Friday, October 12, 2012

McDonald's Video Game

There is a lot of reading in many computer games. This includes instructions on how to play the game, the objectives, in-game text from characters or game help, and the walkthrough. More importantly, being turned on by the games, kids can read a level over their head. All this makes online games ideal for outside of classroom reading practice. 

     The McDonald's Game is a serious game that students could play outside of the classroom for autonomous learning. I played it twice and found that the entire game relies on the player’s understanding of the game help. Players are required to read 30 pages of instruction as to how to run a big company like McDonald’s. In the game, players need to take control over everything  from feeding the cows to marketing McDonald’s hamburgers. Unlike traditional reading materials which usually drive people to sleep after a few lines, the closeness-to-life and fun offered by the game makes it perfect for kids to read in their spare time without being bored at all. One way to assess students’ reading comprehension is to start a discussion of the game in class. Teachers could assess their reading ability by raising questions like “What do I need to know to play the game?” “How are doing with your McDonald’s business?" From students’ responses, teachers could have a clear picture of whether they have understood those game help texts.


Gamification is the application of game elements in non-gaming contexts. “In academe, gamification typically employs elements such as points, badges, or progress bars to engage or motivate students in the learning process7 Things YouShould Know About Gamification. As an ESL teacher, I personally hold that games are often more engaging than traditional classroom teaching methods. Online game genres like point-and-click, or escape-the-room are very interesting ways for students to memorize vocabulary or practice speaking and listening. Take speaking for example, I used to find that it is very difficult to engage students to speak in classroom, let alone outside classroom. One reason for thisdifficulty is that traditional speech topics like “please describe the city you live in” is quite boring. However, there are so many ways to encourage speaking with computer games. Sometimes, even the mention of a favorite game name could probably start a lively discussion in class. Anyway, who doesn’t love playing games!
Polleke’s Blue Room is one of the many escape-the-room online games which could be used in second language classroom. I played it for three times and found that it is a good one for learning some key vocabularies and practice speaking and listening. The learning objectives would be for students to grasp some key vocabularies like panel, isle, gorilla, and be able to use those vocabularies in both speaking and listening. In the beginning of the class, the teacher is supposed to list the vocabularies she/he expects students to learn. Students would be paired in two as a team. One of the students will read the walk-through firsthand and then instruct in his/her own word to the teammate  how to escape the room. The student who describes is expected to include as many key vocabularies mentioned in the beginning of the class  as possible. And of course the student who actually plays the game is expected to recognize those vocabularies at the hearing of them. In the whole process, the teacher acts like an activity facilitator and coordinator. The teacher will record the number of the key vocabularies uses by the speaker of each team and the time each team uses to escape the room. The team who uses most of the vocabularies and the team who uses the shortest time will be rewarded.        

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Use Twitter for Educational Purposes

Social media has provided great opportunities for educators and learners of this age. For example, twitter, a microblogging tool, has been used as a powerful professional development and communication tool by online educators. As an educator, I myself find it very interesting to explore the use of twitter for teaching.
1.     Use twitter as a bulletin board
As has been mentioned in the article “60 Inspiring Examples of Twitter in theClassroom”, using twitter as a bulletin board is one of the many ways for educational use. Since twitter can make sharing announcements super simple, instant and available to all the followers. Any last-minute announcements about class change or class cancellation could be done by twitter. Besides, it could also used as a reminder. For example, I could use twitter to remind students of bringing relevant materials to class or finishing assignments before the due time. Students could also use twitter to stay connected with the teacher. If they are not clear about class assignment, or if there is any mistake about that, they could always notify the teacher by making tweets. In this case, twitter makes it easy to get instant feedback.
2.     Great Platform for Out-of-class communication
   As has been mentioned in both articles “60 Inspiring Examples of Twitter in theClassroom” and “Twitter in K-8 Classroom- Globally Connected Learning”. Twitter could be used to gather world-wide data, to seek help and to share interesting insights. As I used to teach English-Chinese translation, I find that it could be very rewarding to use twitter as an extracurricular supplement. I could assign one or two students as the twitter of the day. The assigned students then could tweet something interesting about translation. It could be an interesting story they had in their own translation experiences, or it could be an excellent translation of a poem they like and would like to share with their classmates. In this way, conversation about class subject could be continued outside of class.
    There are many ways to use Twitter as an educational communication tool. And teachers around the world are exploring innovative ways to use Twitter as teaching tool. The Chinese version of Twitter is called “WEI BO”, and till now it is still used only for daily communication. But the use of twitter for educational purposes does provide an example for Chinese teachers to follow.