, difficulties, and higher-order thinking, social media and formative assessment naturally complement each other,” concludes Paige Alfonzo Edutopia contributor.

Speaking of Edutopia, it has a lot of pages on assessment.  In Dipsticks: Efficient Ways to Check for Understanding, the author states a simple way to gain information from your students is to simply ask them.  Ask them why, to explain their thinking, and ask them evaluative questions such as:

  • How much time and effort did you put into this?
  • What do you think your strengths and weaknesses were in this assignment?
  • How could you improve your assignment?
  • What are the most valuable things you learned from this assignment?

Additionally, as a teacher, I have used CRISS strategies for assessment (free recall for example), rubrics, journals, anecdotal notes.  I often use rubrics which allow students to self-assess.  In the game of Minecraftedu, books, information blocks, and signs are ways students can use text to communicate understanding.  In addition, communities created will communicate understanding to the teacher.  Listening to language use while students are crafting is another way of observing learning.

All of the authentic informal formative assessments for Minecraftedu discussed in this blog have one thing in common, and that is feedback.  Quality of learning can be observed through what students say, write, make, or do (Griffin, 2007).  Class discussions, differentiated instruction, response to intervention, data-driven instruction, self-assessment, and peer assessment are all forms of either delayed or immediate feedback.  Feedback is more effective when it focuses on the task details, methods to improve answers, and ways to set appropriate goals (Shute, 2008)The series on Comprehensive Assessment, covers a variety of topics including a variety of ways to measure a student’s learning.  The Research Review section states that feedback must (a) be based on evidence of student understanding and integrated into regular classroom practice, (b) yield actionable insights that learners can and will use, and (c) provide learners with opportunities to improve their performance (Shute, 2008).  The marriage of formative assessment and feedback promotes learning, and that’s what we are all about.

Assessment to promote learning: Set challenging, meaningful goals for student understanding; collect evidence about current position relative to goals; and then identify ways to close the gap between the two (adapted from Black & William, 2009).
Where the learner is going/the goal Where the learner is How to get there
Instructor Set challenging, multifaceted goals, and clarify learning intentions and criteria for success. Elicit evidence ofstudent understandingthrough discussion and activities. Focus on the what, how, and why of the task or problem. Provide feedback that moves learning forward andactionable steps to address misconceptions and advance learning.
Peer Share and understand learning goals and criteria for success. Peer assessment: Students act as instructional resources for one another.
Learner Self-assessment: Students act as owners of their own learning.


Filed under: Uncategorized — grannynannycook @ 2:26 pm
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Week 3 Essential Question:

How can we use Minecraft to create a sound and robust learning experience for students?

Recapping the information from the text to answer the question of the week is not my goal.  Instead, my aim is to elaborate on what the reliable media says about Minecraftedu to unpack  the question posed by examining these components: robust, minecraft, how.

  1. strong and healthy; vigorous.
    “the Caplans are a robust, healthy lot”

minecraft is a sandbox construction game. Gameplay involves players interacting with the game world by placing and breaking various types of blocks in a three-dimensional environment.  The differences between Minecraftedu and Minecraft are explained fairly well here.  Plenty of sites which will elaborate on Minecraft  exist and blogs abound, and several are referenced in this writing assignment.


Most Minecraftedu for beginner videos, are helpful, but way too long to recommend.  However, I strongly suggest visiting this great introduction to the game, Getting Started with Minecraftedu, and viewing the video.

Posing the question “What will I need to do to enable my students to create and draw upon powerful digital learning networks?”, one teacher summarizes this way:

  • Provide opportunities to make learning explicit
  • Allow students to form questions to guide their learning
  • Encourage learning from experts in the field
  • Enable connection making
  • Allow students to develop a common language
  • Provide time

The author expands on each point in the article which is worth reading and is linked above.  A wonderful thirteen part guide to games and learning from Mindshift is also a good read for further exploration.

Is it fun?  Is that the ultimate question we should ask about creating learning experiences? It is said that the question, “Why do I need to know this?” disappears when effectively using Minecraftedu. Utilizing this game to help students observe, pose questions, engage in experimentation and error, and learn to analyze and reason, requires the usual skillful research based lesson design process to frame content. With planning, “games provide sequenced instruction blended with practice, feedback, and assessment”.  Before the game is implemented, “start with your traditional lesson objectives and build off those, give them an objective, not a recipe, let them figure it out”, which necessitates collaboration. The Institute of Play professes through games students build skills, learn content, and socialize with others.  Minecraftedu is a great tool for making more meaningful project based learning, open ended projects, and enabling students to showcase creativity through sharing.  It is about the learning process, not the product, i.e., not about what you build, but building it.  How we use it to improve student mastery of content mandated by state or national standards will primarily be in the instructional design and use of formative assessments.  Games and Learning website has some interesting data charts on assessments and should have newer information soon.

Differentiating instruction is made easy with Minecraftedu’s flexibility because the teacher can select how much freedom the students are allowed to have within the game and the level at which the game reacts with them. “As a player’s skill develops, the game’s complexity increases ad infinitum. In multi-player levels, players collaborate on building complex structures, use programming features to build contraptions, games, or compose music. Meanwhile, beginning players use their problem solving skills to scavenge for materials. They learn to mine stone for building, and coal for making fire.”  In addition, the diversity of students such as English Language Learners should benefit from the inclusivity of Minecraftedu, a safe space to engage in constructive learning (an idea spawned by reading Adam Heidebrink-Bruno).

Here are some thoughts from others on the learning experience from using games such as Minecraftedu:

  • “What video games do — better than any other medium,” writes games researcher and author James Paul Gee, “is let people understand a world from the inside.”
  • Game-based learning has emerged as a promising area of innovation in addressing a vital weakness in American educational performance: the need to make academic content more engaging, adaptive, relevant and rigorous for America’s youth.  Growing evidence demonstrates that digital games can be used to advance standards-based content mastery in literacy and math, develop a deep understanding of STEM concepts and build critical 21st century skills that are essential for preparing youth for success in a global and digital marketplace.”
  • Game-based learning is a great classroom tool because it allows for interdisciplinary learning through contextualized critical thinking and problem solving.

Games in the classroom can encourage students to understand subject matter in context — as part of a system. In contrast to memorization, drilling, and quizzing, which is often criticized because it focuses on facts in isolation, games force players to interact with problems in ways that take relationships into account. The content becomes useful insofar as it plays a part in a larger multi-modal system.

One promise of game-based learning is that it has the potential of building comprehension and literacy rather than retention. It does this by combining instruction, practice, and assessment. Teachers become the facilitators of a process where instruction is experiential. Practice is project based, requiring students to solve new problems and address new challenges using the new ideas to which they’ve been introduced. And assessment no longer measures a student’s ability to regurgitate information, or to choose among multiple answers, but rather, to use the content, or subject matter, in context. Even more impressive is that in order to successfully manipulate one piece within a comprehensive and complex system, the students must understand every piece of

The author, Karl Kapp, states: “Game designers do not have a magic elixir for creating engagement, instead, they rely on certain formulas for engagement. These include challenges, stories, effective user interfaces and providing incentives for correct activities. It even includes the counterintuitive aspect of chance or uncertainty. Few of these elements exist in many elearning modules and to engage learners, we must borrow these five elements from game designers to create an engaging and exciting learning environment.”  Which hopefully will result in a robust learning experience for all using Minecraftedu.  I can’t wait for the movie!


gamification September 27, 2014

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The first teacher education courses I took, way back when the rocks were soft, emphasized that games were for practicing skills: computational skills, reading skills, whatever.  Although  “how to make learning games” course offering in college did not exist,  as a teacher, I had a file cabinet drawer full of “folder games” to practice almost everything imaginable!

Today, in my sunset years of teaching, the question is:  what factors make a game effective for learning?  From readings in the text by Karl Kapp, The Gamification of Learning and Instruction : Game-based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education , the use of games goes beyond skill practice.  Gamification is a tool for learning and behavior change of any kind.  Kapp says it is the interplay of the elements of games which make it possible to gamify content for effective learning.   These are the elements of games which are most valuable to effective learning: the story, the challenge, the sense of control, decision making, and sense of mastery.  Kapp continues to state that games engage learners through the use of: curiosity, challenge, avatars, distributed practice, and storytelling.  As the author states, gamifiying content is matching game elements with contents and incentives or rewards to create a relationship with the learner, which, I believe, is what effective learning is all about: relationships.

420 20 Easy-to-Make File Folder Games




Filed under: Uncategorized — grannynannycook @ 11:01 pm
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Give me a target, and I can hit it.  Syllabi are my learning targets, so, am a bit hamstrung in this open class without a course syllabus.  Although the class expectations appear weekly, in a sequential and timely manner, part of me thinks I’m aiming for a more challenging moving target.  Perhaps it is like having all the ingredients to bake cinnamon rolls, but having no recipe?

Having participated in a MOOC before, please read my first blog entry below, which begins to answer the inquiry into what makes an Open Class Engaging.

In the intro to Connected Courses, the unfamiliar term autodidact caught my ear.  Also, delving further into the literature, another unfamiliar word caught my eye, andragogy, which focuses on adult learning, more information about it on Wikipedia and here.  These two terms, a person who has learned a subject without the benefit of a teacher or formal education, i.e., a self taught person, and a study of adult learning, I feel contribute to making an Open Class engaging.

Making an Open Class engaging is more about creativity in design, collaboration and discussion, interactions, connections, flexibility, open ended problem solving, and multiple measures of success.  Other terms of engagement which pegged my brain were: high quality content, short videos, diversity of learners and cultures.


Oodles and oodles of noodles May 1, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — grannynannycook @ 1:10 am
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An oldie but goodie!


Glogster sums it all up

Screencast-o-matic tells it all.


Lori Fredenberg

Spring 2013

A glog was created for the presentation at Glogster. In addition, a Screencast-o-matic recording.

The standard I picked for the final project was Alaska Standards for Mathematical Practice (June 2012), “7. Look for and make use of structure”. (Page 107)  Working individually, the plan to meet the standard involved a third  grader demonstrating understanding by creating a product using Kids Doodle (on the ipad).

First, the homeschooled 8 year old student and I made a KWL chart (for both pre and post assessment).  The student made the KWL on the iphone (technical difficulties on ipad). Eventually he made another on ipad, and then made it into a movie by adding other drawings.  He did a great job of learning Kids Doodle and explaining it to me.



Patterns do the same thing again and again What is reasonableness What reasonableness means: it means it is reasonable OR it makes sense
*An example of a number pattern is One Two One TWO ONe Two

*The Number Pattern example was said in sort of a sing song way.  AGW takes piano lessons, might have been making a musical connection to number patterns

Then we sorted through a big tub of Legos and discussed patterns and ways of sorting.  Next, we examined some math multiplication fact families and identified patterns on a multiplication chart.

AGW told me about the website COOL MATH GAMES (his friend told him about it).  We went to the site and he showed me some of his favorite games and said he already beat the Sticky Ninja, a skill game involving figuring out best routes and how to deal with obstacles.

Because he introduced the site to me, we went ahead and used the games and activities at Cool Math Games for multiplication for his level.  He practiced the multiplication facts and finally did a couple of multiplication fact games.  He felt most challenged by the game The Timernator, although we first explored The Number Monster for times tables.

He repeated the timed game a few times to improve his scores.  His mode thus far has been to use pencil and paper and flash cards.  The computer game was not in his comfort zone, and he seemed to count on his fingers a lot which eats up the time.

Finally, we revisited the KWL chart and made a movie summarizing our lesson.

The Legos started us off on a bit of a tangent to the lesson.  Alexander wanted to show me all about the Lego website and the games he could play. He was especially fond of the Pharoh’s Quest because if he could decipher a code a Lego comic was revealed.  Comics are one of AGW’s loves, so he solved all the codes, printed out the comic book, read it again, and took it home.  In actuality, we did math and reading today. He made a screencast-o-matic about the Lego game.

Grade 3 Rubric

Alaska Standards for Mathematical Practice (June 2012)

7. Look for and make use of structure. Page 107

In all grade levels mathematically proficient students will:

  1. discern a pattern or structure
  2. understand complex structures as single objects or as being composed of several objects
  3. check if the answer is reasonable

Bloom’s Taxonomy: Evaluation

Level Recognizes patterns Complex structures Reasonableness
Above Grade Level Goes beyond what was taught by identifying other similar patterns and comparing Able to mathematically deconstruct complex structures and give other examples of similar structures; able to create a rule and pattern to go with it Justifies reasonableness using corresponding math rules and provides other similar examples
Met Standard at Grade Level Looks closely to discern a pattern or structures Basic understanding of composition of complex structures Applies mathematical strategy to check answers for reasonableness
Making progress Recognizes simple pattern or structure Basic understanding of composition of simple structures, lacks ability regarding more complex structures Attempts to check for reasonableness with no help
Need Improvement With help, a partial recognition of simple patterns With help, a partial understanding of complex structures With help, attempts to check for reasonableness
Needs intervention Even with help, no patterns discerned Even with help, no complex structures comprehended Even with help, no attempt to determine reasonableness


  • Alexander just recorded his Screencast once, I recorded the Screencast-o-matic presentation more than once.  Of course, I learned lots each time.
  • Way off task.
  • Tech. difficulties: kids doodle not work on my computer.  Couldn’t get google play to make it work.
  • Learned more from Alexander, I’m sure, than he learned from me.
  • Math, not as good at times tables (mult. Facts) as I thought.  Needs lots more practice for fluency.
  • Taught me about cool math games and all the Lego games available.
  • Not sure if he understand the difference between an app and the internet, but we managed to communicate well enough technologically speaking.  We used the iphone, ipad, and my windows machine during the lesson.
  • We both learned how to turn the sound off on the games because it interfered with video making! We were not even sure we were recording
  • Arrow keys and other key strokes are a recent discovery for Alexander who is accustomed to ipad/iphone touch technology.  He is also familiar with Wii system.  He told me earlier that his friend taught him how to use the keyboard to play games on some computers.
  • It was a big day of learning for us both.
  • In the video, he explained there were 32 gold pieces to acquire and he had earned 8 of them.  When I asked him how many more he need to get, he was a bit perplexed. Paper and pencil or calculator or times tables (?).  He was able to explain how to use a calculator.
  • After setting him up in Screencast-o-matic, he just started in talking and explaining the game and decoding process. Because he spoke a bit quietly in places, his explanations may not be very audible.

Unplugged April 9, 2013

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Been unplugged for a while, in Tennessee with the Amish.  Always a mind boggler, living with no modern conveniences – NONE.  Similar to camping with a permanent roof overhead, perhaps.  The Amish education process is fascinating.  German is the language of the family.  Children speak only German until they attend school, where they learn to speak English.  Schools, as with all aspects of Amish life, have no electricity. Formal education stops at Grade 8.  No special programs and each child carries a lunch to school.  “Because the Amish lifestyle is a deliberate effort to separate from the world and maintain self sufficiency, they believe that linking their homes to electrical wires would constitute a connection with the world and would violate the Bible’s instruction not to be conformed with the world. This decision protects the Amish community from outside influences which would come from radio, television and the Internet.”

When I did return to the real world in Washington State with brief access to internet, struggled with the Pearltrees on the ipad.  Just found the ipad tutorial today, now that I’m back to a windows machine!  Am sad I missed the WebEx meeting.  Have identified a math standard for project. Need to narrow down an English standard also.  Will probably work solo to not hold anyone back.  Plan to diligently work on rubric as well as pre and post assessment.

Helped a daughter move to Oregon.  Even if there had been WI-FI, neither of us had time to use it! Finally, spent a couple days in Angoon.  Didn’t get to check out the technology at the schools, but the wonderful local folks I spent time with were certainly part of the head down society: cell phones galore and in constant use.


Ring, ring: the learning process March 13, 2013

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pew process

The complete report can be found at How Teens Do Research in the Digital World, or highlights found at Library Journal’s Infodocket



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