Exploring Passions: Moving Beyond The Minecraft Obsession

My daughters and many other children are addicted to Minecraft.  They play it every chance they get.  When their time on electronics is over, they are still focused on Minecraft.   They draw pictures, write stories, and plan what they are going to do the next time they log on.

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Without Minecraft they are bored.  I have read an article called Disruptions: Minecraft, an Obsession and an Educational Tool that discusses some of the good things about Minecraft.  It is a great article but I still think there is more out there for my children to explore and learn.  How do I help get them interested in other things?  How do I foster their creativity? These are questions that I struggle with as a parent.  I want my kids to wonder and ask questions about the world.  I want them to explore their passions.  Is this happening when they are on electronics? Perhaps, but I am still not convinced that letting my kids play Minecraft is the answer to developing creativity and discovering passions. With that being said,  I was pleasantly surprised to discover the DIY.org website.  A website for kids to explore passions and develop skills while completing challenges.  Every child has their own portfolio and they can earn badges based on they challenges they complete. There is everything from Lego Master, Bee Keeper, Astronomer, Chef and even Minecrafter.

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Once kids have completed a challenge, they can share it on the website for others to see.

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Sir Ken Robinson writes on his blog that “Individual creativity is almost always affected by the work of other people. In this sense, our own creative work is part of a much larger cultural conversation.”  By observing what others are creating and doing could foster my daughters creativity.  It could motivate them to explore other areas and learn new things.   I am excited to see which areas they choose and how this all works out.  I also think that this website could help me in my classroom when I am doing genius hour which I previously blogged about.

Another website that came to my attention is called curiositymachine.org.   I like the idea of having mentors in the field.   I am still exploring this website and am trying figuring out where to submit the projects and how it all works.

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Have you used either of these websites?  Do you have any other websites to suggest?

How do you help foster creativity in your child?

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Another Way To Connect People With Books!

I am passionate about literacy and love sharing books. I get excited when I find tools that help people share books like the Goodreads app that I previously blogged about. A new website that has come to my attention is bookcrossing.com. Basically bookcrossing is the world’s biggest library. You register your book, put a sticker inside and then leave your books anywhere in the world. People find the books, read them and release them. You can track the books progress on the website. You can also go to the website to locate books where you are. I have signed up for an account but I haven’t released any of my books yet.  I think I will do this with my own children and my grade class.

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The bookcrossing website says: “don’t be ‘shelf’ish with your books – read and release!”
a) Wouldn’t this be a great project for students?
b) How to the children at your school share books? I know at our school we’ve done a book swap once a year and the kids love it. Bring a book and take a book.

Who Knew?

I am constantly amazed with the tools that are being created today.  My jaw is forever hanging open.  I love sharing these tools with people and watching their expressions!  Twitter has been leading me in all sorts of directions.  I kept reading about #augmentedreality on Twitter and thought that I should investigate further.   One day a read a tweet from a teacher that said you know it’s a good app when the children are asking for the name of it when walking out the door.  The app she was referring to was colARMix.   I decided to check out this free app and was I ever glad I did!  I printed off the free coloring pages and had my kids colour them.  Then I put my iphone over top of the picture and it came to life!  My entire family was amazed!  The bird came to life and started eating the worm on the page.  It was so cool.  I decided to upgrade and spend the $2.99 for more coloring pages.  I can see using these pages when working on writing with my students.  My daughter wants to use this colouring pages at her birthday party.

How could you use these pages in your classroom?

Do you use any other augmented reality apps/sites in your classroom?

Here is a video of my daughter and the hotair balloon colouring page.

Here is some articles and tweets:

Two Guys and some iPads write about some other augmented reality apps.

Here is are:  15 Sites and Apps for Augmented Reality.

One Of My Favourite Apps!

I read somewhere (Twitter) “that reading is a social act” and “we aren’t done with a book until we pass it on.”

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As an avid reader, I truly believe these statements to be true.  I am a huge book lover.  I worked for the Regina Public Library during university. I started my teaching career as a teacher librarian.  After being in the classroom for ten years, I would love to return to a library position.

During university I kept a book journal and recorded all of the books that I wanted to read. I would then highlight the title once I had finished reading them. Now some genius has developed the goodreads.com website.  I don’t use the website but I am obsessed with my Goodreads app on my phone.  I have some family members and friends on Goodreads and I can see what they are reading and what they want to read.  I can read their reviews and their ratings.  I can search books by authors and titles.  Goodreads sends me book selections based on the books I have read.  When I am out and I come across a book I want to read I just scan the barcode and it will bring the book up and I can store it in on my “to-read”shelf.  I have even had an author send me a message because I added his book to my “to read” shelf.

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Looking at the classroom, kids love to share things that they have read.  Funny things, mysterious things, factual information.  We must encourage our kids to share, talk and listen about others book choices so that they will develop a love a reading.  If they don’t love reading then chances are they haven’t found the right book.

 A classmate from EC&I 831 mentioned her students using Aurasma to create book reviews for the library at her school.  Students recorded a review and then she placed a sticker on the book showing a review had been done.   I looked at this program and it seems like a great idea.  Here is a a video of someone doing a quick review.

How do you have your students share books with other students?

Do you have kids rate the books in your classroom and if so, how?