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Branches of Power

What it is: Looking for another super awesome learning game for your classroom?  Filament Games does it again with Branches of Power.  In it, students can play all three branches of government, all working cooperatively toward the goal of building new laws.  As President, students will choose issues they think are important and rally people around them.  As Legislator, they will create bills around the values of the constituents.  As Justice, they will uphold the law or take out legislation that is unconstitutional.  The only way to navigate the game successfully is to cooperatively construct laws around the issues of the country.  (Our government probably has something to learn about the cooperatively part.) Students will find issues that the citizens care about.  By using the three branches of government, they can grow the issues into laws which appear as towers.  They win if they build all ten issues into towers before time runs out.  Students get the opportunity to play as all three branches, they have to stay on top of it, if they don’t, the branch may start making decisions on its own! How to integrate Branches of Power into the classroom: Branches of Power is a fantastic interactive game that puts students right in the thick of the government.  I love that the game doesn’t ask students to choose a branch of government to play, but expects them to learn, and play, all three roles.   There is nothing like experience to teach students about the different roles, struggles, and methodologies of each branch of government.  Branches of Power is an excellent game for the computer lab environment where each student has access to a computer and can play individually.  After play, discuss what worked well and what didn’t.  Were students able to complete all 10 towers?  Who got the furthest and what was the strategy that took them to that point?  If you don’t have access to a computer lab, the game can be navigated as a class using a projector-connected computer or an interactive whiteboard.  Discuss strategy during game play and give each student a chance to take part in the game.  This is an outstanding way to learn about the branches of government, what better way to learn than by doing? Tips: Below the game play screen, check out the Teacher Tools tab.  There are some great teacher files including a Powerpoint presentation that reinforces game concepts and a teacher’s guide to using the game in class. Please leave a comment and share how you are using Branches of Power in your classroom.

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Squad: Collaborative Code Editor

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, collaboration, Create, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Technology, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 05-12-2012

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What it is: We have some students at Anastasis Academy that are CODE crazy! They are really excited to learn how to code (we’ve used Codecademy) and practice with friends.  Squad is a free collaborative code editor.  With Squad, students can access the code they are writing anywhere there is an Internet connection. This means that students can chat and edit files together no matter where they are.  Squad constantly saves the workspace so that they are available even when multiple machines are logged in.  Students can see what teammates are working on, offer recommendations and even work simultaneously on a document.  Even better? If your students have a coding question (and you, like me, can’t answer) they can copy and paste the code in the workspace’s share URL and anyone with the URL can get in to help.  All of the files created on Squad belong to your students.  They can open (and save) local files, access a remote host via FTP/SFTP or grab a file from Dropbox.  The chat feature is searchable so that students can go back and learn from past mistakes or suggestions.

How to integrate Squad into the classroom: Do you have students who want to learn how to code?  What better way for them to learn and practice than together?!  At Anastasis, we have Crave classes.  These are classes that run once a week that students get to elect to take…something they “crave” learning.  One of our crave classes last year was learning to code.  I “taught” it.  No, I don’t really know how to code. We learned together!  You don’t have to be an expert to help your students explore their passions and interests.  We used Codecademy to learn together.  One of the limitations of Codecademy is that there is no where to just practice together after you have learned a skill.  Squad would be the perfect place for students to explore and practice together.

Older or more advanced students might want to create a club or work together to show what they know in another subject by putting their coding skills to use.

Tips: The free version of Squad limits students to 3 collaborators and 1 workspace, this should be plenty for your beginners!

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Squad in your classroom.

Comments (2)

If you’re looking for a great site to learn to code, you need to check out http://codehs.com

We’ve made it really fun and accessible to get started and keep students engaged by teaching them to make fun graphics and awesome games, all from scratch!

We have an awesome, in-browser editor that lets students explore and create.

Most importantly, we have live tutors that answer your questions and give you feedback on your code, so you really improve.

Thank you for these resources! After I created my wedding website last year I became interested in coding, most specifically, learning more about using HTML and CSS to design blogs. Since then, I’ve been interested in teaching an elective for 8th graders. These resources and your experience make me even more confident that it’s something I’m willing to do! Thank you!!

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