Blog Post 4: Reflection On My Students

I have been doing my observation hours at Woodbury Elementary.  I am in a sixth grade math classroom with my cooperating teacher Mr. Harnish.  This school is located in Shaker Heights.  It is somewhat diverse in regards to race.  The school is a public elementary school with grades kindergarten through sixth.

So, far I have really enjoyed my experience in this classroom.  Overall, the students are well behaved and they respect Mr. Harnish in the classroom.  This year Woodbury has conducted a new program called CSSI.  Last year, they had a disrespectful group of students and it was difficult for all the teachers to deal with.  They have introduced this program into the classroom in order to teach students about respect, communicating, and empathy.  Each week the teachers switch off with starting of their class with a group activity.  All the students sit in a circle and they introduce themselves and ask how their day is.  They then focus on empathy and they have conversations with partners about different situations and how they would feel if they were put in a the particular situation.  This was very interesting for me to observe and it seems to really help with communication skills.

As far as technology goes in this classroom, the students are each given a laptop.  They have a program called Dream Box on the lap top that deals with games and math problems.  Once they pass  a level and move on to the next, Mr. Harnish awards them with a piece of candy from the treasure box.  Mr. Harnish tends to leave an extra ten minutes at the end of class for students to work on these games and problems on their laptops.  They also are supposed to be doing this for homework.

In the one period of math class, I have been working with a girl who does not speak any English.  She only speaks French.  When working with her in math, technology is a major importance.  The only way I am able to communicate with her is through technology.  We use google translate, and I speak into her laptop which translates my words into French so she is able to understand what I am saying.  In order for her to learn and understand new material, she absolutely needs her laptop and google translate.  If she did not have this technology she truly would not be able to learn in this particular classroom.

With these students being in only sixth grade, they are not into social media yet.  Rather the technology they use is dealing with more things such as video games on iPads, iPods, xboxes, etc.  I have been observing them and asking questions about the Dream Box program.  They seem to really enjoy it and it helps them with basic math skills, that many students seem to be struggling and stuck on.  In this classroom it is necessary for students to automatically know the basic skills in order to learn more complex math problems.  For example, last Thursday the math lesson was taking an improper fraction and turning it into a mixed number by using long division.  The student I was working with was not understanding how to do this because he was still stuck on the simple, basic math skills such as subtracting numbers, that it was affecting him when dividing.  I could tell this is the clear reason for using the dream box program.  This program will really help students finally come to a complete understanding of the basic math skills and finally they can keep up with the rest of the class when moving on to the complex math problems.

Dalton states in Multimodal Composition and the Common Core State Standards the following, “We live in a multimodal world where being an effective communicator involves composing with media” (336).  This is the exact reason for teachers incorporating technology into the classroom.  It really helps benefit a student’s learning in the long run.  It also makes students more excited and passionate about learning since they have been growing up with technology such as iPads, iPods, etc. and they are used to all different forms of technology.  In the long run it is easy to see how technology really benefits the learning and communication in this particular sixth grade math classroom.



Blog Post Video Game Exploration #3

As I come to my last blog post on my video exploration, I have been able to take in and digest a lot of information on the benefits of video games and learning.  I think it is very important to include video games in the learning curriculum and to add them to lessons. Before reading about video games, I thought they were a waste of time in the classroom.  I really did not understand how they were able to benefit students’ learning abilities.  Frankly, I thought they were a waste of class time.  After reading and experiencing many different types of video games, but opinions completely changed on the positive learning effects of video games.  I can now see how beneficial they are to students.  They give students the excitement and motivation to learn through gaming experiences.

After reading through many articles in class by James Gee and Kurt Squire, they really made a clear and concise points on the benefits of video games. Good video games challenge the learner.  And learners work best when the challenges are pleasantly frustrated.  Games also give learners and students creativity.  Creativity is such an important characteristic that goes into learning that teachers forget about.  When reading a book or doing a page of math homework, it is hard to give students to opportunities to be creative and to think outside the box.  As teachers, we need to give our students the space to let their own ideas shine and flourish. Video games provide that perfect chance.  Students are able to design characters, they can pick their paths to go down, and they can even design the layout of a game.  Kids get so excited, motivated, and passionate about not only the game, but the learning as well when they are given these chances.

The game I have been continually playing all week, I have noticed all the awards and positive reinforcements when playing.  At one point, if I answered three math questions correct, then I receive a pet.  Once receive the pet, I am able to customize it.  I can use more creative influence when creating, designing, and customizing the pet I was rewarded.

The great thing about this game, is if I answer a question incorrect, then they explain and teach me why I answered it incorrectly, and then the right way on how to receive the correct answer.

After coming to an end on my video game exploration, I really respect and value video games a lot more.  In class we compared video games to literature, and I did not realize how similar they seem to be.  I never realized how beneficial video games can be in the classroom.  It challenges students, leads students to explore, gives them a sense of identity, and best of all it lets them use their creative minds.

Blog Post 2 Video Games

I decided to search for another video because my first video game was a very young and better suited for early childhood education rather than middle childhood education.  I ended up coming across another website called  With this website, I am able to pick what age of students will be using.  It ranges from 1st grade all the way up to eighth grade.  There is also choices with what subject the students will be learning about.  This time I choose math.  I wanted to explore a video game in my other content area which is math, since the game I originally choose was language arts.  There is also a free trial for a month with this website which is super nice for a teacher to be able to introduce the game to the class and see within the month how they are responding to the game.  If they are not enjoying the game then the teachers knows not to spend the money for it after the free trial is up.

This video games involves a lot of techniques and terms that we have been learning in class.  The first thing I wanted to make note about this game is the at the beginning of the game the students are able to create and design their own monster player.  This is a perfect to contain player identity in the game.  The player also has the control in this adaptive mind game.  They get choose their player, then design their player, then they get to pick and choose which problems to solve.  In the article, From Content to Context: Video games as Designed Experience, Squire explains that, “The game provides a set of experiences, with the assumption being that learners are active constructors of meaning with their own drives, goals, and motivations. Most good games afford multiple trajectories of participation and meaning making.”(Squire).  The students become motivated and want to create and stick to their goals during this game.  Since they have the control in their gaming experience, then it really motivates and leads students to succeed.

In the article, Good Games, The Human Mind, and Good Learning, they explain all the influences of identity in games.   Good games offer player identities that create a deep investment in the game and in the player.  This article also talks about customizing the game.  It is a good game when players are able to customize the game in order to play and to fit their learning and playing styles.  In Adapted Minds, the players can customize their player, then they get to explore and get to pick and choose the different learning paths they want to go continue.

In this video game, it starts off by asking students a simple, easier problem. Once they get the correct answer, then the game gives them a more advanced question.  Each question leads to a harder and more advanced question.  This technique is referred to as well-ordered problems. “The earlier parts of a good game, are always looking forward to later parts.”(35).  This is a great technique in order to get slowly adjust students into the game and it gives them some positive self esteem and confidence by starting easier questions and gradually leading to harder, difficult questions.

monster gamemonster maker




Blog Post 1 Video Games

As I was searching and searching across the internet for the perfect educational video game I would use in my class room, I came across a website that is perfect.  This website lets students decide which subject they want to work on.  This website is called Shepard Software and is created by a man named Brad Shepard. “The site organizes its games into categories, which allow students and teachers to easily navigate by subject area and find a suitable game that caters to either an instructional need or a child’s sense of curiosity and thirst of knowledge and challenge.”(  They can choose history, math, chemistry, biology, or language arts.  Once they choose the subject they want to work on then they have more options of different games for each subject. (insert screen shot)

Since I want to be an English teacher, I obviously choose the language arts subject.  I then came across all the fun games featured in the language arts section.  There were crossword puzzles, hang man and more.  (insert another screen shot).  I first tried playing hangman.  My experience when playing this game was enjoyable.  I have always been a fan of hangman so it was fun to be able to play it online. This game wold definitely be better for younger kids.  It would be able to help them with spelling, but in a fun, enjoyable way.  In the game, you have to keep guessing letters to form. a word.  If you guess the wrong letter than a part of the caterpillar disappears. You go through ten words.  If you do not guess the correct letters then it shows you what the word is supposed to be then it moves on to the next word.  It is nice in the way where the student does not have to start over again from the beginning.


This whole website reminds me of a website I would consistently be playing on in school as a student.  It really reminds me of the Cool Math Games website.  Cool Math Games gives students the freedom to be able to explore and pick and choose whatever game they want to play.  I like how the website I played also gives students the freedom to choose which subject they want to learn about and then within each subject they have to options to explore different games for each subject.  It is really nice to be able to give students the option and freedom to explore the website.


This website and games can really relate to our learning principles we have been learning in class.  This game is a great example of the sandbox.  A sandbox are a safe haven for the learner.  In the game of hangman that I was playing, nothing bad happened if you lost and did not guess the correct word.  For example, if I did not guess all the correct letters, I still got to move on to the next word rather than dealing with a consequence and having to start over.  The game keeps moving the learner on and making them feel safe and showing no failure.

ed tech

The game of hangman also related to the learning principle of cycles of expertise.  It relates to this because in the game of hangman, you keep moving on and moving on to the next word.  Learners start to understand and get the hang of the words and which letters to use.  Many learners begin to understand that it is best to choose vowels first when constructing the word, then they move on to the letters that make up the word.  It becomes. a cycle because the learner keeps moving on to the next question.

Question: Do you think this game is beneficial for english language arts learning for younger students?


Blog Post #1

Personal Information 

  1. My first name is Kathryn, but I preferred to be called Katie.
  2. I am from Pittsburgh!
  3. I am very into art.  I love to express my emotion through drawing, painting, coloring, etc.  Whenever I am feeling stressed or a bit overwhelmed I take a break and draw/color.  It is very soothing and relaxing to me.

Learning Style

4. In order for me to be able to take intellectual and creative risks, I like to be in a friendly, comforting learning environment.  It is nice to have a classroom with a sense of being a family in order to feel more comfortable speaking up and taking risks.

What Have You Been Reading

5. Exploration matters to me the most when it comes to education and learning.  I really think the best way to learn and observe the material is to be hands on and be able to explore on your own.  Exploration is key when it comes to having fun and really understanding the material being taught.

About Dr. Shutkin

6. Do you think it is more beneficial to change everything such as books, homework, and tests from paper to online?

Blog Post Who Controls Education in America

Who controls education in America? How does the state and federal governments affect our nation’s education systems? Are these effects positive or negative?

The Federal government is in control of education in America.  Both the state and federal governments affect our nation’s education by the fundings of public schools.  The state comes up with the curriculum for schools.  The state also comes up with the mandatory testing for schools.  These effects can both be positive and negative.  Since the federal government funds public schools, it has both of a positive and negative effect on education.  It is positive in a way when the government funds lunches and breakfast for children who come from low income families.  Many students do not get three meals a day and they go to school hungry.  When they are hungry it is harder for students to learn, so the government funds lunches for students with low income. It can affect education in a negative way when there are budget cuts in schools.  When there are budget cuts schools struggle with resources and it can affect students with their learning.       The government creating the curriculum can also affect education in both positive and negative ways.  It can be negative because sometimes it is good for the teacher to be able to come up with their own curriculum for their class.  They can adjust the things they teach in order to get each individual student to learn.  It is positive though because it can keep teachers on track and gives them a goal for the students should end up learning.  Finally the tests the government makes students take can be a negative effect in my opinion because I do not think a standardized test reflects a student’s ability to learn.  Many students have testing anxiety and struggle with standardized testing.