Game-Based Learning For the Classroom

This VoiceThread outlines the benefits and challenges facing game-based learning in the classroom. Benefits of game-based learning include that it: teaches creativity and innovation, allows students to progress at their own pace, teaches students to collaborate together, replicates real world problems in a risk free environment and helps to teach decision-making skills. Some of the challenges game-based learning faces are: readiness of the educational world to accept game-based learning, cost, quality games for education and evaluation of current games for the educational world. Our 21st Century learners are ready to be engaged in the classroom, game-based learning is a powerful tool for teaching these students.


Biteslide brings writing opinions to life!


During this collaborative second grade lesson students will working on writing an opinion piece on their favorite book and then use their technology skills to make their opinion piece come to life digitally. Working collaboratively the second grade teachers and the media specialist will work with students to help them select their favorite book, then write an option piece which gives supporting examples from the text to explain why that book is their favorite.

The first part of the lesson will take place in the Media Center where the media specialist will talk with the students about their favorite books.  What makes a book their favorite?  Is it the illustrations? The characters? Is it funny or sad? Do they like it because it reminds them of something in their own life? Why is one book someone’s favorite and another person does not like that book at all? Is it okay to have a different favorite book from someone else? The media specialist will read aloud a few of her favorite books and explain why they are her favorites. Students will be asked if they agree that it is a great book and give examples why or why not.  In the classroom the teacher will extend this lesson and ask the students to pick their favorite book.  The students will then write an opinion piece on why this book is their favorite. They will give three reasons why they like the book, add in supporting details from the book and conclude by again telling us why this book is their favorite.  In the media center the media specialist will work with the students to prepare a Biteslide slidebook using images and video to digitally illustrate their opinion piece. Finally, in the classroom the students will present their projects to each other. They will also be be able to “comment” on each others work on the Biteslide website.

Objectives of the lesson: Students share opinions on their favorite books.  Students use examples from the text to support their opinions. Students use feedback to strengthen their writing. Students use technology to illustrate and support their opinions.

Link to Biteslide: Mrs. Eliason’s Favorite Book!

Biteslide - Mrs. Eliason's Favorite Book!_pcD6sm5FbtX_606756 Biteslide - Mrs. Eliason's Favorite Book!_pcD6sm5FbtX_606757 Biteslide2 - Mrs. Eliason's Favorite Book!_pcD6sm5FbtX_611863 Biteslide3 - Mrs. Eliason's Favorite Book!_pcD6sm5FbtX_611864 Biteslide5 - Mrs. Eliason's Favorite Book!_pcD6sm5FbtX_611871 Biteslide6 - Mrs. Eliason's Favorite Book!_pcD6sm5FbtX_612033

(Biteslide provides an easy option to embed your Slidebook into your blog or wiki, unfortunately I could not get this embedding option to work.  Please click on the link above to see my Slidebook.)

**After many e-mails back and forth with Biteslide and posting questions on the WordPress support page, it appears that the type of embedding I am attempting to copy and paste from Biteslide will not work on due to site security restrictions as this is a multiuser blogging platform.


During this lesson students will begin to discover why they like certain books over others. They will reflect on how they can respect the opinions of their classmates and still feel comfortable sharing their own opinions.  They will learn to support their opinions by giving examples from the text, as well as making self-text connections. Using Biteslide will allow the students to quickly and easily make their presentation come to life.  Biteslide enhances this project particularly well for second graders. In the Biteslide format there are just enough choices without there being an overwhelming amount of choices.  Students can use their creativity to make their Slidebooks look exactly the way they choose. Learning a new type of technology will allow students to strength their technology skills.  Additionally, Biteslide will appeal to a large range of learning styles.  Students who are more artistic or visual will enjoy the creative aspect of Biteslide.  Students who enjoy writing will enjoy adding text to their work.  All student will be able to learn how to be digital citizens by taking on the challenge of “commenting” on each others work.  They will need to learn how to make constructive and helpful comments, while also thinking about their classmates feelings. Lastly, students will learn to skillfully present their work to the entire class.

AASL Standards:

Standard 2: Draw Conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations, and create new knowledge.

2.1.2 Organize knowledge so that it is useful

2.1.4 Use technology and other information tools to analyze and organize information.

2.1.6 Use the writing process, media and visual literacy and technology skills to create products that express new understandings.

Standard 3: Share Knowledge and participate ethically and productively as members of our democratic society.

3.1.4 Use technology and other information tools to organize and display knowledge and understanding in ways that others can view, use, and assess.

3.2.2 Show social responsibility by participating actively with others in learning situations and by contributing questions and ideas during group discussions.

3.3.2 Respect the differing interests and experiences of others, and seek a variety of viewpoints.

Standard 4 Pursue personal and aesthetic growth

4.1.1 Read, view and listen for pleasure and personal growth.

4.1.2 Read widely and fluently to make connections with self, the world, and previous reading.

4.1.8 Use creative and artistic formats to express personal learning.

4.4.1 Identify own areas of interest.

4.4.5 Develop personal criteria for gauging how effectively own ideas are expressed.

MCPS Curriculum 2.0/Common Core Standards for Grade 2


  • Opinion: Introduce topic, state opinion, provide reasons to support opinion, and provide a conclusion.
  • Process, Production, and Research: Focus on a topic, revise and edit to strengthen writing; use digital tools to produce and publish writing; participate in shared research and writing projects; use experiences or gather information from sources to answer a question.
  • Use of Language: Collective nouns; irregular plural nouns; past tense of irregular verbs; adjectives and adverbs; expand and rearrange sentences; spelling patterns; comas; apostrophe.


• Product development (make personal connections, categorizing, layouts, technology tools for presentation).

Educator Blogs I Love!

Reading Cool Cat Teacher creator Vicki Davis’s “About” page is a bit overwhelming. The amount of publications, interviews, awards and media attention this blog has attracted is truly inspiring. As Davis jumped on the bandwagon blogging way back in 2005, her blog has been up and running for eons in the blogging world.  Her diverse background in corporate management and website design no doubt helped her weave her skills as a teacher with her skills in technology to help her create one impressive blog!

There is so much on Davis’s blog it is hard to highlight just a few items. One of the things I like on her main menu bar is her, “Tips for Beginners.” In this post Davis explains the basics of following someone on their blog, twitter and Facebook. She also explains jargon and encourages readers to create a PLN (Personal Learning Network). She suggests setting a set time every week, for example 15 minutes two mornings a week, to connect and learn. She makes it all sounds so easy! For teachers who may be intimidated by social media for just feel like they don’t have the time this would be a great jumping off point. Davis’s blog also includes links to recommended books, tech tools, free resources, and her podcast: Every Classroom Matters.

This informative post on 8 Classroom Ideas to Level Up Learning give eight wonderful examples of easy projects to do with technology in your classroom.  Along with these great ideas, I would say the main point this post is to encourage teachers to try something new and different to engage their students. Even if it’s something small, learning new things as a teacher is a great example for your students. I love this concept, which in reality can seem daunting, but with a post like this Davis breaks in down into eight easy activities. On of the ideas is to publish an online book, another is a fun way to make flashcards online and another is as simple as how to turn your Google search bar into a timer (it works I tried it!).

I find this post 12 Habits to Grow Your Online Presence and Keep Balance in Your Life particularly relevant to the discussions we have been having in our class. Davis highlights many ideas about keeping growing your presence online. Davis has some great tips, the first being–comment!  This may seem obvious, but most bloggers are blogging because they want to hear what others think and to have a conversation.  She also stresses how important it is to link to other websites. She notes that as more education website are linked together they move up the rankings on search engines which is good for everyone.

Edutech for Teachers is a blog maintained by technology specialist and teacher Jamie Forshey.  One of the great features on Forshey’s blog is her posts about her Tech Club. It is great to see students interested in technology be able to take things a step further and do some really creative work with technology. I like the visual way Forshey’s blog is displayed especially the “Catagories List.” It’s a quick easy way to head to the information you are interested in.

I checked out “Cool Projects” and really enjoyed this post about the Hour Of Code sponsored by The Hour of Code was set up as a way to encourage students to learn about and have fun with coding. As Forshey points out in her post we live in a technological world, but only a small group of people really understand computers and how they work.  The Hour of Code initiative attempts to help students understand how simple coding can be. Forshey presents several coding projects she did with her students, such as the Angry Birds Maze. I like the fact the projects she presented on her site were easy enough that even a teacher with not a lot of technology background would be able to present them to their students.

Another of Forshey’s categories is “Digital Citizenship.” I felt this fit in with many things we have been discussing in our course. This is a great video that Forshey’s Tech Club put together on Digital Citizenship. This video would be fun to show to students since it was made by students, for students.  Another post under the “Digital Citizenship” category is a post on a safe image library called Pics4Learning, which includes copyright free images.  We often have trouble finding acceptable photos for our students (without going to Google), so this would be a great resource. This post on teaching copyright basics starts with a familiar story of frustration with trying to teach students about copyright and ends with a fun tool on a website called Honestly, this interactive graphic explained more to me about copyright than many of the articles we read!

Richard Byrne’s blog on Free Technology for Teachers, promotes free technology for teachers as well as so much more! Included on his menu bar are resources on Ipad apps for School, Free Guides, Alternatives to YouTube, Creating Blogs and Websites and Video Creation Resources.  I found his post on Alternatives to YouTube particularly helpful. Many teachers cannot access YouTube at school and with YouTube the content and video quality can be subpar. In this post Byrne provides several alternative sites including School Tube and Teacher Tube.

There are so many resources on Bryne’s blog it would be impossible to feature them all.  This blog would be best used to search for a topic you are interested in and then read those relevant blogs.  I liked this post on World Science U, which is a free online source with dozens of videos explaining topics in physics.  As the creator explains the site aims to be a place here a very patient teacher will explain a science topic again and again. I like the idea of starting a lesson with a video and then progressing to more in depth information. Presenting information in a variety of formats (print, visual and auditory) helps to reach all different types of learners

Another blog I ran across that I felt had a lot of great information was TeachThought. Some of the posts on this blog include: 10 Social Media Sites for Education, 63 Things Every Student Should Know in a Digital World, 6 Ways to Find Video Games you Can Teach With, and 15 Literacy Apps to Create Books on the Ipad. While I felt the information provided on this website was comprehensive and helpful, one thing I did not like was that it was hard to tell who was writing the posts.  I enjoy the more personal blogs where the author and the author’s background is shared with the reader.

All of the educator blogs I reviewed were great examples of innovative teachers sharing new and exciting ideas.  I would love the teachers at my school to view some of these blog to stay inspired and learn new activities. As a Media Specialist I might put together a list of great blogs to share with the staff or before a staff meeting take ten minutes to highlight a great blog teachers would really enjoy. It would be fun to find out how many teachers in Montgomery County have their own blogs and check some of those out. Additionally, I’m sure many teachers already have blogs they read on a regular basis, if these blogs were gathered and organized in one place at the beginning of the year for all the teachers to share it would provide a great resource.



Library Blogs I Love!

The first blog I love is called The Busy Librarian authored by Matthew Winner. Winner is an elementary school librarian located in Ellicott City, MD. I love the nice clean look of his blog, it’s laid out well and is easy to navigate. His blog has won numerous awards including:

  • 2013 Edublog Award Nominee (Let’s Get Busy podcast for Best Podcast or Hangout)
  • 2013 Bammy Awards nominee in the School Librarians category
  • Top 50 School Library Blogs  2013 (
  • Library Journal Movers & Shakers 2013 – Tech Leader

Winner’s blog has lots of wonderful additional features such as his Let’s Get Busy podcast, a Pinterest page, and his tumblr. The Let’s Get Busy podcast is an amazing feature to which I have really enjoyed listening. Winner interviews various authors and librarians and highlights different topics in the world of children’s literature and technology. Some of the people Winner has interviewed include Raina Telgemeier (yay!) and Dan Santant. Winner has also co-written a book about using the Wii to teach math. Winner is a avid gamer and incorporates gamer vocabulary and ideas into this library including his LevelUp Book Club.

Winner posts many reading challenges on his blog.  They are meant to inspire and encourage others to continually push themselves in their school libraries and their lives. I must admit I was ready to sign on to every challenge just reading about them!  A recent challenge was World Read Aloud Day!  In leading up to World Read Aloud Day, Winner proposed four different challenges.  None were extremely hard, however they provided thoughtful ways to think about reading aloud. In this article, “Brain of the Blogger” Fernette and Brock Eide come to the conclusion that, “the best blogs foster conversation, interactions with other blogs and other information sources, and invite feedback from their readers.” The many different challenges Winner posts do exactly that.  They encourage feedback from readers and keep readers coming back to his blog for more. The challenges posted provide accessible real world ways for school librarians to focus on their collection, promote their collection and promote readership.

Here is an amazing STEM unit based on the Three Little Pigs that Mr. Winner did in his library.  Winner was tying his lesson into the second grade curriculum, which studies urban and rural settings. He presented the story of The Three Little Pigs, then told his students about the pigs little known cousin who also built a house.  During the five week unit he had the students make a blue print for the house, construct the house, take digital photos of the house, prepare a for sale sign for the house in a power point template and lastly attempt to blow the house down with a hair dryer.  I love all the amazing technology and literature skills that Winner incorporated into this one lesson AND it tied into the second grade curriculum and common core standards.

Winner’s blog is a “winner!” It ties together a format for creative thinking, increases access to quality information, allows for Winner to share his ideas and for readers to comment and share their own ideas.

The second blog I love is Library written by Cari Young in San Antonio, TX.  This blog focuses on the concept of the Center Focused Library. I am very intrigued by the idea of the center-focused library. It would be a great way for librarians to expose students to several different library, research or technology concepts all at one time. I like how this blog presents different concepts students need to learn in small chunks through the use of small centers. For example, this post titled “Question of the Week Library Center” the students are using research skills to answer a question.  This center reinforces using text features to answer research questions. I really like the index listing on the first page of the site that allows users to browse for different topics they are interested in.

Young has a lot of great posts about using technology in the library or classroom. For example, I really was inspired by her posts on Poll Everywhere, Blendspace,, and this post on how authors use Pinterest.  My favorite post, App Overload, was how to manage all the wonderful apps we hear about everyday. In the post Young talks about all the apps she is bombarded with everyday and how it is better learn 10 essentials apps really well rather than to try to keep up with every new app. I agree, we always seem to be hearing about the latest and the greatest and it is impossible to keep up with everything. Finding a few apps that you feel are exactly what you need and becoming an expert in those apps will benefit you in the long run.

I love this post on Research Revelations it presents a great case for flexible scheduling in the library. In this post research time is given for two hours during the school day. The research project is co-taught between the classroom teacher and the librarian. Research without disruption can be in depth and through. There is no getting up to put away the laptops after only working for 30 minutes. This would be a great post to share with teachers and administrators while advocating for more flexible research time for the students.

Young’s blog is creative and inspiring, she has many great ideas for teachers, librarians and parents.

The third library blog I love is called Watch. Read. Connect: Exploring Children’s Literature Through Book Trailers. The concept of this blog is encouraging literature through book trailers. The blog is published by Mr. Schu a K-5 teacher librarian located in Michigan. His blog highlights many of the activities that he does in his own library, as well numerous book trailers. Schu believes book trailers are a great way to reach out to students and get them excited about books. In addition to book trailers Schu also has many great ideas about using different types of technology for teaching research and library skills. Schu blog is easy to read and nicely displayed.

In this post about the official trailer release for the movie “The Giver” Schu not only presents the trailer, but also posts interviews with well-known children’s authors about the book, an interview with the artist who redrew the cover, additional video interviews with author Lois Lowery and Lowery’s original Newbery acceptance speech in 1994.  This post brings together so much information about one very important book in children’s literature all in one place.  This post is creative and inspiring. It would be a wonderful post to share with students. It would get them excited not only about the upcoming movie, but also about reading the original book!

Schu has a great feature on his website where he interviews authors and has them finish a series of sentences. Here is a link to the post where author Laurie Keller finishes sentences that Schu has presented. During the text of the interview questions Schu inserts book trailers of Kellers other books and also an audio clip of Ralph Colvert (love him!) reading aloud one of Keller’s books. I love how Schu includes relevant videos within the text of the interview. Again, I can imagine sharing this entire post with students to make this author and her books come alive.

One of the things I love about Mr. Schu’s blog is the way he makes authors seem so accessible. His interviews include wonderful and sometimes silly questions. When an author responds with a silly answer it brings that author to life for the students and makes them relatable. The final question in many of Schu’s interviews is, “Mr. Schu you should have asked me…” it is a lot of fun reading the different authors responses. Mr. Schu’s blog is titled “Watch. Connect. Read” and I believe “Connect” is the most important part of this title. This blog allows for, “increasing access and exposure to quality information.” For example, right now our fifth graders are working on a book trailer project.  This blog would be a great resource for them. Additionally, I would love to share this blog with teachers to spur on their creativity. Since the posts are so interactive it would be fun to end the day by showing the students one of Schu’s book trailers.

All three of these blogs are well-organized, detailed, creative and inspiring. All three authors use their blogs to reach out to their readers to share information and ideas and all three invite reader feedback. This give and take conversation is one of the best things about reading blogs. Reading and commenting on a variety of blogs promotes connections between librarians across the globe. Creating a PLN (Personal Learning Network) provides a seamless way for librarians to share new ideas, explore their passions, promote innovative technology, voice their frustrations and learn from others.

Works Cited:

Eide, Fernette, and Brock Eide. “Brain of the Blogger.” Eide Neurolearning Blog.
Wordpress, 2 Mar. 2005. Web. 25 Mar. 2014.