Posted in Classroom Community, Educational Technology, Emotional Intelligence, Home and School Connection, Online Safety, Social Emotional Learning, Social Media, Teacher Homework Project (THP)

Teacher Homework Assignment 3

As the dust is settling from PARCC Season, I’m excited to jump back into my work with the Teacher Homework Project (explained here).  My third assignment was to download and play the online game, Roblox.  Roblox is an interactive, multi-player game that allows players to take on various challenges, while simultaneously interacting with players from around the world via the “chat” feature.  Players can enter worlds created by other plays, or create their own world.    Roblox is what happens when Legos, MineCraft, and text messaging all decide to hang out and have dinner together.

A short advertisement for the Roblox game is attached below, followed by my reflections of my experience playing it.

I grew up loving video games.  Super Mario, and most other Nintendo franchises, were my favorite.  That said, playing this game still took me out of my comfort zone a bit.  I’ve never embraced online gaming, which is something Roblox is built on.  As a kid, I enjoyed video games the most when I could play them alone and process them in much the same way I process a great book or movie.  I did have many great moments playing games with friends and family, but I also appreciated the time I had to explore, struggle, problem-solve, fail, and succeed while playing some of my favorite games in the privacy of my own room.

From what I experienced while playing Roblox, that type of personal experience is not possible, since you are always in the company of other gamers online.  This concerns me for two primary reasons:

  1. I personally believe that children of Generation Z/iGeneration grow up in a much more complicated, and less forgiving, world.  When I made a mistake as a child, they were for me to deal with, and usually for small groups of family and friends to experience with me.  Now, some of a child’s most embarrassing moments have the potential to be broadcast online for the world to see through social media and online gaming.  This is a dangerous, and real, issue.  It’s not insurmountable, and I believe that we as educators can work alongside parents to help children engage in online activities in emotionally safe ways.
  2. Online communication, especially with children, is still not as secure as it needs to be.  A friend of mine who reads this blog contacted me right away when he noticed I’d be writing about Roblox.  He did so out of concern, because there have been cases of online predators tracking down children who play the game.  [One such concern is expressed here.  Many more can be found by performing a Google Search of “Roblox-Predators”]  Creating accounts for games like this is easy, and students are incredibly crafty when it comes to creating accounts that bypass age requirements or other restrictions.  Children’s natural understanding of technology features coupled with a pseudo-secure online world, creates an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Having only played this game for a short amount of time, I know there are numerous positive points to Roblox that I am downplaying.

  • Interacting with others is a good thing.
  • Collaboration is a good thing.
  • Creating things, whether digital or physical, is a good thing.

Roblox does give children opportunities to do those things, but overall, I’m more leery of the game than I am supportive of it.

Thanks again for reading.  I’ll be jumping into Teacher Homework Assignment 4 soon, where I will get to draw something that I am passionate about.  🙂

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Posted in Classroom Community, Educational Technology, Home and School Connection, Social Emotional Learning, Teacher Homework Project (THP), Teaching and Learning

Teacher Homework Assignment 1

My first Teacher Homework Assignment (THA) was to watch one video created by popular YouTube star, Tanner Fox.  The video I viewed is embedded below, and my reflection of THA1 follows.

After viewing Tanner Fox’s Vlog, there were a couple of thoughts that came to mind in regards to teaching and learning:

  • Students are drawn to people they can relate to and connect with.  Tanner Fox seems like a pretty likable dude.  He talked very naturally and with great energy (much like the student who gave me this assignment), and seemed to be speaking directly to a group of friends (which in this case are his 4,000,000+ followers).
  • Vlogging is cool, and I personally believe it has the power to change how teachers communicate with students and parents.  My own personal ideas are to Vlog a short version of a lesson that students can view repeatedly until they feel confident with a new skill.  Vlogging can also be used to update parents on happenings within any given classroom.  Typed newsletters have their place, but I do think Vlogging can serve as a positive supplement.
  • Storytelling is a power tool for connection, always has been a powerful took for connection, and will likely always continue to be a powerful tool for connection.  Stories around a campfire may have a special place in the childhood years of a person, but I do believe storytelling through Vlogs will continue to have a powerful stake in the lives of today’s youth.  It’s simple, accessible, and interactive.

That’s it for me tonight.  My next assignment scares me a little, and I will be taking the weekend to complete it.  My second Teacher Homework Assignment is to video tape myself lip-syncing a song of my choice using the social media application, music.ly.

This could get ugly…