I was born in 1991. As a child, my family had the basics as far as technology was concerned. My parents eventually had cellphones, and there was a desktop computer in our home. While in school, we occasionally worked on computers in labs, but it wasn't a daily part of life. I mostly remember taking the standardized tests on them.
About when I hit middle school, I remember being interested in the computer. I would set up the speakers, download games, and problem-solve my way through any obstacles that came up. My life changed a lot in the early 00's when I got RollerCoaster Tycoon. I was completely memorized. I loved the challenge! I loved earning money to expand the park, deciding how to design the layout (where would the Kiddie Area be? How far distanced should the bathrooms be?), and I loved designing the actual rollercoasters! I know that my brain began building those connective neuron tissues that helped me problem-solve my way through technology ever since then. Around this same time, I was becoming addicted to the Sims games. I loved the creative challenges, and the relationship building. I definitely began developing a skill for management through these games that has served me well as an elementary teacher.
Now as a teacher, I love the curriculum building games and programs that are available to be explored. I love how it supports my teaching in an engaging way, but still allows me a lot of cold data on growth and skill development. I took a class that centered on the Educational World of Minecraft, and I had no idea there was so many options! Those creative skills I have been building upon since childhood had a new arena to explode in! I'm currently weaving between many programs to find good fits for math and language practice, as well as integrating my own creations from Minecraft.
Clearly, the technological world will continue advancing and I'm excited to continue learning and exploring!
While reflecting on this infographic, there were some things that stood out to me. First of all, as an educator of young children, I see a growing gap in some of the most important life skills such as problem-solving and collaboration.
It is powerful to be in the classroom and witness children who are so quick to give up when things get challenging OR when I don't give them step-by-step instructions. Often times, I like to let my students problem solve their own ideas and solutions when conflicts arise. While not all students quit easily, there are a handful who demand answers or they're going to throw a fit, shut down, stop listening/working, etc. . . So how do we reach out to those students? I like to think of it as "tricking" them into working hard. When the buy-in and engagement factor is high enough, they are willing to trouble-shoot. I love that about games in the classroom.
It is also a huge job teaching these young children how to collaborate and work well together. It's a relative new skill for them, and it's hard. It's difficult for adults to collaborate effectively often times! That's why I love to start teaching those skills early on. The gaming atmosphere allows students the ability to work in teams, share ideas, trouble-shoot ideas, make plans, revise plans, and try again!
When studies show 95% of teachers finding games to be an effective teaching tool, why isn't it being pushed MORE? Teachers and administrations seem to be willing to do anything and pay any amount... yet technology isn't always brought up as an effective tool? Why? Is it because some teachers don't feel comfortable? Probably. Is it because technology is expensive to fund and hard to keep updated? Probably. Is it because of fear? Probably. But clearly, infusing it into the curriculum is CLEARLY worth it.