Archives For Gaming

Spoiler Alert to #tieco13: This is a sample from the the presentation I will be giving tomorrow with Master LaPlante!

Logan LaPlante is an incredible person who is doing amazing things and will do amazing things in the future.




He is a super communicator, highly adaptable, embraces change, is highly connected and positive.  On YouTube, his TED talk has over 200,000 views with 4,000 likes. A top comment on the video says “You guys, seriously we should all do hack schooling if it turns out kids like this” and I am compelled to agree.  His current and future success, as he points out, are also due in large part to his mom and dad, David and Jessica. I commend them for doing what feels right for their child and for having the courage to seek a path less followed for Logan.  I do believe that being happy and healthy is a worthy goal. Plus, if you are a hacker in the traditional computer sense, you live in a world that has a surprising abundance of humour and laughter. In Logan’s case, I also appreciate the emphasis on creating a life and not just working to create a living.  I think all of us want an opportunity to live a full life.  The eight strategies for happy and healthy living from Dr. Roger Walsh makes for an interesting list to consider.  I noticed that the Colorado Department of Education has adopted the Common Core State Standards Initiative back in August 2010 and full implementation is expected by next school year 2013-2014.
Since I am speaking in Colorado, I went looking online at the “Comprehensive Health” curriculum  I found the word “happy” once and the word “stress” or “stressor” 35 times. The word happy was as an example for how to deal with stress.
Happy vs. Stress
I think the educators and policy makers in the state of Colorado might want to take a page from Logan LaPlante and work on being happy as opposed to finding ways to deal with stress. To me this seems like working on healthy eating as opposed to effective weight loss and dieting.  Relaxation and stress management is one category of the 8 Therapeutic Lifestyle changes or TLC. I would expect to see many curriculum standards for exercise as well as diet and nutrition if I were to go through the curriculum.  But what about the other 6: time in nature (perhaps in sciences), contribution and service, relationships, recreation, and religious and spiritual. Should these be the responsibility of public schools?  Is it reasonable to make happiness a core part of the curriculum?

Imagine this: Your child is amazing at playing video games, much to your chagrin.  Your child spends hours on the games and has become especially adept at driving games.  Your child turns 16 and learns to drive a real car. Guess what, your child is actually a much better driver than other non-video-game playing kids. In fact, your child is so good, they aren’t allowed to race in amateur race series.

What?  (This moment you should be giving your head a shake).

While you read the details below, consider the following: “Child banned from provincial EQAO testing: Video game reading skills too high.”


Photo Credit: DeclanTM via Compfight cc

The game is called Grand Turismo and the very best players, selected at Nissan’s GT Academy are not allowed to race at British GT.

Why? Because the amateur racers are too fast! Read more here.


Photo Credit: andrewrennie via Compfight cc

I am watching a documentary about Minecraft and it’s founding company Mojang. I am realizing how very late to the party I am. While it may be part of the genre of documentary to make something small seem like a really big deal, I really don’t think that is the case. In case you were not aware, Minecraft is kind of a big deal.

Minecraft: The Story of Mojang Official Trailer

It is amazing to see Notch, Markus Alexej Persson, the creator of Minecraft do his programming. He is flying around multiple screens looking at the code. It is increadible to see him looking at code and perfectly picturing what the code will look like. He then goes on to run the game and see if his predictive picture was correct. Isn’t this exactly the most awesome reading comprehension. Being a proficient reader is looking at this mess of letters and seeing a picture in your minds eye, then watching the story play out. I had a suspicion that programmers where the new scribes. Yes, the programmers are the printers of the new printing press. I figured as much. It’s amazing to see them work.

So, I wonder. What would programming look like at school? How might programming help readers of text? Might acquiring a second language, say in programming code, be as beneficitial to L1 (first language) as any other language? Could I get my students to program and understand the syntax of something larger?

Sounds nice, very fancy. But wait. It’s happening. How about Makey Makey?

Watch the video here. Yes, hyperlink provided since my programming is just developing and I am not sure I can embed the code. Yes, I see the irony and I am doing my best to accept it.

Then check out Little Bits and there video here.

I was talking about programming and neither of these products actually require programming. Please do not be disappointed. I believe the thinking of programming is there. I think these are like the board books for programming.

I am using Minecraft to teach measurement concepts this week. All my little students will turn into little Steve’s. I can’t wait.

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Gamified? Mooc! Blended?? Flipped!!!

Ed Speak by Branzburg

(click to see larger image: The Innovative Educator)

Thanks to The Innovative Educator Lisa Nielsen ( follow her on Twitter @InnovativeEdu)  for sharing this graphic by Jeff Branzburg (follow him on Twitter @branzburg, Blogging at

These are the big words that we are tweeting about and considering on our 2012/2013 lists of reflection and forward gazing. Forward gazing, navel gazing, personal devices gazing: how ever and where ever you are looking, you can’t avoid thinking about gaming and learning.

Thanks to @edkidsplay of Educational Kids Play for asking for my thoughts along several other tweeps (@ZapplePi @Robitaille2011 @schmidtjake @barb_seaton @davidfifeVP @chriswejr @datruss @marshatkelly @Kate_TL @TCDSB_21C_AICT)

Mr. Pai Gaming in the Classroom You Tube Video

Here Mr. Pai uses several handheld devices, computers and laptops to engage his students in gaming activities to work on multiplication, math facts, converting fractions and some reading activities (not shown).  I think this is a great way to practise basic math facts, and possibly for some decoding and spelling.  This is especially valuable if the students are practising at their own level in small groups and Mr. Pai is able to conduct small group instruction and assessments.  However,  where is the making?

Mr. Pai is doing a super job of engaging kids with tools they love and are familiar with to achieve success in the classroom. I applaud his sincere and honest efforts to augment education into something engaging and focused on outcomes.  As far as I can tell, however, gaming in this sense falls down on the students’ ability to create content.  We must be making stuff.

Hats off to companies for making spelling and multiplication games. This no doubt eases the conscience of the parent buyer (you know, you can learn on it too). Using devices that motivate children and using devices students are familiar with as levers for learning is noble.  But I want to talk about big “L” learning. Yeah, Learning.  Learning where you make stuff. Learning for the 21st century where you critically consume, converse and hack your projects with innovation and creativity.  Let’s use these tools for allowing us to help kids make, create and innovate.  Let these kids know that they do not simply need to be consumers.  No, kids can up-down-shift-a-a-a (that’s my talk for managing a controller) to working these devices into creation mode.

Let’s have a BigThink (plug for my new favourite consortium of ideas Big Think).  See The New Digital Literacy  by Jonathan Fowler and Elizabeth Rodd calling on an urgency for programmers to be thoughtful about the web that is being created.  We are the consumers of the web, and we as teachers filter for our students.  Filter wisely dear colleagues, filter wisely.  We must ensure a healthy diet of consuming (including gaming) and making.  Balancing the inputs with the outputs is essential. Though I would argue that we should be heavier on the outputs.

Into gaming?  Why not programming?  Let’s talk about Scratch. I want to see that in the classroom. Anyone interested?