The Future of Educational Technology Conference is an annual event that brings together experts, educators and administrators to discuss advancements and upcoming achievements in educational technology. At Renton Prep, a key aspect of our mission is technology. We believe that all students should learn from and engage with technology in a safe, constructive environment. Two of our premier educators, Dr. Michelle Zimmerman and Jessica Pilsner were honored to speak at FETC 2017.
Making Learning a Game
Dr. Zimmerman’s and Ms. Pilsner’s presentation, entitled “Journey: Gaming meets American Sign Language and Poetry” illustrated how game play can enhance student understanding and teach critical skills, such as teamwork and patience. As opposed to simply playing a game to learn a specific area of content, Dr. Zimmerman and Ms. Pilsner discussed the idea of using primarily entertainment-based games to “foster interdisciplinary and blended learning.”
At Renton Prep, we used the game Journey, designed for PS3 (PS4) by That Game Company. Dr. Zimmerman and Dr. Pilsner explained to the FETC 2017 audience that Journey is the perfect blend of a variety of subjects inherent to our curriculum. They include:
- Complex Geometry
- Spanish Culture
- STEM Thinking
Learning a New Language Through Poetry
Ms. Pilsner and Dr. Zimmerman incorporated learning ASL during the poetry unit. Students are able to set aside typical verbal communication during the poetry portion for other forms, including basic ASL finger-spelling. The use of finger-spelling is prevalent throughout the poetry unit, and students learn not only how to sign in a different language, but also how to tell stories via this non-verbal medium.
Designing a New World
Following their gameplay experience with Journey, students are tasked with creating their own game based on Paulo Coelho’s book “The Alchemist,” which they read together in book clubs. They have the choice of using Sway to build a design pitch or Minecraft to build the game itself. In addition to designing a game, students engage with and create worlds that can be showcased via virtual reality.
Obviously the applications of Journey in the classroom are numerous and Dr. Zimmerman and Ms. Pilsner were happy to illustrate many of its educational facets at FETC 2017. For more information on their presentation, please click here.