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Typing Practice

What it is: This blogging alliance has been expanding my knowledge of great tools for the classroom faster than I can keep up with!  Recently, I found two more excellent ways for students to practice typing from @2sparkley‘s blog.  The first is reminiscent of the popular Rock Band, called UpBeat.  Students can choose a song and level of difficulty.  They must type the letters as they appear to keep the song going smoothly.  This had my students absolutely SILENT while they practiced typing.  They were so involved and having a great time trying to keep up.  The way the game is set up, really challenges kids to touch type.  They can’t very easily keep up without touch typing!  Students stopped by my lab the morning after I introduced the site to tell me how many combos they were able to get.  The second typing site is called Typing Chef. In this game students try to type words as they float past on bubbles.  The goal is to type the word on the bubble before it pops. It gets increasingly harder as more bubbles float up and speed up. How to integrate UpBeat and Typing Chef into the classroom: Typing can be a subject that elicits groans.  Adding these games in the mix as additional opportunities for practice is sure to make students happy to practice.  I try to keep typing to a minimal in my classroom.  With only 35 minutes once a week with students, I don’t want to spend all of our time practicing typing. I have the kids do the majority of typing practice at home.  Once a year (sometimes twice) I hold a big typing Olympics competition.  Students can earn a free break dress code day (we have uniforms), this is great incentive…like gold to them!  The fastest boy and girl touch typist in each class get the break dress code certificate.  I make a huge deal about how athletes who participate in the Olympics have to train hard.  Practice doesn’t always make perfect but we are aiming for practice makes permanant (good habits).  I created the following website for my students to use in their training www.typing.weebly.com.  Upbeat and Typing Chef have both been added to the games page of my Typing website. Tips: UpBeat is a Mini-clip game. This site is often blocked at schools, make sure it is unblocked at your school before you plan on using it in class. Please leave a comment and share how you are using UpBeat and Typing Chef 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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