Teachers@Play is a professional development consulting agency. We are in the business of making learning fun again, for both teachers and their students!
Erica is the founder of this organization. She’s the tiny 8-bit character with the blonde hair that accompanies Mario, Toad, and you through the tour of this site, which will ultimately lead to your first (and possibly multiple) professional development adventure(s)! More about Erica can be found by clicking on the page titled Erica of Teachers@Play.
This site was developed in the spirit of an old-school video game (Mario – think Nintendo console of the early 80’s). The purpose of this design was threefold:
- Erica is a gamer herself. She is studying teacher-gamers and their pedagogy as part of her dissertation — she’s THAT into games!
- There’s nothing wrong with old-school ANYTHING. Technology has a time and a place, just like traditional methods of teaching and learning. In an attempt to pay homage to this ideal, Erica has decided that an 8-bit looking website platform would suit her purposes well. Old school video games served as a foundation for some of the amazing console games we have to date! In this same vein, traditional forms of technology (and by this I mean the basic pencil and paper form of communication) laid the groundwork for the development of more innovative models of communication, teaching, and learning, courtesy of the computer, laptop, desktop, Mac, tablet, netbook, etc.
- While Erica is interested in encouraging more teachers to use game based learning principles in their classrooms, she’s aware of the fact that this may not be every teacher’s cup of tea. This site was built in the spirit of game based learning… The site offers you a number of choices once you happen upon the welcome page… It’s your job to determine how you want to proceed.
Are you new to the technology field? Have you ever used a blog, wiki, or podcast? If you haven’t used these tools yourself before, chances are you don’t know how to create these things either. That’s 100% okay! All it means is that you are at the Introductory Level of the game.
If you’ve used all of these tools and some others that weren’t mentioned here, do you know how to create a wiki, blog, podcast, or website? If this is new to you, but you’re familiar with the basics, then you’re at more of an Intermediate Level.
If you’ve already mastered the use and creation of these tools, have you had your students create these things in class before? Do you know how to assess these types of assignments? If you are pretty clear on most of these, then you’d be more of an Expert Level player. The focus of the game for you would be to make the creation of these items more challenging, more interconnected. You would be more focused on how to combine this tech savvy you possess to take your classroom to the next level… This level would entail the creation of digital stories, machinima, iPad/Android/mobile apps, quest based learning activities, or the design and development of video games in the classroom.
Erica has come across multiple teachers who just want to know some of the basics when it comes to technology. This is probably one of Erica’s most favorite things to do — teach teachers how to use technology effectively in their classroom settings. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a teacher who struggles with a technology concept for a period of time, only to hear “YES! IT WORKED!” after all of their efforts. There’s nothing wrong with learning the basics and working your way up. In teaching we call this scaffolding of student learning, building on students’ prior knowledge. This is exactly how games “teach” players to learn — they have to work their way up through challenges that meet them where they’re at as a player. Games are wonderful tools for differentiated instruction, because the game is always prepared to meet the learner where he or she is before graduating to the next level in the game.
It is Erica’s hope that teachers who spend time with her on this PD journey will have a thirst for knowledge about using technology effectively in their classroom settings. If you have any questions about where you feel you’re at, please do not hesitate to reach out to her via the Contact form on this site!
If you’re interested in engaging your students in some of these pursuits, but would prefer to have assistance and/or someone introduce these concepts for you, than Erica can come to you!