One of the newer course offerings at the high school is game design. For students with an interest in gaming, digital or analog, the course reverses the student’s…
Google’s Jamboard is a new core app that your admin can turn on for you to have access to. What is Jamboard? Think Google Doc/Google Slides, but you can draw on it, like a collaborative white board you can share with your students.
This works really well with Ipads and touch-screen chromebooks, there are also limited functions for your mobile device. Now that Sketchnotes are becoming really popular, especially since sketchnotes allow you to be creative and think outside of the box. To learn more about sketchnoting check out Syliva’s website and tutorials.
So what does Jamboard look like and how does it work? Check out this slide deck for the setup and what are the important components of the application.
There are so many possibilities using this collaborative app in schools! Currently we are testing it out at our elementary schools and plan to allow it at all schools next fall. To see support and updates with Jamboard visit these sites:
Lately I’ve pondered the idea of a “break the script” mindset as I have had the honor of working with an educator who understands the importance of straying from the plan, being spontaneous, and creating moments for students and staff.
I believe a “break the script” mindset is difficult to accomplish. One must be present every second and so in tune with those around them, it’s almost like a sixth sense. Chris Basile at Elmwood School exemplifies a “break the script” mindset, knows her students inside and out, and gives each and every one a voice. When kids show up to health and PE, they know they matter, they know Mrs. Basile will listen, and whether they’re learning about drugs and alcohol, working out to Star Wars challenges, or creating videos in hopes to stop bullying, each student knows he or she will leave the room having learned something that will last a lifetime.
A couple of months ago, I was in the library right next to where Mrs. Basile was teaching a health class. I was finishing up an activity with a small group of students when I heard her ask for help. The Epson speakers were not working and she had a lesson that of course required sound. As someone who has transformed with use of technology and social media, I knew she had done everything she could so I simply changed the output back to her laptop and then switched it back to the Epson. Honestly having no idea if this would work, I thought to myself just in case I should have something ready to play that won’t distract the kids, but fit into the theme of their lesson.
Not only were they well into their bullying unit, this class is also known as the “Friendship Class” and is immersed in Ignite Your S.H.I.N.E.® lessons through Thrively. They continuously bring out the best in each other with their amazing teacher, Dena O’Shaughnessy, leading the way. So naturally, I found Count On Me by Bruno Mars and hit play. What happened next most certainly broke the script. Students began to sing along and knowing Mrs. Basile, I let it happen. So did she. Suddenly, every student had gathered around me and Mrs. Basile was videoing this incredible moment.
Immediately, Mrs. Basile’s “break the script” mindset was on full blast as she came up with the idea to perform Count On Me as a surprise at our March Meeting of the Eagles. This special event occurs every two months as a time to come together, sing, and celebrate. I had bought a ukulele in the fall so naturally offered to teach myself the chords. None of this was in her lesson plan for that period, yet the kids left thrilled and on a mission. Mrs. Basile and I left smiling. Two months of practice, practice, practice came next and three teachers who were thrilled about what was yet to come for our whole school to see. The best part of all was that I knew I could truly count on Mrs. Basile, Mrs. O’Shaughnessy, and her whole class, and they knew they could count on me.
The big day was finally here. The plan was for the students to sing (and for me to play) with background music from a video just as we had practiced many many times. Only the plan didn’t go accordingly. Two students spoke proudly into the microphone and shared our story beautifully. We were all set to go and the music even started to play, which I was grateful for since my own plan was to blend right in. Then the music stopped. Suddenly, against all plans, I was the music. My heart began to pound. As a passionate technology integration specialist, I chose to ignore what was happening with the technology. Although nervous, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that we couldn’t play on. In a matter of seconds, we defied what we ourselves expected as we simply kept going.
Check out a glimpse of our Count On Me performance, one I was honored to be a part of. I felt the need to explain the risk we took right after the song (to over five hundred people) and Anne Carver, our wonderful principal, shared a statement that made every second of both practicing and performing completely worth it.
As I continue to to connect with students, staff, and administrators I will push myself to be more like Chris Basile. Her “break the script” mindset is an example for every educator in the world to get comfortable with straying from the plan, the norm, and the every day routines. Her ability to make magic happen and create unforgettable moments stems from the passion she has for connecting with children, and as a result, a whole school was impacted.
And of course Mrs. Basile was sitting right on the floor with a gym full of kids singing along.
One of the newer course offerings at the high school is game design. For students with an interest in gaming, digital or analog, the course reverses the student’s role from player to designer. The shift provides a window into an unfamiliar process.
Still, many students arrive with more skills than they might believe.
Early interest included students from art club, robotics, and engineering, where design skills already play a significant role and quickly become assets in the new course.
“You have an idea provided by the class and you still follow rules, like game theory and structure of how people like to play games, and genre. But it still has enough creativity to it that you have to figure it out yourself, rather than a teacher telling you,” senior Andrew Potenzone said. “This class is different, in the sense that it is not like an art class, where you have complete creative responsibility.”
The initial version of the course focused more on video games. However, that revealed a gap for students that was difficult to bridge. Understanding basic principles and mechanics of games are essential. Yet, executing them in a video game development environment requires separate technical skills. It proved difficult to address both within a single semester.
Since taking over the course, Kirsten Fournier decided a return to fundamentals would be best. Students had played games but little knowledge about how they worked or why they were fun.
Fournier decided modifying existing games then making a board game would be the best way to investigate the process and deepen their experience. Yet, technology was still involved.
“I was wary of introducing tabletop games first because they might really only be into video games. But they have been really interested in these other board games,” she said. “They have gotten really creative in such a way, it has been refreshing.”
While not coding video games, students spend considerable time using graphic design tools and CAD software to realize their projects.
“The kids really took the leads in how to make the boards and game pieces. They have been using CAD, the laser cutter, and 3D printers. A few students even found software that allowed them to take their own images for their boards to much larger poster sizes. They just seem really into it,” Fournier said.
The results involved students developing games with a variety of themes, mechanics, experiences with the board as a common element. Another element included imitation or inspiration from games students enjoyed.
Junior Brett Crochiere and sophomore Drew Rancatore teamed up to try and recreate the video game Pac-Man as a tabletop board game.
“It started as a joke but we thought it would be cool to do an adaptation of an existing game. Pac-Man is a classic. The way that Pac-Man and the ghosts move was a natural challenge and correlation to a board game,” Rancatore said.
“We joked around about it but the more we thought about it, the more we thought it would be good,” partner Crochiere added.
For Potenzone, another classic served as a model.
“Making a game influenced off of chess, your goal is to capture the king and queen…but the board determines direction the piece can move,” he explained.
Reconsidering basic elements like the board itself opened a range of learning possibilities.
“I’ve learned that you can modify a game so much that it is entirely different. The mechanics are based things that change the whole game. If you chance one little thing in a game it can change it entirely, making new strategies and maneuvers.”
The design experience opened up of connections for the students. Beyond developing their ideas, they need to execute, play test, and fine-tune their game until it works. The difference between playing and creating became clear.
“Games are now something I can appreciate for their design not just their enjoyment of play,” Crochiere said. “This is the first time I have been combining creative skills, like the artwork and physical design, with these other skills, like game theory.”
“We are designing an experience and that’s new to me,” Crochiere reflected.
For Fournier the engagement is proof of success, “The kids seem really into it when we began doing some of these projects.”
Google’s Jamboard is a new core app that your admin can turn on for you to have access to. What is Jamboard? Think Google Doc/Google Slides, but you…
You’ve been using Google Docs, slides, sites, maps for awhile? Perhaps you’ve tried flipping your class and looking for differentiation ideas. What’s next? How do you take it…
Researching and finding many sites that may inspire you and your students to join, read, and share with those who are interested. In this post you will find…