Time to Play!

Let’s be honest.  Games are super fun.  I like them.  I’m sure you like them too, reader.  But when played in the classroom, sometimes, most of the time, they don’t look like ‘conventional teaching’.

And that is a good thing.

As most of the readings on gamification state, using games in education is not a novelty.  Educators all over the world have been using educational games for decades in order to engage their students.  I remember when I used to teach English to adults back in the start of my career, the one thing that would get my class going at at 8pm was a quick language game.  There was this competitive streak, innate to all human beings, to participate, learn quickly and beat the other opponent/team.  It was awesome.  And whether I did it for a short time at the beginning to get everyone going or as a formative assessment to check how much they  had acquired, everyone had fun and that was my main goal.

Enter 21st century technology.  Back then, the only technology I used for gaming was flyswatters on a whiteboard, where students had to swat the past participle of an irregular verb I called out… I’m literally laughing out loud as I remember how awesome it was 🙂

Gaming in classrooms, especially one-to-one environments, cannot escape the use of gaming for learning.  There is so much out there that engages students of all ages!  It also allows students to acquire skills that make them feel successful.  For instance, an ELL playing PopWords against an opponent in his class or anywhere else in the world, doesn’t have to worry about making mistakes with a word they don’t know.  Rather they get to explore the different ways they can form words, and when they form a word they don’t know, they quickly learn it in order to use it in the future and become ‘better’ at playing the game.  It’s a win, win situation.

Although this might be a very simple way of looking at gamification for education as I know there are all sorts of games out there that reinforce all kinds of learning in all subjects, I think the most important aspect of gaming is the engagement of our learners.  If a game can present students with situations where they have to think in different ways, see things from different perspectives, use diverse problem-solving skills and challenge themselves to learn new things, I can certainly see the relevance, or even importance of gaming in any classroom.



Google Yourself

Have you googled yourself lately?  I predict you have.  Just like me, I’ve done it a couple of times.  Actually, I just did it now.  Nothing surprising.  There’s my Twitter, my Facebook, a LinkedIn account that I swore I had deleted, my work bio, etc.  This, as I understand it, is my digital footprint.  This is how I exist in the World Wide Web.  So what does this mean?

I read somewhere a while back (I will search this source and site it later) that 20 years from now, our generation would not be eligible for election to office (if being held to today’s standards for election).  When I read this, I snarkily asked myself ‘Why?’  So I quickly thought about my posts, photos & overall Facebook account history… Mmh, nothing major.  I opened my account when I was 26 so… Oh wait, didn’t I have a MySpace account before that? And before that didn’t I have that Hotmail account that I used to chat with my buddies using MSN Messenger?? You know, when it was all about those cool emoticons?


Wow.  I’ve been around ‘digitally’ for far longer than I thought.  Should I be worried? It’s not that I made poor choices with the information I put out there,  I mean, I must have, I was a kid!  But I don’t remember now..!  So, what does this mean??  It probably means that running for office is not in the cards.  But as an educator, I agree with my friend and colleague Liz that it is part of our responsibility to teach responsible digital citizenship.

Currently at our school, we are running self-managed 1:1 iPad programs, grades 4-7, and MacBooks in high school.  Our learners make all sorts of choices on a daily basis that are leaving their own digital footprint.  I’m certain these choices aren’t always the best, so it’s on us who have given them these devices and expected them to self-manage their hardware, software and information.

Maybe I should ask my students to google themselves, and we can start from there?

iShare on Behalf of Brandon Little

My colleague and friend Brandon Little (G4 Teacher, 1:1 facilitator, Reading & Writing Workshop expert), wrote this email to the team today.  I asked if I could share it on my COETAIL site since it is pure, pure genius, an ‘Aha’ moment for many on our staff.  Here is his message, verbatim:

Dear Team,

In the last two months we’ve completely changed the communication paradigm for children. No longer does the old axiom, “Children should be seen, and not heard”, apply. If anything the new axiom for our students is, “Children can be heard, without being seen.”

In the last two months we’ve almost tripled the modes of communication for our learners. On top of individual/small/whole group personalized communication in the classroom and access to email the students now have Message (on iPad), their WordPress blog, and Edmodo accounts. Each of these tools have a mostly unique purpose and mostly unique method for use.

This development has led me to create a chart addressing the different tools they have access to for communicating and reflecting on their learning in and out of school. Mick and talked about having an interactive session in the coming weeks when teachers and students can brainstorm and agree upon the most effective ways and most effective times to use email, messages, wordpress, and edmodo. What we can show them is what a complete and appropriate message looks like. An exemplar, if you will.

Here’s the chart:

I can’t tell you how proud I am to not just share this resource but also of the quality of teachers I get to collaborate with every day.  Thank you Brandon!


I bet it happened to you as well fellow COETAILer.  The email from Jeff came in to your notifications and you took a deep breath, as I did, and exhaled the words ‘Here we go…’

So here we are.  As Jeff says, we’re in this together.  I’ll start.  My name is Ceci (SEH-SEE), short for Cecilia.  Yup, like the song.  (Bet you won’t be able to get the tune out of your head for the rest of the evening).  I’m currently working at Shekou International School, in China (#SISRocks) as the coordinator of the EAL program, as well as support teacher for grades 4-5 who are currently on 1:1 iPads.  I love my job and I’m passionate about what I do.  And now, the newest addition to my professional passion is COETAIL.  I can’t think of a better way to jump on the fast-moving eLearning train than by doing this course.  I’m excited and can’t wait to go on this journey.

What about you? Who are you and why are you here?  Looking forward to your blogs 🙂

Let the COETAILing begin!