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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Maybe You Have What I Need?

Looking at the Mayan Temple model inspired a young boy's
desire to create a similar structure with Minecraft. 
Sometimes the ideas for change and growth come all at once. A couple of great tweets, a wonderful blog post, and collegial efforts inspire ideas for pushing the work I do forward. As an educator that's often challenging since there are many systems we have to navigate to make change, and some of what we desire may not even exist yet. However, simply noting what I desire helps me to be on the lookout for posts, examples, and paths to response. Hence, here's a list of tools and processes I'm looking for, and maybe you have what I need?

The young boy looked at the magnificent Mayan model at the Harvard Peabody Museum in Cambridge. "I want to build that in Minecraft," he said as he examined the model. I felt a twang since I've wanted to embed Minecraft into the curriculum, but it is still not allowed at my school. I feel especially strong about this since the children who use Minecraft at home seem so much more adept at math than those who haven't experienced the tool. I want to give all students that chance to build and see in 3-D with a focus on the attributes of materials.  An expert described Minecraft to me as Legos X 1,000,000 and we all know how good our Legomaniacs are at math and science.  Another expert expressed the English language arts value of teams of students working together on Minecraft. Do you employ Minecraft in your curriculum, and if you do, how did you make it happen?

I'll be teaching Earth and space science soon. What I'd really like is a game to teach this. I was reminded of this when I read a recent Mindshift post. I'd like students to go on a virtual tour of the Powers of Ten movie with lots of positive decision making that teaches them the most up to date math and science related to this unit. Imagine how exciting it would be for teams to go on a virtual trip through space.  And imagine how engaged they would be and how much they would learn if the game was well designed? Does this exist?  If so, please let me know.

I also want one-to-one with Mac laptops (still the best for dynamic content creation in my teaching/learning context) and a good assortment of other tech tools too. I want students to have access to tech tools with all learning, and I want that access and use to be blended for best learning. For example, I'd like students to have iPad minis on a string around their necks as they go on nature walks so they can stop to take photos, make an audio recording, and research what they are seeing as we hike. Do you use iPad minis this way?

I'd like to use iPads in a facile and efficient way. I'd like to give students the chance to upload apps that meet their learning needs in guided, responsive ways. I'd like to be able to go home, find an app that fits my learners' needs and then apply that app the next day. Do you have this kind of access? If so, how did you get this?

I'd like purchasing to be a more open, responsive process rather than a mostly once-a-year task. That would prevent me from always having the decision of spending my own money or not. I understand we can't all have what we want, but I think there's room for growth in this regard. How do you readily access the funds you need to try out new tools and employ new ideas readily?

Do you have what I want?  What do you want?  Making the time to dream and think about what would make a positive difference in your learning/teaching is important as it leads to the kind of change that empowers, engages, and educates children.

Sheninger's recent post inspired this post in part.