Being connected only matters if it improves the learning experience for your students. The past two weeks have reinforced this a million fold. I was hanging out on the Twitter when I saw a fantastic ppt being projected onto the gym wall of Mike Bohannon. The ppt was called smashing pumpkins. The slides would rotate every five seconds on their own. It consisted of two images per slide. One image was a pumpkin. The other image was related to Halloween in some way shape or form. The object was for the students to use either the underhand or overhand throw to hit the pumpkin. Being the sous chef I am, I set up hula hoops of different distances for the students to throw from based on their age or throwing ability. It was fantastic. Mike willingly shared this ppt with me and it is now located here in the shared physed folder.
Mike also shared another ppt which was really cool. It was the same concept of two images but instead of the Halloween theme it had the students identify capital letters, odd and even numbers, different shapes and numerous other numeracy and literacy concepts. Talk about an amazing use of technology, cross-curricular teaching, and sharing. I have never met Mike but he was still more than willing to share his creations with me. Talk about fantastic!
The best part of this story is that once I saw this ppt in action on Twitter I asked other teachers if they had any. Mike Ginicola shared his ppt he created. Jen Coursey shared her video she used with Pokemon characters as targets to aim for. I took her video and redid the audio so it sounded a little clearer. (always the sous chef!) It also gave me the idea to download a youtube video of duck hunt. I use this as another moving target for the students to throw at. Again all those resources can be found in a file here.
The second part of being connected that directly impacted my students was when I had a conversation with Dana Powers on Twitter the night of the Trump vs. Clinton waste of time debate. I know who I am voting for already and nothing short of one candidate declaring they are going to start WWIII nothing was going to sway my opinion. Dana and I were talking about what we were doing and I told him I was clumsily clod-hopping through a Teaching Games for Understanding unit. He casually dropped the line that he had a masters degree in this pedagogical approach. I recruited him to Voxer and his contribution to the tgfu chat was immediate.
He dropped a pedagogical bomb that like other brilliant ideas seems so simple once someone points it out to you. His idea was that if two teams play each other in a game the losing team gets to implement a rule the next time they play the winning team again. That rule could make the game easier for them or harder for the other team to succeed. Most of you reading this will say that is so simple why didn’t I think of that! This would force the losing team to identify what the other team was doing successful and put in a rule to slow them down or identify an area they struggled in and implement a rule that would help them succeed in that area.
My brilliance lies in that I can recognize a great idea when I hear it. As soon as I heard that I knew that I needed to use this approach in my class. The next day we played a game of scooter football. One team was head and shoulders above the teams. They easily won both their matches against their opponents. The next round the other teams were able to change the rules to their advantage. One rule was that the dominant team had to throw with their non-dominant hand. The rule the second game was that the team that had lost in round one were allowed one free push on their scooters when they had the ball. Both rules helped equalize the games.
I had one student on the dominant team that was getting frustrated by being on the receiving side of the rules. He was getting minorly frustrated during the games. I pulled the student over and we had a conversation that I hope may have influenced his thinking. We discussed his frustration of wanted to throw to a certain person but not being able to have the power or accuracy to reach that person with his non-dominant hand. We discussed how this is what students who don’t have his same athletic ability feel like. They have the knowledge who to throw to but may not possess the power or accuracy to consistently achieve their objective. They feel that same frustration he did. I believe that the message resonated with him. He wasn’t being told what lack of privilege felt like. He was experiencing it first hand.
This brings me back to my original statement. Being connected only matters if it helps your students.