Check it out!
I just moved the games on the Thinking Skills Club website to bpuzzle.ca (because of the Brain Puzzles used to track student progress and because I'm in Canada) to make it easier to type into the address bar.
Check it out!
SimCityEdu is a new version of the popular game for schools. Students manipulate variables that affect a city's growth, and see the results of their decisions evolve before their eyes.
Cognitive Scientist Andy Clark suggests in his book, Natural Born Cyborgs, that SimCity may be good for learning about emergent complex systems, including our own brains:
"gently manipulating a few variables, such as zoning and land prices, you may be able to bring about some effect, for example, to encourage the building of a new shopping mall. The domino effects here will surprise you, as new ghettos and high crime areas emerge in its wake. The bigger the city, the more complex the interactions. The skill of “growing” a thriving, happy city is precisely the skill of embracing co-control. It is the skill of respecting the flow, while subtly encouraging the stream in some desired direction.
"StarLogo, SimCity, and its recent companion “The Sims” are designer environments that can help biological brains learn to get to grips with decentralized emergent order. They can help us develop skills for understanding those peculiar kinds of complex systems of which we ourselves are one striking instance. Experience with such tools should be compulsory elements in our educational practice."
My weekly cartoon on Chalkes at Edreach.us. Interesting link re: robograding
The following poem is by a 14 year old girl named Rylie who has synesthesia, a quirk of the brain in which she sees colours attached to numbers and names and also has physical sensations about things like food.
There is research that says we all have this kind of experience as infants or in the womb when the thalamus, the place where information from different senses is processed and sorted in our heads, is being formed, and for some people it continues in various forms throughout their lives.
It can be an advantage (seeing numbers in colours can make them easier to recall) or not (people don't understand you, the sensations can be overpowering sometimes). For more information about synesthesia check Wikipedia.
Rylie VanOrsdol is currently a sophomore in college with a 4.0 and will start college at age 15.
Michael Schneider, says, “Mathematics is a way to read the world of nature and technology around us. If a teacher can convey this, the entire world becomes an exciting textbook.”
Nicely put, but that's a big IF.
This week's Chalkles cartoon (Edreach.us) illustrates the way school districts are committing themselves through purchasing to single, mostly opposing operating environments. The third player not included here is Samsung, who is distributing tablets with built in curricula and classroom management. Windows and the low coat Aakath tablet are other vendors vying for this market. It shows to an extent how technology is not only entering but commercializing the classroom. How much is educational improvement and how much is brand imprinting strategy? And do we care as long as the result is awesome?
From our recent press release:
The Thinking Skills Club, an innovative school club where kids play computer games that develop learning capacity, is showing up in a variety of settings this Fall:
For full press release see http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/10/prweb11252753.htm
This is my son's brain.
On my website, tskillsclub.com (an uninspired name if there ever was one--where are those marketing people when you need them?), it shows he's beaten:
The EF game is Bad Ice Cream. He had to get to level 15. It's very challenging, and I'm very proud. The graphic is supposed to show his progress through the site and also the balance of functionality in his cranium. He has a terrific memory, I'll have to get him to do some memory games to show it. He could use more focus; I'll try to get him to do Ping Pong 3D (he's great at ping pong in real life, and can actually focus really well when he wants to (which isn't always when others, esp. adults, want him to)). I should also get him over to the Processing Speed section to fill that up, he plays piano at home. He might have won some games he didn't claim for, but he does play some of the same games over and over. I think he's won more than one piece in a column, which doesn't register. I'll have to pay closer attention myself.
We had a session of the club yesterday at his school, 13 kids showed up (max. is 20). I was disappointed not to see any Grades 5 and 6's there, I'll have to talk to the principal. This was the first time I'd tried online registration and payment, and only half of the kids who came were paid up. Two weren't actually supposed to be there, their mom was looking for them all over. I'm thinking of running it as a drop in, $10 a visit (one of the kids who did register was sick).
I think it's hard for parents or a school to evaluate the club without having seen it in action. That's why I made a video two years ago, when the club was at its height, but it's only had under 200 views even though it's on the front page of my website (it doesn't run automatically, Weebly doesn't have that option). It's really perfect for public schools, because it's easy for a teacher to run, but here in Toronto, at least at our school, the teachers don't lead a lot of after school activities and they don't seem to be something the school really promotes or values. I've started calling private schools (should have started in September) and there seems to be some potential there but who knows. There were Boys and Girls clubs expressing great interest last Fall, but none of them came through due to budgets and key people being unable to sell it to higher ups.
I'll keep promoting it to the private schools and take it to the Learning and the Brain conference in Boston in November, people who actually see it get excited and some of them ought to be able to start new clubs this year. Really, if a teacher wants to do it they can start right away. Call it a computer game club if that gets more kids interested. It's so easy and I think so potentially beneficial, I'm really stumped that more people haven't glommed onto it by this point.
I think I'll promote the docu-style video on Youtube. I didn't before because I didn't think people would sit through it, but at least it could be inspiring.
Oh, and there are also no subscribers to this blog, which I used to write and promote more frequently. Blogs started as online diaries, not "10 Ways To Crimp Your Hair" lists and infographics. We are living in such commercial times, Twitter has turned everyone into a salesman. Charles Schultz would have a fit.