As I continue to explore the new Poptropica, I decided that my next island would be the Mystery of the Map island which is an island where the main mission is to reclaim an important map. This island is one I never did as a kid so I was excited to play it to really be challenged. As you start the island you receive a map from a man stuck in a tree that looks like this:
In this map, you can elect to go to six different locations where clues and pieces of the “puzzle” can be found. This map showed again the way this game makes players think critically and practice their problem-solving. There were multiple items to pick up to then use later on in the mission at different points on the map. There are continuous hints that are shown in the game to help the player understand how to conquer that specific part of the map. On the waterfall in the top left, there is a beam of sunlight that slips through the dark which helped to infer that a lense could be used to magnify the light to spark a fire somehow. It would, later on, connect in how you needed to cause an explosion in the rocks with gun powder picked up from the campsite in the bottom left of the map. To get this lense you had to distract some dodo birds in the middle of the map. To infer how to distract the birds you can observe that the birds have eaten fish and candy bars in the past.
To get this Fish you to catch one at the waterfall but you needed something to catch it with. So in the exploration of the Viking base in the top right of the map you have to find a chalice to then catch the fish. Later on in the game, it is that chalice that gets the game to move forward.
One point that Grant and Josie also made in their observation of the game is a major point of Gee (2007) about identity. Poptropica provides an opportunity to customize your character in multiple ways. At the start of the game, you have the chance to create an avatar that either resembles you very well or choose characteristics that are polar opposites from who you are. The game also provides you with new gear and accessories as you finish more islands. Players are also presented the chance to purchase extras to change their appearance even more. Players are provided more credits as the complete islands to purchase these as well as using real money to buy credits.
This allows kids to get an extra chance to develop their sense of identity by either expressing themselves in the way they feel like they want to but feel pressured they can’t in the real world. Poptropica almost acts as a lower level Sims game. I remember being obsessed with swinging around swords as a kid whether that was from Star Wars, Percy Jackson, or any other fictional story. Playing through Poptropica allowed me to stimulate my imagination and have a character resemble me swinging a sword around.
For my game to research I have chosen Poptropica. When looking into games to choose for the project, Poptropica caught my eye on the list as it was one of my favorites while going up through grade school and middle school. I can remember logging in to the game during our short computer time in school and also coming home to continue to play for fun. At the time, playing all of the “islands” or levels in my free time didn’t seem like learning but just a fun game that challenged me but was still accomplishable.
Now looking into the game years after playing it religiously it has changed a lot. The game has new “Islands” and has lost some of its older ones but still holding onto some classics. There is now a creative mode where it is fun to break rock, bricks, other raw materials to collect building materials so players can build and destroy. One Island that I have focused on playing is the mythology island which is ranked on the hardest level for the game. The difficulty is measured in 3 skulls, with 3 being the hardest and 1 being easier. Players are able to learn about the Greek gods and mythology through helping Zeus to collect pieces all over the island. Players can enter into museums and interact with exhibits and other avatars standing inside and outside of the museum. Players will venture to the underworld, the bottom of the ocean, and Mount Olympus to interact with different challenges wanting gamers to think critically to answer riddles, puzzles, and other challenges. For each island, you visit there is a progress checker on the main map that will show you how close you are to finishing the island.
This game is a sandbox game where players are free to take risks in the game modes with jumping and running all over the structures and locations to collect items to complete the island. Gamers are allowed the opportunity to try to get the most out of the game by this type of gameplay. One thing I do recall doing as a kid and even playing now again is when the hard times hit and you get stuck on a part of the game where you are not sure what to do next it is pretty easy to google or youtube the how-to videos to guide you to complete the challenge. There are a lot of hidden tricks that were keyed at in my searches on google about the game. Some that intrigued me were things to do to retrieve all the retired islands.
Overall I am really looking forward to looking further into the game to test new worlds and try to find the retired worlds hidden in other maps. I would also love to find how this game can not only be a free time game for students but to have it intertwined into the curriculum. In the area of science, there is no real connection to the current worlds on the map but I do remember one from my time in the past playing so I plan on working to try to retrieve that island to find that connection.
Hello all, I am Andrew McNutt. I am from Wadsworth, Ohio. Something unique about me is that this semester I started out in El Salvador and the US/Mexico border on an Immersion through campus ministry. Also this semester I am continuing in my position of intermural supervisor here on campus. Also, I am now the Senior orientation leader for the new student orientations in the summer, so during this semester I will be working to create staff bonding and help schedule and prepare the training coming in May. When looking at my learning style, I am mostly a visual learner but kinesthetic learning is a very close second. Besides that, in looking at my comfortability in the classroom I am pretty comfortable in all situations and feel confident to speak up when I feel that my opinion is needed to be heard. One thing that makes me feel most comfortable is when everyone else feels welcome and there is no shame in speaking up. In the topics of education, something that has always interested me is the differences between fixed mindset and growth mindset. Last semester in ED 337 we had required readings in the textbook Mindset in the Classroom: Building a Growth Mindset Learning Community by Mary Cay Ricci. This topic is one that intrigues me with the curriculum and also beyond the classroom in the daily lives of students. In looking at the topic of videogames something that I am curious about is how you and the entire class feel about the effect of violent videogames on the way students behave in the classroom or in general?
- What element is most crucial to the success of the program in Texas?
- What advice would you give to California?
In looking at both of these discussion questions, one theme that I saw with the success of Texas and what advice I would give to California is the beauty of opportunity. Texas succeeds at giving students an opportunity to be able to learn in their native language but at the same time also be able to practice and learn in their second language. The success of this opportunity, I would say, comes from a feeling of comfortability and calmness in the classroom. The lift of any anxiety or self-doubt about their level of strength in their second language relieved off their shoulders. On my immersion to Immokalee, Florida I was able to talk with students who were trying to learn English and earn their GED to better their lives in our country and as some students knew English well, some did not know barely enough to understand the teachers. These student’s opportunities to succeed where diminished because they could not keep up with the rest of the class and pay attention to the teacher. This is what I would kind of connect to California and advise that if the students who know Spanish, their first language, very well but do not know English very well are given opportunities to receive help and teaching in their native language that they are most confident in then further success may be a direct mirror. Instead of them sitting in a classroom feeling like they are drowning in random sounds of words they do not know, they can be helped in the way they need to to be comfortable and calm in the classroom. To then further their education by being presented the necessary assistance to build a base of knowledge through their first language and then also strengthen their learning in their second. Overall, it is all about fair and equal opportunity in the success of Texas and the advisory of Calfornia.
- What is the best reason for teachers to visit their students’ homes?
- What would be your most serious concern about such a program?
I would say some of the best reasons for a teacher to visit a student’s home is for the teacher to all in all know more of their students. In visiting the home of a student, they are no longer in the environment that makes them a student and they are in their purest form, being their true selves. Being able to be exposed to this part of a growing adolescent could have huge implications on how a teacher may involve outside information or items of relevance into their lesson plans. Another key part of home visits is creating a deeper and more meaningful connection with the parents or guardians of a student. Parents or guardians play a huge role in the development of the student in both their education and overall life. The connection between these two main forces in the development of the student can both work together to help guide the student in the right direction. Kronholz has a quote to perfectly attests to this connection, “Teachers are experts in pedagogy, but families are one hundred percent, the experts in their children” (Kronholz, 18). Finally, if teachers do visit the homes of students, they are able to be perceived on a different level in the mind of the student and become more human and less of an authority figure building the bond between the teacher and the student.
I would say that the most serious concerns in teachers visiting the homes of their students are overstepping the boundaries of students and parents. Parents or guardians could perceive the presence of a teacher in their home as too much. They could only want teachers to stay in the schools and see no need for them to enter the home. Also, they could become upset or angry and believe that the teachers visiting their home is a symbol of the school and the teacher not believing that they are raising their child right at home so the teachers have to come in and make changes. Overall, there are a lot of dangers or worries in having teachers visit the homes of students.
- How does the teacher bridge the gap between the student’s cultural identity and the formal language of mainstream American society?
One of the most important things a teacher can do is be able to not only teach their content area but to teach the students who are in their classroom. Teachers need to form their teaching methods around the students who occupy the seats in their classroom. So in connecting to the article of this week and the importance of teachers knowing their students they also are the bridge builders for students identity, mainly cultural identity in this discussion, and class material, mainstream American society in this discussion. There are definite opportunities in the curriculum to have students be presented their personal cultural identity and one of them is through language. In education, standard English is mainly enforced because of the mainstream American ways. It can be dated back long ago to when immigrants who were seeking a good education were punished for using their cultural specific language in school and were forced to Americanize their language skills and learn English for their schooling. In modern days there is still enforcement of this standard English in education and the denial of any other language students may identify as their main cultural one. I would say that it would be incorrect to not let a student be able to express themselves in full in the classroom and learning environment. I would also say that there is definitely room for students to express their cultural language in the classroom, but at the same time, it is important not to leave standard English in the dust. With standard English being the most common language in American society it is important to keep it at the surface but at the same time, it doesn’t mean that anything else needs to be below it. So all in all cultural languages can be right next to the American norm in education. Teachers are then responsible for keeping the education of standard English at the same importance of any cultural language depending on what students identify with to overall allow students to be comfortable in their learning environment and be able to be who they want to be in the classroom.
- Why does the AVID program work?
- How can we replicate the AVID philosophy in our own work as teachers?
The AVID program specifically works because of its aim towards equity in education. Equity in education is something a lot of people advocate and fight for and to have a program that takes struggling low-income minority students and puts them into a school where they will receive college readiness instruction is a perfect example of equity. With AVID being a program set up to focus on motivating and preparing underachieving students from underrepresented linguistic and ethnic-minority groups to perform well in high school and to seek a college education (Mehan, pg. 98) there is a lot of room for the program to not work. But by looking at the numbers they have successfully sent off 50% of their graduating class on to further their education which compared to the local public schools (37%) that is significantly better. The AVID program also works because of its “design drivers” that they are stressing to students like the importance’s of note-taking (Cornell notes), writing, and, what I would say is the most important, collaboration. In focusing in on these things students are then highly prepared to move on to the next level of education. Through mastering these things the students are able to get comfortable and then have the confidence to fully express themselves in their educational identity. With collaboration, having students participate in tutoring sessions and group work the AVID program extends the learning and teaching process beyond just the teacher and letting peers and other mentors help and guide students to success. This could collaboration can be filed into Vygotsky’s studies on scaffolding and the support between others in acting as a ladder to help both parties climb to the top. I think where the traits of the AVID program could be replicated in our own work by striving for the success of an entire community no matter what someone’s identity is and making sure that we have our minds set on equity so that if some students need more help or scaffolding to reach the same summit as their classmates. I think we can hone in on preparing students for the next level by making sure they grow as writers and note takers. Also giving them opportunities to develop good communication skills to bring into group work in the present and future.