Posts

The Bald Sage's Complete Guide to Minecraft Game Design

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If you're a student looking for Game design help, skip ahead to the section, "Game Design with Minecraft EE". If you're a computer teacher who normally reads this blog as a part of professional growth, or just to make fun of me, feel free to read from the beginning.
The challengeYes, COVID-19 Strikes again
Recently, in my post, 5 Elements and Still Relevant, I explained that as far as an actual sound curriculum in Game Design that Middle School students can comprehend and apply, Gamestar Mechanic is the only game in town. It's the only thing that simply and concisely takes students through designing balanced games (games with flow), using 5 Elements of Game Design while essentially using Gamification and Game Based Learning to do it. NO OTHER TOOL TEACHES GAME DESIGNas a distinct discipline. Tynker doesn't teach it.Code.org doesn't teach it. Minecraft edu, as cool as it may be, doesn't teach it. Microsoft MakeCode Arcade doesn't teach it. Unity doe…

Corona, Computer Class, and Consolation

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Three lessons learned amidst a pandemic. Lesson 1: Computer Science Does Matter So, I'm going to open by saying that I have never been more convinced of the need for an actual "Computer Class". I'm painfully aware of this thanks to the global pandemic that is COVID-19. My Students have been sent home with their iPads, and I have been called upon to teach them my Computer Science Class remotely.

Over the last few years, as students have found themselves in possession of "devices" throughout their school day, thanks to 1:1 programs, usually with Chromebooks and iPads, many districts have sadly asked themselves the question, “Why do we need a computer class?”. Even more sadly, many have given up their Computer Science curriculum, at least in the K-8 realm. Hopefully, without sounding classist or making this a politically charged issue, I can make the assertion that iPads and Chrome Books, as well as the myriad smart phones that most people carry every day, ar…

What happened, Classcraft?

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So, my last post focused on including girls in esports and my willingness to take a hard look at my own mistakes and failings. This post focuses on engaging boys in school through gamification and a company we all love's unwillingness to do the same...  on to glory!
The success I decided to roll out Classcraft in all of my classes two years ago, and I have found it to be surprisingly effective. I've shared here in the past how not only do students take the health and experience of their characters very seriously, but they also strive to help their teams and classmates in general. One thing that continually surprised me was how much students crave XP (or experience points).

Remember, what I do with Classcraft has had no effect on student grades whatsoever. Yet, I've been able to attach points loss / gain consequences to my behavioral and procedural expectations via XP and HP. While these points don't matter in terms of students' grades, they do matter a great deal …

Gender, Ettiquette, Conduct, and ESportsmanship

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A brief look at my own failings and shortsightedness, and my attempts to course-correct before even beginning... 
Preparing to form an ESports team I am currently in the process of researching, planning, and hopefully implementing an ESports club or team for the HS / MS level at my school district, along with our new Superintendent and our Director of Technology. This is a more daunting challenge that one would expect. Don't get me wrong, NASEF along with the Emerald Foundation has everything in place that one would need to get started, but one must wait on administrative and board permission before hitting that "Activate" button. There are a lot of people that we need to have a "yes" from before we proceed. As a result I've had a lot of time to think about what I, and hopefully we, want this to look like, which is a good thing when vision casting for something completely new to your institution.

Ultimately, we're looking for an inclusive activity tha…

5 Elements and Still Relevant

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UPDATE: GSM put out a survey about the future!

::Take the survey::
Back in 2008 (seems like yesterday), E-Line Media in partnership with the Institute of Play, rolled out a new site, called Gamestar Mechanic, which was originally developed by Gamelab in partnership with the Academic Advanced Distributed Learning Co-Lab (AADL) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This is a site that aims to teach kids how to design their own games, with the premise that designing games builds:
Systems Thinking,21st Century Skills,Creative Problem Solving,Art and Aesthetics,Writing and Storytelling,and creates a motivation for STEM learning. If you've read my blog for any length of time, you will know that this is a tool that I consider to be indispensable. I was pretty new to teaching Computer Science in 2008. I had only been at it a year, and I was trying desperately to make the leap from programming (we were using Scratch for that back then with no manual or guide whatsoever) to students being …

10 Computer Class Tools you should be using right now!

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Engaging Middle School students is hard, even in the computer lab. In one of my recent posts, I mourned the loss of several great initiatives and tools that are no longer with us. As I looked over my contributions to the CSK8 (Computer Science K-8) community in this blog recently, I noted that a lot of what I was doing / promoting just two years ago, is completely antiquated now. On a positive note, though, it's 2019, and there are a lot of great new things to be excited about. As long as there are technology producers as well as consumers, computer class will remain very relevant, despite the prevalence of thin devices, such as iPads and ChromeBooks.

Let's take a look at 10 things you should be including in your computer class in 2019 and a few honorable mentions for the good of the cause...
Classroom Environment Today, I'd like to begin with Danielson's Domain 2, Classroom Environment, because sometimes the atmosphere we work in can profoundly affect the work itsel…

Gamification, Gamer Personality, and Match Making

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Back in 2010, when the concept of gamification was new to most of us, I remember trying to add game elements to my classroom. I remember being further inspired to do so my amazing TED talks from Dr. Jane Mcgonigal in 2010 and Gabe Zichermann in 2011. I remember discussing it with others in a group lead by Jeff Mummert. At that time, we felt like we were building gamification experiences out of duct tape and baler twine. Occasionally, we would discover a tool we could “splice” on to our classroom, but more often than not, our IT departments would block that tool almost as soon as we began using it.

Today, we are blessed to have myriad gamification tools for education available. Some of my favorites are Classcraft, ARIS, and Edmodo’s Badges, but there are a lot more. All of them scratch a specific gamification itch. Some scratch many. None, in my opinion, cover all bases.
The Premise I’d like to propose that the most successful gamification systems are modelled after MMORPG games or MO…