Monday, July 29, 2013

Pinterest & Game-ifying: Teaching Tools

      I have been doing what I imagine a lot of teachers do over the summer: rest, relaxation, & then (right around mid-July), planning for the year ahead. I already have my curriculum map done (first thing I do before I officially start my summer break), but HOW I implement new projects and ideas is answered best by letting the inspiration percolate up throughout the summer. This summer, I started reading two different books, Teach Like a Pirate & The Multiplayer Classroom, and that got the creative teaching ideas flowing. First up, I decided to revamp my Pinterest boards. I generally use them as class resources thrown up on the Smartboard, but now, the "pirate" in me also decided that metacognitive openers would be a good idea, so I made a board for that. I had originally hoped for some funding for a robotics integration, but no luck thus far. I did find some cool resources online, though, which led me to create a "kinetic sculptures" board. I plan on introducing robotics principles of design within a scaffolded unit, we just won't be able to do any programming, which is actually okay since I am planning this unit for fifth grade. The game-ifying concept comes into play here, because I plan on making this unit similar to a "quest", with options and levels, which I hope will engage the students as much, if not more, than getting an actual robot to work.
      Additionally, I am getting the basic planning done for a huge collaborative tile mural the entire fourth grade will be doing. A partial grant for that came in near the end of last school year, too late for the kiln work to be done, but now this fall, we can get started. I still need to find a few volunteer tile setters, but I have faith that "if we build it..." This is very much a "pirate" concept. You can see the acronym below (citation:, and follow on Twitter #TLAP.
       I also went on a giant purge of "stuff", starting with our neighborhood garage sale at the beginning of the summer, giant pick-up of the leftovers at, then our whole family raided the bookcases and we hauled a bunch to "Half-Price Books" and got some cash. I had a lot of disappointing art ed books, that once I was past the newbie stage, really were just a waste of space. That led me to dive into my LP's, and let me tell you, once I started going through those, I realized how much better my planning and curriculum designing got as I became more experienced. Binders and binders of paper lessons got distilled into two "best of" binders, and I really recommend this process---highly reflective and informative. I eventually went back to my 2013/14 curriculum map, and compared it to the previous maps going back 12 years. Wow--so much more integrated, real-world, and generally, more open-ended now! I am relieved that the latest iteration of the c.m. falls right in line with passion, immersion, etc. I would have totally redone it if necessary, and was prepared to do so. I ended up just needing to fix the robot unit hook and get my resources prepped and stored online for easy access.
       So, I am very much looking forward to utilizing the boards I have updated, and in late fall, seeing how a game-based approach will work (man, that was never in the "Ed" books we had to read in grad school).  A lot of our teachers in our building are into doing a TLAP book study, so I will have nice support there. The game-ifying will be more difficult to implement, but I will post how it is going as the school year progresses.

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The Sketchbook Project

The Sketchbook Project: 2011

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