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Digital Games in my Classroom

I enjoy playing video games and I like to discuss different video games that I know my students play and I happen to play too. Speaking my students’ language allows me the opportunity to build a rapport with them at the beginning of the year. I have been interested in adding game-based learning in my class, like the keyboarding teacher does. However, I did not see the advantage of game-based learning until now.

The three articles that I found share the same viewpoints as to the advantages of game-based learning. Those advantages that the authors discuss are: the games engage the learners, the students develop skills, such as hand-eye coordination, and the games can help with a student’s memory capacity. Each of the authors discuss other advantages that are only found in their article that are equally important, such as “computer & simulation fluency,” (Jones, n.d.) and “immediate feedback,” (Peters, 2016).

I teach sixth science and social studies and I’m always trying new things every year, especially if it will engage my students. I have not tried any games in science yet, but I plan to next year with the new curriculum adoption. I found some games that I feel the students will be asking to play over and over. However, for social studies this year I had my students play a game through Discovery Education called “Maya Math.” At first, the students found it quite difficult because the Mayans had a base 20 system. Once they became familiar with it, the students really enjoyed it. In fact, I had a student finish the game that night at home.

I know for me that games have helped me develop new skills, so when it applies to students and their learning, I am willing to try it. Joe Peters writes, “Game-based learning allows kids to develop cognitive, social and physical skills simultaneously. This learning enhances essential life skills like cooperation and teamwork. The knowledge and skills acquired through game-based learning are retained longer than information from other learning methods” (2016). Students continue to ask to play the “Maya Math” game, weeks after we have finished the unit. My hope is that my science students will do the same thing with the games I have found to play using the new curriculum that has been adopted.

Jones explains how it helps a child’s memory by stating, “games often revolve around the utilization of memorization  This not only relates to games whereby children have to remember aspects in order to solve the game, memorize critical sequences, or track narrative elements” (n.d.). Peters adds, “

each time children play the same game, they perform cognitive actions such as recalling the rules, keeping track of hazards and remembering how the sequence of play works” (2016). I know for me that it requires a lot of memorization to play some of the games I like to play. As I have watched my students play “Nitro Type,” students are required to recall what they have been learning in their keyboarding class. The students are working at speed and accuracy as they type to make their cars race faster against their opponents. They do not have time to look at their keys if they want to win the race. So, this game requires a lot of concentration and memorization of the keys.

“Nitro Type” would also fall under what Jones called the computer and fluency. She states, “this is something which is very important because we live in a world which is dominated by technology. Playing on games via the internet allows children the license to get used to how a computer works and thus it becomes second nature to them” (n.d.). At the beginning of the year, I can tell which students have a computer at home at which of them that do not. However, it does not take them very long to become familiar with how to use the laptops that I have for my social studies curriculum.

Another advantage that the students receive immediate feedback. Peters states that “learners benefit from the immediate feedback that takes place during game playing. Instead of having to wait days or even weeks for an assignment or test grade, students get instantaneous results about whether or not they made a good decision” (2016). I know for me that I wanted to know how well I did on an assignment or a test. Today, we live in a world that wants instant gratification, and waiting for test results are not fast enough for them. So when students can see how well they are doing on their game or check their achievement level, it helps them fulfill that need for instant gratification.

These are all great advantages to use game-based learning in my classroom. As I am searching for games that I can utilize next year, I have caught myself playing the games too. I have been looking for games that are engaging to my students, continue to teach them the content that they have been learning throughout the lessons, and provide immediate feedback. Now I am off to play “Missions To Planet Earth” ( I think I will set it to easy this time.


Jones, C. (n.d.). 6 basic benefits of game-based learning. Teachthought. Retrieved from:

Peters, J. (2016). 5 main advantages of game-based learning. Bright Hub Education. Retrieved from:

Stathakis, R. (2013). Five reasons to use games in the classroom. Education World. Retrieved from:


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Scaffolding in PBL

After reading the article “Scaffolding in PBL” by Jamie McKenzie, I realized that I did not go into as much detail as I could have when I shared some scaffolding techniques in my PBL. For example, McKenzie states that when it comes to research on the internet, “teachers have little tolerance for ‘data smog’ and ‘Infoglut.’ They want to see students putting their energy into interpretation rather than wandering” (1999). I addressed this by saying in my student learning guide, “if students are struggling in their research, suggest that they research natural resources of Mesopotamia” (2018). I could have easily found a list of resources for the students to use for their research. This would reduce the amount of off task behaviors and wandering aimlessly on the internet.

In the article, McKenzie suggests that teachers should provide examples of quality work so that it clarifies the teacher’s expectations. For my list of scaffolding strategies, I would share an example of a map that they would be completing. However, since this would be the first time, it would be one that I create. I only mentioned it one time on the student learner guide. I feel that I would do this throughout the PBL, because it helps students to aim at a target as they are working on their assignments.

I do, however, feel that the organization of the project and the scaffold of the tasks provide the support students will need to succeed throughout the project. I start with an easy concept to understand, creating a map, to a more difficult concept, creating a video with narration that they write. This provides clear direction of the project and it creates momentum for the students to succeed. Also, each step of the way the students will hand in a slide that they complete for a task. This will give me the opportunity to see how the students are doing as they complete the project. If I notice a student or group of students are struggling with a concept, then I could use that time to remediate and reteach them. Then the students can re-do the slide for a better grade and show that they understand the concept.

I feel that before my project is finished and ready to turn in, I will review the student learning guide to determine what I could change on it. Scaffolding is important for the teacher to address for the students, because it gives every student an equal opportunity to do well on the project. Scaffolding also helps students with understanding the content that is being taught.

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Assessment and PBL

Assessments help the teacher know if the students learned the concepts that were taught. If they did not learn it, the assessment shows what standard or standards the students are struggling to grasp so the teacher can remediate. For my PBL (Survival), I have two different types of assessments: formative and summative. So what are formative and summative assessments? In the article, “What is the difference between formative and summative assessment?”, the author writes that “formative assessments are generally low stakes, which means that they have low or no point value” and adds that “the goal of formative assessment is to monitor student learning to provide ongoing feedback that can be used by instructors to improve their teaching and by students to improve their learning.” (Carnegie Mellon University, 2016).

For the formative assessments I will be using two different types. First students will be taking vocabulary and content quizzes throughout the PBL to check for understanding. This is the first level in Bloom’s Taxonomy of high level thinking skills. The other type will be from the analysis and/or synthesis levels of the taxonomy. For each task, students will be creating slides that they will be using for a Paper Slides video at the end of the PBL unit. However students will turn in their slides as they complete them so that I can check for their understanding of the content.

Summative assessments, according to the article, “are often high stakes, which means that they have a high point value” and “the goal of summative assessment is to evaluate student learning at the end of an instructional unit by comparing it against some standard or benchmark” (Carnegie Mellon University, 2016). For the summative assessment, students will be using their slides to create a Paper Slides video. Groups of three students work together to create slides with images that explain a certain topic. Then they write a narration that explains the concept or topic for each slide. One student films the video, another reads the narration, and the other student removes the slides to reveal the next slide. As I grade the videos, I will use a rubric and a list of the standards to make sure each student has achieved the goals. Because I will be collecting the slides as they work on each of the tasks (ten in total), I will be monitoring their progress. If there is something missing or misunderstood, I can remediate to help the student understand the concept he or she is struggling with.

I feel that my planned assessments will meet the key requirements for effective assessments. First, the assessments are for my students. As students are working on the Paper Slides video, they can choose which slide to add to it. If they do not feel that any of the slides from the three members would be sufficient for their video, they can create another slide for it. Also, the assessments will reflect what the students are doing in the class. The tasks are checking for understanding and preparing them for the summative assessment. Next, the students will know what the target will be because they will have access to the rubric and checklist. This will provide them a clear direction of what my expectations are. Finally, students can use their score and my comments to reflect on where they could have improved their Paper Slide video or their slides for the video.


2016. What is the difference between formative and summative assessment? Carnegie Mellon University. Retrieved from:

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What have I learned this week as I wrote my Driving Question? What tools will I have students use?

As I was planning my unit last week, I already had thought of my driving question (How will you and your band survive and establish the first civilization?). The question came natural because of the concept (survival), that I was working on for my PBL. The list of  sub questions took me more time to think through than the driving question. I looked through the state standards and my school district’s curriculum guide to help me identify the list of ten sub questions for my PBL. The sub questions are as follows: 1. What natural resources would you and your band look for as you migrate out of Africa?;2. Where will you settle? Why? What are the physical features of the location you chose?;3. What is the division of labor? What is specialization? How do you divide the jobs? What jobs will you need to create?; 4. How do you establish a steady supply of food? How did the invention of agriculture meet the basic needs? What tools would your band need to cultivate the land? How would you water your crops once they are planted?;5. What is domestication? What types of plants and animals will you domesticate?;6. What are the six characteristics of a civilization?;7. What is social hierarchy? How will you organize your social classes? What will their responsibilities be?;8. What type of government will you establish? Will it be a monarchy or an empire? What are the pros and cons for each type?; 9. What deities would your civilization develop from the initial worship of nature?; and 10 How has each of the characteristics helped your band survive and develop the first civilization?Some of the questions required more details to help prompt the students so they could answer the questions.

As for the tools the students will be using several different types for the PBL First, my social studies class is a 1:1 using Lenovo laptops. Students use the laptop to access their online textbook through Discovery Education. The text is written at their grade level, but they can access the same information, but written below grade level if they struggle understanding the content. Students will be researching on the internet for the different topics that they will be studying. When the students research the characteristics of a civilization, they will be creating either a PowerPoint presentation or Prezi presentation as a group. For the Paper Slides video, students will be using their own devices to record their videos. Throughout the PBL, students will be exposed to different tools that will help them succeed each step of the process.

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PBL: Developing My Project Idea

I have had more time to research and think about what I want to do for my project. I was going to do a PBL for ancient Rome. However, I feel that it would be too intimidating for my first project. So I have decided to do a Survivor PBL for our Early Humans unit. It would take place right after the Paleolithic time period, when the early man has to move from Africa due to the climate changes and their food supply migrating.

One of the PBL plans that I found interesting on the BIE website was The Amazing Race. I do not think I will be able to adapt it to my project because I am doing something different. I did find a PBL resource from Teachers Pay Teachers website called “Island Survival” that might work better with my project idea. I am looking forward to developing my idea as the semester progresses.

How do you think PBL will fit into my teaching? I fell that PBL would fit well into my teaching. A few summers ago in a STEM workshop, I actually learned about PBL and I wanted to try it. However, I did not know how to get started. Then I started my Masters work at BSU and put PBL on hold until now. I’m also on the textbook adoption committee for science and one of the resources has a PBL for every topic. The one part I am struggling with will be the lack of total control of the classroom. However, once I try one PBL I feel confidant that my uneasiness will disappear, especially when I see how engaged my students will be with this project.

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Social Media In the Classroom

For this week’s Blog, we had to look at social media in the classroom and state whether we support a walled garden or not. Click on the link below to view my VoiceThread discussion on this topic. Resources are listed below.

VoiceThread Link


Crowley, B. (2015). “Connecting a classroom: Reflections on using social media with my students. Education Week Teacher. Retrieved from:

Dunckley, M.D., V. (2017). Why social media is not smart for middle school kids. Psychology Today. Retrieved from:

Griffin, M. (2013). The traveling scrapbook project. The Global Classroom Project. Retrieved from:

Hirsch, M.D. (2014). Teaching kids to be smart about social media. Kidshealth. Retrieved from:

Schmidt, T. (2013). Making global connections: The Edmodo pen pal project. Edmodo Blog. Retrieved from:

Tomaszewski, J. (2011). Do texting and Facebook belong in the classroom? Education World. Retrieved from:

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Acceptable Use Policies

What is an Acceptable Use Policy?

Over the past five years or more, there has been a push to use more technology in the classroom. Whether that technology is a PC, their own devices, or other devices with internet access, technology use is on the rise. Educators and parents alike are aware of the dangers that students have access to as they are on the internet. Students are exposed to inappropriate images, obscene words, violence and people that pose a threat to the students’ innocence. “One strategy that many schools use to defuse such dangers is a student Acceptable Use Policy, or AUP, for the Internet” (Education World, 2009). An AUP has two purposes for students and those are to protect students from harmful situations or content and to provide them with access to good digital content to support their learning (Bosco, 2013).

What should be included in an Acceptable Use Policy?

According to the National Education Association (NEA), an Acceptable Use Policy should include six key elements. Those elements include the following: preamble, a definition section, a policy statement, and acceptable uses section, an unacceptable uses section, and a violations or sanctions section” (Education World, 2009). Each of the elements has its own purpose for the AUP. For example, the preamble explains the goals and the students’ overall code of conduct while using the technology. Another example is the unacceptable uses section of the policy. It “should give clear, specific examples of what constitutes unacceptable student use” (Education World, 2009). Education World adds that “among the sites that might be off limits to students are chat rooms and term paper vendors. In addition, AUPs often prohibit students from sending, forwarding, or posting sexually explicit messages, profanity, and harassing or violent messages” (2009).

The policy should take into account any Federal guidelines that have been established to protect students. Children’s Online Privacy Protection (COPPA) rule was written in 1998 to provide protection for children under thirteen against internet sites collecting personal information. In 2000 the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) to help protect students accessing obscene or harmful content. The CIPA filters out the content that students should not be accessing. If school districts are in compliance with the COPPA or CIPA laws, then they receive a discount for their E-rate. Another policy the AUP should consider is your state’s cyberbullying laws to help protect students from being bullied while they are online.

When should the policy be updated?

It depends on the school district, but it should be updated regularly. According to James Bosco, “there are two reasons why regular district updating may be useful. The first is to keep up-to-date with new developments…The second reason is to perpetuate ownership of them by those who will be most affected by the policy. Effective policies do not live on paper. They live in the consciousness of those who are affected by the policies. Updating can help bring AUP policies from a document stored in the district server to understandings that shape behavior” (2013). My school district updated its Acceptable Use Policy in 2011. However, the Technology team has been working on revising it since last year. Click on link to find a copy of our my district’s AUP.

Here are three other links to other district’s AUP:

Medford Public Schools in Medford, MA:

It discusses plagiarism and violating copyright in their AUP.

Greenville County Schools in Greenville, SC:

Their policy provides clear expectations for their students.

Clark County School District in Las Vegas, NV:

This policy addresses staff members, students, and community members that have interact with the district.


Bosco, J. (2013). Rethinking Acceptable Use Policies to enable digital learning: A guide for school districts. Retrieved from

Education World (2009). Getting started on the internet: Developing an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). Retrieved from

Federal Communications Commission. (2017). Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). Retrieved from

Federal Trade Commision. (n.d.). Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA). Retrieved from