Here is the comic strip that Sara, Kristin, and I created! We enjoyed having a fireside chat about the different aspects of digital storytelling that we learned through out readings!
During my explorations of both Ants on a Slant and No Alien Left Behind, I have found that the use of simulations can become valuable learning tools for students. While the aspects of the simulation may not be as “flashy” and eye-catching as other games, they focus on a certain skill and help the learners to advance. The focus of both simulations that I explored were concepts that are traditionally challenging for students: force and motion and division with remainders. However, through the use of these simulations the students would be able to find success in their understanding in the concepts.
I also found that these simulations would provide students with a pleasantly frustrating situation. This is because the students would be navigating through their understanding of the concept while also exploring the different options of the simulation. For example, in Ants on a Slant, the students would be tasked to not only pick the steepness of the slant the ants need to climb, but also the object they need to push and the amount of ants it would take to reach the top. For some students navigating all of these obstacles could be challenging, yet doable. In No Alien Left Behind the students would have the opportunity to pick their amount of aliens, while also determine the size of the buses. These opportunities for change could allow the students to find problems that they may deem as challenging, however by learning to solve them can find success.
Overall, I find that these simulations would be extremely beneficial in the classroom. I can see how these would benefit my students’ ability to learn and grow through different subject areas. I look forward to exploring more simulations and games to use with my class!
While continuing to explore Gizmos, I found the simulation No Alien Left Behind. The focus of this activity is to provide students with a visual representation of division with and without remainders. This can be a challenging concept for students to master so I was quite pleased when I found it! In this simulation the student can choose how many aliens there are and then determine how many buses will be necessary in order to transport them to their field trip.
The picture above shows how the simulation begins. It starts with 6 aliens and with each bus being able to hold 3 aliens at a time. The students then drag the buses over the aliens to see how many will fit. When either all of the aliens are in a bus, or there are aliens remaining, you can send them on their field trip. As you can see at the bottom of the picture, there are guiding sentences to help the students navigate through the simulation. However, you can change that part of the activity from being words to a division equation. I found that this was a helpful feature, because some students need to read the step by step instructions currently presented, while other students would benefit from seeing the equation.
The picture above models what it looks like when the buses are placed over the aliens, as well as when there is an equation listed rather than the text. Once you finish placing the buses over the aliens, the equation is solved, as seen above.
Overall, I feel that this simulation is a helpful tool to model the instruction of division, with and without remainders. I think that the students would benefit from working on this both independently and during whole class instruction. I enjoyed that there were opportunities for customization through the students being able to pick how many aliens there could be, as well as how big the buses would be. This allows for students to either challenge themselves with harder problems, or become confident with the operation through using lower numbers.
As I continue to work with the simulation, Ants on a Slant, I develop more of an understanding of exactly what type of simulation it is. Based on the reading from Gee, I believe that Ants on a Slant is a perfect example of a sandbox simulation. As the students interact with the game they are tasked with having an object be pushed up a log by an ant(s). Below is a picture of how the simulation starts. In order begin moving the object, in this case the blueberry, up the stick the player needs to decide how many ants they believe it would take. If the player decides on an amount of ants that would not successfully move the blueberry they are able to simply add more. This simulation does not make an error sounds or show messages on the screen that discourage the player from continuing, providing a sandbox style simulation.
I also believe that Ants on a Slant provide the players to see these skills as strategies. According to Gee (2007), “People learn and practice skills best when they see a set of related skills as a strategy to accomplish goals they want to accomplish” (40). I see Ants on a Slant as being exactly this. Students are able to navigate through the simulation to develop a deeper understanding on inclined planes, force, and friction. I think students would be able to use this game to help them navigate through real-life applications of these skills.
I chose to explore the game Ants on a Slant from Gizmos (https://www.explorelearning.com/index.cfm?method=cResource.dspView&ResourceID=649). I was intrigued to explore more of the Gizmos site after our brief experience with the Density simulation in class. In Ants on a Slant, which I would also consider a simulation more than a game, the players are challenged to discover how many ants it would take to push an object up a slanted stick. The purpose of this activity is to allow for application of knowledge of an inclined plane and force and motion. Since my students are currently studying force and motion, in addition to simple machines, I found that this was an appropriate game to try.
I think this game (simulation) would be a helpful learning tool in the classroom. The simulation features multiple differentiations: changing the slant of the stick, picking the item for the ants to push, choosing if there should or should not be friction, as well as choosing how many ants to use at a time. With all of the opportunities for change within the game, the students could truly explore the usefulness of an inclined plane. I see this simulation as an appropriate learning support, but do not believe that it could, or should, take the place of an entire lesson. I look forward to introducing this activity to my students within the next few weeks as we continue our force and motion unit.
Hi, I am Katie! I’m from University Heights, right by John Carroll.
I am a third grade teacher and LOVE my job! I am also a volleyball coach and player. It is my favorite pastime!
I am a kinesthetic and visual learner. I do best when I can see the expectations, but also have time to have an hands-on experience with the assignments.
I am very interested in the social-emotional needs of students. This is a recent article that I have read:
6 Exercises to Get to Know Your Students Better—and Increase Their Engagement by Nora Fleming Edutopia https://www.edutopia.org/article/6-exercises-get-know-your-students-better-and-increase-their-engagement
What other classes do you teach?
First post test!