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Pinterest: My new obsession

What it is:  Pinterest is a new obsession of mine.  I signed up for the invite-only version a while ago but hadn’t done anything with the service since.  In between Reform Symposium sessions I wandered back on to check it out.  Wow. I know there are other tools out there that do what Pinterest do but none that are so immediately user friendly and visually appealing.  I am impressed and addicted.  Pinterest lets you “pin” things from around the web on virtual pin boards.  You can create as many boards as you want and share them with others.  Each time you pin something you can give it a description and tags if you want. Pinterest does the rest and automatically cites the source and provides a trail to get back to the original.  As a teacher I love Pinterest for pinning all of those great ideas I find around the web visually.  I can write a quick reminder to myself about what I was thinking when I pinned it or how I want to use the tool.   SO great!  A lot of times I come across some random craft or picture that spurs an idea for something I want to do for the classroom.  Because it isn’t a tech-tool or related to education it often gets lost.  Pinterest is helping me grab all of those ideas and keep them around so I actually put them to use.  Very nice. How to integrate Pinterest into the classroom: Pinterest is a great way to organize yourself as a teacher.  Gather up all those ideas you see online and then share them with other teachers (who may or may not be Pinterest users…it really doesn’t matter). Because you can share Pinterest boards with non-Pinterest users, this is a great way to share things with students.  The resource could be anything- pictures, a website, a video.  Create a board for every unit that you do and share those boards with students so that they can continue exploring and learning. Students can use Pinterest too, invite young students to help build boards in a class Pinterest account.  Create a board for every letter of the alphabet and let students add pictures that they come across to the letter board that it matches.  Pinterest has a bookmark tool that you can put in your bookmark bar to make this as easy as one click!  Students can put their first name in the description so you (and other students) can keep track of who found what.  Like a year-long web scavenger hunt! Older students can create their own Pinterest boards.  Pinterest would be a great place for them to collect images that they feel say something about them-an identity board.  These boards can be shared with others and added to all year.  Not only will you get to know your students better, but other students will find connections they didn’t know they had. Pinterest is a nice visual way for students to share their web findings.  Pinterest even lets students decide if they want to be the only contributor to their board or if they want to open it up for collaboration so others can add their findings to the board.  Way cool. I have two Pinterest boards that may be of interest to you, one is Classroom Inspiration where I am keeping ideas of things I want to do with students or for our classroom.  The other is School Design where I am collecting inspirational designs that I want to see in our school when we build our own building. Tips: Right now Pinterest is an invitation only site.  You can sign up to receive an invitation (I received mine in about 10 min) or you can let me know you are interested in an invite and I can get you on the list.  See that? It is worth reading to the bottom of posts- VIP access! Leave a comment if you want an invite and be sure to use a real email address because that is how the invite gets to you. Please leave a comment and share how you are using Pinterest  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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