Reflections of My Students

The classroom that I’ve been apart of so far is an eighth-grade classroom at Hathaway Brown middle school. Hathaway Brown is an all-girls school, which plays an important role in how the students interact with each other, their teacher, and myself. From observing their interactions so far, the students seem very laid back inside of the classroom. They all seem fairly comfortable, and each student has her own group of friends that she sits by. Almost everyone participates in class, and there is a lot of friendly communication going on before and after, as well as during class. Outside of their friend groups that they sit by, they don’t interact much with any of the other students. I find it really interesting because the class is comprised of around fifteen students, and there are five distinct groups that have formed. They talk to each other, walk in together, and help each other out during class, but don’t interact with any other student.

Ms. Renee Van De Motter is my cooperating teacher, and she does a great job in class. She really engages her students and holds them accountable for their own learning. For the most part, all of the students in class sit upright, and are attentive to what she is teaching. An emphasis in class is for students to lead the discussion, she will ask if there were any homework problems that anyone struggled with, and she’ll go over them at the beginning of class. She never gives any student a direct answer to a problem that they have a question too, as instead, she will try to point them in the right direction and allow that student to finish the problem on their own with her guidance in mind. The students all seem to get along with her well, and they definitely participate in class, which is essential for her teaching style.

Ms. Van De Motter’s classroom is dependent on the use of technology. She uses a white board and a projector to do all of the math work, as well as using it for class and lecture notes. Each student has their own iPad, which they all use to take notes and complete worksheets and homework problems. The students really excel in using this technology, and Ms. Van De Motter does as well. The technology is used flawlessly inside of her classroom, and it allows her and her students to go back to past notes and examples, as well as providing a means of completing homework every night.

The students that I have talked to are well-versed in social media. Many of them have the main three, in my opinion – Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter. Not every student is on social media, but four of the six students that I talked to expressed that they use social media daily.

The small group size of the class that I touched on earlier is aligned with the small group dynamics that we have discussed in regard to digital storytelling in class. I believe that this class would benefit from digital storytelling, as although the use of technology is present in class every day, it isn’t uniquely used in a way that a chalkboard and textbook couldn’t be used in a similar manner. Some of the students in class seem bored to be in a math class at the end of the day, so I believe that digital storytelling could help enhance the learned of those students by helping them to understand the implications and connections of what they are learning. The pedagogical implications for implementing digital storytelling and multimodal composition into a classroom such as this, would be that digital storytelling and multimodal composition are simply tools that can enhance the pedagogy of a teacher. In no way are digital storytelling and multimodal composition vital to success for students in the classroom, but they might help out a student or a few, who, especially in a math classroom, might be struggling to pay attention or keep their attention or focus during class. These are tools at a teacher’s disposal that could relate to any lesson of any day of the week, and that adaptability is what makes digital storytelling that much of a factor in a pedagogical aspect. Simply put, digital storytelling is like a good car insurance company (if one exists). It’s there for you when you need it, so use it when needed.

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Gaming Post 3 – Lumosity

Comparisons to Transformation Golf and Trig Mini Golf

Lumosity is a much different game compared to Trig Mini golf and Transformation Golf. Lumosity is focused much more on daily practice, which could be seen as a type of Gee’s ideas about drill and practice, with less emphasis on the “drill” and more emphasis on the “practice”, while Transformation Golf and Trig Mini Golf are both centered on mastery learning. Both of the golf games take one particular aspect of mathematics and ask the player to go at it and master translations, rotations, and reflections, or to master trigonometric functions and finding the side lengths on a triangle. Lumosity is different, where each mini game is just a small portion of a larger picture. One single mini game goes a small way at enhancing a player’s critical thinking, or challenges a player’s memory, but doesn’t “hammer away” at a specific mathematic standard. I definitely see how both of the other games could be directly used in a classroom, but Lumosity isn’t as easily transferrable. Lumosity gives students the ability to customize their learning experiences, while the other two games do not. Lumosity is much more of a “brain training” game, than it is a useful tool for the classroom.

Gaming Post 2 – Lumosity

Reactions to the Game

I have played Lumosity now for a few weeks, and I am realizing that this program could be very helpful given the right situation. As others have noted, and as I have seen myself, Lumosity is very limited in its basic form, without having to pay any money. In this state, I would not find it useful to bring into a classroom because students will only be allowed to play three mini games a day instead of five, and many of the mathematics games are locked. If it were possible to receive a grant or funding from the school to set up accounts for each student, then the game would be much more useful. Gee would think that this game serves a co-design, because students would then be able to listen to suggested games from the program, but would ultimately be able to choose which games they would play. This would not be possible in its limited version, though. Lumosity also serves as a pleasantly frustrating (Gee) program, since the mini games have to deal with quick responses, problem solving, and scores for the player at the end of each game. Some mini games in Lumosity also are cycles of expertise. Some of the games have various levels to them, where you level up based on your past experiences playing that mini game. In the limited version that I played, cycles of expertise were very evident because I had a limited selection of games to play, so over time I found myself playing the same game for the third, fourth and fifth times, but each time I was challenged more because the mini game was slightly more difficult, or added a twist or another variable to it. Gee would definitely enjoy some of Lumosity’s mini games because they hold many characteristics that he shares about problem solving games.

Gaming Post 1 – Lumosity

Intro To Lumosity

The video game that I have chosen is called LumosityLumosity is an online brain-training program that offers 40+ games and puzzles aimed at training specific areas of the brain. These areas are: Speed, Memory, Attention, Flexibility, and Problem Solving. Lumosity uses these games and puzzles, along with research in fields such as psychology and mathematics from over 40 university researchers worldwide. I heard of this game from one of my friends in high school, who played football, and who unfortunately had a few concussions. He played this game as a means by recovering from the concussion and improving the memory, attention, and flexibility of his brain. Lumosity is a free game available online, or through and app from the App Store on Apple devices, and I’m not certain, but I am pretty sure it is available via Google Play as well.

Creating An Account

The first step in playing this game is to create an account. This game builds on itself, so it is important to use the same account so that the game can properly assess the brain function of the individual playing as the results from the games he or she plays build up over time. The game will ask for an email address, name, and password, along with a few other questions such as education, job, etc. Next, the game will prompt the user to take the “Fitness Test”.

The Fit Test

The “Fit Test” is a series of thee mini games that allows Lumosity to form a baseline for the individual playing in various areas. This original test is used to define the skill level and mental ability of the individual playing for the first time, so that the next time he or she logs in to play, the games and puzzles will be more fit to his or her capability.

1st Pic

The first game that I played was in the Attention category, and was called “Train of Thought”. This mini game consisted of different colored trains that popped out of a tunnel, and there train stations for the trains to go that were colored corresponding to the color of the train. The game started off simple, with three colored trains and only three train stations. The way the game works is that the player could control various switch tracks so that the train could make it to the correct color station.

2-Attention

Quickly though, this game became more difficult, as there were eight different colored stations, and the trains began to come through the tunnel with more velocity, and with less time and space in between each train. I thought this game would be easy, but with so many tracks to switch and colors to keep track of, I found this game to become challenging very quickly. At the end, the game gave me a score recapping how I did.

2-Attention End

I then went on to play my next game, which is called “Color Match”. It is based off of a simple idea and one that has been used for years. The player is given two words, one on the left and one on the right. If the word on the left matched the color of the word on the right, the player must press the right arrow key. If the word on the left did not match the color of the word on the right, the player must press the left arrow key.

2-Flexibility

On top of this, the game was timed, and the quicker and more accurately that the responses were recorded, the better the score the player would get. I found this game to be a bit of a challenge, but I did very well. I almost messed up a couple of times, but in the end, I had a very high score. Just like “Train of Thought”, the game ended and recapped my score.

2-Flexibility End

Feeling confident as ever, I then went onto play the final game of the “Fit Test”. This final game is called “Chalkboard Challenge”. This is a math-based game that uses inequality symbols to compare two numbers or expressions. The goal was to correctly figure out which of two numbers/expressions was greater, or if the two were equal.

3-Math

Similarly to the other two games, “Chalkboard Challenge” started off easy, and eventually became complicated with long calculations and more difficult mental math problems. I did well in this game, but still had a few answers that were incorrect, and this game was very enjoyable to play.

At the end of each of the games, there would be an explanation page highlighting what was being tested in that exercise.

3-Math End

It was helpful to see the significance of each test, and being able to see exactly what I was training was beneficial to my overall experience. At the conclusion of my third game, Lumosity provided me with a results page.

Results

Results

This page showed how I performed compared to others in my age range that I had specified at the beginning. After this page, the game went on to ask me about preferences, such as “Would you like to receive notifications?”, “Do you prefer to be encouraged, or given tough love while training?”, “Do you want an easy, fun experience, or a more difficult experience?”, etc. I found these questions to be very important, as they allow each user to fine-tune their own experience to be more enjoyable for what he or she wants to get out of the program. For me, just playing for fun, I opted for the easy, fun experience with encouragement, while my friend from high school may have gone a different route in recovery from his concussions.

Overview

Overall, this game is very user-friendly and can be adapted to each individual who plays it. I like the fact that I can work at my own pace and that each game is personalized to my training. It seems to be a very clean site with good graphics, and it is very nice that I can log into my account and play from both my laptop and my phone at and time. I look forward to my next steps in Lumosity.

About Me

My name is Kevin, I’ve never really had a nickname, you can call me Kevin, and my preferred pronouns are he/him.

I was born and raised in Northeast, Ohio, and I currently live in North Royalton, which is about 40 minutes away from John Carroll to the southwest.

I am a huge sports fan, especially Cleveland sports, and if I had to pick a favorite team, it would be the Browns. Along with seeking a future employment as an educator, I also plan to work as a coach in either football or basketball. Naturally, I am an introvert, so I struggle to put myself out there, but having a close and tight-knit class helps me to feel more comfortable to speak in front of others. One odd quirk about me is one pupil in my eye is normally larger than my other pupil, but some days they are the same size. I love dogs, I have a German Shepherd, and my favorite season is fall. (football season!)

As I touched on earlier, I like to have a tight-knit classroom where everyone respects and values each other in order for me to feel fully comfortable. I feel that when everyone shares a matured level of respect, I will feel comfortable and capable of taking intellectual/creative risks in a course.

I can’t think of an exclusive artice that I read, but I am really passionate about lunch programs and the accessibility of adequate and healthy foods for kids in schools. I’ve attached a link to a webpage that has some good resources and information about lunch programs given by the Ohio Department of Education here. It is my opinion that it is the duty of the school to provide full care for all its students while they are under that school’s roof, including tending to and caring for the physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health of each of its students. When I was in grade school and high school, the food was all cheap and unhealthy – this mainly due to the fact that both the food company’s and school’s focus in buying and supplying the food wasn’t to benefit the kids, but rather to benefit their own businesses and wallets. Schools should be doing more to care for the physical well-being of each of its students.

A few questions I have for this class:

How easy is it to adapt to modern technologies and advancements inside of the classroom to benefit student learning?

What do you think are the major cons regarding technology’s role in classrooms today?