Tuesday, November 11, 2014

EduGame Reviews - Now Playing at My English Jams YouTube Channel!

One of the most baffling questions heading into the school year for our role as Technology Integrators was how Educator Effectiveness would look for our unique position. What should an SLO look like for our team? What is a realistic PPG goal? How will we be assessed when we don't have a traditional classroom?

However, my administrator broke things down into the most simple terms for the Professional Practice Goal: what is going to keep you coming to work?

This kind of question is what drives me as an educator: why do I come to work? For the majority of educators, it is the knowledge that between 20-150 students are counting on you to bring your A-game every day and push them to be better. But what happens when you don't have that situation?

For me, the answer was simple - I wanted a goal that reflected a passion I found in both students, staff, and myself. And, if that passion was not there, I wanted to cultivate it. What is that passion, you may ask? It is a passion I did not even realize had MAJOR educational implications today: Game-based learning.

One of the biggest points of confusion I have found in education is gamification versus game-based learning. While I love the concept of gamification (taking the game design principles of a game such as the accumulation of levels, points, team-based play, and fail-to-learn ideology and applying it to a classroom), I was much more intrigued with game-based learning (using games and simulations to enhance classroom instruction).

My goal became clear - help my district enhance the amount of people comfortable with implementing game-based learning, start after-school programs, and offer more and more professional development related to game-based learning.

So where to begin? Thankfully, I have a variety of coworkers who are on board with the change. I have a feeling many more blog posts are on the horizon related to these joint projects with other integrators, other educators, and even our district programmers are getting in on the fun (more on this to come)! In the interim, however, I am taking to YouTube to help begin the conversation about game-based learning.

This past summer, I started my English Jams YouTube Channel as a way to share flipped lessons about English-Language Arts concepts using songs and music as a "hook." While I love making those videos, I wanted to expand my scope a bit in relation to my PPG goal. Starting with the video below, I am making video reviews of edugames that I think might be of interest to teachers across a variety of subject areas and genres. Feel free to watch my first entry below on a flash game called "The Golden Hour".


To make this video, I used Quicktime's Screen Recorder function to capture my gameplay of "The Golden Hour". Next, I dropped the video into PhotoBooth's last page of its "effects" tab, and then used its green screen function to insert myself into the game. What I like about using PhotoBooth's green screen effect is that I can see what is happening behind me in the video as a I record, so it is easier to make reference to the action behind me (think weather man with the interactive map behind him on the news). 

I added a few bells and whistles in iMovie such as the 4/5 stars image overlay (make sure you search out a .png file for this, otherwise your .jpg will come with an ugly border around it), as well as some explanation text placed on top of the footage. I am hoping to put out a text or video review every other week if possible, but I also want to invite other educators to join me on this adventure. Post your own review of ANYTHING education - edugame, tech tool, learning resource, etc. Make it a blog post, video, whatever medium you want. The more dialogue we create about these tools, the more exposure we can bring to great teaching.

I also would love ideas. Any edugames that you want reviewed? Any suggestions to make the reviews more beneficial? I am not married to my current structure (overview of game, age range, pros, cons, overall score), so if you have ideas, send me a comment, message... anything!