Tag Archives: ISTE

My Brainpop

One of the booths I visited at the massive ISTE expo this week was the Brainpop booth.  I got my picture taken with Moby, the famous Brainpop “mascot”, but, trust me, you don’t want to see it.  This one is much better (Moby is on your right):

BrainPOP_Product_Sheet

I haven’t shared a lot about Brainpop on this blog because most of its resources are based on purchasing a subscription.  There is a free app with featured videos that can be viewed, though, and you can get a free 30-day trial.  It also has a fabulous and free “GameUp” section which I have mentioned on this blog, and I still highly recommend it.  The games tie very well into school curriculum.

I think the subscription ($1200/yr. for school-wide access) is well worth it, and I rarely say that about subscriptions.  If you can convince your school, district, or PTA to fund one, I think you will find that it is money well spent.  There is a treasure trove of animated videos that are very engaging for kids, quizzes, accompanying worksheets and activities, and lesson plans for teachers.

The reason I am mentioning all of this today, however, is that Brainpop has an exciting new feature, called My Brainpop,  coming down the pipe later this year  (in time for the 2013-2014 school year), which will allow you to really utilize it for differentiation.  You will be able to add classes, track your students’ progress on quizzes and games, and even personalize your own quizzes.  This is a huge benefit.  Although it does not sound like they will be offering the ability to assign specific videos to different students, I am hoping this feature will be added in the future.

If you have never tried Brainpop, I urge you to check out the free trial.  And, if your school does have a full subscription, you might want to think about how you can use this new feature to your advantage during this upcoming school year!

Advertisements

What Does Massive Multiplayer Thumb Wrestling Have to Do With Teaching?

courtesy of Dr. McGonigal at ISTE 2013 Keynote, San Antonio, TX
courtesy of Dr. McGonigal at ISTE 2013 Keynote, San Antonio, TX

I have the good fortune of attending the International Society for Technology in Education annual conference in San Antonio this week. Last night, Dr. Jane McGonigal gave the opening keynote to around 6000 of us, and we might have broken a world record for thumb wrestling.

If you have not heard of Dr. McGonigal, you might want to see my previous post about her or go directly to her TED talk.  Her studies on the effect of gaming in education are fascinating.  In last night’s lecture, she made a good case for how we can utilize the positive aspects of gaming to our advantage in the classroom.  She spoke a lot about the importance of engagement in learning, and the fact that our students become less engaged as they move higher in our educational system.  Integrating gaming with our lessons could help us to change that.  The picture above shows one of her slides on the 10 positive effects of gaming, and I think every teacher would like to see that mirrored in the classroom.

McGonigal’s work is controversial because so many people have pre-conceived notions about gaming.  What’s important to note, though, is that you do not have to use actual video games to reproduce their significant qualities.  By convincing her entire audience to participate in a massive multiplayer thumb wrestling game for 60 seconds, McGonigal was able to evoke the same emotions.  We can do this in our classrooms by emulating the positive characteristics of popular video games – choice, control, collaboration, challenge, problem solving.  There are some great educational video games that can be used, but we can also create the type of environment that will have virtually the same effect with less dependence on technology.  Whether you choose to use electronics or do it the old-fashioned way, you can “gamify” your classroom  and aim to awaken all 10 of the emotions above in every student each and every day.