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Flake Pad: Create geometric, symmetrical shapes

What it is:  Flake Pad is a very simple little website that lets students create geometric snowflakes using basic shapes and a grid.  To make their flake, students choose a shape and click a spot on the grid.  Students can add as many or as few shapes as they would like to their flake. When they are done the flake can be viewed off of the grid for a screen shot that can be included in other projects or it can be printed off.  I like Flake Pad because it gives students space to be creative and can be used to teach and practice symmetry. How to integrate Flake Pad into the classroom:  Flake Pad is a great little site to help students understand symmetry.  Any time students click a space on the grid, the shape is added to multiple points on the grid.  Use Flake Pad on an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer where students can identify lines of symmetry on the flake that the whole class can see. With the pointer tool on Flake Pad, students can drag the shapes they have created to different points.  Have students in the audience describe what happens to the flake as the shapes are moved.  Do the lines of symmetry change? Flake Pad can be used on classroom computers as a center activity.  Students can create their own flake, print the flake out and draw the various lines of symmetry with a ruler. Use Flake Pad during a unit on weather.  Students can experiment with creating their own snow flake, print the flake out and use the print out to list characteristics of snow, or snow related vocabulary along any straight lines on their flake. Tips: Flake Pad works from the Safari browser on an iPad….mostly. The line shape doesn’t work.  Students could still create their own flakes, print and add lines with a pencil…further practicing their understanding of symmetry! Please leave a comment and share how you are using Flake Pad in  your classroom!

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Playfic: create, play and remix text-based games

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, History, Interactive book, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 08-01-2013

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What it is: Playfic is a site that let’s users create, play and remix online text-based games.  I may have lost some of you already…but don’t leave yet! A text-based game is a genre of game that uses no graphics or sound, but instead, uses text to tell a story in an interactive world.  Think of a choose your own adventure tech-style.  Students can create a story that others can interact with by directing the story using words and phrases.  As an example, the story might be about a forest, describing what you can see East, West, North and South.  The player would type in a direction “East”, hit the return key, and the story progresses.  You can try out a sample text-based game here.

How to integrate Playfic into the classroom: Playfic has all kinds of good stuff for classrooms.  To create a story, students must first learn a little bit of coding.  Tutorials are included on the Playfic site, and are easy enough to get your students up and running in no time.  There is even a link to an Inform 7 (coding language) recipe book that will have your students dreaming up new scenarios and actively researching how to make them come to life.  Students can create games for each other while strengthening their writing and grammar skills.  This is wonderful for fictitious writing, but could also be used for students to explore “what ifs” in history and science.  Students can take a moment in time and dream up what might have been different about the world if the event hadn’t happened the way that it had.  As they are researching and learning about the actual event, they will also be analyzing why the event is important and critically thinking about it’s impact on the world we live in.  Similarly, students could explore a science experiment, hypothesizing what will happen and the different outcomes that might occur.

Teachers could create these choose your own adventure stories for students for new learning or review of a topic.  Wouldn’t it be cool to have a story using sight word vocabulary that prompted practice with the sight words?

I know a handful of students who really struggle with writing…it is PAINFUL.  These students are brilliant. They have great ideas to share. One of the students I have in mind came up to me today and said, “over break I taught myself Lua (programming language).”  Students like these will be all over this type of writing.  What a cool way to engage them and excite them about the writing process in a new way.

One of the things that I really like about Playfic is that it takes a lot of planning, organizing, and thought to create this type of story.  For some students the planning/organizing portion of writing is a real struggle.  This site would be so useful in teaching students the importance of those steps.  I also love that it will have them researching and looking up solutions for how to make their ideas come to life.  Just like we do every day in the “real world.”

Tips: The Inform 7 Recipe book can be found here. 

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

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