Let’s Gamifiy Math.

Gamification is a large trend in education right now. More and more frequently, teachers are using a natural way that students learn, through play, to inspire kids to learn new content. As Ruteledge (2012) explains, “the thought of a video game still may strike horror into the hearts of many, but videogames are just a digital manifestation of a very basic human behavior: play.” Games are a great way for content to become more open-ended and inquiry-driven.

Way (2011) cites the following as further reasons math games are effective in the classroom:

  • Games create a meaningful context for learning math.
  • Students are motivated and have a more positive attitude about math.
  • Students have increased opportunities for practice and individualized learning.
  • Teachers have more assessment data about students progress.
  • Students can play at home and at school and find independent success.

In my fourth grade math classroom, I frequently use math games to engage my students and have witnessed these advantages first hand. Games offer unparalleled engagement opportunities and have the opportunity to change the culture around math in the classroom. Where sometimes math can be a point of frustration and disappointment, through gamification students can be engaged in individualized math practice.

For example, my fourth graders are OBSESSED with a free math game called Prodigy. They tell me it reminds them of Pokemon and are begging to play. Last week, I panicked that the game was too much of a game and maybe it wasn’t doing enough to have them practice, so I spent some time talking to a colleague who also uses the program. We looked more deeply at the program and chatted about the benefits we see in our classrooms and eventually came to this conclusion: Prodigy is great becauses it makes math fun for students and thus changes their mindsets about what math is like. If I have students who are excited about a math game then it is something that is valuable for my classroom.

Ruteledge, B. (2012). “Video Games, Problem-Solving and Self-Efficacy – Part 2.” Psychology Today. Retrieved October 17, 2017, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/positively-media/201208/video-games-problem-solving-and-self-efficacy-part-2.

Way, J. (2011). “Learning Mathematics Through Games Series: 1. Why Games?” NRICH Enriching Mathematics. Retrieved October 18, 2017, from https://nrich.maths.org/2489.


Social Media in the Classroom

For this post, I created a VoiceThread that explores some of my thoughts on social media in the classroom and the importance of helping students become safe, responsible, respectful, and kind users of social media.

To check out my VoiceThread, click on the image below:

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 9.57.49 PM


Barham, C. (2014). Global awareness and collaboration. Live Binders. Retrieved from http://www.livebinders.com/play/play?id=442694.

Dawson, C. (2011). Google gives schools, organizations “walled garden” approach to email. ZDNet Education. Retrieved from http://www.zdnet.com/blog/education/google-gives-schools-organizations-walled-garden-approach-to-email/4440

OurITC. (2016). 20 Ways to use social media in the classroom. OurITC. Retrieved from http://www.ourict.co.uk/classroom-social-media-tips/.

Ripp, P. (2015). Global read aloud. Global Read Aloud. Retrieved from https://theglobalreadaloud.com/.

Reed, J. (2007). Global Collaboration and Learning. EdTech Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2007/09/global-collaboration-and-learning

Acceptable Use Policies

Acceptable Use Policies (AUP)  intend to teach students how to use technology in ways that are developmentally and socially appropriate. These policies essentially “teach students how to behave with technology” (Common Sense Media). As technology becomes more and more prevalent in our society, it becomes increasingly important for teachers to teach students how to be kind, safe, responsible, and respectful when using technology. It cannot be assumed that students know how to act with this tool.

One of my foundational tenets of my practice as a teacher is to establish clear expectations in my classroom. I think that an AUP,  whether rolled out at the district, school, or classroom level, serves as the expectations for device behavior for students.

In my research of AUPs, I found a couple of examples of District Policies. For example, you can review the Clark County School District Policy here. This district outlined their expectations in nine categories within which students, teachers, and parents might use technology. Their categories included things like how to communicate via email appropriately, what language should be used when on the internet, intellectual property expectations, and access opportunities and limitations. Similarly, the Portland Public Schools AUP includes similar expectations, however, instead of being a view only document, PPS asks that students and parents sign to reflect their understanding. Both documents highlight the importance of being appropriate and safe when using devices and both pages were lengthy, “autocratic, and binding” (Murphy. 2012).

However, this negative, punitive approach does not have to be the end of the road for AUPs. Rather, we should shift the language and appearance of AUPs such that they reflect more closely the potential and promise of technology integration. Deer Park Elementary has a vision of transforming their Acceptable Use Policies to be Responsible Use Policies. Chief Technology Officer, Murphy (2012) explains that she hopes for “a  single policy or set of guidelines that was positive in tone — one that would reflect what we value about learning, teach our students digital citizenship, and empower our teachers.”  This resource, divided for student responsibilities and parent responsibilities is written in positive, I statements that gives students autonomy, power, and confidence when using technology. The document suggests that students are capable of using technology appropriately and wants to see them be successful. Similar to the other districts, the expectations are clear and high, but the potential and language of the documents seems very different.

My own classroom and school AUP is modeled more closely after the Deer Park vision. Last year, I designed a poster for my school that includes our technology rules. I teach in an elementary school, so I wanted the language to be user-friendly and the images to help connect students with each expectation. The posters are in every classroom at our school, so students are able to recognize that technology use rules are consistent across our school. Additionally, at the beginning of the year, students review the expectations and sign them as a contract to affirm that they understand and will abide by the established rules. This provides a great foundation for conversations with students and parents if there are any issues or unsavory conduct with technology. Here is the poster I created:
Technology Rules A


Clark County School District. (2017). “Acceptable use policy.” Clark County School District. Retrieved October 3, 2017 from http://ccsd.net/district/acceptable-use-policy/  

Common Sense Media. “1-to-1 essentials- acceptable use policies.” Common Sense Media. Retrieved  October 2, 2017  from: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/1to1/aups.

Deer Park ISD. “Technology department policies. Deer Park School District. Retrieved October 3, 2017 from https://www.dpisd.org/tech_policies.

Murphy, K. (2012). “Bringing acceptable-use policies into the 21st century.” Education World. Retrieved October 2, 2017 from http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/bringing-acceptable-use-policies-into-21st-century.shtml.

Portland Public Schools. (2012). “Agreement for acceptable use of Portland Public Schools technology resources students grades K – 12.” Portland Public Schools. Retrieved October 2, 2017 from http://portland.schooldesk.net/Portals/Portland/District/docs/Technology/PPS%20AUP%20Signature%20Doc_Student_2012.pdf