First off I want to apologize for the lack of posts for most of this school year. Last year my blog was such a successful part of my reflection and my own learning as a practitioner that I am dissapointed that I haven’t managed to make it a part of my regular routine. I can say this has still been a great year! Despite not utilizing my reflection tool I have learned, thought and changed a lot about my teaching and more importantly the learning that happens in my classroom.
A major focus of this year has been on designing successful group work. (I purposely refer to it as “team work” in my classroom rather than group work to highlight the differences between groups – any number of people considered to be related in some way – and teams – a number of persons associated in a joint action or task who are dependent upon each other). Students have worked in teams in th PBL (Project Based Learning) activities in each of my courses. My Earth Science and Physics classess have been entirely project based, whereas my Chemistry and Atronomy courses have utilized PBL at times but not entirely, this has mostly been due to time constraints.
Another related aspect of my class that I have focused on has been Game Based Learning. Before discussing what I have done in my classroom and plan to do I would like to relate an experience that I have had very recently that exemplifies the reasons I am studying and implementing GBL in my classroom.
A colleague of mine recently purchased a multi-player computer simulation game, Artemis. “Artemis simulates a spaceship bridge by networking several computers together.
One computer runs the simulation and the “main screen”, while the others serve as workstations for the normal jobs a bridge officer might do, like Helm, Communication, Engineering, and Weapon Control” (Robertson, Thom. “What Is Artemis?” ARTEMIS. Artemis, n.d. Web. 05 July 2012. <http://www.artemis.eochu.com/>).
I have played my fair share of video games, but I have to say that Artemis represents the most fun I have ever had playing a video game. It was highly-challenging, exciting, engaging and collaborative. It embodied all of the things that I wish my classes always had. Even though I have been thinking about a game-based classroom for some time this experience with Artemis has encouraged me to press forward and accomplish the goals that I have. To transform my classroom into a game-based learning environment.
My classroom has always been a place where I am constantly experimenting, but I think this will be the largest scale that I have ever experimented at in one single instance and it will also be the most complete transition I have ever made (in my two short years of teaching…).
I have poured all of my available resources into this endeavor. I have used my Summer Professional Development time and my Materials Grant funds from the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation (www.kstf.org) to support this transition and I have been thinking about this change all year and will continue to work all summer on it, as well. It will be a year long (or longer) endeavor and effort. Please join me!