Saturday, May 11, 2013

Quest Attractiveness

The concept of quest based learning and earning badges has taken the education world by storm.  Just setting up quests does not guarantee that students will be interested in completing them.  We have to get their attention by offering a variety of quests that appeal to their interests and learning styles while still including the necessary content.  Once we get their attention we need to sustain the interest so they will complete the quests.

One goal we always have for our students is for them to learn about their hearing loss and the accommodations they may need to learn.  They are often not interested in the topic and we are just talking heads.  That is why I chose to use the game format to teach this.  I can offer a variety of quests that provide the information they need to learn but offer it in a different manner that catches their attention and they will want to complete the quests.

Friday, April 20, 2012

GameLab Beta Teacher Badge   

I finished the quests to learn the GameLab interface.  I still have a lot of other things to do and I have just barely begun to plan my quests.  This summer will be very busy organizing the lessons and developing the quests.  I've had a couple of other teachers give me resources but not too many.  Maybe once I make a presentation in June there will be more ideas.

I'll keep you posted as I continue to develop the quests. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Transferring Game Characteristics to the Classroom

There are eight characteristics that have been identified for a good game. They are:
  1. Choice
  2. Failure-lot of it in games. You learn from it by going back and trying again until you succeed.
  3. Progress Bars-you see what you have completed and how much further you have to go
  4. Multiple long and short aidm
  5. Rewards-all successful efforts are rewarded with experience points (XP)
  6. Prompt-feedback is meaningful and quick
  7. Element of Uncertainty/awards-there are know rewards to work for but there are also additional rewards and are give randomly. Rewards ignite and sustain engagement
  8. Socialization
One of the easiest game characteristics to implement into a typical classroom is choice. What is covered in class is mandated by standards but teachers usually have freedom in how they teach it and the projects students do to support the learning process. As schools are adopting the Universal Design for Learing (UDL) model they are encourages to provide choices that meet each student's learning style.

Students with Special Needs benefit the most from this. Deaf students often have below grade level reading and writing skills. Giving these children the choice of writing a report, making a poster or a video or doing a presentation allows them to show what they know without bogging them down in the process. Just moving this single component of games into the classroom allows students success at proving what they know.

Monday, April 09, 2012


I spent a couple of hours between today and yesterday trying to layout a roadmap for the Gamelab project. I came up with badge names that work well with my activities (well actually there are no activities right now-just a concept) but for the life of me I cannot come up with experience point (XP) level names.

Here's the roadmap visually and in a spreadsheet.

There's still a lot more to do. I have found some great resources that are new to me but there's a lot more to find to actually develop the quests.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

One Week Down Two to Go

It's been a week of intensive computer time. I'm living on my anti-inflamatory to keep my hands from hurting too much. One thing I'm finding a challenge is dealing with the non-linear method of learning. I'm in two sections Academy and Teacher Camp. I complete the preliminary quests in The Academy which opened Teacher Camp. I was working in there and at one point I went back into The Academy and discovered that a bunch of new quests had opened up. Working in both areas at the same time is a challenge.

So far I have earned 4 badges, 16 achievements, and 2 awards. Not bad. I've explored different kinds of games-simulations, action etc. I'm getting a refresher in copyright and Creative Commons information. I've also been exposed to new online Web 2.0 tools through the Tech Integration badge. Next I plan to tackle the Immersive badge. I'm in Second Life but I don't do much there-partly because of graphic card issues. Tablet PCs do not come with the most advanced card. I had finally gotten things adjusted but last login required I do an upgrade to the SL software and I was back to being a blob. Thanks to Miss B-a fellow quester I found Imprudence which isn't as rich as the SL software but it is working for me.

I'm just at the beginning of learning how to create my own quests. I saw the overview of how they are set up. Next up is learning more about Universal Design (UDL)-that will make work happy since we had a whole day workshop about it. Work is picking up the whole tab and I promised my supervisor that I would have something ready to show at our staff meeting in June. No pressure. Thought I would use the summer to work on the project. Oh well.

I've sent out an email to my co-teachers asking what their favorite resources are for the topics I'm planning to work on. No replies yet except from my supervisor. I think I may go futher afield and take advantage of those Google Docs we learned about and create a form to be sent out statewide to collect information.

Heading back in for the UDL quest. I'll keep you posted as I continue working in 3Dgamelab.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Narrative Games-Graphic Adventure

I am currently working on a quest about narrative games. I thought that would be a good choice to get an idea of different kinds of games before I start planning my own quests.

I was playing the game "Peasant's Quest" It's a pre-Zelda kind of game. Players have a story to follow and puzzles to solve. It would be good for students who like to think things through. It also requires good memory skills or the ability to map out details as they go along. It is fun going to the different places-I met a woman with a baby who was willing to help me out if I did something for her. I also succeeded in getting squashed a couple times although I got better at getting out of that screen without getting squashed.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

3D Gamelab

It's been a long time since I posted. Last summer I discovered 3D Gamelab and really liked the concept of gamification. I couldn't afford the training at that point in time, but when they announced they were going to offer another session I jumped on the chance to participate.

3D Gamelab is a way to add a gaming overlay to the educational curriculum. It allows the use of standards when creating the game. Students are able to complete quests, earn badges, rewards and awards. The quests can include many different activities both online and offline.

As a teacher of the deaf among other things I work with students helping them to understand their hearing loss, the equipment they might need, and a big emphasis is on self advocacy skills. If they don't learn to advocate for themselves-life can be pretty tough.

My goal at this point, and of course it will be refined as time goes on, is to create quests for students to follow to learn these things.

One of the coolest things about this training is that we are learning within the framework of the Gamelab. We complete the quests, earn experience points to level up, gain badges, awards and achievements. Once I complete the training I will be able to start building my own game.

As in the past when I was into developing different technology projects, I invite you along for the ride. I'll post information about the design process, the quests, badges etc.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


I thought I knew what I would be doing this year, but plans have changed. I will be doing the same as last year.

Next month, I am presenting again at PESDHH. I am showing some of the new software and ideas that I saw when I was at NTID in June. There are some really awesome things going on. The Clerc Center is using a new technology called Voice Thread. I plan to use it with my deaf student this year-not that I have really started thinking about how yet. There is also some really cool software out there.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

This School Year

I finally found out what I'm going to be doing this year. I will spend the beginning of the day with a deaf middle schooler and then go over to the elementary school and work with Kindergarten to Second grade kids with hearing loss. Hopefully I will be able to use more technology with them.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Death of a Dream

I finally got an email telling me I did not get the job. I had kind of figured that out based on what had been posted at the website. Despite my doubts about how I could manage to move and almost thinking no way, I was realllllllly disappointed that I didn't get it.

I think this was the last chance to do this kind of job. Relocating will not be an option in the future. Right now we are trying adult daycare for my mother but I don't think it will be too long before she goes into assisted living. It will be even more difficult to move then.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

This Summer

I would apologize to those of you who are not Christians, but my Christianity is part of me and has a large influence in my life. This post delves into my career but also has some religious aspects to it. Read on if you are willing.

This summer I have interviewed for three different jobs. One was where I already work as a teacher. They are hiring a classroom teacher of the deaf, so I applied for that position. Haven't heard anything about it yet.

Secondly I applied for a job as an Instructional Technology Facilitator at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf. I felt like the interview went well, but when we discussed money it would mean a $10,000 pay cut from what I am making now.

IF I had listened when God was using my conscience to tell me to stop charging things I could possibly afford to do that, although I would max out at a much lower pay rate (an issue because there is a history of dementia/Alzheimer's in my family) so there would be less for retirement. So at the conclusion of the interview I told them I was sorry I could not afford the pay cut.

Today, I interviewed at the Clerc Center where I did my internship. It would either be Rosemary's job in the elementary school or Julie's job in the high school. Depending on who they hire they will decide which position. I feel like it went ok and it is my dream job. Of course I have lots of doubts about it and about picking up roots and moving to another state.

In many ways I feel like I'm applying for a top level job without having the experience for it. I can do the technology but if you have been reading my blog from the internship you know how I can doubt myself sometimes.

There would be issues with my son. He has Angelman Syndrome and is out of school and attends a sheltered workshop. Any time you change states you have to start from scratch to get services. I would need childcare while I was working.

Next would be issues with my mother. She has dementia and we live together. She seems to be going downhill rapidly. (Maybe it just seems that way because I am home all day and seeing her more.) I would like to put her in assisted living but it is so expensive and her long term care policy is only for about 3 years. So she needs adult daycare at least.

Then of course there would be the whole issue of selling the house, packing up and moving to who knows where. Finishing up my current job and quitting it. (I hope no one from work is reading this)

When I look at all that would have to happen I get so stressed. Is this what God wants me to do? I don't know. It is so difficult to understand what He wants. One minute I am ready to go and the next I say no way can I do that.

One thing that has hit me several times and again just a little bit ago are the words to Mark Harris' song "Wings"

I pray that God would fill your heart with dreams
And that faith gives you the courage
To dare to do great things
I'm here for you whatever this life brings
So let my love give you roots
And help you find your wings

and then:
It's not living if you don't reach for the sky
I'll have tears as you take off
But I'll cheer as you fly

I can't help but wonder if God is using this song to talk to me-and then I wonder if I am reading things into something that are not there. Yes I have dreams-this last job truly falls into that category. And looking at the rest of the words it makes me think I am supposed to fly. Whatever happens if I figure out what God has for me He will be there for me and it will work. Just wish he would send me an email letting me know exactly what He wants me to do.

Well, from the sound of things it could be a couple weeks before I find out if they are going to offer me this job, so I just have to hang in there and continue going through things in the house trying to see what I want to get rid of (I was doing that anyway before all of this happened.)

If anyone has read this that would be directly impacted by it please feel free to contact me rather than worrying about things or letting it impact any decisions you make.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Now What?

Well, I have pretty well accepted that I will never be able to do the job I really want to do-instructional technology in a deaf school. But there is a part of me that still hopes I think. When I got my weekly information list that includes job postings from I found myself looking for a technology job. Found a cool one in software development with Vcom but it is only temporary and in Florida. No good but it would have been fun.

Then just for the heck of it I looked at Gallaudet's website for an Ed Tech job there. Lo and behold, they finally posted one. (Two really-one full time and one temporary) Now I don't know what to do. Should I apply? or not? There are many drawbacks-my son would need to find services ASAP (and probably not very likely to happen,) I would have to find something to do with my mother, and I would have to sell my house. All before school starts. Not likely!

Also, I would feel a lot of pressure to live up to my predecessor and my internship supervisor who is at the elementary school. I have this terrible fear that if I did have the job that I would not be able to do it-that I would be lousy at it. I also have a fear of leaving my comfort zone and going someplace new. What if I didn't like it? My bridges would be burned behind me and I would be stuck there.

I started filling out an application-my friends are encouraging me. I don't think they will be able to pay enough-it is very expensive to live there too. But I'm sending it in anyway and asking for at least as much as I made last year. Sure to prevent them from hiring me. If this is meant to be God will have to really work things out.

Interview for a Classroom Position

I interviewed at my current place of employment for a classroom teacher position. I think it went well except.......
My supervisor was really happy with the way things went this past year and that will actually work against me. He's not sure he wants to change the status quo.

Monday, July 14, 2008

I survived the interview

I survived the interview today. It was conducted in American sign language because the two teachers that were also there were deaf. There were only a few places where I was not quite sure what was being asked.

The bad news is that if I were offered it, it would be almost a $10,000 pay cut. I don't see how I could manage that despite the fact that I would really like the job.

I would not have to pay for health insurance, they pay full tuition for 4 grad classes a year that are related to the job, there is no set number of sick days as long as you don't abuse that all will be fine. They will also attempt to pay all expenses if you are presenting at a conference/workshop.

On the negative side the admin is very protective of their servers and do not like a lot of uploading and downloading to occur and storage space on the server is at a premium too. They are actually running 10 servers but I don't know how much disk space they actually have.

Thursday I have an interview with my current supervisor. We have a classroom teacher position opening which I have applied for.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Job Interview

I have a job interview at Pennsylvania School for the Deaf on July 14. I'm not extremely nervous about it despite the 1 1/2 hour interview-probably because I don't see how they can pay enough.

I am stressed over the idea of changing jobs. I have a secure job-and I am applying for a classroom teaching position (it may be only 1/2 day but that is fine-can keep the middle school that I have now.) I really do want to change to technology. But with all my home life problems I'm not sure what I should do.

There is also the possibility that there would be an opening or two down in Washington, DC which is where I really want to work. But I don't see how I could take a job there even though I would love to. Houses aren't selling and my house needs a lot of stuff done before I could put it up for sale. Whatever happens I need to quit my job by the end of July to give them time to replace me.

So probably even though I'm going to the interview I won't be making career changes-tons will be happening in my personal life though.

Now the more I start thinking about everything the more stress I begin to feel. I really hate this. Last year I kept putting of decisions about my mother because of possible job changes. Now I have to do something about her this year, and also get before and after care for my son. I really am confused about what I should be doing. Stay or change. If I'm supposed to stay why in the world were jobs even brought to my attention. Last year was..... I can't even describe it. I felt like I was being jerked around on a chain for nothing. Now it's starting all over again and it seems like summer is almost over considering how much I need to get done.

Well I'll keep you posted as to what is happening.

Poster Session

I finished the poster session at the International Symposium-Technology and Deaf Educaiton. I gave out 60 brochures about Kool Kids Sign

Just the first day I have seen some awesome presentations. Two were most striking. One was by Rosemary and Julie (from my internship) Last summer Rosemary discovered Voice Thread It allows teachers/students to post an initial picture/video and then have others comment on it-in sign language, voice or writing. Fantastic potential for usage.

The other was a presentation from Australia. Kids with hearing loss are spread all over a country with many scarcely populated areas. They are spread so far apart that providing educational services is difficult even for hearing kids (School of the Air works for many of them) They have developed a new kind of program-videoconferencing for educaiton. They interact over the videoconference with the child-including infants. Parents are right there and they teach the parents how to teach the children. It was very impressive.

There are several I want to see tomorrow-unfortunately two of them are at the same time-but at least the presentation is being videotaped so that they will all be online eventually-although they don't always show the right part of the presentation-frequently not the screen where a lot of the stuff is demonstrated.

Definitely this week was worth it.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

One Week Left

Only one week left before I go to National Technical Institute for the Deaf to present at a poster session. I am not ready. I have done no videotaping for the story yet. Hopefully I can get together with Gay this week and get a few days done so I can show what it will be like.

I also still need to work on the worksheets for the story. I may ask a friend to help with that. She was my aide the year I had a middle school classroom and was great at writing story comprehension questions. The story has a lot of irregular past tense verbs. The deaf student I work with doesn't seem to know any irregular past tense verbs when we do reading. I think I will be doing some pages for that.

At this point in time I am in the process of redesigning the front page of the main website Kool Kids Sign I had hoped to finish all of the redesigning but I have been so busy that I have made almost no headway.

On the really negative side of life, I am the victim of identity theft. Someone managed to get information about my mac card and withdrew $1500 from my account. I wasted lots of hours between the bank and the police and filing fraud alerts with credit agencies etc. I also had to contact all of my autopay bills to stop the withdrawals. It is not fun and is very tedious.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

It's Done and I Did It

I finished The Missing Jewels game. I may go back and redo some of the video but it's ready for my poster session this month. It's at:

The Missing Jewels story is online without video. I'll make a couple pages of video before the conference to show what it will be like but I won't get it finished before the conference. The story is at:

I need to pull all the sections of the website together under the front page so that they can be found. I also need to do something for the games and storybook intro pages-right now they are just white. I'm thinking about maybe making an ILY hand background paper. And I may put some sign language animations from Vcom 3D. I love their program and it has dropped down to less than $500 but I don't like their characters. I love the Daz characters but it takes forever to pose them.

Ok that's the "It's Done" part, now for the "I Did It" part. I sent my resume into the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf. Don't know if anything will come of it. And of course the biggest issue is pay and benefits. Because it's in Philadelphia I would have to pay the city wage tax. The driving time would be a little longer than I travel now according to Mapquest and depending on which route I take could have toll charges (the shortest time route.) I know they don't pay as much as other places so even if I were offered the job I may not be able to afford it. I also have no experience as an Instructional Technology Specialist. And of course it would mean leaving a nice secure job and I do love the first part of my day. I just don't like being an itinerant teacher.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

And even more-the job hunt

I receive several newsletters related to the Deaf. Included in them are various job postings sometimes. Well this week I got one newsletter and in it was listed a job as an Instructional Technology Facilitator at the school for the Deaf closest to me in this state (New Jersey is actually closer) Next newsletter which is only jobs and resumes also has it listed. And finally it was listed on the school website.

I was not sure exactly what that position entailed so I emailed for more information. It is for what I want to do. I would be able to stay in Pennsylvania which would prevent any problems with my son and his needs.

On the negative side the school is in Philadelphia so that woud mean a wage tax of about 3.8%. Gas is skyrocketing and it would be an hour or more drive (I drive 45 minutes now.) So basically I'm not sure that I would make enough pay to cover my bills. Unlike the Clerc Center it is only a 10 month position. I also really enjoy working with the Deaf student I work with. She is doing so good and I don't want to leave her. But at the same time I want a job in the technology field. Needless to say I am confused, nervous and fearful. I hate that.

Soooo, I'm filling out an application and sending it in. Don't know what will happen if anything, I'll just have to wait and see. And if I'm offered the job than I will make a decision about it all.

And There's More

PESDHH, which I presented at two years ago-I think of it as the time that if it could go wrong it did-will be held again this year. It will be at Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (WPSD) and we will have access to their computers. I have been encouraged to submit a proposal for a technology training. Not sure what I will propose. There are so many possibilites and I have 90 minutes or 3 hours to cram it all in to.