Summer Update

It really has been quite some time since I have blogged and in all honesty I really feel like I don’t have much more to say about Games in Education that I haven’t already said.   I am still a huge fan of games and still use them when I can.  I just feels like every time I think about posting it seems redundent to me. 

I did use Muzzy Lane’s Making History again this year.  As like every year I have used this game the kids loved it.  They always ask for more.  I now have kids taking my classes at the high school because they know I use games.  This is a double edged sword.  First, it is always nice for kids to desire to take my classes.  But I always want that popularity to really be based upon learning not just gaming.  Second, I really spend very little time during the course of a year in games.  Sometimes kids are a bit let down by that….but with the lack of gaming titles that translate well for educational use I do what I can.

I would also say that my teaching with Making History this year was by far the worst I have ever done.  More due to illness factors than anything else.  I had to leave school during the middle of the day during our game action.  I was at that point with my illness that I had to concentrate in order not to throw up.  After two class periods of that agony I informed the principal that I had to leave.   I didn’t think I could make the day like I felt.  So I got in my car to drive home and I had to stop for gas on the way home because I was running on fumes.  I was fairly certain I was going to puke at the gas station but I made it through.  I jumped back in my car for the 20 minute drive home.  Well, I made it about 3 minutes before I pulled over in a panic and barffed all over the road.  I just stood on my breaks, openend my door and let it go.

Anyway, I missed one and a half days of game play and when I returned to school I tried to salvage what lessons I could from the game play.  I know it was mediocre but it was better than me blowing chunks all over the USSR team as they invaded Latvia!!

I also used The InQuizitor this year as well.  I did post about that experience earlier.  But just to recap my students loved this quiz game.  More than I thought they ever would.  They asked for the InQuizitor more than I was cabable of putting quizzes together.  I would highly reccomend buying either of these two games if your budget has the funds. 

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Finally, we are in the midst of planning our next student trip to Europe.  We will be traveling from Rome to Munich on Spring Break 2010.  Student travel is one of the most rewarding things I have done as a teacher.  Sure, it can be a tremendous pain but the rewards that come to students is incredible.  We started these trips 11 years ago and I have talked to many former students who traveled with us and they have expressed the positives of the trips to me.   Some students have studied over seas, some have majored in foreign language in college, and some have traveled on their own back to the areas we first visited.  It is a nice thing to see the fruits of our labor!


We are confused!

I have to admit that my blogging energies have been gone for quite sometime.  I still advocate the use of games in the classroom and I still use them.  I just haven’t been blogging about it much this year.  But the thing that has me worked up in recent weeks is our government, our big business, and the “solutions” to the problems that the same people have created.

1.  Blame George Bush, Blame Bill Clinton, Blame Barack Obama, heck Blame their mothers….I don’t care.  But as the leaders of this great country you have to take some of the blame.  It just comes with the job.  Blame Congressmen and Congresswomen, blame Secretaries and Fed Chiefs….blame them all.  They all deserve some.  But why are we trusting the same people who caused the problem try to fix the problem?

2.  AIG Bonus Money:  165 Million Dollars….taxpayer dollars.  Used to save a private business that is failing with executives that need retained.  Why do they need retained….they ran the company into the ground.  If they are the “best” then I belive we are in trouble!

3.  John Stewart vs. Town Fool Cramer:  Roll clip 212….if Stewart didn’t prove that there is a HUGE difference between those who are IN the loop and getting rich and the rest of use who are NOT in the loop and watching our retirement go away then I don’t know what else can be done. 

4.  Let’s put some of this in perspective.  The school corporation that I work for has an annual budget of around 12 million dollars.  That pays everything…and I mean everything.  Salaries, benefits, paper, pencils, transportation etc….  The 165 Million dollars of taxpayer money used to pay huge bonuses to AIG employees is enough money to run an this school corporation for 13 years!  Sure with inflation etc…it may end up being 10 years.  But schools have been cutting teachers, increasing class sizes, dropping elective courses like music and art……all while AIG is stealing taxpayer money to pay bonuses to failed leadership. 

How Pathetic!

It has been a while…

Well, it has been quite some time since I sat and blogged my happenings as a teacher and coach so before the New Year hits I thought I should post an update.  During this school year I have starting teaching AP World History which has been great fun.  I love the challenges that teaching a classroom full of motivated studetns provides.  I also continue to teach my regular world history survey course. 

In my daily activites of teaching there are a couple of activites that have become common.  First is that of blogging.  I have talked before about the value of blogging with students and I continue to be a large supporting of this outlet and tool for self expression and educational reflection.  Blogging has become a steady source of activity in my classroom and I feel it offers incredible benefits.  It also saves a couple of trees here and there.  Second, I continue to be a large supporter of the use of games.  The InQuizitor is a game developed by 3MRT that I have recently started using.  I also continue to be a supported of Making History by Muzzy Lane.  Both games are mainstays in my courses.  Making History has become something that kids expect to play when they enroll in world history.  It no longer is “new” ….it is just what we do.  The expectations are different but students still enjoy the fact that their aging teacher likes a good computer game.  Who can’t enjoy a good round of Civ or Age of Empires?  I also am becoming  firm believe in web based games.  I know Muzzy Lane is working on this aspect and has been for some time.  I do think this avenue has potential.  It will be much easier on the classroom teacher to use games in the class if the game is web based versus installation of games on individual machines/servers and then the tech problems that sometimes come with that.  Textbook companies are getting much better with their use of technology to aid instruction and a lot of what publishers are offering is web based. 

I have mentioned in this blog about the pace of change in education….or better the lack of a pace of change.  That issue still plagues us.  Since I started using games in my classroom nearly four years ago, there has been some growth.  However, the growth has not been what I would have expected in our digital world.  What are the causes?  Cost, hardware, software, inexperience?  I don’t really know for certain only time will tell what form games in education will take…..Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


Right now my classes are starting Ancient Greece in world history.  One thing we have been working on is designing a quiz for the InQuizitor.  Having students write questions is always a difficult task.  I normally find that the questions that kids write are way to simple but we tried anyway.  We now have constructed a 40 question quiz over ancient Greece.  Most questions are ok….I did do some editing but I essentially wanted the quiz to be theirs.  Tomorrow we will play The InQuizitor and our ancient Greece quiz. 

Once we have done that our plan is to share the quiz with our 6th grade world civilization teacher.  She is going to cover ancient Greece in a couple of weeks.  I certainly hope the quiz is good enough for her kids to use and is beneficial to her class.

Textbook Adoption

This is the year for social studies textbook adoption in Indiana.  As Department Chair of the social studies department I get to see all the materials.  I get bombarded with emails, mailings and information.  The exciting part of textbook adoption is the hope that the materials that are available will be more than new textbooks but the textbooks will be better than the previous crop.  Unfortunately it looks like this year that might not be the case.  Now I haven’t seen all the books and materials like the people quoted in the article and I will give my assessment when I have seen them all.  However, social studies books have become too “politically correct” over the last decade to include the stories of history that are essential for the learning of history.  What ever happened to the thought that we teach history to help us learn from our mistakes.  But if we don’t teach the mistakes then how do we learn from our history? 

I had the thought of asking history teachers to share their best stories that enhance the teaching in their classroom.  Then I could compile, organize, and post them for all social studies teachers to use.  Since textbooks aren’t helping us out we should probably just do it on our own.  Any thoughts?


What is going on at Oak Hill….

As always life has been incredibly busy and I have often find less and less time to sit down and blog.  My kids are getting older and active, our football team is 6-0 and playing some very good football, I am still teaching World History, and have added AP World History to my schedule.  As for my use of games in the classroom:  I will continue to use Making History this year.  I am also using the InQuizitor.  Both I have blogged about here.  I also have my AP kids blogging.  So like too many people in America I have a lot going on but it is all beneficial to me and my students.  I had a great moment the other day in my AP class when we were discussing Acient Egypt.  The topic turned to taxing districts that occured at regular intervals along the Nile.  Somewhere in the conversation it hit me that this discussion is not normal for Sophomores.  That the thoughts that the AP kids were having were pushing me to become a better teacher and to gain more knowledge.  That was one of those moments in teaching when I realized that the kid was making me get better….I like that.

Also, I have blogged here about student travel and the benefits of exposing students to the cultures of the world.  I have submitted the necessary paperwork to  our Board of Education for the approval of our next trip overseas. (it will be our 7th trip) I am confident that the approval will be forthcoming and I will take a new batch of kids to see the wonder of Europe.  These expereinces are beyond anything I can do in the classroom and are activites that I can not replicate.

Just wanted to post an update.  When football is over hopefully I can become a bit more regular with my postings.

Kids and Video Games

Here is an interesting story about kids, video games, and socialization. Finally, some mainstream people are seeing the kids that game are not building compounds, digging motes, and disturbed.,2933,423402,00.html