Sunday, December 10, 2017

What Are You Reading?

How do you know what your website readers are ‘actually’ reading? Over the past six months, we have been making first seen on

Friday, December 8, 2017

We Need To Pop Differentiation Bubble!

Can teachers actually meet the needs of all their students? Let’s recap on the educational silver bullets of the past first seen on

5 Lies I Used to Believe About Teaching But I Don’t Anymore

Vicki Davis on episode 205 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

When I first started teaching, I used to believe some things about the profession that I just don’t believe any more. In today’s final episode of season 2, I reflect on those lies and how I’ve grown in my practice. I hope it helps starts some conversation about what matters in the classroom. How about you? Do you have any lies about teaching you used to believe but don’t any more? Do you agree or disagree? Share in the comments or tweet me!

Today’s sponsor: Metaverse is a free simple augmented reality tool. Students can program. You can also use and create breakout educational experiences. See or download the Metaverse app today.

Listen Now

Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.


Enhanced Transcript

5 Lies I used to Believe About Teaching But I don’t Anymore

Link to show:
Date: Friday, December 8, 2017

Lie #1: Tests Measure Learning

Well, the first one is that tests actually measure learning.

So I was always a pretty good test taker in high school and in college, although I never really “rememborized” very well.

But I really used to think that if I had a 250-question test, and the kids got all the right answers, then they actually knew the content.

That was until a week or two later, when I started asking questions about what we tested on, and realized that they did not have any deep learning. They were just memorizing the facts.

Well, we got rid of those big huge tests, mostly because my curriculum director said I had to, not because I really believed it.

And we went to Project Based Learning.

The first big project was the Flat Classroom Project, which went on to win ISTE’s award in 2006 for the best online learning project, that I co-created with Julie Lindsey, who at the time had been in Bangladesh.

That project was astounding. We did that for several years.

And now we do global projects every single year in my classroom, and have since 2006.

Well, I realized that the learning doesn’t really stop now. Students remember, much later, all the projects they did. They remember the movies they made. They remember the inventions that did.

It really cemented for me — when a student who graduated about 8 years ago. He’s now a dentist and doing very well. We sat down and had a conversation at our Fall Festival recently. We literally picked up the conversation where we had left off. It was very Socratic. It was asking questions back and forth.

He said that he had seen some new technology, and he wanted to know what I thought about it. It was literally technology that we had talked about when he was in my classroom. He and a friend of his had been messaging back and forth, and he said, “Oh! Ms. Vicki’s right again!” about a particular topic.

But also what he doesn’t remember is that I kind of led them that direction, so they came to those conclusions. But still, through projects, through invention, through creativity, through learning. That is true teaching.

When somebody comes back, and they’re 25 or 26 years old… and they’re still having conversations about the things that you did in class?

I mean, he literally told me about the day that I introduced Twitter and what he said. He had said not such nice things, that it would never amount to anything. In this case, he was wrong and I was right. I’m not always right.

But I think the point here is that with authentic projects, with making, with inventing, with creating — I really know that I’m teaching, much more than I ever did with those 250-question tests.

So, that’s the first thing. I just don’t think that those tests really did teach what I thought they taught.

Lie #2: “Don’t smile until Christmas.”

Well, I never was very good at this because I was the Georgia Peanut Princess and I liked smiling, but you know, it’s about relationship. It really is.

Those early years I struggled, because I did not have the relationship with my students that I have now. Part of it was that I was just so — I hate to say, ‘ a stick in the mud” — but I didn’t bring myself to school. I didn’t share things with my students at school.

In fact, it was kind of a little while before I started sharing a lot of the blogging and things that I was doing, and Twitter, and all of this adventure that I go on in my life outside.

And you know, we need to have that relationship. Part of that relationship is smiling — and not just smiling, but laughter and having a great time.

Lie #3: Kids learn just like I did.

See, this is a problem that many teachers have. When I was in the business world, one of the first rules of marketing was not to think that everybody is just like you, when you’re marketing to them. In marketing or advertising meetings, people would say, “Well, I wouldn’t be interested in that.” And you’d look at them and say, “Well, you’re not the the target market.”

Well, you’re not the target market, teachers.

The brains have literally changed now. They have shorter attention spans. They scan. There are so many things that you can read about brain research.

But kids don’t learn like we do.

In fact, I’m very visual. A lot of my students are auditory. SOme of them are learning “To be, or not to be,” for their English teacher. They will download that and let them listen to it on their phones as they learn it now. They learn differently. They don’t learn like we do.

We need to understand that we are not teaching ourselves. This is not a class full of mini-mes. This is a class full of unique individuals who learn differently. And not only do they learn differently, than we do, they’re part of a different generation than we are.

So we need to try to get in their minds to understand how they learn, so that we can teach to them.

Lie #4: I have to stay on task with content learning 100% of the time in class.

That’s a lie that I used to believe! I thought, you know, 52 minutes. And I still will talk to my kids about spending 52 minutes on task. That’s very important to me.

But there are times to have conversations. When tragedies strike, when difficult things happen, there are times when I will stop everything and we will go on to a different topic that I didn’t have in the lesson plan.

There are time that kids ask to talk about things.

For example, we’re doing Hour of Code this week, but I have a little bit of extra time, and a lot of students have been asking me about introverted versus extroverted. So I had a little tool to kind of help guide them through that and talk about the difference between introverts and extroverts.

This was a very important conversation, because one of the student took the test, and then she looked at her score, and then she thinks she is the “normal one.”

And I said, “No, no, no, no, no, no… HAH! Introverts and extroverts are both very important parts of the world, and we need each other. There is not one that’s better than another.”

We had a great conversation about introverted versus extroverted, the differences, and how we each have something different to bring to the world.

Well, that wasn’t originally on the lesson plan. But if I had stayed on task, if I had said, “OK, everything that is content in the curriculum — that’s what I need to cover,” then we would have missed that very valuable lesson.

I can name literally thousands of such lessons that we go on, because I am a teacher. Yes, I am going to cover the content. But do I have to do it 100% of the time?

Sometimes, those great relationships that I mentioned earlier are built when I say, “How did you do this weekend?” and “Oh, I’m so proud of because of what you did in the play!” or “Why are you not in the play?” or “How’s basketball going?”

Or a kid will come in and say, “Well, I want to quit basketball.” We have these conversations that are life changing.

And I know this, because now I’m going on 15 years, and the kids will come back and tell me.

So, if all you do is 100% of the time content, I would argue that you’re really missing out.

I think a lot of administrators who think that teachers should be 100% all the time on the content — are missing out on what that’s like.

If you think about it, if a highway is 100% full, 100% of the time… then you have gridlock. Nothing moves. Highways are really more efficient around 45-60% full. And then they start really slowing down.

So you want to have some room in there for being a human being and not just a human doing.

And I’m not saying, just sit back and prop your feet up and whatever. And I don’t watch a lot of movies with my students, but we do have purposeful learning and sometimes go off script.

Lie #5: Every child can make an A in every single class

The fifth one… and this was very hard for me, because I came in believing that every single child could make an “A”… in every single class.

You know, children are different. I have two kids of my own with learning differences. I have three children, and two of them have learning differences.

I used to think that it somebody wasn’t making an “A” then they just weren’t trying hard enough, or some other reason.

But you know what? I have something I say to kids a lot now. And that is, “OK. This is a hard subject for you. Let’s get the best that we can get for you. But I want you to understand something. You are an “A” as a person. You are important. Whether you make an “A” in this class or not — if you give every single thing you’ve got and the best you can get is a “B” or the best you can get is a “C” — then that has to be enough.

I know tons of successful kids who were all “C”s in high school. I’m not saying grades aren’t important, but you know there’s just so much more to life than just the grades you make in high school. I’m sorry. There just is. So I’ve kind of changed — I’ve definitely changed my view on that.

I’d be interested to know some of the lies that you might have used to believe about learning.

But you know, teaching is heard. Teaching is difficult. I know I talk about that a lot, but teaching is important. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Bonus Lie: The money’s not important. It’s a noble profession.

You know, if I was going to add a lie — not about learning, but about teaching, it would be that, “Oh, the money’s not important. It’s just a noble profession.”

And teaching is a very noble profession. But I’ll tell you this. I’ve had to work really, really hard since my kids went to college to make up for the fact that I chose to be a teacher. It didn’t really hit home until my son graduated from college, and his starting salary was higher than my salary as a teacher.

And you know, I just think back to when I was 24 and 25, I made about five or six times what I make now. Sometimes that’s hard to handle, especially when you’re teaching kids whose parents make a whole lot more than you do. And there are a lot of people that complain, “Oh, we don’t need to pay teachers anymore.” It’s just difficult.

So I do think that money is important, and I do think that adequately funding education is important. Paying teachers a wage that is deserving of who they are — is very important to me. And I think I’ve dismissed that in the past. I think that’s a sixth and bonus “lie,” if you will. And I know that some schools do pay well, but many do not.

But teachers, don’t be discouraged. Teaching is a great profession. It’s worth it. We make a difference every day.

I love my students so much. I love teaching them.

And I hope that you do, too.

And I appreciate all that you’ve done to listen to Season Two of the 10-Minute Teacher, which is now officially ending. This is Episode 205, so we are finished with Season Two.

Season Two is ending: Please leave a review on iTunes!

I would love it and really appreciate it if you would go over to iTunes and leave a review on the 10-Minute Teacher.

Encore: Top 15 Episodes of Season Two

Now for the next three weeks, we’re going to be counting down the Top 15 Episodes of 2017. That’s right.

So we’ve had two seasons, Season One and Season Two of the 10-Minute Teacher.

We’ll pick up Season Three early in January.

Thanks and appreciation!

I’m just really grateful for all of you out there who’ve been listening to the show, encouraging me and Kip and all of us involved. I do have to give a shout-out to Kip Davis, my husband, who is the producer for the show. He’s done an incredible job. I had no idea he would be so good at it. You know, we’ve learned a lot along the way. I’m sure some of you have noticed, who were faithful listeners. Sometimes we’ve had a few little glitches. But we’ve learned.

We’ve got Dr. Lisa Durff, who has gotten her doctorate. I got to see her graduate and be draped and everything this summer. I was so proud of her. She’s our research assistant. She finds all of these amazing people for the show and handles all of the bookings.

We have Kymberli Mulford, who does all the transcriptions.

And if you haven’t check out the Shownotes, they’re really looking awesome now. We have full extended Shownotes, which helps those who need it for accessibility reasons, but also those who want to quote it for their research papers and that sort of thing as well.

So, thank you all. And we’re also very grateful for all of the sponsors who help make this possible, and fund the show as well as helping us to keep things rolling around here.

Thank you all. Thank you for listening to Season Two of the 10-Minute Teacher.

I hope you enjoy all of these encore episodes that we’ll be airing.

My email is always open for you. Email me at if you have any suggestions, ideas, or potential guests that you think we should interview.

Thanks for listening!

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

The post 5 Lies I Used to Believe About Teaching But I Don’t Anymore appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Metaverse for Augmented Reality: Program and Breakout in Augmented Reality

A sponsored review of a tool I'm using to teach programming

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Augmented reality is here. Finally! When Google Docs came out, I stopped everything and let all of my classes experience it. Also, I learned about Twitter, I did the same thing. Well, several weeks ago, I stopped everything and took all of my students into Metaverse. Augmented reality is going to be huge — I think it will be even bigger than virtual reality. Until now, however, we haven’t really had apps to help us see the possibilities of this technology. I think Metaverse will be an app to watch in this space. Today I’d like to explain augmented reality and how Metaverse works. I’ll also share how my students are using it to program.

In previous blog posts and shows, I’ve talked about augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). It’s important that we understand the difference.

Metaverse is the sponsor of this post. See their article, Create Magic in Your Classroom. All opinions are my own.

Virtual reality is where you put on some goggles and visually immerse yourself in an activity. You feel like you’re there. There are many exciting things about VR, but one of the drawbacks is that it’s really easy to forget where you are. There can be some inherent dangers in not knowing your actual location in the physical world.

How does Augmented Reality compare to Virtual Reality?

However, in some ways, augmented reality has far more potential than VR ever could. While we’ve all heard about (and maybe played) Pokemon Go, most of us don’t really understand what AR can do for us. So imagine this: Now you have the ability to overlay digital objects throughout the physical world, and your phone or tablet lets you peek into that “augmented world” and interact with these objects. Suddenly, there are an infinite number of ideas about the things you could interact with.

This gif shows what augmented reality looks like through the Metaverse browser.

So, for example, on a computer screen you can put objects in different places.  But it’s a 2D experience, so it’s flat. All you have is the screen.

But AR lets your physical world becomes the screen. Right now, we can look at and interact with these digital items through our cell phones. Eventually, our glasses or contact lenses will be AR-enabled, and we’ll be able to see these types of things without a handheld device, and they’ll just appear in front of us as if we were looking at a hologram.

What is augmented reality?

But the reality is that places will be augmented. The word “augmented” means “to add to something,” so we are adding another layer to reality. We are adding the digital world to our real, physical world.

Every experience has a barcode. When you download Metaverse onto your mobile device, click the “scan” button to launch the experience.

To me, this technology leap is similar to when Marc Andreessen programmed Mosaic, the very first web browser, and showed us how we could “browse the web.” All at once, we understood that we could see all of these things on the Internet — and we had graphical objects at our fingertips.

The same thing has happened with augmented reality.

Metaverse: The Augmented Reality Browser

Now there’s a battle to see which augmented reality browser our world will use. Metaverse might just be that AR browser.

I’ve been looking for others, but haven’t really found anything else that can do what Metaverse can do right now, although this is sure to be a hotly contested space.

Digital breakout boxes have a new form

You’ve heard of breakout rooms where people had to solve puzzles to get out of a locked room.

But in schools, you can’t lock students in a room, so people invented breakout boxes. Using their knowledge of history, science, or other subjects, students had to solve the combinations for the boxes to open them and receive the prize inside.

Well, now you can breakout in augmented reality. Here are five examples of simple breakouts, but you can find many more by downloading the Metaverse app and browsing them.

But even better, students can create their own breakout experiences.

Breakout Tutorial Playlist for Metaverse

Programming in augmented reality

Recently, while I was in Dubai, I had my students program in Metaverse. One group made an augmented reality tour of the school. Others made fun games and activities to teach about topics from pet care to comedy.

Metaverse has many different “triggers.” Like a regular video game or program, it can ask you to input a name that it will call you throughout the experience. Students can follow different paths through the experience based on your responses. They can take quizzes, answer questions, and earn points. Students can even “receive” virtual inventory items and “give” them to characters that you interact with on screen.

Here’s a sample of the first experience that a student and I created. She and I went into the app and had an experience up and being used in the Metaverse Augmented Reality browser in ten minutes.

Just look at the screen of your phone

All of this is done while you’re looking through the camera on your phone. The virtual objects display over your real world so that you can interact with them without losing track of where you are.

Think about it this way. Every single area of space around you could hold a virtual object. You could browse different objects based on the “experience” that you launched. So at one moment, you could be going inside the cells of a plant or animal. In the next experience, you might be walking through the planets.

One note: The location boxing feature is currently in development. This means that when you launch an item, it will appear right where you are. For example, if you wanted someone to open an experience and see a tour guide by the front office and another one standing by the computer lab, that capability isn’t quite there yet — but it’s coming. Instead, use the scavenger hunt feature and put QR codes in the locations where you want to launch the intelligent “tour guide” or character.

Metaverse is a fantastic way to teach programming and augmented reality. Launch it today and take a look.

Try Augmented Reality Scavenger Hunts

You can also make scavenger hunts with Metaverse. So, for example, you could take the QR code from different experiences and put them around your school or location. People launch them to get the clue or information. You can also add some programming to have them enter a code or number or solved puzzle in order to get the clue. So, these aren’t just augmented objects but they have intelligence.

You can also bundle experiences into groups to use in scavenger hunts as well.

How are teachers using Metaverse?

There’s a curated list of tutorial videos from teachers about how they are using this tool, but here are some of my favorite highlights.

Imagining an Augmented Future

This is much bigger than Pokemon Go. For example, imagine that you’re in a big city looking at ten restaurants across the street. You could look them up on Yelp to see what people say about them, or you could check current availability on OpenTable. However, that takes a lot of browsing time.

What if you could look through your glasses and immediately see the rating of each restaurant floating over the door? Or think about asking your glasses to tell you what kind of food each restaurant serves, and the answers would appear? Then you’d narrow your options and ask your device for the wait time. You could say, “I want a table for 8:00 at John’s Restaurant.” As you walk, everything is reserved.

The experience doesn’t have to end there. When you walk in, a digital representation of John appears and takes you to your table. He’s either a hologram, an overlay appearing on your glasses or contacts, or — at least with current technology — on your cell phone. When you get to your table, an AR waiter appears to take your order.

Eventually, of course, you’ll need a physical person to bring your iced tea or dessert. However, many of the initial interactions in a restaurant could easily take place with an AR object — one with a little bit of artificial intelligence, but it wouldn’t be that difficult to do.

Let your students imagine and augmented future

As we programmed in augmented reality, we also had possible discussions of our augmented future. You can have some amazing invention assignments as students envision and dream of a future with intelligent digital objects overlaying our physical world. Let’s augment our reality and learn!

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored blog post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The post Metaverse for Augmented Reality: Program and Breakout in Augmented Reality appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Virtual Reality (VR) as a New Educational Paradigm

Enrique Cachafeiro on episode 204 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Several virtual reality options are available for classrooms. Today’s guest, Enrique Cachafeiro talks about the hardware, software options, and future of virtual reality. He also discusses how educators can join the innovators who are crafting and exploring this new education paradigm today. If you’re interested in VR, today’s show is a must listen.

Today’s sponsor: Metaverse is a free simple augmented reality tool. Students can program. You can also use and create breakout educational experiences. See or download the Metaverse app today.

Listen Now

Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.


Enhanced Transcript

VR as a new educational paradigm

Link to show:
Date: Thursday, December 7, 2017

Note: Thank you, Enrique, for providing the photos and graphics in these enhanced show notes. They are examples of things he is using and that he has presented about virtual reality.

Vicki: Virtual Reality is a new education paradigm.

Enrique Chachafeiro @@8bitbiologist is an amazing presenter. I have to give a hat tip to Dr. Lisa Durff, who is my research assistant. She saw Enrique present in Second Life recently about how we can really change things using Virtual Reality.

So, Enrique, why do you think that Virtual Reality is going to change everything in education?

Why do you think Virtual Reality is going to change everything?

Enrique: Well, I think it has a number of advantages over other education technologies right now.

The biggest reason, I think, it’s the tool to go to, is the ability for it to be in the cloud and accessible to a large number of students and to bring an unparalleled educational experience to them that you can’t re-create in the classroom.

Vicki: So what are some of your favorite examples when you’re trying to convince people that this is a great model?

Enrique: Well, some examples that I’ve either done or suggested to them in the past have been…

For example, if you’re studying lakes in earth science, you know how many times can you get a classroom out to a lake to study the science of the lake. In Virtual Reality, you can do that whenever you want to.

In Second Life, I’ve visited the surface of Mars, for example. I visited the Smithsonian’s Rocket Exhibit that they have in Second Life.

A number of other things that can happen a lot easier and a lot faster — for any school that has access to the internet.

Great examples of VR, not just for schools with funding.

It doesn’t have to be just the schools that are close enough to a museum, or just the schools that have the funds to be able to send the kids to a lake, or to get the supplies or to get the kit.

All of a sudden, all you need is that access to get into the world, and then the sky’s the limit. You can really bring all kinds of experiences to kids anywhere in the country.

Vicki: There’s some incredible things you can do.

I know I was in Dubai recently at the EduTEch Conference with my students. We were trying out Google Expedition with a full classroom kit. They all had on their headsets, and I was able to control things and mark things in the sky. They were like in space.

And it’s almost hard to get your arms around, isn’t it?

Enrique: Yeah. Yeah. The possibilities are… We’ve just begun to scrape the surface.

There’s much more development to be done in the future.

With the headsets that they have now, the experiences are fairly limited. Those basically kind of field trips that they do? Those are real nice, but I think that there’s a lot more that we can do with it. Make it more immersive. Make the experience more all-inclusive.

Within the virtual environment, you get you learning, you get your assessment, you get your experience. Instead of just making it a part of the instruction, you do almost and entire instruction/lesson within the virtual environment through the tools they have.

So I think we’ve only been scratching at the surface of what they’re doing with it now. I think it has a lot more possibility for the classroom.

Vicki: So, Enrique, one of the challenges I’ve had when I’ve sued VR headsets is actually… I’ve kind of had to appoint a student to be a watcher for the student who is in VR, because they really do lose a sense of the physical world because they feel like they really are in reality.

How does that work in classrooms? I mean I’ve seen people have the kids on stools that turn around. I mean, what’s the way that we handle the fact that I’m in a physical world, but I’m also in a virtual world in a headset?

Enrique: Yeah, you definitely want to keep them seated.

Keep your students seated so they are safe!

Vicki: (laughs)

Enrique: It can be disorienting. You want to be on a chair. Otherwise you’re going to have yourself a whole lot of kids flopping around all over. And that wouldn’t be good. So you want to keep them on a chair. You want to keep the experience kind of contained.

Right now, the experience is a little bit limited with the headsets. You know, you have two tiers of headset, pretty much, at the moment.

That’s the high end Oculus Rift or Vive, which require a high-end desktop. If you had one of those in the classroom to play with, it’s not practical. I don’t believe it is practical in the future to use in the classroom. It’s too expensive of a device, you require the desktop, teachers can’t afford that, they don’t have to room for the desktop.

So I think what we’re waiting on, to really have the area explode, VR in education, are the mobile headsets that are running web VR — which we haven’t seen a lot of yet.

Who are the leaders in affordable VR for the classroom?

The technology for the web VR is there, though companies like SineSpace, Edorble, and Amazon just came out with Sumerian — which is based on it’s A-frame technology, which can run virtual worlds on mobile devices.

If you couple that with the cheap Google Cardboard headsets, and now you can have a Virtual Reality experience for — a hundred bucks — versus eight hundred bucks.

Vicki: Help me understand the differences between web VR experiences and like, Google Expedition.

What’s the difference between web VR and Google Expedition?

Enrique: So Google Expedition’s basically takes a 360 image and drops in the middle of it. Or several 360 images. So then you can basically like you were there. They took a camera, they go around and they have these images they took of a place, and then you feel like you’re there. Which is great! And if you haven’t ever been to somewhere, that’s fine.

But what I’m interested in is how do I teach cell biology to a kid? How do I teach Shakespeare to a kid? How do we do instruction?

Visiting places can expand your horizons, and let you visualize some things.

But what I want to do is much more hands-on, much more of, “OK, I want to visit a lake. I want to be able to have the kid dip something into the water, collect the water, look in the microscope for the fauna and the flora, etc.”

I want all that done within the virtual world, even though they’re in a classroom. We don’t have the microscope. We don’t have the equipment here.

But in the virtual environment, we can digitize and simulate that equipment and have the kids do the experience as if we had these thousands of dollars worth of equipment.

In a virtual environment, the kids can experience things as if we had expensive equipment.

To do that, we build a virtual environment like Second Life, where we can have digital microscopes, digital water, digital microbes floating around in the water they can see, etc. Re-create that. Just like Second Life, which runs on a desktop, but with that new technology, have that run on a mobile device that can be in the Google Cardboard so the kids can experience it.

The Google Cardboard devices — you can have a whole classroom set of those, have all the kids involved in the experience. Not just one or two on your very expensive Oculus Rift.

Vicki: OK, so you said it’s not really there yet. Is there anything in web VR that’s heading in the right direction that could help our listeners really kind of get a taste for this exciting technology you’re talking about?

Is any site moving in the right direction? Who should we begin to investigate?

Enrique: Yes. — which is a virtual environment, a virtual world made for instruction. They run on a desktop client, but they have the beta that runs on a browser, so you could run it, say on a Chromebook. Chromebooks only run stuff that’s on browsers.

Another one, SineSpace — which is completely web VR based. So all their virtual worlds — and they’re free to join up — run on browsers.

And the only thing with those two — the thing that is holding them back, I think — is that you’re required to know Unity. Unity is a software required to make games. You make the experience in Unity, and then you export it to the platform, which puts it on the web for you to be able to use.

Most teachers — and I consider myself pretty tech savvy — Unity has a fairly steep learning curve.

Vicki: Yes, it does.

Enrique: And most people don’t have time to do that.

Vicki: I tried it. And it totally kicked my hiney. I couldn’t do it.

Enrique: Yeah.

Vicki: I won’t say I couldn’t do it. I didn’t have enough time to do it. (laughs)

Enrique: Exactly. And you know most teachers won’t. And most teachers don’t have that kind of time. It’s just — we’re not programmers.

But, Amazon just came out with Sumerian, which is a much easier, noncoding based way to make virtual environments like a classroom or a lab or something IN web VR, using their new technology. Now Sumerian is in pre-D only, They sent out a few invites, so it’s still really, really new. However, it runs on Amazon web servers, and it seems to be a really good option to use in the future.

Vicki: Enrique, where do you envision we’ll be in five years with this?

Where will all of this be, in about five years?

Enrique: I’m hoping that within two years, we have the hardware — the hardware is still coming out for this — and the software out there to be able to do this.

But to be honest, it’s a little nebulous because what we don’t have is a group that is really invested in this. I mean, this is not a game. It’s not meant to make money.

The companies that are doing this right now are not making money with it because schools don’t have money. We’ve got to have a different model to use than traditional models because of the environment that we’re working with.

And the other problem is the paradigm. Right now we have a very established, traditional, industrial age paradigm for instruction — that is not budging, for all that we do.

All of the efforts of all the folks like you, like Lisa, like me, and other folks you talk to with innovation.

I was in the classroom for eight years, and I know that everything that I was doing in my classroom — I was hoping that other teachers would model and copy and ask me questions. And that was not the case.

So, it’s going to take a big idea, a big project, to be able to dislodge this traditional paradigm that we have in place. I’m not sure who’s going to be up for it, but I’m hoping they’re out there on the horizon.

Vicki: Enrique, as we finish up, what are the groups and organizations that you are a part of that you feel like ar making progress in this area? So that our listeners who are really excited about the potential can join in.

What groups can listeners follow to learn more?

Enrique: I recently went to the Serious Play Conference. It’s a great conference with a variety of teachers that talk about using games and recent technology to motivate kids and to get them interested. That’s a great group!

And through that particular conference, I met Peggy Sheehy…

Vicki: Oh, I love Peggy! She’s awesome.

Enrique: … who… Yeah, Peggy and Bron. And they introduced me to The Tribe. And The Tribe is a group of innovative educators who gather. We have a group on Facebook and Collaborate. We share ideas. We go to each other’s web conferences, and most importantly, we try to get the best of what we each do and share it with each other so we can hopefully borrow ideas and further the cause. And bring other teachers into it.

Vicki: Well, this is exciting! VR is a new education paradigm. I hope you’re enjoying Hour of Code Week. I hope that you’ll also take a look at VR, and experiment with it. I’ve got a lot to learn. I was excited about Expeditions, and now I love VR, and I’ve got some more things to play with!

So get out there, and play, and enjoy, and be remarkable!

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

Bio as submitted

Enrique Cachafeiro has spent the last decade finding ways to evolve the state of the classroom as to take advantage of new instructional technologies and strategies. He specializes in the the introduction of technology into the classroom, the use of innovative strategies such as blended learning and gamified learning, and in helping teachers and administration adopt these into their districts and classrooms.

Blog: Enrique Cachafeiro

Twitter: @8bitbiologist

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

The post Virtual Reality (VR) as a New Educational Paradigm appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Teaching History with Simulations and Game Based Learning

Dave Harms on episode 208 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

History teacher David Harms uses simulations to teach history. Whether it is World War 1, 2, the Cold War or the American Civil War, learn how these immersive “games” teach history much more deeply than most textbooks. We can engage and excite this generation about history. Here’s how.

Today’s sponsor: Metaverse is a free simple augmented reality tool. Students can program. You can also use and create breakout educational experiences. See or download the Metaverse app today.

Listen Now

Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.


Enhanced Transcript

History Simulations and Game Based Learning

Link to show:
Date: Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Vicki: Today we’re talking with David Harms @Hist_simulation, high school world history teacher from Iowa.

Now, David, you create interactive history simulations. Tell us about what you do.

Teaching: WW1, WW2, Cold War and the Civil War through Simulations

Dave: Well, I develop some history simulations — World War I, World War II, Cold War, Civil War — and we basically give students a country to run, and we give them some objectives that they have to follow to keep it within the context of history.

But then they really have the options of making choices based on their objectives to try to work their way through diplomacy, strategy, the war, negotiations. There are just really a lot of things going on all at once.

Vicki: Is this a computer simulation, or an in-class simulation?

Dave: It’s kind of both.

We have online platforms with our lesson plans as a subscription service. Teachers use those to manage the simulation.

But the student interactions with each other is really what the big thing is, because that’s where you get a lot of your critical thinking going on.

Student interaction is where critical thinking happens.

By them making their own decisions and interacting, it’s different every time.

It doesn’t necessarily have to end up the way the war ended up, but along the way, they become so interested that they want to know what happened and why.

Vicki: The subscriptions. Is this something that you wrote, or something you subscribe to?

Dave: No. This is something that I paid a programmer to develop for me, because the way we used to do it was with a Word document that I drew the countries on, and we used a spreadsheet with that.

Now, with the online platform, kids get a readable read-only map on their computers if they want — at home or wherever, anywhere in the world if they have the link, I guess.

The teacher can just drag-and-drop and double-click for battles to happen. They don’t have to do any calculations or anything like that. It just really makes it streamlined and easier for the teacher and more enjoyable for the student. And it takes a lot less time.

Vicki: OK. So tell us what you’re doing right now in one of your classes with a simulation. Describe what’s happening in class.

Dave: Well, when we’re doing a simulation… The first part of it usually takes a day to explain everything, to make sure they know.

A lot of times, they can be a little bit overwhelmed at the beginning, but once it gets rolling — the kids are just interacting.

They’re allowed to leave the room at any time to negotiate, with either their allies or their rival alliances. Kids are constantly meeting with each other. We’ve got substantive conversations going on.

Kids are allowed to leave the room at any time. They’re constantly meeting with each other. Even during lunch.

And the thing is, it doesn’t end in the classroom. A lot of the strategizing and the deal-making goes on at lunch. We kind of have a segregated lunchroom. If you’re a Central Powers, you might not be able to sit at a certain table…

Vicki: (laughs) OK…

Dave: … Because they all meet together, and they don’t want you to know what they’re talking about. It kind of spills over to the entire school — kind of watching it online. It’s very engaging. It doesn’t end when the class ends. It kind of keeps going.

Vicki: So — the other folks, the observers — can log in and see how different countries are doing? They’re actually able to watch what’s happening in the simulation?

Dave: Well, they can’t watch it in real time. They can see my map. Every time they refresh their browser, that map will update. It’s not like a live feed, but all you’ve got to do is refresh your browser, and you’ll see what’s happened, the changes that have taken place.

So, yeah. Parents can watch and see how their kids are doing. A lot of times that happens because they get interested in it. Believe it or not, they actually talk to their parents about what they’re doing, because they’re so excited about it.

They actually talk to their parents about what they’re doing.

Vicki: I’ve done some simulations before with the Arab-Israeli Conflict Simulation at the University of Michigan.

  • My students and Dr. Jeff Stanzler from the University of Michigan presented on this in 2013 at the Global Education Conference. Watch the presentation.. (Will launch video)

One of the challenges is that sometimes kids want to act out of character for their country. What happens to kids’ countries when the leaders start acting out of character?

Dave: For us, out of character would mean they’re going against their objectives. And you really can’t do that. It’s tied to their grade. No matter what they do, they’ve got to follow those objectives.

If, for example — Let’s say in World War I, Great Britain allies with Germany? There would probably be an impeachment of that leader by the classroom teacher. We don’t allow crazy stuff to happen, because that’s not the point of it. But we want to give them the freedom and the creativity to try to accomplish their objectives their own way.

So, as you can imagine, there’s lots of lying… and espionage going on in the background… and releasing information. I even had some kids take pictures of their top secret documents, alter them, and disclose them to their enemies…

Vicki: (laughs)

Dave: … And say, “Hey, I can do that for you. It’s not against my objectives.”

And then of course they didn’t, and they all ganged up on them, and… So it’s just kind of crazy.

Vicki: (laughs)

To help people understand, it’s like these kids are truly living it, aren’t they?

These kids are truly living it.

Dave: Yeah! They understand why, because the objectives that we have for them are the things that those countries wanted to complete — you know, territories lost 200 years ago, Serbia trying to build the Serbian empire back up, so they want these territories. It’s all based on historical facts. Then the kids have to navigate their way through it.

You can imagine, if you’ve got 16 different countries in here, and some of them have the same objectives, you’re obviously going to reach your conflict concept there.

Vicki: Yeah. So what’s the feedback? How deep is the learning?

Dave: Boy. I tell you. It’s just amazing.

One of the things that I really like about the online platform is that now I’m not just typing on the computer like a madman for 40 minutes. I can watch more what’s going on in the room.

Sometimes I just can’t believe the talks that are going on between people and where their thinking is. They’re thinking on so many levels. You know, “If I attack this person, how is Yugoslavia going to react?” Or, “How is the Soviet Union going to act if I nuke one of their territories?”

They’re thinking on so many levels.

It’s just amazing, because it heightens their interest in learning what actually happened because they’re always comparing what they did to what really happened in history.

Vicki: Hmmmmm. I can imagine that the conversations would be really, really deep and multifaceted when you talk about war, rather than a disconnected type of thing. They almost really feel an identification with those who went through it?

Dave: Oh my gosh. They become their country.

Vicki: Yeah.

Dave: I mean, I’ve had people get upset, and storm out of the room…

It’s an emotional thing, because when they attack a country, or they will break a treaty or something? You can’t hold anybody to a treaty; if they want to break it, they’ll break it. And they feel very betrayed by that, like if they were the country.

It’s really amazing, the emotional connection is what really makes it run, because it’s not like, “Oh, I don’t care. This is no big deal.”

It’s like, “Yeah. This is my country. I don’t want to lose my whole army.”

You know, they want to stay in the game.

Vicki: Dave, I’m just amazed that you have built it for all of these experiences, because I mean I’ve just taught it with one.

My nephew and niece are twins. One was the head of Israel, and the other was the head of Iran. They literally almost barely talked for six weeks because they were so into the game.

It’s hard for me to comprehend how much work it’s been, David. You’ve built it. Tell us all of the conflicts that you’ve built simulations for.

For what conflicts have you built simulations?

Dave: Well, I have the American Civil War. I have World War i. I have World War II. I have the Cold War.

This one’s not online, but I have an Imperialism simulation that we do as well. That’s really the first one that we do. And that one is kind of interesting because you’re juggling markets and industrial production and natural resources. You’re also taking over African and Asian countries to try to get those resources increased.

And the kids develop a sense of, “OK. These things are all related!” You know, you can’t produce 800 million widgets, and have a market that can only handle 200 million. There’s no point to that.

Vicki: So David, teachers are going to want to know how to find these, connect with you… We will put in the Shownotes your handles and all that sort of thing. But is there a website?

Dave: Yeah… … If you Google that, our website will come right up.

Vicki: Well, teachers. Simulations are such a powerful game-based way to teach. The teacher almost becomes the game master.

David is an expert at history simulations, so I hope all you history teachers out there get really excited and take a look at using simulations in your classroom!

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

Bio as submitted

Mr. Harms, World History Teacher at Iowa falls-Alden High School in Iowa Falls, Iowa. A 9-12 Building approximately 425 students. Design History Simulations and PowerPoint/Keynote Presentations. Also coaches Track & Football.

Blog: History

Twitter: @Hist_simulation

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

The post Teaching History with Simulations and Game Based Learning appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!