#DigiLit Sunday GiverCraft #EDGamify

DigiLit Sunday is a Sunday post on literacy, an invitation by Margaret Simon, to share literacy strategies and tools for the classroom. This week’s list of bloggers: Sunday, November 16, 2014.




Something exciting is happening to the balance of my classroom. It’s tipped to student control. We’ve been invited to participate in a Minecraft EDU based on the book, The Giver. The project is called Givercraft and was created at the University of Alaska Educational Technology EDET 698: Gamification and the classroom can be found on twitter at #EDGamify.

The purpose is:

“As educators it is our mission to provide high-quality, developmentally appropriate and engaging instruction to students. Through the use of MinecraftEDU students can demonstrate knowledge and understanding through building, collaboration and creativity. We hope to help fellow educators become familiar with alternative methods of assessment and instruction that integrates multiple subjects including technology.”

I have seen my grandchildren play Minecraft. I have tried it [installed on my iPhone]. All I can do is punch holes. Bam. Not good. So this is my chance to learn what my students want to use to learn with. It’s my chance to see how it works — -to become “familiar with alternative methods of assessment and instruction that integrates multiple subjects including technology.”

I participated in a practice session and failed. Miserably.  Have you ever taken a gaming personality test? I think this is the one I took last year. I’m an Explorer— off the charts. So I get frustrated with all the bangs and zombies and tedious builds. As Wikipedia says, “The Explorer will often enrich themselves in any back story or lore they can find about the people and places in-game” and “They often meet other Explorers and can swap experiences.”  That would be me.

So although I fail the MinecraftEDU teacher practice mission, I am thoroughly excited that my students will be able to create a Giver community based on the details of the book, working as a team to create the world of a “Nine.” And my students are thrilled, and that’s just the first task. The creators have developed modules that will require critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and problem-solving based on evidence from the book to meet Common Core State Standards. Students take screenshots of their work in MineCraftEDU GiverCraft and upload them to a private wiki to explain their evidence. This is awesome.

I succeed at being willing to let go of the control and allow students to take the lead. I’m the guide. I’ve done this with other tech platforms, such as BitStrips for Schools. I create the activities, and students learn the tool that demonstrates their understanding.

What do I mean by tipping the balance to student control? With our invitation, we had only two weeks to read the novel — and even then we had obstacles – my training days, sports, testing. We didn’t think we’d make it, but we will. Tomorrow we finish the book in time to start the game.

The control I tossed to the kids. Instead of worksheets and teacher guides, I handed the kids Post-It Notes. We knew we needed to understand the meaning of the book with evidence to support our ideas. So students listened to the story and added notes to the areas they thought were important. We’d stop and they would share  and discuss the story: its characters, its plot, its setting, its community, its rules, its world. Their ideas. Their analysis. Not my preconceived ideas. They took notes — on their own in their journals to remember the details of this “same and mean” world, as they summarized. This they do willingly, thoughtfully, even as usually struggling readers. I’m impressed.

In Givercraft, they will partner up and help each other with book and journal ready; but again, they will be in charge: thinking, communicating, collaborating, solving together with evidence from the text. They’ve signed their agreements of rules of behavior for GiverCraft and understand  this will be different than the game they usually play; they understand this focus is on learning from reading by creating and collaboration, and from writing by sharing their creations and explaining their evidence.

We can do this, and I [we] will learn how to build more units that take our required standards to a new level that totally engages students and promotes deeper learning. We will be a community of learners.

I’m so glad I dared to learn, just as I expect my students to do every day. It’s a great feeling to do this together, student and teacher.

#clmooc #clpoettag Poetry Tag Part 2



Poetry Tag Part 2

Poetry Tag June 30 +

For #clmooc Week 3, we played and created and hacked games. As a Language Arts teacher, I wanted a game that could fit our curriculum and spice it up with technology [or not]. I wanted a game for students to see themselves as wordsmiths — to play with words and sense and see the wonder in the ordinary.

So I introduced Poetry Tag Part 1. Several people took up the tag, and the game began. In the image above, you see some of our Notegraphy poems, and the Google Plus, Storybuilder, and Notegraphy poems can all be found Storified: Poetry Tag.

 Poetry Tag Part 1 provides the background and rules, but basically the idea is to document the snippets of life in our everyday moments so they are recorded for future writing drafts. In the tag game, if you see the #clpoettag, add a new poem of your own sometime that day. If possible, spin off the ideas and words of that poem, even hack some lines — you’ll see this in the samples in the Storified: Poetry Tag and Notegraphy poems.

Michelle Stein’s poem shows how we are creating a movement, and this expressed our engagement. Kevin Hodgson created a story from our poems with Storybuilder and on Wednesday, so did I: Movement: Shift. As you can see, we have created, shared, remixed, and hacked through several apps our play with words that demonstrates a shift in writing paradigms, as Mallory McNeal’s poem expresses.

Weshifttheparadigm... (1)

Now what?

Poetry Tag Part 2: The Classroom

As stated, the rules are simple: the idea is to document the snippets of life in our everyday moments so they are recorded for future writing drafts. In the tag game, if you see the #clpoettag, add a new poem of your own sometime that day. If possible, spin off the ideas and words of that poem, even hack some lines to use in your poem or create a story. Just recognize  the author.

How do we do this?

Use any app [ Notegraphy, Google Apps, Keynote, Twitter, Visual Poetry, Tackks.com/education, Kidbog, Edublogs, etc. ] to create your poem. The poem may include images.

Share it out with #clpoettag which means Connected Learning Poet Tag. Share it in the community used by your classroom. That could be your Kidblogs, Edublogs, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, etc. with a link to your poem.

Here’s some options creating and posting and tagging:

  • Creating: We used Notegraphy quite a bit. That’s nice because the website will gather those tags together for sharing and discussing.
  • Posting: Post in Notegraphy, Instagram, Kidbogs, Edublogs, Google Apps, or create a tackks.com/education stream [works in Edmodo] whereby anyone can post.
  • Tagging Sue Waters suggested using classroom Twitter accounts to share out the poems.
  • Blog Tag: Write and post a poem on your blog, then tag someone with a comment on their blog to create a poem hacking yours and adding to it. That person wold comment back with a link to their poem.

Want to engage students in word play? in a game of wordplay? to become wordsmiths?  As Donald Murray says, “Writing is hard fun.” And this would be fun.

What do you suggest?  What hacks to the rules or process would you suggest?  Thank you !

#clmooc iTune Family Fun

itunefamilyfunWant creative and critical thinkers?

Use the power of the internet to learn vocabulary, metaphor, analogy, bias, etc.

“iTune” Family Fun

This can be adapted to classrooms, don’t you think?


Get to know each other better, and learn to use keywords to find the desired topics.

Explain your choices and have fun.

Equipment: One or more devices hooked to the internet.

Purpose: Choose an appropriate song that fits the topic and person for your search.


A topic is chosen.

Each person decides which other person s/he will choose a song for that fits that topic.

Use the search tool at iTunes Music Store to type in key words for the topic and the person. When you find a song that fits, call out “iTune.”

That person shares/plays the sample file first after everyone has chosen a song.

The person for whom the song was chosen decides if the song fits. (If using only one device, decide who searches first and take turns.)

The winner– usually everyone is a winner because everyone justifies each choice made.


1. Gather your people.

2. Connect to the iTunes Music Store.

3. Decide on a topic. Ideas: Peace, Beach, Lonely, Grand Coulee Dam, Serenity, monsters, candy, etc.

4. Each person uses that key word or any related words to find a song to fit the topic and chooses the person in the game they will find a song for.

Example: For Serenity, I knew immediately that Scott and I enjoy the serenity of our small home, so the song, “Our House” by Crosby, Stills, and Nash would fit well. I typed in “Our House” and found the CSN version, calling out “iTune.” It would work for Scott or myself.

My granddaughter (age 11 at the time) searched for herself, choosing the song, “Serenity,” by Godsmack.

5. When the song you chose is found, call out, “iTune.” If using more than one device, wait until all players have found their songs. Then take turns sharing in the order in which “iTune” was claimed. If using only one device, sharing may occur at the time you find your song. Share by playing the sample  30 second clip.

6. Usually, the justification is obvious, but the person for whom the song was chosen may request justification for that choice. The person who chooses it, explains the choice. It may be a phrase from the song, the beat, the meaning implied, or a pun that resulted in the choice.

For instance, to find a song for Scott, a newspaper publisher, my granddaughter might choose “All Nighter” by Salt Peanuts–because it sometimes takes late into the night to put the paper out, and salty peanuts make a great snack for the night. Or I might enter “Free Press” and choose “Herbert Harper’s Free Press News (Electric Mud)” by Muddy Waters because the truth can’t run or hide if we have a free press.

Since justification is relative to the person, we discuss the choices related to each person–the chooser and the recipient–and so learn more about each other.

7. Winner: 1) Everyone wins who tries; 2) The person who makes the most appropriate choices.

So have fun, learn about each other, and enjoy the music.

#clmooc Poetry Tag

Poetry Tag


IMG_7704 I rested under the scrub elm tree, one whose shade everyone tries to park under. A cool breeze gently flowed through the elm leaves, refreshing me from the warmth of the morning. A small songbird flitted from tree to tree, singing to each person, returning to each spot as if she were a messenger, reminding us to remember this day.  I captured her song in a Vine:


Then I remembered it was Game Week at #clmooc . As a sixth grade teacher years ago, my students and I made stapled small pads of slips of paper in class — about 2 1/2 inches by 4 inches — that would fit in our pockets so we could capture the phrases we said or considered that could be great lines in a story or poem. With today’s technology, this would now be so easy to create and share.

So I snapped my picture:

IMG_7703And wrote my poem:

A gentle breeze

soothes the summer heat

and songbirds chirp a wish

that we cherish this day.


And combined both into Visual Poetry

cherish songbirds treesAnd now I notice that I should drop the “day.” But we’re looking for the snippet of the scene, a memory of the moment, captured to save for revision and adaption on another day.

I sent out an invitation tweet to #poetrytag, not realizing that hashtag is already taken, so I’ve chosen #clpoettag #clmooc for this Poetry Tag.

The rules?

1. When a phrase strikes you, tweet it out to #clpoettag #clmooc

2. If desired, make it pretty or add a picture, though not required

3. If you notice the tag, reply with your own phrase, including hashtags #clpoettag #clmooc

4. Optional: tag someone with your post and that person must either:

a. reply with an image to match within one day

b. reply with a new phrase within in one day

5. On Thursdays, see what thunder we have worked with words — Options:

a) gather a few lines of each entry and post a poem with credits

b) work with one of the participants to create a poem together, incorporating each participants’ lines and post with credits

c) post means to post the poem to twitter — make it an image [screen shot or other visual]

 6. Change any rules as desired to keep the connected learning poetry tag game alive.

I wonder if we should start a google slideshow for step five [5]  We’ll see what happens on Thursday.

How about it?  Anyone game?