Grounds of future play

21 09 2010

Two weekends ago I went to an education resources expo at the Brisbane Convention Centre – mainly as a bid to get freebs. I arrived a little late but still managed to catch some of a seminar, a few free posters, petted a snake and a lizard, and entered in as many lucky draws as possible (and possibly signing my boss up for swades of spam – sorry…).

Two things caught my eye in particular. And I’ll share one now – The SmartUs Digital Playground (their Finnish website).

The whole set up is very futuristic. Kids are issued with RFID smart cards that can be recognised by readers scattered throughout the playground. They login at the main portal and are assigned a task (run from point A to B via C three times, or something more complex) and the computer records their time. This time is recorded on an international online network where kids from different schools, or even different countries, can compare each others times and records.

Additional tasks and learning can also be integrated by assigning different nodes answers to a multi-choice quiz. This also comes into play by the presence of a dancepad hooked up to the main video monitor of the playground as well. This can be used for quizzes, fitness, dancing or simon-type games.

In Finland, it even became the basis of a family/children’s gameshow which involved celebrities and national atheletes, called FunTzu. Again, these TV scores were uploaded online, so schoolkids could challenge their idols. Unfortunately I can’t find any videos of the TV show – but after some searching I have found a news item of Asia’s first SmartUs playground in Hong Kong which shows how it works.

Tapping into children’s natural competitive behaviour, and then combining it with social media and massively multiplayer gaming Lappset have really hit the mark (or market). The only real downsides to it I can see are the initial outlay costs (which you can guess would be quite high) and also the pitfall of having ‘standardised cookie cutter playgrounds’ that don’t have their own individual community flavour. There also might be other hudles here in Australia given EQ’s stance on students and social networks.

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Drama, drama, drama

17 05 2010

Some classroom dramas I can do without. But classroom drama is another thing entirely.

I’ve been slowly trying out a few theatre-games I’ve found on this website. Some with after-school care and some in the classroom.

I’m finding theatre games can be tricky with younger kids. For one, even the most attention-seeking children can become shy when put on the spot, and secondly, they often have trouble expressing more complex ideas.

I really enjoy the Name Game #2 – very useful in learning students names. I also tried Emotion Party, The Park Bench and You (the last is a little crazy).

I think next I might like to have a go with Open Scenes, which could solve the problem of not being able to come up with dialogue.





Is this anti-racism comic being racist?

9 05 2010

Take a look at this comic:

This is clearly a comic against racism, but is this particular page racist?

Click the image for the complete comic.

Read the rest of this entry »





My moustache brings all the girls from the yard

18 11 2009

The children at work have gotten over their initial amusement at the sudden burst of facial hair after my return from over a month of absence.

I have gotten two Facebook messages of approval amongst a tirade of uproar – the most vocal being my sister (“for the love of all that is good – go and shave!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”) – but the worst comment was probably this video.

So I’ve tried a pulled out my natural charm for this weeks photo.

Mandatory shill: Contribute your donation to men’s health here.





Thinking mathematically: Man vs. Machine

11 10 2009

My first mathematics assignment was an essay on the role of calculators as teaching tools (not just a computing device) in middle years classrooms. From this, I have been able to adapt a few of the techniques I researched into lessons and activities for my year 8s.

Man vs. Machine is a lesson I adapted from an activity from Creative Mathematics Teaching with Calculators (Amazon). Essentially a flashcard quiz, students have to solve the problems as quickly as possible. Some problems require a calculator, some can probably done faster in their heads.

I created a fancy-pants activity sheet for this lesson*. I think activity sheets appear to work very well to scaffold students in this age group. There are still several students who take a long time to write stuff down and draw up charts – this is from either lack of ability and tools, or a need to make it look pretty and perfect. That said, there are some problems with activity sheets that I might mention in another post.

For the lesson summary click through.

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That’s no energy drink

31 08 2009

Please tell me this was made up for the Russian Tabloid.

A 14-year-old Chinese boy in Szechuan Province thought that the best way to be like his idolized transformer heroes was to start drinking petrol every day for five years.

A 14-year-old boy, from the town of Yibin in Sichuan, first saw the animated saga about robots from outer space – able to transform into vehicles, electronic items or weapons – when he was nine years old.

The youngster was so impressed that he began drinking fuel on a daily basis to “obtain energy” and become a mighty warrior like the Transformers.

He started out with lighter fuel, then upgraded to siphoning gas from his parent’s motorcycle. When his parents locked that up, he started stealing from neighbours.

Sadly (but not unsurprising), the young boy did not develop the superpowers he was looking for, and instead appears to have damaged his brain.

Honestly, does this make any sense? I don’t remember transformers actually requiring fuel? I thought they  ran on sunlight, or nuclear, or the energy released during the reduction of children into mindless consumers.





GraphJam: Child’s Estimate of Parents’ IQ

31 08 2009

song chart memes
see more Funny Graphs