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Enter the Group: Making Group Project Easier

What it is: Enter the Group is a fabulous online tool that makes it simple to work with, and organize, groups online.  The tool has similar functionalities to Wiggio. Enter the Group includes shared calendars, site email, file sharing, instant chat and message boards, the ability to create private groups and classrooms, tasks and assignments, polls, blogging, Twitter, and question/answer forum, and best of all: it is totally free!  Enter the Group has some really nice classroom features that other online group management sites like Wiggio don’t have.  The built in blog feature is useful for the classroom setting, it provides students with a place to reflect that can be set as “private” so that it is a closed network for your classroom or school.  This is especially helpful in schools where administration and the school community is hesitant to enter the world of blogging! Enter the Group Classrooms provides a virtual classroom space that can act as an extension of the physical classroom.  Teachers and students can interact, keep track of due dates and special events, share files, post messages, and more.  Students can take their learning with them anywhere and access the resources they need anytime.  Enter the Group is easy to use and has really helpful tips and video guidance throughout the tool.  No matter what your technology ability level is, Enter the Group has made it easy to get started. My favorite thing about Enter the Group?  They understand that the classroom is about learning, from the classroom page: “What do we do in classrooms? Simple answer is we learn. The longer answer is we; listen, ask questions, start debates, get group feedback, work on assignments, take tests and exams, present our work and perhaps many other things I haven’t thought of as well. Should all these things stop once the bell sounds and the students walk out the door? We all know the answer is no.”  Enter the Group isn’t about the technology, but about the learning opportunities that it enables. How to integrate Enter the Group into the classroom: Enter the Group is a way to extend learning beyond the walls of your classroom.  Use it to extend conversations, debates, and offer support through online discussion; help students (and parents) keep track of assignments and classroom events, keep track of and share files so students who are absent are never left behind, to collect shared resources and information (a kind of “digital textbook” that you create for/with your students); to expand on class topics with video; and to create a collaborative learning environment.  Students can use Enter the Group to plan and organize projects that they are working on in groups, providing a virtual meeting space outside of the classroom to collaborate.  Enter the Group is perfect for students who are out with an illness or to continue learning opportunities when pandemic illness or bad weather keeps us from the physical classroom (anyone had SNOW problems this year? 🙂 ) Enter the Group provides a platform where students can continue learning and collaborating from any Internet-connected computer. Do you have students collaborating with another class in another state? Another country?  Enter the Group is a great place for students to work together, discuss, debate, and share.  The ability to create a private network adds a layer of security and manageability to the online group. Enter the Group also makes a great platform for working with colleagues and for professional development.  Share important dates, files, and reflections within the group.  Enter the Group is a nice way to gather and share resources from one centralized location making it easy to add to, and grow, year after year.  No more, “remember that great lesson we used last year? What was that site/resource again?”  (I cannot tell you how many times I have had THAT conversation!) Tips: Enter the Group provides a few options for sign-up.  Teachers, parents, and students can sign up with an email address (don’t forget to use tempinbox.com or mailinaitor.com for temporary inboxes for students who don’t have an email account), Twitter, or Facebook.  It would be nice if Enter the Group had a feature like Wiggio where group members could join without registering-this is really helpful in elementary classrooms. Please leave a comment and share how you are using Enter the Group in your classroom

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Pixel Press Floors: draw a video game on paper, snap a picture and play it!

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Create, Foreign Language, Fun & Games, Geography, Government, History, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Spelling, Teacher Resources, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Websites | Posted on 18-06-2014

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What it is: Pixel Press Floors is a seriously magical (currently free) app that brings a child’s imagination to life. With the Pixel Press Floors creation platform, students can literally dream up and draw their own video game without any coding. Students draw their ideas out on paper, and the Floors app turns the drawing into an actual video game that can be played. Print out the special paper so that the app can recognize the shapes “glyphs” that are drawn, or use the in app drawing tools. The drawing is instantly turned into a game that can be tested, designed, played, and even published to the “Arcade” where others can play it.

How to integrate Pixel Press Floors into learning: The first step of creation is to download the Pixel Press Floors app on the iPad. Next, go to projectpixelpress.com to download and print the free sketch guide. Students draw up the game of their dreams and then take a picture of what they drew from the Pixel Press Floors app.

The glyphs (shapes) that students draw are magically transformed into game play objects. After glyphs have been created, students can apply a design to the element, test it, and play it. Within the app, students can create games with:

  • Run and jump game play (Mario-style)
  • Create with 14 creator glyphs: terrain, moving blocks, ladders, portals, monkey bars, power-ups, coins, super coins, falling blocks, spikes, exploding blocks, start and end positions, pits and fireballs, keys.
  • Two original themes to get the creativity jump-started: “Save the Parents” and “Fiddleheads: Stones of Eden”
  • Publishing and sharing in the Arcade

Pixel Press Floors is a fantastic “maker space” element to add to your classroom. This app is perfect for prototyping ideas, design thinking (ideation and prototyping), teamwork and collaboration, and to build creativity. In designing games, students learn systems thinking, creative problem solving, art and aesthetics, writing and storytelling, and creates a motivation for further STEM exploration.

There is so much to learn from digital games.  As a player, students learn to think strategically, persist through failure and experience epic wins that can translate to what they do and are willing to try out in real life. As a designer students learn systems thinking, creative problem solving, digital art and aesthetics, and storytelling and writing. Students love being able to bring their creations and ideas to life in the form of a game. Video game creation could be the key to unlocking the storytelling genius in your reluctant writers. It has been my experience that a student faced with a blank paper and a writing assignment can be daunting. Introduce the idea of designing their own game and suddenly a storyline pours forth. It is pretty neat to watch!

Draw your own video games- no coding necessary! Draw your own video games- no coding necessary! Draw your own video games- no coding necessary! Draw your own video games- no coding necessary!

Students can create games that help them build skills. Instead of simply playing those drill/skill games on other websites/apps, they can create their own! This is visual notes 3.0. Instead of simply practicing math facts, students can create a customized game to help them learn and remember those facts! This type of game is perfect for creating games to practice: math facts, spelling, vocabulary, foreign languages, letter recognition, geography, history facts, etc.

Instead of passively playing games in their free time, students can create their own! The blend of the hand-drawn and technology is seamless and brilliant. Kids will have such fun creating their own games and bringing their imagination to life.

Tips: Game Star Mechanic would be an outstanding place to start, here kids can learn the thinking process behind designing their own video games.

Are you using Pixel Press Floors in your classroom? Leave a comment below and share the ways that you use it with students!

Rodan + Fields Consultant

Comments (2)

Hi Kelly! I posted about this last week, and one of the most fascinating things I’ve seen shared is the use of the Comic Life app to make a graphic novel out of the game. http://goo.gl/ZhPQHK Great app-smashing and integration of technology with writing!

LOVE that idea Terri! That is fantastic!!

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