Growing Up in Today’s Digital Society

I found many of the points discussed in this week’s reading to be interesting so I picked two to discuss.  The first point mentioned was about collaboration and how learning is different in the digital age.

Tapscott discusses collaboration on page 18 in his book Grown Up Digitial.  He states, “The new Web is a communications medium that enables people to create their own content, collaborate with others, and build communities,” (18, 2008).  In today’s digital age people are able to collaborate by using sites such as Wiki. A wiki allows the user(s) to read and change content “in collaboration with others” on just about any given topic ( People can also build communities by playing games such as Minecraft and World of Warcraft.  Games like Minecraft can actually teach students digital citizenship by helping students work together in online settings.  Palfrey and Gasser (2008), discuss how digital citizenship is so important to teach our students.  Imagine engaging our students in games such as Minecraft to help them learn how to be behave and communicate safely on the internet.  Actually using the internet is much more engaging than simply discussing how one should behave on the internet.

I found this quick YouTube video that briefly describes how Minecraft can be used in the classroom.


A second point Tapscott explains is how many Net Gen children are not willing to simply accept what they are given.  Net Geners “are the active initiators, collaborators, organizers, readers, writers, authenticators…,” (21, 2008).  Net Geners “inquire, discuss, argue, play, shop, critique, investigate, ridicule, fantasize, seek, and inform,” (Tapscott, 2008).  I can recall on several different occasions when a student might ask a teacher a question where he/she did not have an answer for the students.  In the past, students would return the next day and the teacher would provide the answer to whatever question was asked.  In today’s digital world, teachers no longer need to seek out these answers because their students’ are doing it for them.  Students today, enjoy searching on the internet and finding answers to their questions.

On the flip side, a common argument for this would be that, “They’re [kids are] dumber than we were at their age,” (Tapscott, p. 3, 2008).  Some people say things like, “They don’t read and are poor communicators,” (Bly, Robert as cited in Tapscott, 2008).  Many parents and even employers would agree with this statement.  In my personal experience, I see families who go out to dinner and rather than communicate with one another they are each on a tablet, pc, or cell phone while they wait for their meal to arrive.  Mark Bauerlein and Harpaz “worry that kids who can look up instructions on the internet or their cell phones won’t learn how to “figure things out or solve problems,”” (as cited by Joyner, James 2010).  Some people would argue that when students are faced with difficult problems that require critical thinking, students often given up and look for “cheats” or answers on the internet.  These are just a few examples of why some people feel children are “dumber than we were at their age”.

Here again one could argue the other way as well; I have spent time playing Minecraft with my children while they designed and built playgrounds for a STEM lesson.  My children did an excellent job designing and constructing the playgrounds; they learned a great deal about the engineering process and had fun doing it.  So, does “going digital” really mean our children have to be “dumber”?  I don’t think so, however it seems clear that too much technology can have a negative impact on how we interact with other people.  While technology can serve as a medium for communication and collaboration there is still great value in face-to-face communication.




Tapscott, Donn. (2008). Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your        World.  McGraw Hill Professional Publishing: New York, New York.


“Wiki” Retrieved Online from:

Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.


Using Minecraft as an Educational Tool. (2013). Retrived online May 20, 2014 from


Palfrey, John and Gasser, Urs. (2008). Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation     of Digital Natives.   [On-line] Retrieved May 20, 2014 from: 


Joyner, James. (2010). The Dumbest Generation: Does Technology Make Kids Dumb? Retrieved Online

May 20, 2014 from:


Week 12: Hard to believe…

Well, this week marks the 12th week of class.  This week we are supposed to blog about our contributions to the project and the progress the group has made.  Our group has made some great progress this week though I don’t feel that I have been much help.  Despite becoming more  familiar with Minecraft over the course of the semester, I still feel I have much to learn.

On Saturday our session on Minecraft went off without a hitch.  Well, unless you count the many times I was trapped by Thomas.  I recall Colin asking several times, “Where’s Tiffany?”  Then Tiffany would respond with, “Thomas!”   I know I spent a portion of my time hiding from Thomas.  All things considered, it was fun to work with each other and create a video for our game.

This week our group has worked on putting it all together.  Nicole, I believe has been working on putting everything into one location.  Colin and Chris have spent some time working on the trailer.  I spent some time editing our role cards a little bit; I used information added to the page by Tomas and Thomas.  Our group is also working on submitting bios to Colin by today, hopefully.  I just submitted mine, though I think I may email him again to add a bit of what I enjoy in my free time.   I am also thinking that I will try to map out some standards tonight.  Right now, though all I can think about is moving.  YUCK!

Our group seems to work well together.  It is challenging sometimes when all of us are so busy teaching, hanging out with our families, and trying to take grad classes.  I am ready for the weekend.

Progress Made on Our Game (During the Week of March 31-April 5th)

This week we met a few times as a team.  On Tuesday I met with Nicole and Chris to discuss the role cards for our game.  I helped work on the card for Katniss and helped proofread the other cards.  Then on Thursday our group met again to discuss game mechanics and our presentation.  We also discussed the nature of the presentations during our twitter session on Thursday.  Finally, the group met Thursday evening, however I was unable to attend due to family obligations.

During Thursday’s meeting we discussed exactly what we are presenting and when we need to have it completed.  We also discussed how we will present our projects.  Nicole started up a ThingLink for our central “spot” for our project.  We also discussed what we will link to our ThingLink such as our Google presentation, a movie-style trailer for the game, licensing information, Code of Laws, and a clear explanation of how a player “wins”.

Today, Saturday, we will be meeting as a group in Minecraft to film a short movie-style trailer.  We will try to show prospective players what game play will look like.  I am excited to participate in this later today. Also this weekend each of us will be working on creating our little intro videos.  I am not sure what this will look like, and am hopeful that other members from my group will have a better picture of what should be included in these videos.  Finally, over the weekend and continuing through next week, I will be working on going through and reviewing the various pieces of the presentation for content holes and formatting.

I am excited to see how our game and presentation turn out.  Looking forward to a fun week!

Game Discussion and Outline for Minecraft based on the Hunger Games Book One

During the course of this week I have spent some time catching up with the rest of my team.  I asked Lee a few weeks ago if I could switch to the Minecraft team since I have been using Minecraft for my STEM class as well.  I am very excited to be apart of this team and enjoy using Minecraft in education.

On Tuesday I met with a few people on Minecraft and in Google Hangout to discuss Game Mechanics and play around a bit.  One of the game mechanics we discussed was assigning players roles.  Some of the roles we suggested were: family roles, social or class-based roles, your job/responsiblities, your attitude, and special abilities.  Nicole wanted to begin working on this so she is plugging away on making cards.  During our hangout we also discussed different ways we could play the game.  We had a chance to play survival mode, which I had been too afraid to play prior to Tuesday’s Hangout.  I would like to tell you that I survived, but I did not.  I did learn a valuable lesson though, and that is that your role in a family can help you survive.  Tiffany and Colin tried their best to save me!  This will be important for students to remember as they try to survive in District 12.

Also during our meeting I asked how I could help out.  I spent some time on Thursday looking at our Narrative for our game.  Colin and I read through our Narrative and Code of Laws just to make sure everything was cohesive and ready for the Gamifi-ED Wiki.

The group has worked diligently to create a narrative that introduces students to the world of Panem.  I did not participate in making this because I was not involved with the group at the time; however, I enjoyed reading through the narrative and providing support where I could.  The students’ first quest is outlined for them in the initial narrative.  The basic rules are explained in the narrative (5 rules), though to survive members of district 12 may have to break these rules at some point.  Players are expected to contribute to the glory of the Capitol.

During the previous week, as a team we worked on creating District 12.  Several buildings were already built, still I was able to build The Hob; and learned how to use world edit to create the building itself.  Colin was a huge help in learning how to use world edit.  Also, I had a chance to work with Lee a bit in Minecraft.  I don’t always feel that I am very helpful, but I was glad that I was actually able to help someone else.


This week has been challenging for me because I have really had to step out of my comfort zone a bit.  I have learned a great deal about Minecraft and feel more comfortable with some of the features Minecraft EDU has to offer.  Thanks for a great week!

Week 9 Reflection: Shifting from “What” to “Where” and “How”

Well, I am certainly glad I took the time to read through some blogs this week.  I had a very difficult time completing this weeks blog.  Perhaps because I am busy preparing to move or maybe because I was a little unsure of the content this week.  I am not certain, either way I read several blogs that made me think about my opinions on moving from the “what” to the “where” and “how”.

My contributions this week included reading and responding to several blog posts.  Leslie shared a great resource on her blog page.  She included a blog posting by Krista Moroder who discusses the idea that we have teachers that know how to teach and teachers that know how to use technology, (Moroder, 2012).  I think it is important to remember that we don’t always have to use technology.  There is still great value in teaching without technology.  Technology is another tool to add to our tool box.  If we can use it effecitvely to teach or learn then great, but if we are using technology simply to use it then perhaps we should consider not using.

I also took sometime to look through Gary’s blog.  I actually read his reflection this week.  How interesting.  He spoke about the “what” of teaching and how crucial this is to learning.  It is very important that we allow our students time to explore how to learn and give them the skill set to be life long learners, but part of that is helping students build their background knowledge.  Without giving students background knowledge and the skill set they need to “learn how to learn” they will not develop the skills necessary to be life long learners (especially in the elementary grades).  I am reminded of a blog I read by Wiggins.  In his blog he spoke about high school students who didn’t know how to read for understanding.  The students could read but didn’t have the skill set to make inferences.  He continued by explaining why the students couldn’t make inferences, no one had given them the skills to make inferences.  Telling a student to make an inferences or simply providing examples does not teach the students how to do this.  There are certainly clues or things students can look for in a situation to help them infer.  As educators we have to help students learn the what so they can apply it to other situations.

This week I also commented on Brandi’s blog.  Brandi has a neat situation in that she works with students who are not familiar with the oustide world because they live in a small rural community.  I have not been in that situation, however I tried to pull some resources for her to use.  I do not know how helpful they will be, though since I am not in that situation.

I also took some time to read through some of Heather’s blog.  She is trying to catch up with her blog posts so I commented on learning as a part of the collective.  She spoke about using Kagan Learning Structures so I shared some of my favorite learning structures and how I used them.  Great post!

Finally, I am working on catching up with the Minecraft Game group since I switched.  I am excited to be a part of this team because I am using Minecraft in my other class as well.  In the comment section I suggested creating a survey to assess where the students are at with using Minecraft.  Colin is super awesome and already made one!  I jumped on today to suggest some questions for the survey but he is too quick! 🙂  Thanks, Colin for all your hard work.
Overall a busy, productive week!



Wiggins. ().  The Shift from Teaching Content to Teaching Learning. Retrieved from

Moroder, K. (2012, November Friday). Let’s Stop Talking about Teaching with Technology, and Start Talking about Teaching. Retrieved from

What are the Challenges in Shifting Content from “What” to “Where” and “How”?

what where how

I have had great difficulty coming up with a blog post for this week.  I am not certain if I am just too busy with other things in life or if I am having a difficult time wrapping my head around the essential question: what are the challenges in shifting from “what” to “where” and “how”?  After grappling with this for a bit, I determined that I needed to first define and think about the “what”, “where” and “how”.

Defining the what, where, and how is fairly simple.

The question of “what” is easily testable.  The two types of “what” are the facts being either true or false, or the beliefs which must be explained or justified using the content being studied (Thomas & Brown, 2011).   In the past and even now educators fall into the trap of teaching students “what” they need to learn based on the curriculum.  Certainly not all teachers simply teach the “what”; however, I have seen many teachers who do just this, and I am certain I have done this before as well.  The goal then is to move beyond simply teaching the what.  There is a need in today’s ever changing society for teachers to move students into the where and how of participation, thus teaching students how to learn.

The “where” encourages the learner to determine where to find the information?  Sometimes students may not know, for instance, where Iraq is if you point to it on a map.  However, if you ask students where to gather the information to find Iraq many will be able to do this using things such as Google Maps (Thomas & Brown, 2011).  This idea reminds me of using Wiki as a resource.  Wiki is a great resource because it allows users to manage knowledge in one location; additionally the way the knowledge is managed is recorded through discussions and activity on the page.  I will be the first to admit that in the past I have never been a fan of wikis, and honestly, I find them difficult to use at times.  It is important, though, to note the value a wiki can possess.  Sheehy speaks about some of the benefits of using Wiki with other educators.  Using a wiki allows teachers to collaborate when they might otherwise not have time to “meet up” to discuss strategies or lessons (Sheehy, 2008).  Similarly, wikis can allow students to connect and share information in an organized fashion.  In the past it was difficult to find ways to organize information that students found on a particular subject; now, students are able to gather information on subjects such as serious games and put all the information in one location.  No longer do students have to wonder “where” they will locate information.  Now students and teachers can move into the “how” of participation.

The “how” of participation asks us how we can judge and evaluate the information that we gather?  Mizuko Ito discusses this in her ethnographic study shared by Thomas and Brown.  She discusses “how” we judge and evaluate in three ways: by hanging out, messing around, and by geeking out.  Mizuko explains hanging out as just “being” by learning the social practices and social norms that make one media literate.  Once students and teachers develop this social agency then they can move into “messing around”.  One of the critical pieces of messing around is that the student or person messing around develops a personal interest.  Getting students to take a personal interest will help them learn how to learn.  Finally, Mizuko explains geeking out, which means extending the social agency of hanging out and the personal agency of messing around.  People who “geek out” think, “How can I utilize the available resources, both social and technological for deep exploration?”   (Thomas and Brown, 2011)

Challenges of shifting from the “what” to the “where” and “how”.

The “what” of learning is often defined for us in the field of education.  I am reminded of something a fellow educator has mentioned in class before.  Often times as educators we feel bounded by the curriculum; still, sometimes it is important to use our professional judgment and not teach everything. Now, I don’t mean we should leave out crucial areas of study, I just think we should look at the curriculum and pacing guide with a critical eye.  If our students take a pretest for instance and already know the “what” then we should have the freedom to move right into the where and how of participation. 

One of the challenges of moving into the “where” and “how” is feeling like students don’t know the “what”.  I think this is a common feeling among educators; this may be where we, as educators, need to shift our thinking.  Perhaps students can learn the “what” by moving into the “where” and “how”.  By letting students take charge of their learning we allow them to “own it” in a sense; students will feel more involved in their studies if we give them the chance to locate information and play with it.  As I begin to think along these lines I am reminded of Wiggins article on shifting from teaching content to teaching learning.  When we encourage students to take charge of their learning we also have to take time to show them how to learn. 

–“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”—

Benjamin Franklin


Sheehy. (2008). The wiki as knowledge repository: Using a wiki in a community of practice to strengthen K-12 education. Retrieved from


Thomas, Douglas & Brown S., John. (2011). A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change.

Wiggins. ().  The Shift from Teaching Content to Teaching Learning. Retrieved from


Week 8 Reflection: Learning in a collective

This week has been a busy one.  I have spent time reviewing games.  I have only finished two since I have been busy with other assignments.  I did spend sometime talking with other people in the class this week.  I am looking forward to working with Colin and Chris on a Minecraft task for my son and Chris’s son.  I think it will be neat.  We are truly embracing the idea of working as a collective, though I think Colin has much more to offer on the subject of Minecraft.

I had a nice discussion with Sara H. about constructivism.  Students learn so much more when they are given the opportunity to construct their knowledge.  I also spoke with Gary about the different ways people are using the collective to learn.  Gary provided a great resource filled with information about different ways collective learning is used (  I also shared the Sal Khan video with Gary about learning in a collective (  Finally, I spoke with Colin about using the collective to share hobbies and learn more about your hobbies.  What a great idea!  Colin had some good suggestions about how I could do this without sharing personal information.

This week I also had a few conversations on my blog page as well.  Megan, Tiffany, and Colin visited my blog this week.  Megan and I discussed the value of working in a collective as an educator; each of us brings unique passions and interests to the teaching career.  When we work together we can use these different “gifts” to help each other become better teachers.  Tiffany shared how belonging in a group is so important.  I think working in a collective that a student picks can help the student feel involved and interested in the collective.

Thanks for all of the great comments and discussions this week.  I have learned a great deal being a part of a great team.  Especially from some of our high school students who have helped me navigate the wiki page.