Category Archives: Musings

Podcast Game Reviews

Not all kids like to write. This isn’t news to anyone, and it’s a skill they have to develop whether they like it or not. I can usually get kids to write their game reviews, and often because they are so interested in the topic, I get some good writing even from indifferent authors. I’ve been thinking a lot about those few kids who, for whatever reason, can’t get it down on paper without a lot of angst and persuasion. What about having them record their voice?

Our kids here love to talk–almost without exception. The Stage III kids were really excited about doing a podcast of their game reviews in Computer Toolkit, instead of writing them down. They had to include specific information, and there was a form to help them remember their points, but their scripts could be written out or just points they needed to remember to include. Once they had practiced, I showed them Audacity (which is free! and a simple download!) and they started recording. The process included editing, importing music to begin and end the podcast, time shifting, fading the music in and out, and finally exporting to a WAV file.

There were times when I thought I was crazy to try this, but I was pleased and surprised at how quickly they picked up the techniques. I think it helps that Audacity presents the sound files visually for editing purposes, which really made it clear to the kids who were using the program. All in all, it was really successful, and I’m happy to present their finished work.

Aiden          Alyssa          Amelia          Ava W          Ben PS        Carter

Chris          Conor         Ivana           Justice           Miguel          AlexT

Nick            Sam              Wes               Zach           AlexM           Lucas B

Luke V       Matthew       Parker          Lennon


Minecraft 4 Romans at Stage III Family Night

The biggest motivator for the Minecraft 4 Romans class was Stage III Family Night. This evening event is the culmination of the big unit study of the year. This year was  Ancient Rome. The homerooms each focused on different aspects of Rome and put together a display of the student work for the families to tour.

We started the evening with Sandy’s Dance Performance students, who had used Ancient Rome as their theme inspiration. The kids chose music and choreographed their own group dances, complete with costumes. As always, it was completely charming and child-centered, and it was wonderful to see their beaming faces as they took their bows.

Then came the Minecraft 4 Romans video. Most of the 48 students who took the class were able to use Screencast-O-Matic to record a tour of the individual houses and apartment buildings they designed and built in MinecraftEdu. Some of the videos were more than five minutes long! My job was to edit them down under 15 minutes total. The math was undeniable–that meant an average of under 15 seconds each.

The first rough cut was over 30 minutes long.

I won’t bore you with the angst I went through when I realized what had to happen. Or the number of hours I spent on it. And honestly? The editing process created a video that was far more watchable. I was able to introduce the video as a “teaser,” and then invited the families to stop by the computer lab during the Stage Tour and let their children give them a live walk-through. It was busy all night, so I think it worked.

I wish I had been able to walk around and see the homerooms do their presentations. The creativity and investment of the kids is always worth seeing and celebrating. But by all accounts it was a successful evening.

After all of that, here is the video. I’m so proud of what they were able to accomplish–but more about that in a future post.

Learning Out Loud

Like a lot of teachers, I close the door when I teach. A computer lab can be loud when kids are doing cooperative learning, or when they are trying out a simulation and it works (YAY!). Or even better, when they have free time and everyone is excitedly shouting across the room to find out what to do if  you meet a grizzly bear in Wolf Quest.

The nice eyes of CleopatraCreative Commons License Tambako The Jaguar via Compfight

So I try to be a good neighbor. I close the door and keep the excitement in. Sometimes another teacher or an administrator will wander in while I’m in the midst of it everything, and I never know what reaction I’ll get.   Sometimes it’s: “This looks like fun!”  Other times it’s more like: “Good grief, how do you stand it!” So yes, learning can be loud–at least in my room.

But is it “out loud?” Not really.

Learning out loud is a phrase that means you share the process, not just the product, of teaching and learning. You try something, reflect, adjust, and move on–and all of it in a public forum.  Then, hopefully, you have another educator, or a parent, or a student, who reads your adventures and shares their thoughts. And that sparks an idea, or a reflection, or better yet, a conversation.

Being a teacher of technology means I’m forced to learn new things all the time, and then show them to kids. They learn out loud for me, but something tells me that they might just feel a little more excited or motivated if they can learn out loud for you, too. So, I’m starting this blog, and I’m inviting you to read and share with me. And check out the sidebar for blogs from some of my classes. We’ll keep it safe, but I think I’m ready to learn out loud too.