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Games Help Kids Become A Head Taller Than Themselves

This morning I listened to Episode 1 of Dr Ruben Puentedura’s Game and Learn podcast series, the first series we are focussing on for the #podbkclub. We’re listening to one episode a week and then posting a reflection. Here’s mine:
First of all I took notes on paper with textas to write down the bits that stood out to me most. The title of this post comes from my favourite part of the podcast where Puentedura talks about Vygotsky’s point that play creates a zone of proximal development for the child, allowing him/her to work in their ZPD without a knowledgeable other because in play a child always behaves beyond his or her average behaviour and abilities “as though he were a head taller than himself.” I just love that line, it creates a great image for me of a very proud and confident child who feels very successful. Play can create that for our students. Anyway, here are my written notes with a few lines of clarification underneath:



  • play is free movement within a more rigid structure
  • games are a more narrow form of play
  • games are defined by a system of rules where there is conflict and a quantifiable outcome
  • there are parallels between games and what our education system
  • I learnt the word ludic – which is an adjective meaning playful, deriving from the latin ‘ludus’ to play.
  • Puentedura has created an axis that helps analyse games based on abstraction, simulation and arbitrary or more real life goals.
  • the more real life the simulation and goals are the more narrative there is to the game which has implications for the choice of games for use in the classroom, depending on how much narrative you need
  • My question at this point is: “How and when should we decide that narrative is important to the learning experiences we want to create?”
At the end of the podcast we are asked to go to YouTube and find a video of a game and think of it in terms of the axis. I watched this:



and got thinking about what a game like this might help children to learn. How would a game like this ac as a ‘virtual more knowledgable other’ in order to assis the child to function in their zone of proximal development? So I searched for something about what skills videogames (which is what this podcast focuses on) teach and found this article:



which helped me to see that this Donkey Kong game would help children with skills such as:
  • persistence
  • multitasking
  • goal setting
  • visual information processing
So episode 1 has me thinking about how play can help children develop all sorts of skills, and how these can be focussed on in different games. I’m hoping that I can create playful learning experiences that engage and challenge kids enough so that they can fell a head taller than themselves. It’s something to aim for.


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PD On The Train – 3 Reasons Why It’s Such A Good Idea


I was sitting on the train the other day listening to episode 1 of Dr Ruben Puentedura’s Game and Learn Series (our first series that we are reflecting on for The Pod Book Club) and my mind began wandering off to thinking about the fact that I wasn’t just listening to a podcast, but that I was actually PD-ing myself in the process. Yes, very obvious to some but I just wanted to explain why I really thought about it then and why I think it will very effective professional development for me.

1. I can do it anytime and anywhere I like.

I suffer from a modern day affliction – super busy-ness. It’s a common condition which leaves me, and all other sufferers, severely lacking in time. So to be able to use time more effectively is a good thing. (yes, it’s ok to sit there on a train and just stare out the window and think about nothing and we could all do with a bit more if that,  but if you’re in the mood to think about something…) It was early in the morning this particular day so I was all alert and ready to learn :-)

2. It’s bite sized chunks – easier on my brain

You know that feeling when you are at a conference or workshop when your brain switches off but the presenter doesn’t? Well with pd-ing myself I have control over how much information I’m exposed to at any one time. This lets me give myself more time to absorb things to a deeper level which lets me get more value out of whatever it is I am learning about. Quality over quantity.

3. It’s stuff I really want to know about.

I’ve chosen the series I want to listen to because I’m interested in learning more about games and education right now. So, it’s perfect timing and relevant to a resource I’m developing as well as ones I have ideas about developing next year. It’s the sort of information I need right now, not just something i’ll learn about and will consider doing something with in the future. Because I am interested now I’m more likely to follow up links and further my knowledge with extended reading or listening depending on what resource I come across.

I was thinking about this because I have to update my PD log for school and any listening to podcasts that I do will count towards the hours of PD I need to do for teacher registration requirements.

Of course this not the only way one could get PD, but for me it’s very effective especially when as part of The Pod Book Club I’ll be posting reflections on what I’ve learnt and will be able to engage in online conversations with people who are much cleverer than me! Those connections are what will top it all off and I’ve got access (as we all do) to the author himself if I need further clarification. So:

Relevant topic + podcast format + my PLN = watch out world I’m learning!

Please share your stories of PD-int yourself with all this online goodness that we have. Also got a good podcast series for me?! :-)

Oh and of course this is a good reminder of what it is we teach, when and how to our students.

Introducing The Pod Book Club

The other day as I was faffing about in cyberspace looking for some stuff on tech integration frameworks, I came across a podcast by Dr Ruben Puentedura (@rubenrp) and tweeted about it. That was seen by
Darren Kuropatwa (@dkuropatwa) in Canada, an awesomely smart Canadian educator who has a very funny accent and keeps caribou in his backyard, and he recommended another series of podcasts by Dr Ruben about Gaming. This is an interest of mine so I went and found them straight away. Darren then tweeted:


and I said

screen-shot-2011-10-26-at-104735-amWe decided on a hashtag and so now I present to you the #podbkclub. You are more than welcome to join us. Here is what it is:

We are going to ‘book club’ podcast series. We’re starting with Ruben Puentedura’s ‘Game and Learn’ series which has 14 episodes. We’ll listen to one per week and then on Friday/Saturday (cause when it’s Friday in Canada it’s Saturday here when any reasonable hour is concerned) we will post a reflection in whatever form we like wherever we like on the web and tag it with the #podbkclub hashtag. So reflections could be:

  • a written blog post or series of tweets
  • an audio blog post
  • an image
  • a video
  • a drawing
  • a combination of any or all of the above using any tool you like – the only limit is your imagination.

Only rule is that it had to be easy to find, which is where the #podbkclub tag comes in. Whatever you post wherever you post it, please tag it with ‘podbkclub’ then tweet it including the #podbkclub hashtag. Make sense? Easy!

We will try to set up a #podbkclub chat on Twitter. See how we go – stay tuned for info on that!

This Fri/Sat (Oct 28/29) is when we kick off with our first reflective post on Episode 1 of the series. Look out for us and come join in!

Technology Integration and Use Frameworks


Frameworks help us make sense not only of all the different information that is available to us but how to make that information work together in order to improve our practice. Here is one very popular model for technology integration (TPACK), and a model about levels of technology use (SAMR). I see them as fitting together quite well – that the SAMR model frames and supports the technology part of the TPACK model. I’d be interested to hear what you think about that, so do let me know if you agree or not.


TPACK can be a little confusing at first, but one quote that began to make it clearer for me was this one from Dr Ruben Puentedura: “A particular approach to a particular topic using a particular set of technology tools.”

TPACK is about knowing your content, then knowing how to teach your content, then knowing which technology tools will help you teach your content in an effective way. It makes us think critically about why we are choosing certain tools and approaches.

The ISTE 08 Keynote by Punya Mishra and Matthew Koehler –  is well worth watching (it goes for an hour) for a great explanation of the TPACK model. For a quicker introduction here is a 3 minute video from YouTube that explains it very succinctly:

The main TPACK website is the place to go for more detailed information: TPACK: Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge

TPACK can be used quite successfully for technology integration in the languages classroom. There has been criticism of it (link to come) in regards to the content component suggesting that there is not set ‘content’ for languages as it can be about anything. I tend to think that ‘content’ for languages in general would be things like meta-linguistic awareness, language functions, using language appropriately, and that ‘content’ is certainly there for languages. The following presentation addresses that part of the model quite nicely.

Some lists of Content, Technology and Pedagogy/Teaching strategies will be uploaded (to this page on the technolanguages wiki) after Monday Oct 24th (that’s when I’m running a workshop and will do some brainstorming with some languages teachers).


The SAMR model helps us to think about how we are using technology – at which level we are implementing it. It’s really important for us to think about whether we are using the technology for substitution or if we are really creating things that weren’t possible before. Watch this video for a brief (15 minute) overview of this model.

This is also worth checking out for an explanation of how the two frameworks can be combined:

Video Podcast from Ruben Puentedura about technology aspect of TPACK and the SAMR Model (Episode 1)

and a graphic of his talk with examples:

For the moment it’s just information but I’ll  post more once I’ve had better conversations with languages teachers about these models and how they useful they see them being in their technology integration.

Image Attribution: Frame by seyed mostafa zamani

Stuff like this keeps me going

An awesome colleague of mine, Dan Donahoo, wrote this article about The Black Line Mystery unit that i’m running. As a result I got quite a few emails from parents asking if their students could join. Then, Patrick, who is already one of my virtual students, left this comment on the article. It’ll keep me going for a while as will the email I will share with you in my next post


Patrick (unregistered) wrote:

Hey everyone i am  a fellow agent learning chines from agent 42 and she does a great job on all the activities  Her idea of presenting work is great and i think kids interested they should join