Thursday, December 22, 2011

New Wii Game - never before used

So last week Nicole and I tried a new game.  Shown here, it is called Winter Sports, the Ultimate Challenge.  Nicole actually found a used copy for only a few bucks at a popular chain store.  We had been talking about being able to do ski jumping to work on the formula R=TxD (rate = time times distance).  We were discussing using the Wii Fit board because there is a game that allows you to ski jump; but, we decided that one would be more difficult (more about that later) and would require the extra equipment so we thought we would try this one.  It worked great!  Basically the students have to go down the hill, pull up on the controllers and keep balance while you stick the landing - or not!
video
  Because this was the first time we played this game the students were much more concerned with how to play the game and less concerned about what they were doing when it came to the Math.  After the first jump I heard one of the students in the room say "What the heck does any of this have to do with Math?!"  "Well, I am so excited that you asked!!" we answered.  Nicole led the Math lesson at the front of the room.  The student jumped 81.1 meters at a top speed of 83.07kph. The first thing we did was make our formula - 81.1m = T x 83.07kph.  The next thing was to convert the meters to kilometers.  So, 81.1 meters becomes .0811km.  From there we divide both sides by 83.07 (which BTW we had the students complete by hand - no calculators for this class).  Move your decimals and begin division.  We rounded at .001 or 1 thousandths of an hour.  Now, that is our answer, but really, how long is that?  So we figured out that if we multiply by 3600 we can figure out how many seconds is .001 of an hour.  Why do we multiply by 3600?  Because there are 60 minutes in 1 hour and 60 seconds in 1 minute.  And, after all that math we get to a total of 3.6 seconds.  So, if we traveled a distance of 81.1 meters at a speed of 83.07 kph, we were in the air for 3.6 seconds (and our landing was ugly!).
One thing that we didn't do (at least this first time we played) that could increase the level of difficulty was cross multiplication.  When we had our answer of .001 seconds we could have put it into a problem of 1/1000 times 3600/1.  Then have the students do the cross multiplication to get 3600/1000 which can be reduced to 18/5 or 3.6 seconds!
We were able to use the game to introduce a new concept and complete 5 different standards.  Now, I don't have the complete standard numbers here (or even the correct wording), but the different standards covered here include:
1.  conversion - we have to convert the kilometers per hours to meters because the distance jumped is in meters.  As a quick aside, this is why we chose to play this game instead of the Wii Fit game.  In that game your speed is measured in miles per hour but your distance is still presented in meters.  So, if you wanted to add another conversion from English to metric, you may want to try that ski jumping.
2.  use formulas (the already mentioned rate = time x distance)
3.  solve 1 step problems using decimals in division
4. converting decimals into fractions
5. solving proportions and ratios
Here is the math from one of the students so you can see the results as well as the work involved in the problems that we completed during class.  All in all Nicole and I were very excited.  We will continue this work when we get back from break and try for another class of ski jumping for sure!




And stay tuned, Chris (yes, I am still in touch with her and she continues to work on the Wii without me) has found another new game which she is going to be trying with her class when we come back from Christmas break.  I say "new" because it is actually a game that has been around for many, many years in one format or another.  The creators must be getting royalties for a lifetime!  You will have to check back to see which game we are talking about!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

1 to 1 ideas

We are beginning to look at tablets (or laptops, or BYOD, or netbooks, or etc) for our students and the many, many, many aspects that are involved with that. 97 of them to be exact! I am working on completing a 12 page document which has 97 questions involving a 1 to 1 initiative. The first question, and probably the most important, is "why is your school interested in implementing a 1 to 1 initiative at your school". Can you answer that question? If you can answer that one, I have a few more. Is your network ready for 1 to 1? Are you teachers ready for 1 to 1? Is your budget ready for 1 to 1? Alright, 4 down, 93 to go! If anybody has some insights and wants to comment, by all means feel free!

image from Flickr search using Creative Commons

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

a little teaser

Nicole and I have been talking about some new games to use with the Wii. We have two new games planed with the 6th grades and one different game (new game but same math practice) with the 4th grades. You will have to check back with me next week to see how it goes! I will give you a hint - swish, swish, swish (and it's not basketball)! See you next week!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Playing Wii with the 6th grade


Nicole and I meet after each class to discuss how things went. We have been excited and impressed with the students work and how smoothly the whole process has been. So, with our discussions, we decided to open the Wii up to the 6th graders as well. Nicole wanted to play Brain Age with these students so we could review negative and positive integers.
Before class started I came in and created an account for the 6th grade. I also went through all the opening screens (there are a few with this game) and went to the correct spot- Practice, Compute, Balloon Pop, and Hard Level (so there would be negative numbers). During the game numbers come up on the screen (between 5 and 6 of them). The balloons are all different shapes, sizes, colors and they move (revolve and shake) around the screen. The task is simple, pop the balloons in order from lowest to highest. In the practice level you get 10 balloons to pop and see how fast you can accomplish the task. It is not all about just speed though, you have to get the correct order also! Nicole had each student do 5 balloons and then pause the game. We would then switch with the next student who would finish up that round. All of the students at their desks had to write down the smallest and the largest numbers only (and even that was difficult if somebody hit the wrong balloon too early). The students at their seats had to concentrate and pay attention to the screens to try and get the numbers. I also wrote down the numbers so Nicole would have something to compare the papers to (and even I have to say that I missed a few numbers). After the 2 students (and 10 chances) went by the game would give a brain score. Once a row was finished, Nicole took all of those scores and got an average for the row. Each row competed against each other for highest average score. Again, the students seemed to enjoy themselves and reviewed negative numbers quickly. I heard comments like "This is fun" and "This is hard" from different students during game play. Also got cheers as the students did well.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Decimal subtraction and yards to feet conversion


So, since our first day of Wii game play on Halloween Nicole has given the students a couple of lessons on subtracting decimals and on converting between yards and feet. Both of these are important to our game play because you can do both of these things while playing Wii Golf. If you have read past blog posts you know that these two issues made it more difficult to play with the 4th grade the first time we tried. So, Nicole gave the students a quick lesson about lining up the decimal points and doing straight subtraction. Then she discussed with them about how many feet were in a yard and how to go about figuring out multiples of that conversion. This made our second attempt at playing Wii Golf much more fluid.

According to Nicole, the class began the same way, with the students all getting out paper and pencils. Nicole again ran the room from the front. However, I wasn't able to be there at the beginning of class (I was working on a computer issue in another room with a guest speaker). Much to my enjoyment (and maybe a little surprise), Nicole had gotten started without me and really was rolling right along! When I got in the classroom (about 10 minutes late), the students were coming up and swinging then doing the math at their seats. When we got to a conversion problem (45 yards till the green became 17.5 feet) Nicole led the class. First, she rounded the 17.5 feet up to 18 feet (a multiple of 3). Then we figured out how many yards was in 18 feet and then did the subtraction. (Yes, you could go the other way and figure out how many feet were in 45 yards and then do the subtraction, teacher choice there). Soon there after we were able to also practice subtraction with decimals. We went from 17.5 feet to the hole to 6.8 feet. The students lined up their decimals and proceeded to subtract. As Nicole asked for the answer it took a couple of times for the students to get the correct vocabulary (10 feet and 7 tenths). I am sure that this will get better with practice.
The students were again excited to play and we still kept them involved in the process for the whole class period. I again heard several "this is cool", and "good hits" during the games. All in all, another successful day of game play in the classroom.

Monday, October 31, 2011

2nd class, 1st day

As I continue posting notes about using the Wii in my school, I will probably combine both classes into one post (unless something extraordinary happens) to keep the posts from getting out of control. However, I wanted to make the first post for the separate classes separate. So, this is the 2nd half of the 4th grade Math class.

(picture is one of the student's page collected at the end of class).
As class started Nicole again passed out paper and pencil and explained what we were going to do. As she was more comfortable in how the game progressed, this time she ran everything from the front of the classroom. She put the problems on the board as they appeared throughout the game. The students again had to write down each problem as they came up and Nicole went through the classroom asking different students for the answers. She would then go through the problem up on the board using the correct terminology (borrowing, carrying, etc) reviewing step by step. For example, the first yardage was 396 to the hole. The student hit the ball and they had 164 yards left to the hole. So how far did he hit the ball? 396-164 = 232 yards (which happened to be one of the longest hits of the day). The students went on coming up and hitting the ball as they were supposed to. They were very excited and especially excited when the ball went in the hole! There was a good amount of cheering during hits and several "oohs" and "aahs" as well. This half took a little longer to play and the last person got to go as the bell was ringing. At the end of class we again collected the papers to see what the students had written down.
We had the same issue in this half as we did in the first, the student unfamiliar with decimal subtraction and with conversion from yards to feet (or feet to yards). One difference with this group, Nicole did have to remind a student to write down the problems as they were busy focusing on the golf more so than the Math. I know, hard to believe isn't it!

4th grade Subtraction, class 1


Let me begin by saying that since this is my first post about using the Wii in the new school this post may be a little longer winded than usual. There are a couple of different things about my new school. First of all, there are more kids (almost 3 times as many). So, we have two classes of every grade. Our 4th grade is the class that we chose to begin the Wii project with. Half of the class has Math in the morning (first period), and the other half is in the afternoon (after lunch). Nicole and I had obviously already decided what we were going to play and discuss how she would keep track of classroom management. We decided to begin with Wii Resort Golf (the Resort game came with the Wii so no cost involved with another game yet). We were going to play 3 holes on course A. The course doesn't really matter, and there are 3 to choose from so the students can have different views and starting yardages at least a few times. (Of course, even if they play the same course each time will have different yardage because each hit will be a different distance.) The option for holes is 3, 9 or a full 18 so we decided that 3 would be the way to go.


So, I went in first thing and set up the Wii in the classroom. We have the projectors hooked up via video cable and audio goes directly into a radio via an input cable. I just hooked up the Wii using the included cables (again, no real cost involved). When the students came in we had the system up and ready to go at the intro Wii page. As soon as they walked in most of the students recognized the music and asked about playing the Wii (we had told them that we were going to play it earlier so it wasn't a complete surprise or anything). Nicole had each student get out paper and pencil and take their seats. There was a lot of excitement and even a few Ohhs and Ahhs as we got into the setup for the game. Nicole had all the students put their names on their papers and number them first through 10 (we will need more numbers than that). The yardage to the first hole was 396 yards so we had all the students write down that first number as problem number 1. We gave the controller to our first student (for this time we just started in the front and rent in row order) and had him swing away. After he hit all the students put the distance left to the hole (which is what the computer tells you) and they figured out how far he had hit the ball! This went on two more times until we hit our first snag. The student hit it on the green which changed the distance from yards to feet. At his time the 4th graders do not know how to convert from yards to feet (or vice versa) so we just skipped this problem and went on to the next (since this post Nicole has done a lesson on conversion so this problem has been solved). Our next problem came in with decimal subtraction and addition. Once you are on the green it gives you the distance to the tenths place. Again, the 4th graders didn't have much experience with lining up the decimal places so that took some time to show (Nicole did it right there during the lesson). They understood the idea of lining up the decimal points and doing the operation well enough. Then we came to our third different thing (not really a problem, just something different) of the class. The next person hit the ball and went beyond the cup which makes a new math problem. She had 43.2 feet to go to the cup, but she hit it beyond the cup 18.3 feet (she really got a hold of the club!) so, how far did she hit the ball. We asked the students to decide what operation we were going to need to do; and, after a little prodding, we got the correct answer of addition. Again, not a problem, but a different task at hand. We had enough time for everybody to hit and since there was still a few minutes left in class they wanted the teachers to hit. Both Nicole, myself, and the 4th grade homeroom teacher (who joins the class for Math) had a turn. The students were all very excited when we hit the ball (we wound up putting it in the cup). At the end of class Nicole collected all of the student's sheets so she could go over them.

All in all, everything went well. The students seemed to get what was going on and all worked on math for the entire class period. I heard some good comments, my favorite being "This is the funnest math class ever!"
pictures from nintendo.com website Last picture copy of student's work collected at end of class

Sunday, September 18, 2011

New year, New school, Same ideas

So, I have been gone from the blog for several months. What in the world have I been doing? Sometimes I ask myself that very question. This time I have an answer. I have moved to another school (in my same area) and I have a different role in this school. I am still the Tech Coordinator, but have a lot more technology to coordinate. It is a bigger school (almost 500 students) and they have about 200 computers. So, I remain busy trying to make sure that all my teachers are using technology to the best of their ability. I do miss my old school and staff, but lucky for me I still get to keep in touch with them often and Chris and I are still talking about all different aspects of teaching and tech.

Speaking of Chris and I, we were chosen to present at the annual FETC (Florida Educational Technology Conference) this January! We are excited. Our topic? Using a popular gaming system in your classroom. i.e. - The WII! If you are going to be in Orlando at the end of January for the conference, please come check us out! You can find out more information about the FETC by visiting the website - www.fetc.org


So, you may be wondering, with this presentation opportunity, are you going to be able to bring the Wii and your research into the new school? Well, wonder no more, the answer is yes! I was lucky enough to hook up with another teacher who is interested in the idea of using games to teach content in the classroom! Her name is Nicole and she is the math teacher for our 4th-6th grade classes. I was talking to her about some of the things that Chris and I had done in the previous school and I could see that she was interested. We brought the idea to administration and got our principal's blessing. With that vote of confidence Nicole and I started talking about how we can use the Wii in the classroom!
Problem 1, get a Wii!
But wait! As I was crawling around on the floor of one of our coaches/athletic director's office, following a Cat 5 cable, (a postition that any tech person is very familiar with) what did I come across? A brand new Wii! Still in the box! One of the parents had donated it to the coach for athletics (they use it with the Dance Dance games and other move oriented activities throughout the year - note to self make sure to add that game opportunity to list of uses for Wii in school). "Do you mind if we borrow the Wii to use in the classroom?" I asked. "Of course you can use it" she said! Problem 1 out of the way!
Problem 2, hook it up.
The classroom has a projector hanging from the roof, pointing to a interactive board. I was able to get a video/audio splitter and hook the Wii right into the feed going to the projector. The classroom has speakers so the audio goes into there. Bam! 77 inches of Wii goodness booming out of 100 watts of dolby power. Problem 2, in the bag!
Problem 3, what software will we use?
But wait! I still have the work that Chris and I did with our 5th graders when we started this whole thing 2 years ago! We will turn our focus back to Mathmatics and concentrate on programs that worked. We can use Wii Sports and Brain Age for starters. We can focus on subtraction, addition, averages, ratios and integers (both negative and positive). Nicole and I have also begun discussing using other software packages (more posts about those later) as we branch out in the class. Problem 3, piece of cake!
Problem 4 - which class will we use?
After some discussion, Nicole decided (and I agreed) that we would start with 4th grade and go from there. Because I have already worked with 5th graders I was excited to be moving to a different grade to see how things worked. We will have some issues with them not being as well versed in the standards such as conversion from yards to feet but that is the exciting part! Problem 4 - No Problem!
Problem 5 - when do we start?
As you will see, we have already started! I have been lax in my posting (insert many excuses here) of what we have been doing, but that will all change now! As of this posting we have already used the software 5 times, (4 times with 4th grade and 1 time with 6th grade), and had good results. I will work at getting my notes and thoughts posted here during this week for anyone that is interested. Nicole and I have already been planing ahead for other Math lessons and other software packages. All in all I couldn't be happier with the new information that we have been able to gather. Please keep watching for new posts and new ideas for using the Wii! I am sure that new problems will arise to keep us on our toes...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

ISTE infographics



So, I was lucky enough to be able to spend last week at the 2011 ISTE conference in Philadelphia. I, like most everyone else that was there, enjoyed running around looking at all the different aspects of the conference. One of the sessions I went to was about Infographics. Basically, infographs are a way to show numbers or details in a graphic nature. Any graph can be considered an infographic; but; they are usually much more involved than that. The picture on the left is my first shot at creating an infographic using numbers from ISTE 2011. The infographic has been updated to show the latest numbers put out from ISTE. You can click on the picture to see it larger or...

This link is to a site called zoom.it which allows you to zoom into any picture. It will allow you to zoom in and out of the infographic, as well as move around the picture, in more detail. So, on top of the infographic, you get a cool website as well - wow, 2 for the price of 1!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Digital Textbooks - a thing of the present?


Here is an interesting article about digital textbooks. Apparently, Florida has passed a law "requiring all public schools to adopt digital textbooks by the 2015-16 school year and spend 50 percent of their textbook budgets on digital materials". Needless to say, the districts are not jumping for joy at the plan to spend all that money in the midst of budget cuts and crunches! The savings are not going to be apparent up front (are they ever), and who knows how many challenges there will be to the law in the next 3 years (anybody forgotten the class size fiasco?). There are a few examples of digital textbooks working in high schools (the Kindle was highlighted in the article) and it looks like there may be more to come.

The most interesting thing that MAY keep this plan alive is one fact written towards the end of the article - FCAT and end-of-course exams, will go digital by 2015 and they don't want the first time the students see digital content to be on the test that grades the schools!

Planning Instruction using the Video Game Model

Here is a great article that I just found via Twitter. The article was originally published in Edutopia back at the end of May and was written by a woman named Dr. Judy Willis. While it isn't about video games per-say, it does talk about planning instruction in the same fashion as a video game (something all of the students have at least some level of experience at). "The computer game model correlates to using achievable, incremental, challenge, with goal-progress recognition." I agree with Dr. Willis that this manner of instruction could certainly bring about an individualized attack to each child's school work. Check out the article and please post a response or a comment!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Video Games Power Up Learning

"Videogames are emerging as a new gold standard of learning because they effectively integrate many vital learning principles into their design."
This is a sentence that comes from Tina Barseghian in an KQED.org article she wrote titled "Five Reasons Why Video Games Power Up Learning". You can read the whole article, and the five reasons, by clicking here.
I hope that all of the popular gaming companies get forwarded this article and will improve their R & D in the area of educational games!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Web 2.0 tools for inservice

www.edmodo.com – collaborating tool (more for staff then students)

www.blogger.com – Google Blog page (more for staff then students)

www.classblogmeister.com – Blog site (teacher can control)

www.kidblog.org – Blog site (teacher can control)

www.glogster.com – create an online poster

www.bighugelabs.com – lots of tools to create posters, cards, letters etc

www.voicethread.com – a visual collaboration tool

www.wordle.net – visual way to lay out words

www.tagxedo.com – a wordle in the shape of a picture

www.storyjumper.com – create a book online

www.blabberize.com – make any picture “talk”

www.voki.com – create your own online person

www.kerpoof.com – multiple options include card & picture making, video making

www.animoto.com – create a video using your pictures and their music

www.photopeach.com – create a video using your pictures and their music

www.jogtheweb.com – put any number of sites along with instructions or helpful hints - one of my favorites!

www.delicious.com – online bookmarks (more for the staff then students)

http://metaatem.net/words/ (spell with flickr javascript program)

www.evernote.com – copy info from multiple online sources and keep it all in one place

www.dropbox.com – have copies of files on multiple computers

www.easybib.com – be able to create a bibliography with multiple sources

www.audacity.com – voice recorder program for podcasts

iTunes podcasts and iTunes University – professional development (more for staff then students)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Gaming in Education Research/Information


Chris and I have a presentation coming up to some of our fellow teachers who are interested in using the Wii in the classroom. So, besides just playing with the console, we wanted to provide some research to back up the use of the Wii in the classroom. We don't just use it as a reward or even as something fun to do before the kids go home on Friday afternoon (although we do sometimes play on Friday afternoon and the students do have fun)! There is a lot of research (including our research on this blog) that shows the benefits of using the console in the classroom.
While this isn't an exhaustive list, and they are not all specifically about the Wii console, it should give anybody interested plenty of ammunition to bring to their principals when asking if they can bring a "game" into their classroom! And, if you want to leave a comment telling us how that conversation went, please feel free! Good Luck!

Software and Information Industry Association has info on Best Practices for using games and simulations in the classroom: http://www.siia.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=207:games&catid=159:education-articles&Itemid=190

Value of Games in Education: a Case Study: http://www.ictineducation.org/home-page/2010/1/21/the-value-of-games-in-education-a-case-study.html

Games in Education: http://www.ictineducation.org/home-page/2010/10/20/games-in-education.html

Education and Simulation/Computers and Gaming: http://seayj.people.cofc.edu/cb/simgames.html?referrer=webcluster&

Drill Down: Gaming in Education: http://thejournal.com/articles/2011/01/11/drill-down-gaming-in-education.aspx

Wii Standards at the Primary Level: http://primarypete.net/wii-foundation-objectives

Gaming and Education: http://blogs.cisco.com/virtualworlds/gaming_and_education/

Learning by Playing: Video Games in Education: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/19/magazine/19video-t.html

Are Video Games Educational?: http://www.education.com/magazine/article/Video_Games_Educational/

Video Games in Education: http://socialstudiescentral.com/?q=content/video-games-education

Wii in School for You and Mii: http://www.examiner.com/education-news-in-national/wii-school-for-you-and-mii

Government Backs Wii in Schools: http://www.mcvuk.com/news/29447/Government-backs-Wii-in-schools

Why Wii in a School Library?: http://ashworth.wordpress.com/2008/07/31/why-wii-in-a-school-library/


Big Brain Academy: http://mimanifesto.wordpress.com/2009/03/14/big-brain-academy-cathkin-learning-community/

Wii in the Classroom: http://www.teachhub.com/news/article/cat/14/item/607

Wii Debuts in D.C. Schools: http://www.myfoxdc.com/dpp/news/031209_wii_in_dc_school

Wii Love Learning: http://www.edutopia.org/ikid-wii-gaming-technology-classroom

Educational Wii Games for 2010: http://www.squidoo.com/Educational-Wii-Games

50 Ways to Use the Wii in your Library: http://oedb.org/library/features/50-ways-to-use-wii-in-library

What are the Benefits of Gaming in Elementary Education: http://www.ehow.com/about_5048410_benefits-games-elementary-learning.html

The Many Benefits of Video Games: http://www.sandradodd.com/videogames/

Report Touts Educational Benefits of Computer Games: http://www.edweek.org/dd/articles/2009/06/23/04games.02.html

Edte.ch Blog: http://edte.ch/blog/category/wii/

Arcademic Skill Builders Site with games that use the Wii controllers: http://www.arcademicskillbuilders.com/wii/

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Amazing Race Game

The newest game we have utilized with the middle school students is the Amazing Race game for the Wii. The students really enjoyed this game and I was impressed with the amount of critical thinking skills needed to play and the increase in cooperative skills the students showed as the game progressed. Listed below are benefits I found inherit in the game (I am sure there are more, these are the ones that popped out at me the first time through) and a step by step guide to play in a classroom setting. This game seemed to be able to use competition in a positive way to encourage students to excel and work together to the team's best advantage.

Benefits

a.. Great for cooperative learning/ skills

b.. Students learned quickly to work together in order to improve their scores/time/performance

c.. Worked on student oral communication with peers

d.. Students thought rapid fire challenges were exciting

e.. Challenges encouraged students to use critical thinking/ higher order thinking skills

f.. Some challenges were physical in nature and allowed students the ability to utilize kinesthetic skills

g.. Possible geography/research extension activity in reference to destinations in the game

h.. This is a very quick moving game which allows it to maintain student attention throughout game play

Game Play

1.. You can choose two ways to play: individual players against each other or teams of two working together against computer or other teams

2.. You can also choose how many legs of the race you want to play, the more legs the longer the game play.

3.. We played with teams of two working together against the computerized teams

4.. This method got more students involved at one time; however with the amount of people per team, it took some time for students to figure out the best system of working together.

5.. Teams choose female or male faces and then the type of team they want to be; for example, sporty, couch fans, military, gothic, etc. Students had a great time in this part of the game.

6.. Next there is an introduction to the game and some brief instructions.

7.. Teams are given an allowance of money for each leg of the race and then given four options of transportation. Students need to evaluate the best option based on time and money available. The objective of the game is to take the least amount of time to arrive at the chosen destination, so students need to decide which mode of transportation to take and how much money they are willing to spend on it.

8.. Once the mode of transportation is chosen, the teams watch as their virtual teams makes their way to the given destination and see in which order the teams arrived.

9.. There is a brief introduction to the place in which the teams have arrived (some places we have encountered so far: Rome, Rio, New Zealand), accompanied by images from the area.

10.. After each challenge of the game, the teams are listed in order by the amount of time they have taken up to that point. This order also lets the teams know how they are ranked in the game.

11.. There is a challenge, either physical or mental, at each destination. Students work together to accomplish the tasks in the least amount of time as possible. Some of the challenges involve both teams at the same time and some have the teams work individually.

12.. At the end of all the legs of the race, teams are put in their final order. The last team to arrive to the last destination is eliminated from the race.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

So, what have we been doing?


So here it is, the new calendar year and I haven't written anything in over 3 months. What in the world have we been doing in the classroom? Have Chris and I just been overwhelmed with other things and haven't gotten back to the Wii? Did we had a breakdown and were not able to get the console working again? Are we just siting around eating bon-bons? Well, thankfully the answer on to all three questions is NO! While we haven't been able to get to the Wii as often as initially anticipated, we have been keeping up on a fairly regualar basis. Much of what we did with the console at the beginning of the school year took some time to complete (more on that in a minute). We are still actively using the system in the classroom and I will be updating with greater frequency as we prepare to share findings, tricks, and best practices with fellow colleagues. The first game we used this school year is called Big Brain Academy. Basically, you can test each student in 5 categories - identify, memorize, analyze, computer, and visualize. The game has a series of 3 different games for each of the categories. As you complete each task the computer keeps score of your speed and accuracy with your answers. At the end you are presented with your brain size. Your brain size is shown as an overall score - all the points from each test added up to give you an "overall grade". The other visual you get (which is the one that I personally like) is one of your strengths and weaknesses. You can easily see which of the 5 activities you identify with the best (for example, while the person in this picture has the highest score in the analyze category you can also see that he/she is about the same in the 4 other categories). This can be helpful in learning about your students strengths and weaknesses in your classroom. It is just another tool that teachers can use.

Some more information about the 3 games in each of the categories:

1. Identify: Which are there more of - you are given a dark picture and a flashlight and you have to quickly choose which animal there are more of on the screen (pictured). What is this - You have a picture of something which becomes apparent small boxes or bars at a time. The quicker you can recognize what it is the more points you get, and Wack a Mole - you are presented with certain images at the top of the screen. You have to hit the mole that is holding up the same shape as the design at the top while not hitting the moles that have incorrect shapes.

2. Memorize: Follow the birdie - you have birds in a cage which get covered up and moved around. You have to follow the birds as they move and then choose where they end up. (pictured) Which appeared - you are shown a picture with different people (sometimes multiple people) and different facial expressions. After a few seconds the picture disappears and you have to choose which person and face was shown. Reverse pattern - you are shown a pattern of letters or pictures and you must recreate the pattern, in reverse order. The sound effects make this one even more fun!

3. Analyze: make same pattern - . Choose 1 of 4 pictures - Block Pattern (pictured) - In this game you are given blocks in a shape which spin around at the top of the screen. You have to try and find its match from the 4 choices given (which are also spinning at different rates and directions).

4. Compute: Balloon Pop - (pictured) there are balloons on the page each with different numbers on them (including negative numbers). You must pop the balloons in order from lowest to highest. Basket Catching - Red and blue balls enter the screen and get caught in baskets. You have to tell which basket has more balls in it. Sum Up - This game you have 3 or 4 numbers and are given a total to reach. You must remove the numbers that aren't necessary to hit the results.

5. Visualize: picture match - You have two pictures on the screen, identical except that there are things missing on one of them. You have to put the missing information in the correct place to match the pictures. Some of the pictures may be mirror images or backwards for an extra twist. Which is different - You have one picture that is moving and you must match which of the other 3 match the original one. Train Exit - (pictured)You are looking at an overhead view of a train track which is missing links to get to the finish. You must put in the correct direction on the track so the train gets to the finish without crashing. The train will start to move after a few seconds to make sure that you move along.

Some other options to play include:
Mental Marathon-you can choose your category, activity and level and try to get as many correct answers in a row. You can have students compete against each other or have each one answer a different question and see how far they can go.
Brain Quiz-you get 12 games to play at different levels. You have no choices here on the games. There is a time limit and the goal is to get as many as you can correct. If you get one wrong you are done.
Mind Sprint-You race against your best time or against another student's best time. You can choose category difficulty and activities.

Now, having given all this information there are a few points to consider. You can only have 8 Miis on the game at any one time. Any more than that and you have to remove somebody - so there is no way you could do a whole class and keep track of them all. You would have to use something else to track your scores and grades and show some progress (an assignment making graphs using Excel would fit nicely here). Also, there are options to play as both a single player or as a group so you can group them up and play as one team. We actually split the class up and have some up front working on the Wii while others are doing other assignments. We have also found cheaper options that you can download from the Wii site (Brain Train) that are similar in scope (but not as complete in usage) but that will be a post for another day.