Monday, July 23, 2012

Post-class Reflection: July 20, 2012


That being said, I enjoyed the opening activity from last Friday's class. It quickly got me oriented to my "classroom" mindset, and it was engaging. I decided to enlist some help from Kevin, sitting next to me, so it also encouraged some in-class communication. Very nice.

It was also a good transition into the topic of the day: using games in the classroom. At least...that's how I perceived/experienced it. I was definitely focusing my mental energies into figuring out the puzzle, and for a moment, I can admit that I was in my own little "puzzle world." Isn't that just a glimpse into the mind of a gamer, for just a moment, as well? Getting lost like that means also "losing" the stigma of the discipline required for concentration and commitment to certain activities.

Also, thanks to Mr. Ward for sharing his experiences with us; hearing about some real-life ingenuity and creativity in developing lesson plans, while staying student-centered, served as great inspiration for harnessing our own potential (YES, WE HAVE IT!), when our time comes to be leaders in the classroom.

So. What games can we play to get at that good ol' English Literature?

Cosa facciamo per imparare l'italiano?

And to conclude...isn't designing lesson plans, specifically using backward design, and taking into consideration our students' skills and needs, a puzzle in and of itself?


  1. I'm really glad you focused on the inclusion of puzzles, rather than Angry Birds, because that was my favorite part of the class. Your closing thought, that teaching is very puzzle-like, appealed to me a great deal. A good education is structured through connections, and what are puzzles but connecting things that appear separate at first glance?

    1. I love puzzles.

      Did I already say that?

      Connecting things that appear to initially be separate sounds a lot like recognizing deep structure in different situations. Puzzles require the activation of all sorts of prior knowledge, and so as teachers creating lesson plans...we end up sometimes doing what our students do when they're learning in our classrooms.

  2. Shelley, I also really liked your insight that backward design could be seen as assembling a kind of puzzle...this idea intrigues me. I like it, in part, because I think that many kids will respond to a puzzle, and see it as being real in a way that school often doesn't appear to be.
    I must also share an insight I received from my mentor, who is a gifted educational game designer. Fred Goodman would talk about puzzles (where there was *an* answer) and games, and drew parallels to secrets and mysteries. He'd say that the the more you knew about a secret, the less secret it became, but that the more you know about a mystery, the more mysterious it becomes. I sometimes think that if we, as teachers, can be more comfortable with mystery (and uncertainty) we are probably doing our students a favor, as mystery (also known as ignorance, or curiosity, or uncertainty) is at the core of some much intellectual work, whether in the sciences, math, or arts and letters. I think that our work as teachers probably involves offering enough mystery to keep things feeling authentic, but not so much that we get overwhelmed.
    Thanks for sparking my thinking, Shelley...

  3. I really like your connection between the puzzles and the gaming world. I am easily absorbed by puzzle that are placed in front of me on paper or explained in person, but when you turn a puzzle into a computer game, I yawn and turn away. I think this might have to do with my love of books. I am so used to making my own imagery, that when when I have no control over what things look like (apart from changing my avatar's outfit and such), I react negatively. I also like that the activity allowed us to talk to the people around us. Which, now that I think of it, is much like talking to fellow gamers during an interactive video game. Why do I have so much resistance to video games? Is it my self-imposed stereotype? Hmm, something to think about.

    Also, I would love to talk with you about integrating games into the English classroom :)