Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Time for Me to Blog About It

I know what you're probably thinking... what DON'T I blog about, right?  Nothing's off limits around here.  Personal stuff, classroom stuff, family, good times, bad times.  If it's on my mind, it's on my blog.

This space is my outlet, the place I share everything, my blank canvas.  I can sit down in front of my computer or iPad and let my mind paint with words.  I try to be creative and humorous, I try to be touching, inspiring, motivational.  And, I'm happy with the relationship that my blog and I have.

But, I've decided it's time to start seeing other people.

I mean, I think it's time I create a new blog.  One specifically for my classroom, or at least the Minecraft Project that I'm embarking in to.

While I LOVE sharing my life on my blog, including my teaching life, it gets a little hard to wade through the posts looking for a specific blog post I wrote about my classroom or the Minecraft project without having to hear all about my weekend, my personal woes, or my family.  And, for someone who's just interested in the classroom stuff, that's probably a little overwhelming for them to do.

So, why not have a blog that's just for my classroom?  My teaching ideas/projects.  Keeping the personal stuff right here where it belongs, and giving the professional stuff its own little home.

I've found that since starting the process for the Minecraft project, my head has been swirling with ideas.  What I want the students to do, what I want them to learn, how I want them to learn, how I want the project to play out.  But, when I try to explain my ideas, they don't sound as great.  I think I know how to fix that... by blogging about it.  That's where my talent lies, in my writing.

I can tell someone that my class is going to play Minecraft.  I can tell them the premise of the game.  I can tell them that my class will collaborate to build a world.  Yet, for the few people I've tried to explain it to, I'm met with a blank stare.  Like they don't understand what I'm talking about or what on earth playing a game will do to benefit my students' learning.

I am convinced that if I SHOW them, through a blog outlet, it may help people understand... and maybe even convince other teachers of the benefits.

A blog has the ability of allowing others to take a look inside my virtual classroom and see for themselves what's going on. I can show photos of what the kids are doing, write out the lesson plans to show the objectives, share the progress stories, kids' work, and even have the students help with creating our own webpage/blog to help bring others in on the action.

I'm already bursting with ideas for how the blog will look.  Tabs for easy navigation.  Lots of pictures.  Maybe even some videos to show the kids discussing, collaborating, and working.  A place I can easily point people to if they have questions or want more information.  And also a place I can store the action and information for my own benefit, to refer back to if needed.

I have a major opportunity with this project.  A chance to share with other teachers a way that technology and gaming can be brought in to the classroom and deepen the learning process.  Show others that technology and gaming can have a huge impact on learning variety, and a way to bring several subjects in to one place and require the students to use the skills they've learned and apply them to MANY real world applications.  OK, virtual world applications.  But, same principle.

Another major benefit I have is explaining and showing teachers that they don't have to be familiar with the game or technology for them to make it work.

Up until a couple of weeks ago, I had never played the game before in my life.  I'd heard about it, sure. But, before doing some research, learning a little about the game, and spending just a few days playing it, I would never have believed that the game would have any benefit to my classroom.  It's a video game.  How on earth would that help my students learn?

And only a couple of weeks later, I'm already bursting at the seams with stories and information I want to share with everyone.  The opportunities keep coming, keep presenting themselves.  And several of the ideas have come during the couple of times my class has gotten to play.

With a dedicated Minecraft blog, I can take that information, write about it, and BAM...it's there for anyone who's interested.  No having to wade through my personal life or ramblings to find what I've discussed, or how I did it, or how to go about doing it.

I think that tonight, when I get home from work, I'm going to create the blog.  I already have a name picked out, and tomorrow I will share the link so that anybody who's interested can have a look.

It won't take away from what I do here.  There will still be my daily ramblings about life in general, and other aspects of my teaching.  My teaching is a HUGE part of my personal life, so I can't take that away from this blog.  But, having an educational blog will really help me help others.  And that's what I want that blog for.

It can be a resource for other teachers, and information source for parents, and a place to go for anyone who just has the slightest interest in reading about my gaming classroom.

As much as some people don't want to admit it, this is the technological age.  Technology has a HUGE place in the classroom, and it's almost gotten to the point where technology just HAS to be a part of the learning process.  Using a computer, understanding how it works, discovering the abilities and opportunities technology offers.  I may teach in a school where many kids still don't have a home computer or internet service at their house, but that doesn't mean they don't need to learn everything they can through technology to better their lives.

I remember the first time a computer was in my home as a teenager.  If it hadn't been for the computer classes I'd taken at school, I wouldn't have known the first thing to do with it.  I wouldn't have known what on earth an email was or a search engine or web address.  

Now, the majority of my work is done through a computer.  My lesson plans are typed in to a website.  My textbooks used in the classroom are displayed on the SmartBoard by an online platform.  I play videos through various websites.  I research and plan using the web.  There's hardly a thing I do that doesn't have some technology component attached... so why not bring the students in on learning how to use the technology I use so often?

So, that's my plan.  To bring my classroom technology project to life through a blog so that others can see what we're doing, so I don't have to figure out the best way to explain it.  

But, right now, I need to get ready for work.  It's a training day for me, so I have to get to getting.


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