Articles Tagged with: teachers

Teacher Appreciation Week 2017

By Chris Magnuson (@cromagnuson)

Tuesday, May 9th is National Teacher Appreciation Day and we here at Dig-It! Games have a host of teachers to thank!  We not only have to thank teachers who use our games in their classes but also every teacher who has taken the time to fill out one of our surveys, has play-tested our games individually or with students and every teacher who now stays up to date on game-based learning by following us on social media.  We are an educational video game company and we would not exist without you!

We recognize that there are many things piled on the proverbial plate of teachers from the state, the district, parents, students and your own personal drive to ignite learning in your students.  That is why we also recognize that the teachers who are seeking out video games to incorporate into the daily routine deserve recognition and appreciation.

Here is why we say thank you to all game-based learning teachers:

  • We know that the choice to seek out a game that fits your class is motivated by seeking to facilitate an engaging experience for your students. You want to ignite a spark of creativity, wonder, excitement or even an emotional experience.  In short you want to create a class that impacts your students.  We say thank you for your drive to make your class the best it can be.
  • Choosing a game takes time. You must find a game that connects to your curriculum and play it long enough to determine if it hits the learning objectives you have mapped out for your class.  We know that time is in short supply and we thank you for playing our games!
  • Once you have chosen a game that fits your class, there will need to be some customization of your lessons to connect it to your curriculum. We offer curriculum materials for many of our games but we also know that you will always customize them to fit your students’ needs.  We thank you for building the bridge between our games and your students.
  • Teaching is all about logistics! We know that choosing the game and scaffolding the lesson is only a part of a successful incorporation of a game into a course.  You may also have to secure the laptop cart, reserve the computer lab or at a minimum make sure all your devices are fully charged and student accounts established.  These steps can sometimes be time-consuming and tedious but absolutely necessary.  We thank you for making sure that students can access our games in your class!
  • During game playing you may also have to troubleshoot. Thank you!
  • When the laptops are closed and students have left your classroom, your work is not done. You will look at data reports on how students did while playing the games or devise assessments that incorporate game-play to show what students have learned and also to help justify your decision to use games in the classroom.  We thank you for taking this extra step!

These steps demonstrate that incorporating games into the classroom is not a simple process but we know that you do it because you want to create an experience for students they will never forget.  We say thank you!

Now for the free stuff!

In the spirit of Teacher Appreciation Day, we would also like to say thank you by offering you one of our games of your choosing for free and a chance at becoming a character in a video game!

  1. Use code TEACH2017 at our game store.
  2. Fill out this form and we will randomly pick 3 entries to have our amazing art team draw you (or a friend) as a video game character that you can use to put on social media, letterhead, posters around your room, you name it!
  3. Don’t forget about our free materials on TeachersPayTeachers!
  4. Reach out to us on Twitter @dig-itgames!

Take a moment now to fill out an entry form today!  If you are chosen to become a video game character we will contact you for a personal photo for reference.  Good Luck!


Games to Prepare for Testing

April is a busy time of the year, and it also signifies that the school year will soon end. The end of the school year means one thing in the education field, review of all content material cover in the curriculum to help students prepare for their end-of-year projects and assessments. What is the best way to prepare students? Some teachers use review packets and drill practice worksheets. However, the best way to review the content and prepare for testing is to have students play games! 

At Dig-It! Games, we have numerous games that help students review standards in the intermediate and middle school grade levels.

 

Loot Pursuit: Early America is a great game for 4th, 5th, and 6th-grade students to practice math computation and U.S. History standards on Jamestown. 

 

 

Exotrex Episode 1 allows students to review concepts taught in Physical Science and Earth Science standards. 

 

 

Excavate! is a series of ancient civilization games on the social, cultural and economic standards of the cultures of Maya, Egypt, and Mesopotamia through ancient artifacts.

 

Games allow students multiple attempts where a state assessment/end-of-year test only gives the student one chance with the material. Games enable students to play with concepts and materials taught during the year in a quick, safe and easy way to help students practice and cement the information they are reviewing. For all students no matter the grade, there is a lot of curriculum covered in a school year, and a subject specific game can allow students to fail at concepts while practicing over and over again until the student and the teacher feel that they have mastered the concepts needed to pass the yearly assessments.

As the end of the school year nears to a close and those state tests draw closer, make sure your students are ready! Check out our games as well as others to help your students prepare for their final assessments!

 


How Social Media Can Improve EdTech

Being nerdy with Google Glass in 2015

As a full time teacher, you have way too much to do at one time. Too often educational technology tools are either suggested to or pushed on teachers as one more thing to figure out. This is incredibly frustrating and it doesn’t have to be. My name is Elisa and I am an education specialist at DIG-IT! Games.  I was (and still am) a huge advocate for educational technology. My prior roles in my education were as a high school Spanish teacher and technology integrator who ran some professional development opportunities for my colleagues. I was always interested in tools to make my class and teaching not only more fun, but also more effective. One of the most frustrating parts of this, though, was signing up for a new tool and then spending hours to figure out how it works only to find out that it just won’t work for you. I always thought to myself, “Well if they just changed this it would be PERFECT or “It’s too bad it doesn’t do that” and then I would write the tool off and go about my business. From my Twitter feed, I can tell that this is the frustration of many teachers out there. Since leaving the classroom, here is what I’ve figured out:

Edtech companies only work FOR TEACHERS. Without teachers, they will cease to exist. If some teachers somewhere aren’t using their product, the company will fail. This puts teachers and administrators in an amazing position. They have the opportunity to give feedback and have a hand in making products that are perfect and that they want to use. I know I never really gave this much thought while I was teaching (possibly because we have so much else to do, that writing an email to a company wasn’t a priority) and now that I’m trying to elicit reaction from teachers, I realize how important this process is.

The age of social media has made it so easy to facilitate customer service between clients and companies. Twitter especially has become a way to get instant help, feedback, or advice between teachers and companies. Since I am one of the people monitoring our Twitter account here at Dig-It!, I can honestly say that I’m so excited when teachers engage, ask questions, or just give feedback.

So here’s my ask to current teachers. Stop being silent. If you like a product, tell them why. If you hate a product, tell them why. If you have an idea for an improvement or a feature, tell them. Follow companies on social media and interact with them. You’d be surprised at the reactions you might get like early access to features or some other incentives. This is the only way that you are going to get the product you want and need. If you are trying to use a product and need help, reach out on social media. I know I’d be so excited to answer those questions.

Today signals the beginning of a long-awaited break for many teachers. I am less than a year removed from the classroom and I can still feel the excitement of having a few days off and coming back for what will be the home-stretch of the school year. I know that some of you will not touch anything related to teaching during this break and I know that some of you will be doing lesson plans at some point.

I challenge you to follow at least 1 company whose product(s) you use and try to interact with them. I will be on our handle (@digitgames) if anyone wants to chat about using educational games in the classroom. Also, I am doing some feedback and research on our game, Excavate, so if you’d be interested in helping me out, I’d appreciate it! We are also presenting at the ISTE 2017 conference and would love hear from you there.  Reach out on twitter, comment below, or email me to set up a time to talk about games in the classroom with one of our speakers.

 

Have a happy and safe weekend and if you are on break, enjoy it!

 


Teacher Gift That Keeps On Giving

Time just escapes us when we are having fun making educational games for students around the world.  Where did the year 2016 go?  As we near the end of the year the month of December is one of giving and sharing.  We have shared a lot with the education community and wanted to find a way to continue some of that sharing during the giving season.

Are you giving a gift to your child’s teacher this year?  What if you could give a gift to your child’s whole classroom and to a classroom of underserved students for the same price?  With our Get One Give One Program you can give two classroom’s worth of games for less than $25.  For a limited time, purchase 25 copies of Excavate!™, Excavate!™ Egypt, Loot Pursuit™ Maya, or Loot Pursuit™ Early America for a 67% discount off the individual price. You send the games to the teacher of your choice and we will donate a classroom’s worth of games to a teacher at an underserved school.  Just add the game of your choice to your cart, apply the discount code TEACHER2016 and send the license keys you receive to your teacher.  It’s the gift that truly keeps on giving and with your help we can eradicate summer learning loss.  Offer expires 12/31/2016.  For more information on our campaign to fight summer learning loss, visit our GOGO Learn page.

 

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My Student Blew Me Away!

Developing games to support our mission of bringing the benefits of game based learning to the classroom is often a challenge.  What should be the next game we create?  How do we balance education with fun? How do we help teachers get the professional development they need to use games in the classroom effectively?  The encouragement we get from our users, reviewers and testers give us constant reasons to face these challenges, but it is the personal success stories that remind us why we do what we do.

This article is about Lisa Lewis, an education consultant that only recently decided to explore game-based learning.  She chose our top selling game, Mayan Mysteries™, to use with one of her students.  Mayan Mysteries has been recognized by reviewers as a best-in-class educational product, including a run as the #1 featured product for ages 9-11 on the Apple App store.  Here, Lisa shares how the experience of using Mayan Mysteries was not only eye opening for her, but also such a rewarding way of learning for her student.  If you ever thought the value of game-based learning in the classroom was a myth; this story might make you realize it is time to explore.

From: Lisa Lewis – Education Consultant

To: Dig-It! Games

A student I tutor, who is currently a 5th grader reading on a 3rd grade reading level, and is riddled with all types of learning challenges, showed me a thing or two the other day.  I thought I would try something different with him and I introduced him to Mayan Mysteries on my laptop.  Thinking to myself, there is no way that this student will be able to read, let alone comprehend the detailed information, I was hesitant to give it a try.  But I also thought how would I know if I didn’t give it a try.  The main question in my head was “How is he going to be able to maneuver his way through unfamiliar territory?”  I certainly was not going to be any help, because this was so far from my own comfort zone.

As the student logged into Mayan Mysteries, I could tell he was intrigued by the graphics.  His face lit up, as it has never done with me before.  He is so accustomed to our structured lessons each week.  We practice old and new vocabulary words, we read a text together and talk about it, and then we write using a prompt and a graphic organizer.  I didn’t scaffold anything for the student about Mayan Mysteries.  I merely said, “see what you can do”.

As he entered the Mayan civilization, he clicked through a few things to get to the actual listening and game part.  He listened intently to the voice as it read the very complicated text to him.  He watched with bated breath and totally disregarded anything I said to him.  I was merely giving him encouraging thoughts as he continued to listen.  Once the reading section was completed, the student proceeded to click on things and move them around on the screen according to the directions he was given.  Once he had everything in the places he believed they should be, he clicked something and the words “You Were Successful” came up on the screen.

 

ArtifactID1

He continued on for another two parts of the game and was once again successful with both parts.  I stopped him for a moment to say congratulations.  I also asked him how he knew what to do.  He couldn’t really tell me how he knew what to do.  I was assuming it was merely instinctive for him to know what to do.  I told him I was proud of him for maneuvering his way through the three parts that he had gone through.  I told him I knew it wasn’t easy, but that he did a great job.

DigginPuzzleartifactfound

I asked him what he thought of the game.  He said it was different than most of the games he had played.  I also asked him if he learned anything.  He said yes, but had a difficult time elaborating about what he had learned.  This is pretty typical of this student.  He usually gives one or two word answers and has a very slow processing time, as well as a severe memory issue.  He cannot recall for me what he has done earlier in the day at school, unless it is related to his Chrome book or what he has done during recess.

I consider this to be a big Aha moment for me and for the student.  He realized that he could accomplish something new and different.   He also realized that video games could be both educational and fun.   I learned that after all these years working in large groups, small groups and individually with children, that kids can still blow me away with what they can do when it comes to technology.  Just another teachable moment for me!


Learn more about game-based learning from our FETC 2016 workshop slides