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    Yes, I Know More Than Google

    By Kip Glazer
     | Jun 22, 2016

    google bookmarkDuring my 12 years as a classroom teacher, I received many gifts from my students. One of the greatest gifts came from a brother of a student I had. He gave me a silver bookmark that said, “Mrs. Glazer. You know more than Google.”

    Because I am an instructional technology coach for the largest high school district in the state of California, I have the pleasure of working with many teachers and school personnel at over 25 different school sites and programs. While I espouse the virtue of using Google Apps for Education (GAFE) with their students or the next and greatest instructional technology tools, many of my colleagues often ask me how I see the future of technology in schools. I always answer, “Unless a machine can raise our children by giving better hugs and kisses, this society will always need teachers.”

    It is true that many people learn new things from YouTube. For instance, I taught myself how to use Google for my class by—ironically—Googling and watching YouTube videos. I didn’t need to take a single course from Google Training Center. I also subscribe to BetterCloud Monitor, formerly “Dylan the Gooru,” to learn how to leverage the newest updates from Google.

    However, what many who believe that machines can replace teachers forget is that learning has never really been about simple information acquisition. Learning is identity development that happens as we learn more facts. I firmly believe that understanding that fact and fully embracing it are critical in building the better schools. If anyone can learn how to use GAFE, why does my district employee me?

    Because I do know more than Google. Yes, I said it. How, you ask? Because I can synthesize facts Google provides to tell a story that makes sense to my students. I can also interpret and respond to students’ questions to scaffold their learning beyond delivering facts quicker. Finally, I can point out what’s missing in their factual understanding to help them find patterns not so apparent in the sea of information so my students won’t get lost. For example, during my technology training, I first describe what a tool can do.

    Let’s take my Google Drive training, for example. I typically begin my training with how to leverage Google Drive and all the functionalities native to it. I talk about the differences between extensions and add-ons. I explain why and how to share documents within our GAFE domain and outside. I help my staff understand how to look for things under Waffle (), Pancakes (), Wheel, also known as the gear (), Traffic Light (), and the Shark Tooth (). I also explain what the information icon () does. After my students understand where to find the necessary information, I quickly move to how it can be used for a subject a teacher teaches or a job task that school personnel does. For teachers using Google Classroom, I explain the reason to link a Google Drive folder using the “About” tab in Google Classroom to manage all documents efficiently. Whenever I can, I talk about how a combination of tools can improve productivity in a specific school ecosystem, which is as diverse as any ecosystem in existence! I have set up a Google Site dedicated to managing a school’s facilities process, which uses Google Calendar, Google Forms, Google Sheets, Google Drive, and Google Docs. I used Autocrat to streamline the process for a school because I took the time to listen to the staff members’ concerns about an inefficient facility request process.

    You might ask, “Are you telling me to use Google apps for everything?” To that, I would answer, “Absolutely not!” What I am saying is that teachers can help our students learn the most important skill in the knowledge economy: Learning to use a right tool for the right job regardless of what that is. Because I know this, I let tools like Google take care of all the “whats” while I focus on how and why.

    Before jumping into the Voice typing function in Google Doc, I often explain how to leverage Google Scholar to search for the content to include in the document that my students are creating. Before introducing Slides Carnival as a place for getting cool Google Slides templates or showing Prezi to create different types of presentation, I encouraged my students to create visual presentations that include more pictures and less text.

    Yes. I do know more than Google when it comes to teaching my students. I’d better!

    Kip Glazer is a native of Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the United States in 1993 as a college student. She holds California Single Subject Teaching Credentials in Social Studies, English, Health, Foundational Mathematics, and School Administration. In 2014, she was named the Kern County Teacher of the Year. She earned her doctorate of education in learning technologies at Pepperdine University in October 2015. She has presented and keynoted at many state and national conferences on game-based learning and educational technologies. She has also consulted for Center for Innovative Research in Cyberlearning and the Kennedy Center ArtsEdge Program.

    Glazer will present “Games as the New Literacy Texts” at the Age of Literacy Lounge at ILA Central 1:30 PM–2:00 PM Saturday, July 9 at the ILA 2016 Conference & Exhibits in Boston. Visit ilaconference.org for more information or to register.

     
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    Harry Potter and the Magic of Learning Science

    By Kip Glazer
     | May 25, 2016

    ThinkstockPhotos-77888472_x300On the Advanced Placement (AP) English literature test, one question allows the test taker to choose a novel or play of literary merit and respond to the prompt, using the selected text as the support material. When helping my students, I told them they should never use texts such as Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. Why not? Because such books use magic to solve human problems, and magic is not available to mere mortals.

    For teachers who are unfamiliar, learning science sometimes seems like magic beyond the resources of mere mortal teachers. Just as the characters in the classics have to deal with real-life problems, mere mortal teachers struggle to deal with human problems that real students have such as poverty, lack of technology, and zero Wi-Fi access. Learning scientists seem to be outside of the struggle and are like wizards practicing magic with brand potions like advanced computing technologies and spells using academic jargon in enchanted faraway places with uninterrupted Wi-Fi connection known as colleges and universities.

    I remember learning about the educational theories of B.F. Skinner, John Dewey, and even Lev Vygotsky as a first-year teacher candidate. I remember discussing with my future colleagues, who often thought it was a waste of time for all of us to read the theories. Now, after having taught high school English for more than a decade in a school district where the majority of students receive Title I federal funding, I believe a little bit of a true and practical magical ingredient known as “learning science” might just be what teachers truly need to understand the pedagogy behind our practices. When I say magic, I don’t mean the hocus-pocus variety that will fix all problems for teachers—I mean the magic that all of us can bring to the classroom to make learning impactful and powerful, by understanding what makes our practical strategies effective.

    For example, Harry Potter learned to use the power of magic and became a hero through his unwavering grit, a concept which Angela Lee Duckworth, Christopher Peterson, Michael D. Matthews, and Dennis R. Kelly described in “Grit: Perseverance and Passion for Long-Term Goals.” In addition to his deep friendship with Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, Harry received help from more knowledgeable others including his professors as he worked to overcome obstacles, and his countless hours of magic training was created by his professors’ understanding of zone of proximal development, not unlike what Vygotsky wrote in Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes.

    In my own classroom, I began requiring my students to write daily reflections after learning about the importance of metacognition and its impact on academic writing skills development that Arthur N. Applebee wrote about with Judith A. Langer and on his own, as did John H. Flavell.

    Of course, Harry encountered false or pseudo magic, as teachers are sometimes led astray. Take learning styles, for example. Many educators have been told learners have different learning styles, and our job is to differentiate our instruction to target these learning styles when teaching. Despite numerous and strenuous repudiation by respected learning scientists (as seen in this video created by Smithsonian Science Education Center and in this article by Olivia Goldhill for Quartz), teachers are still being told that we must adapt our lessons on the basis of false information.

    Where is Professor Snape when we need him to set everyone straight?

    I am sure that in a learning science course for teachers, he would tell teachers to learn about the Universal Design for Learning framework and ditch learning styles forever!

    If you are a teacher, you might wish for that one book of spells that would teach us to become true wizards of teaching. The truth is that we simply don’t have it. As a matter of fact, we have too many resources that promise a quick solution to all educational ills.  And many such books do not provide the necessary information based on strong learning sciences principles. So how will we know the truth? Remember Harry? Despite being born a wizard, Harry needed to attend a school to hone his magical abilities. Teachers need similar support from reputable learning scientists. There are also a few books that teachers should read. One such book is How People Learn (downloadable for free here) that provides basic learning science information to anyone interested in learning, which should be the focus of good teaching.

    Learning is a complex endeavor. All of us in learning and education need to be mindful of real human issues that teachers face, so that all teachers have the right type of support. By working together, we can create magic more powerful than Harry could ever achieve!

    Kip Glazer is a native of Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the United States in 1993 as a college student. She holds California Single Subject Teaching Credentials in Social Studies, English, Health, Foundational Mathematics, and School Administration. In 2014, she was named the Kern County Teacher of the Year. She earned her doctorate of education in learning technologies at Pepperdine University in October 2015. She has presented and keynoted at many state and national conferences on game-based learning and educational technologies. She has also consulted for Center for Innovative Research in Cyberlearning and the Kennedy Center ArtsEdge Program.

     
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    Game­-Based or Playful Learning, not Gamification for All Things

    By Kip Glazer
     | Apr 27, 2016

    ThinkstockPhotos-78432795_x300“Honestly, I don’t see the point of games in the classroom. I mean, it seems to overly focus on the idea of fun, and I don’t think fun is what we should focus on. Fun is seriously overrated,” I said on the first day of my games for education class. Little did I know that I would go on to write my dissertation on role-playing games, write not one but two book chapters on how to assist teachers in bringing games into their classroom, and even consult on a project for the Kennedy Center ArtsEdge on its game-­based learning project.*

    Games have become one of the hottest topics in education of late. Just look at Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Minecraft and the launch of MinecraftEdu! Popular education blog site Edutopia has game­-based learning as one of its major categories with numerous views and shares. The prominence of games for education became apparent when games scholar Constance Steinkuehler began serving as the Senior Policy Analyst for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in 2011. There are more than 4 million views on Jane McGonigal’s TED talk advocating how games can save the world. However, many educators are still not quite sure how playing games can help their students. I suggest you keep the following in mind before you pick up that game for your classroom.

    A game is a tool, not the tool

    As much as I think games can be extremely useful, I caution against advocating for games as the panacea for all educational ills. According to the OSTP, roughly 170 million Americans play video games. However, if you look more deeply into the numbers, you will see 49% of those who play games are between ages 18–49, well beyond school age. Average age of gamers is 34 years old.

    True, game­-based learning allows students to learn many valuable skills such as negotiating complex systems while developing various literacy skills. Great games are now being compared to great literature. However, just as an amazing Shakespearean play alone can’t make students become better readers, great games alone cannot teach our students. I suggest incorporating great games into your classroom ecosystem to maximize the learning potential.

     

    The right game for the right learning task—expansively

    Because a game is a tool, it must be chosen for specific learning tasks. As an English teacher, I was lucky to be able to improve media literacy or literacy in general with any game I chose. What game doesn’t have reading and writing? Let’s take Disaster Detector, a science game developed for sixth through eighth graders by Smithsonian Science Education Center in collaboration with Filament Games.

    I would use that game to have my students research disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath and the type of governmental organizations responsible for different disasters. Then I would have students go through the tutorial section to take notes on the types of instruments such organizations and their scientists use. I would also have students critique the presentation. Did they think that the voice actor had the right look and tone of the target audience? Did they like the sound effects? If so, what about them was appealing? Then I would have students contact the creator of Disaster Detector—who happens to be one of my friends—to ask the process of developing such a game. Students then create a plan for a potential natural disaster that their hometown faces. They will write to the mayor or the governor, urging him or her to take their ideas into consideration. Finally, students research the type of education necessary to become a meteorologist or environmental scientist who we rely on to help us weather the disasters.

    Opportunity cost and specific learning objectives built around the play

    As much as I love game­-based learning, gameplay without a skilled instructor who can guide student learning is giving up something in the curriculum for the sake of time. One of the most amazing aspects of games is that it encourages voluntary participation of the players because they are “fun” to play.

    As a classroom teacher, I often talk to my students about the idea of fun at school. I emphasized that learning new information can be more fun than simply killing a whole bunch of zombies while playing a popular strategy game like Plants vs. Zombies. If you were to play this game with your students, I suggest you discuss the specific strategies involved in winning the game with them. Encourage students to think of ways a great strategist would think about defeating an enemy. Have them research great battles in history and the strategies the winning side employed to achieve its objectives.

    Consider allowing students to play in group and have them discuss how they could collaborate to win the game. At times, my students would complain that I ruined their mindless fun. I would explain to students that the State of California and their parents hired me to provide the structure for learning and expected me to teach them something. I feel that it’s our responsibility to expose the accidental learning to the students as “the more knowledgeable other,” a term coined by famous learning theorist Lev Vygotsky. 

    Game creation beyond game playing

    Although I think that games offer amazing educational benefits, I am convinced that creating games yields much better outcomes. While designing games, students learn to create, organize, and execute their plans. They have to think about aesthetics, rules, and appeal to audience. If students are designing digital games, they can learn digital and media literacy skills. Because of the increased popularity of game-­based learning, teachers now have many tools to choose from. One of my favorite tools is Twine, a text-­based choose-­your-­own-­adventure game creator. This simple platform allowed many of my students to create complex and multi-layered games.

    Some students created an adventure game based on a creature’s birth. Others created a game of high school choices to guide their friends through high school years. Because they can publish and test each other’s games, students are invested in creating interesting and playable games. I typically had students create a planning document with a storyboard and rationale for the game first. Once students created their games, I had them create a video presentation using a tool like SnagIt. Such an activity forced the students to defend their choices while practicing their virtual presentation skills. I knew this was a great instructional practice when I recently ran into a former student. While in my class, he complained often that he had to record his presentation. However, he informed me that he no longer feared presenting to anyone because it became natural to him. He also appreciated the fact that he routinely evaluated his classmates’ work while receiving feedback from them during class.

    I cannot stress enough of the benefits of game creation as an instructional strategy. For more tools on game making, check out the list I put together along with a few student video examples I presented at the 2016 Good Teaching Conference sponsored by California Teachers Association.

    Game­based learning is here to stay

    As much as I didn’t realize it, game­based learning is here to stay. I suspect it will become as common and ubiquitous as YouTube videos in the classroom in the near future. I sincerely hope that the teachers realize its learning potential when used appropriately.

    * This project is ongoing, set for a workshop at Kern High School District in Bakersfield in April and May of 2016 with a group of theatre, science, and English teachers to test out the pedagogical framework I developed for my dissertation study.

    Kip Glazer is a native of Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the United States in 1993 as a college student. She holds California Single Subject Teaching Credentials in Social Studies, English, Health, Foundational Mathematics, and School Administration. In 2014, she was named the Kern County Teacher of the Year. She earned her doctorate of education in learning technologies at Pepperdine University in October 2015. She has presented and keynoted at many state and national conferences on game-based learning and educational technologies. She has also consulted for Center for Innovative Research in Cyberlearning and the Kennedy Center ArtsEdge Program.


     
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    Considering Pedagogy Before Technology

    By Kip Glazer
     | Mar 23, 2016

    LPCTDo you remember what happened Nov. 4, 2008? If you said the election of the United States’ first African American president, you would be correct. But that’s also the day I began fearing technology and its negative impact on the teaching profession. That was the day I got the indisputable confirmation that technology would change the profession whether we wanted it to or not.

    That evening I watched CNN’s Anderson Cooper in Atlanta interview will.i.am in Chicago using a 360­degree holographic projection, not teleconferencing and not  video conferencing. You might say, “What does that have to do with teaching?” Everything!

    Would you love to have J.K. Rowling in your classroom reading Harry Potter to your children? Who wouldn’t love Neil deGrasse Tyson in their classroom every day to teach physics? Why not invite Elie Wiesel to your classroom to talk about his experiences in the Holocaust? If all those things are possible using technology, why do we need teachers?

    As Laura McKenna from The Atlantic lamented the nationwide teacher shortage, she also mentioned how many states are implementing virtual­ education programs as a solution. TED million-­dollar prize winner Sugata Mitra even suggested we build a school in the cloud through the use of technology rather than relying on conventional schools with teachers.

    Since then, however, I had a change of heart. As I reconsider my role as the classroom teacher, I can’t help but be grateful for this new Golden Age of Technology. Why? Because I finally understood what Seymour Papert meant when he said, “The role of the teacher is to create a condition for invention rather than provide ready made knowledge.”

    The transformation began with gaining knowledge on learning science and better information on technology implementation in schools. For instance, when I saw that of 12,725 students who attempted Duke’s first-ever MOOC course, only 313 students completed it, I felt vindicated for thinking hybrid or so­-called blended learning models makes the most sense in today’s information economy. Even after learning about the TPACK Framework advocated by Matthew Koehler and Punya Mishra—which puts  equal importance among technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge of a teacher's knowledge base—I am more convinced than ever that a teacher’s technological knowledge is always subordinate to his or her content and pedagogical knowledge. A teacher with superior pedagogical knowledge can turn the most primitive piece of technology such as a paper and pencil into the best possible learning tool for his or her students.

    Of course, I am not saying advanced technology is not important. It is vitally important in today’s learning environment. However, I am simply arguing that we should never forget the importance of good teaching that must accompany the tools.

    Kentaro Toyama, associate professor of technology and global development at the University of Michigan, emphasized such a sentiment. Based on the research conducted in India where Sugata Mitra’s “school in the cloud” originated, Toyama found that less technology with superior pedagogy yielded better student learning than advanced technology without great teaching. As we learned from the error in judgement from the LA Unified School District's iPad debacle, no amount of instructional technology can yield good student learning without a solid pedagogy based on sound learning science.

    As we think more about education technology, let us never forget that even with the best piece of technology such as his lightsaber, Luke Skywalker had to carry Yoda on his back to learn to be the best Jedi he could become. Yes, my students can learn great math skills from Khan Academy videos and learn foreign language from Duolingo on their smartphones, but without a caring teacher in their classroom to provide a solid context for learning, they will not succeed as well as they could. I am sure of it.

    Kip Glazer is a native of Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the United States in 1993 as a college student. She holds California Single Subject Teaching Credentials in Social Studies, English, Health, Foundational Mathematics, and School Administration. In 2014, she was named the Kern County Teacher of the Year. She earned her doctorate of education in learning technologies at Pepperdine University in October 2015. She has presented and keynoted at many state and national conferences on game-based learning and educational technologies. She has also consulted for Center for Innovative Research in Cyberlearning and the Kennedy Center ArtsEdge Program.

     
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