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For more information, link to Digital Learning Resources

Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator, First Computer 1946
Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator, First Computer 1946

"If you challenge people to work hard, they achieve more than they think they can."
- JB Straubel

Topics for the Week

Creating Conditions for Learning ...............
Higher Order Thinking Skills................
Serious Games for Learning



When someone has success with a hoola hoop or a yoyo, their beliefs about what they can do are transformed, particularly if they had never been successful previously. They feel capable and joyous.
  • Experiences create beliefs and beliefs change as we successfully learn how to do new experiences.

Camera-video.pngView Sugata Mitra: Kids Can Teach Themselves Interactive transcript assists understanding if terms or accents are confusing.

Sugata Mitra draws three conclusions from his research:
Remoteness affects the quality of education for a surprising reason;
Educational technology should be introduced into remote areas first, other areas later;
Learning is most likely a self-organizing system.

1. REMOTENESS-- not poverty or poor infrastructure or the size of a school--affects learning. What did Sugata Mitra's research reveal about the effects of remoteness on teachers?
2. Which communities does Mitra think should receive new technology first and why?
3. What evidence does Sugata Mitra find to conclude that learning is mostly a self-organizing system?

4. Analyze the behaviors of impoverished kids helping themselves and each other to learn using the computer.
  • Describe three behaviors you see these kids doing to learn.

5. Our beliefs about learning and learners is created and sustained by our own experiences.
  • Which of your beliefs about learning and learners changed observing kids of different ages teaching and learning without adults telling them what to do?

Essa Academy.jpg
Essa Academy, England

I don’t see technology as an add-on, a nice option to have. It’s what enables learning and creates an environment that sparks creativity.” Badat, Headmaster, Essa Academy

external image Camera-video.pngView Essa Academy, England: 40 languages, poverty, 100% success

6. Analyze innovations that technology interestingly made possible at Essa Academy.
  • Bullet list three changes to ways students are learning.
    • In a second bullet list, cite three methods that make classroom instruction creative for teachers.

7. As a high school student, what experiences with technology were in classes for your learning? Were these interesting to you?

8. Relating Essa Academy's teaching and learning innovations to yourself, what features would have interested you and propelled your learning in high school classes—both those you liked to attend and those you didn't like to attend?


external image Bloomtaxonomy.jpg

external image 1000509261001_1822941199001_BIO-Biography-31-Innovators-Steve-Jobs-115958-SF.jpg

Steve Jobs and a team of scientists, engineers and inventors, believed that they could achieve something unique and unknown. Starting at the top and descending to the bottom of Bloom's Taxonomy, unending revisions of design, constant mistakes and experimentation were how they engineered, invented and produced never before seen learning tools: personal portable computers, iPods, iPhones, and iPad technologies that allowed other companies to design alternate versions.

external image Polybooks.png

9. Which of these thinking skills do you utilize most often and which do you utilize least often in your college class assignments?

external image Crystal_Clear_app_desktopshare.pngSERIOUS GAMES FOR LEARNING

JAVA is needed to play some of the games. Safari does not support Java. Use Google Chrome and/or Mozzilla.

CHOOSE 2 games to play alone or with friends.
1 mathematics and 1 English/language arts
1 science and 1 history/social studies

10. Describe for EACH game all levels of Bloom's Taxonomy of higher order thinking skills used when playing.

UMASS library computers should be able to run these games. If they do not, ask at the help desk why not.

Computors in ILC and Furcolo play these.

Most of the games require updated Java plug in or Adobe flash on your own computer.

History/Social Studies

  • Trade Ruler offers a simulation of economic relationships between nations.

  • 1066 puts individuals or groups in the Battle of Hastings.

  • Inca Investigation explores the culture and society that stretched for more than 3000 miles along the west coast of South America.

  • High Tea puts players in the role of a 19th century British smuggler in China exchanging opium for silver to trade for tea.

  • Image Detective is a tool that teaches students how to analyze historical photographs

Animated Sierpinski Triangle by Dino at en.wikipedia
Animated Sierpinski Triangle by Dino at en.wikipedia


  • Your life on Earth from BBC an interactive comparison of information based on your birthdate.

Java must be enabled on the computer to use the virtual manipulatives.


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Screenshot from the game Pulse

Google Chrome supports these. With other browsers, Java will need to be enabled.

English/Language Arts

  • Spelling Bee, click on Spelling Bee in the middle of Visual Thesaurus page

Class 3 Outline

All Class Opener

Student Disengagement from School

Maria Montessori and Bloom's Taxonomy

Sharon Workshop.................:
Bob Workshop: Interactive Digital Writing Tools...............
Student Led Workshops................:

When someone has success with a hoola hoop or a yoyo, their beliefs about what they can do are transformed, particularly if they had never been successful previously. They feel capable and joyous.
  • Experiences create beliefs and beliefs change as we successfully learn how to do new experiences.
Site Meetings


NOT the assignment:

In-Class Workshops
  • iCivics features games that explore the rights of individuals in American society; former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor is one of the organizers of this initiative.
  • Stop Disasters! is a series of disaster and crisis prevention games from the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.
  • GeoGuessr
  • Phet Science Simulations interactive math and science games from the University of Colorado
  • Lord of the Flies interactive game from NoblePrize.org

13 Must-Have Virtual Science Lab Apps, Tools and Resources

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Gallup Student Poll, 2013

Arrange group in pairs or trios

We are looking at digital connections to learning this week because technology is now a total feature of the lives of students. Students embrace technology and want to use it not only for communication and entertainment, but for learning.

School, however, is not embraced by many students as seen by the research on the Engagement Cliff.

For students to activate their multiple intelligences, to learn from mistakes and to build growth mindsets, they must be engaged with learning.

Technology offers tools for engagement as we shall see in today's workshops.

Bob In-Class Workshop: Word Mover Poetry Writing Interactive


In all the workshops today, we seeking to answer the question: What Can You Do with Technology That You Cannot Do Just as Well Without It?
  • We are also addressing the Engagement Cliff

Divide the group into two groups:
  • Ask first group: Why is it important to teach students about poetry and have them write their own poems?
    • Ask the second group: Why might students resist or be reluctant to write poetry? (just like some students were reluctant to try to hula hoops or the yo-yos last week)


1) How many of you have written what is called Found Poetry?
  • How many of you have played Magnetic Poetry?

2) In pairs and trios, open the site Word Mover, from National Council of Teachers of English, and compose a found poem
  • Use the word bank, the background, the drop and drag features.
    • How did the experience of composing a poem on the computer differ from paper and pencil?
      • How might an online tool like Word Mover engage students, especially reluctant writers?

Word Mover from NCTE Student Interactives

3) If time, introduce the role of SIRI or other voice assistants on computers or phones.

4) Question: Paper and Pencil vs. Computer Test Scores
  • Why are standardized test scores for some students worse when they take exams on computer vs. taking them in paper and pencil formats?
    • Lower scoring students were less familiar with using technology based on home and school experiences

Comparing Paper-and-Pencil and Computer Test Scores
  • "Students who had greater access to technology in and out of school, and had teachers that required its use for school assignments, used technology in more powerful ways" and "scored significantly higher on the NAEP writing achievement test"

    • role of "facilitative" computer skills such as keyboarding ability and word-processing skills.
      "When a student [who has those skills] is generating an essay, their cognitive resources are focused on their word choices, their sentence structure, and how to make their sentences more interesting and varied - not trying to find letters on a keyboard, or the technical aspects of the computer,"

  • Technology makes possible interactive learning that make it possible for students to experience and remember academic content.

Alternative Opener
  • I want to tell you a story, but to do so I need certain ingredients. What are those ingredients that every story (fiction or nonfiction) has?
    • Characters
    • Setting or Place
    • Plot
    • Problem/Resolution


  • Teacher Sinead Meany, a TEAMS Graduate, decided to teach students about the essential elements of stories by taking old tales from popular culture and asking students to either Disnefy or Fracture them

  • What is DISNEFYing a Story?
    • A form of editing that renders a story "safe" for juvenile audiences (or the parents thereof)
      • removing undesirable plot elements or unpleasant historical facts,

      • adding Broadway-style production numbers,

      • reworking whatever else is necessary for a Lighter and Softer Happily Ever After Ending.

      • A clearer line between good and evil, which may cause one character to be forced into the mean villain role.

      • Talking Animal sidekicks tend to be tacked on somehow.

  • Another way for students to learn the elements of stories is to create their own Fractured Fairy Tales

  • In pairs and trios, brainstorm would you disnefy or fracture a fairy tale or old story?

  • Show middle school student examples from Cinderella page on Teaching Resources for English
    • Cinder-Smella
    • Snow Queen in Hawaii

Additional Activity if there is time

  • Getting Students to Use Words and understand How Speakers Use Words are essential to successful reading and writing

Other Serious Learning Games

  • Pyramid Builder

  • Nuclear Darkness, Global Climate Change and Nuclear Famine to see the effects of a nuclear bomb on a city

  • Rubble! from the website Killer Asteroids developed by the Space Science Institute. More games include: Light Curves, Deflect an Asteroid, Risky Business and What Hit My Town?

  • For more science-related games, see Possible Worlds website Playing to Learn: Using Games to Help Teach Difficult Concepts

  • The Republia Times lets you create a daily newspaper and try to increase your circulation numbers.

  • Spelling Bee from Annenberg Learner (with quizzes for different grade levels)

Serious Games And The Future Of Education
Describe three ideas in 'Serious Games and the Future of Education' that persuade you of the power of learning with serious games.


Google Street View:

Geography Assessment:

Image from National School Boards Association
Image from National School Boards Association