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Monday, January 14, 2013

5 Great Resources that ask: Should Students Give Up their (Video) guns?

5 Great Resources that ask:  Should students give up their (video) guns? 
In response to the violence in his hometown, twelve year old Max Goldstein, urged his classmates to toss out their violent video games.  He started a movement called “played out” and urged his peers to “put down their guns” or turn the games in for store credit, similar to the real gun buyback programs that were going on in his town.  This brings the debate right to our students’ level. 
If, in fact, as Annie Murphy Paul states “arguing is the best way to learn,” this debate is sure to get kids thinking and engaged in a relevant topic that directly affects them.
Do you think that violent video games have influenced teens to become more violent?  What should be done about violent video games?
Common Core Standards come alive
There are some great resources that point out the pros and cons of this debate and will enable your students to “make a claim and support it with evidence, as well as evaluate the arguments of others” hitting right on Core Content Standards.  Give them the opportunity to read these informational texts to develop arguments of their own.
You can start with this youtube news video of Max Goldstein and his campaign to get his friends to throw out their games. 
Researching the Pros and Cons
Video games ProCon gives students great statistics and facts that can support arguments for and against on whether video games promote teen violence. 
The International Debate Education Association also provides arguments on whether video games should be outlawed or controlled. 
At you will find five basic facts that can be used to support arguments on whether violent video games really cause violent behavior.

A more scholarly approach can be found in the article by the American Psychological Association “Violent Video Games: Myths, Facts, and Unanswered Questions”.

All of these resources can be used to help your students think critically about a topic and develop their own arguments.  To help students see other perspectives to develop and deepen their argument, you can assign them one of the built in perspectives- student, parent, game maker or lawmaker- in the free SCAN lesson “Video Games and Youth Violence.”  The SCAN tool will help them develop their arguments by listing issues, clarifying, assessing, and collaborating to come up with a plan of what should be done. 
Gun control is a hot topic that many teachers will avoid.  Focusing on the guns that most students have held in their hands via video games gives them a change to think critically and write argumentatively.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

10 Resolutions to Feed Your Enthusiasm

Although I think that many teachers write their New Year’s resolutions in July, for many winter break gives the opportunity to take a few deep breaths and dream!  I got an email from a friend just as break was starting; she had great hopes for reading some books, writing some curriculum, grading some papers, meeting for lunch, etc.  Just 5 short days later she was suffering from a cold and lacking all motivation.  She was dreading the end of vacation and pleading for “one more day.”  The New Year is a great time for a mind makeover.  

10 Resolutions to Feed your Enthusiasm

1.        Crank it up:  Take that one assignment and/or project and crank it up a notch by integrating technology.  Give your students a list of great web 2.0 tools and let them decide which ones will help them show what they have learned.  Ask your media specialist for help or check out this great livebinder “Web Tools for Teachers by Type” to get you started.
2.       Let go of some control.  Give your students a choice:  Let them pick the topic, assessment, tool they are going to use, or even their seat! 
3.       Give kids more responsibility:  for some odd reason my students were quite capable of believing they knew more than me about some things.  Let them be the expert in the room.  Do 5 minutes of “you teach me” at the end of each class.
4.       Try something new:  Figure out something new about a piece of technology that you own – your camera, tv, car, phone…..or try out twitter or Facebook, be cool in your own head.
5.       Tune into their feelings:  It is easy to jump on a kid sleeping in class, not hear the tone of others, not see the baggage they are carrying.  Tune into your students with an empathetic eye.
6.       Ask for help from a colleague. Go across the hall or go across the world.  Ask your colleagues for some ideas for the topic you are teaching next week and tweak them to your needs.  (and don’t forget to share back….just like those that use online recipes are always saying I LOVED that recipe but I substituted chocolate for bacon, nuts for peas and potato chips for lettuce). 
7.       Make it real:  tie in current events, look for youtube videos, make connections to your student’s daily lives. Ask:   Can you give us an example from the classroom?  Example from the real world?  Example from your life?
8.        Be ungoogleable!  Encourage thinking by asking the right questions.    Ask your students to:
Elaborate and clarify:  What do you mean by…?  Can you tell me more about…?  I wonder if…? 
Build on or challenge a person’s ideas:  What might be other points of view?  Do you agree?
9.       Get to the point!  What are you REALLY trying to teach?   What is the true essential learning? 
10.   Get your mojo back.  Reboot!  Clean your slate and theirs, have the students reintroduce themselves.  Reintroduce yourself and your 2014 expectations.  Dwell on things that “make your day.”
11.   Count your blessings:  for every one thing you NEED, give thanks for something you HAVE.
Okay, so I went one over!  What are your resolutions for this bright and shiny new year?