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Well, it's been a busy summer! Next week, I plan to share a project based learning assignment I've been working on in social studies. In the meantime, with teachers back at school next week and students the week after, I wanted to share what I've done with my summer.
1. I finally read Teach Like a Pirate: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator by Dave Burgess. For the last year I've heard nothing but buzz about this book. The #tlap community on Twitter is vibrant and active, and many educators I personally know and respect love the approach.
My own opinion is more mixed. Actually, this review sums it up very nicely. I liked a lot of things Burgess had to say about enthusiasm, immersion, and engagement, and I agreed with much of what he said. But there were a lot of things in this book that did not appeal to me -- the emphasis on "edutainment" and the teacher as a performer, at a time when I firmly believe we should be shifting the responsibility of learning away from teachers and onto students, stand out as primary concerns. The book also advocates a one size fits all model of teaching, which I tend to resist. That said, I got some great ideas for lesson hooks which I plan to use this year, and some good reminders about being fully engaged in what we do.
2. I've been doing a lot of research into project based learning, much of it from the Project Based Learning (PBL) Starter Kit from BIE. I'm a bit behind on this, although a lot of the PBL I see aligns quite nicely with the idea of games based learning or quest based learning, something else I spent (more) time researching this summer. The book provided a good base for planning projects, and I really appreciated the line it drew between DOING A PROJECT and creating a unit based around a project. I feel like some of the professional development I've attended on PBL confused the two. I won't talk too much about this right now because I plan to share a project next week.
3. I attended the Quest Boise Unconference and got totally overwhelmed by all the amazing learning that happened there. If you're remotely interested in games based learning, check that link and go through the videoed presentations... wow.
4. I participated in the Metagame book club from the good people at Your Inevitable Betrayal, the educators' WoW guild. We read Cory Doctorow's book For the Win which lead to some really awesome discussions about the role of technology in kids' lives today, the economy, workers in developing countries, and many other deep topics. It's a great book -- I highly recommend it.
So much for my teaching. In my writing life, I had a few other things on the go.
1. I'm still writing reviews of educational games for Graphite, which is why I don't do them here as much anymore. You should check them out. Here's a great article (not written by me, sadly!) to start with.
2. I participated in Pitch Wars by Brenda Drake. Whatever comes of it, it was great to revisit an older piece of work and go through it with a fresh eye.
3. I wrote a book on the Mississippi river for Reading A-Z. More on that when it becomes available.
So all in all, a busy and productive summer!
Question of the Day:
What did you do with your summer vacation? Was it actually a vacation?
In addition to the above, I did in fact have a great holiday. We hosted a Japanese exchange student, which was fun, and I spent some time with my family in Saskatoon. Lots of lazy days in the sun, too! Oh, and my husband got me playing Neverwinter, so I'm finally on an MMO.
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