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Showing posts from February, 2014

The promise & reality of GBL in Science

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Though I am not a Science teacher, Science was by far my favorite subject in school. I enjoyed the occasional English class, but Science was awesome. I loved labs in Chemistry, Biology, and Geology. Somehow I missed Physics (probably when I took AP Biology), but I bet I would have loved that too.

The sad fact is, that due to shrinking budgets, time constraints, and, at times, facilities constraints, Science class in many schools is less and less about actual science and more and more about textbook reading and information recall. This is where games and simulations are coming in to fill the gaps. I get that a game is never going to replace real research and lab work, but it is certainly a better substitute than worksheet packets.

My school building has added two new Science teachers for next year. I would love to be able to share some great game based learning resources with them. That got me thinking, what would I recommend? What's out there? What is the current state of game ba…

Better classrooms by design

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Classroom design is a topic I just can't stop thinking about. My regular readers will know that I'm a bit obsessed with all things design. Being such a grid-loving, whitespace-promoting, typeface-discerning, color-monitoring design-nerd has caused me to begin to notice how poorly we've designed our learning spaces.

It has taken me so long to get to this topic because my primary readers are teachers. As teachers, I feel, we have the least control over how our classrooms are designed. We have no control over the size and shape of our room. We can't paint. We can't change or add lighting. We can't even pick our furniture. If you're a computer lab teacher, like me, you are even more limited, particularly if your room was designed with drop poles (Mine are rammed right in the center of my room).  There are, however, a few things we can do and can stop doing, right now, to improve the environment of our classroom.

The Problem with Classroom Design
Everything come…

Fixing Teach with Portals issues.

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I must say that when I learned abut Steam for Schools, I was totally stoked. In my classroom it has been nothing short of awesome. Unfortunately, lately the SFS initiative has looked a bit like one of the dilapidated Aperture test facilities at the start of Portal 2. Valve isn't feeling the love for those of us wandering in the wilds of Public Ed. For those of you who signed up and are experiencing multiple crash issues, connection errors, and myriad other issues, here's how I got my Portal 2 installs back up and running. If you have to do this on 30 workstations, pack an extra sandwich (or potato) and plan to stay late after school.