Friday, June 14, 2019

The Tutankhamun's Mask Caper

Get ready for another fun adventure with Carmen Sandiego in Google Earth! This second game, The Tutankhamun's Mask Caper, is perfect for a one-session activity in which you can work on geographic/spatial concepts, categories such as world landmarks and continents, and making smart guesses (inferences). The game (spoiler alert) takes you to Cairo, New York, Berlin, Buenos Aires, and Bejing, so is great for syncing with curriculum if your students are studying ancient civilizations or some of the associated countries. Again, it's a good idea to keep another tab open (if using Google Earth in your Chrome Browser) or flip back and forth from Safari on iPad to Google Earth app (where you can find this game under the "Explore" captain's wheel icon) and use Wikipedia or some other resource to provide additional language and context about the landmarks you see. The programming seems a bit more forgiving as you can activate other features such as street view on the landmarks without it kicking you out of the game, which was a problem with the first version initially. Have fun defeating VILE yet again!

Considering your professional development schedule next year? Check out Sean's offerings for training sessions.

Friday, June 7, 2019

"Fails" as Narrative Instruction

The Internet loves a "Fail," which Urban Dictionary defines as [noun, in this case] "a glorious lack of success." From a narrative standpoint, however, a fail is an initiating event, a critical story element to work with in our students' language. Graphic organizers reduce cognitive load and help students identify and internalize narrative structure, which assists with comprehension and production of narrative language. One level I like to work with my students around is the Reaction Sequence, which looks like:

Initiating Event
Reaction (what the person DOES in response to the IE, note that this is not a Response or Feeling, which is part of the next level of narrative development, often called the Abbreviated Episode)

The Reaction Sequence is sometimes represented as Somebody Wanted But So. You can use SWBS, Story Grammar Marker®, Story Champs, or other approaches such as the Gillams' SKILL for your graphic organizers, or make your own. Good idea to have some sort of consistency in the icons or GOs you use, however.

So, the tech part: humor is great in therapy, but be careful about where you get your fails. I like America's Funniest Home Videos (AFV) as it is super family-friendly. Take this video compliation:

It provides a great 15-30 min activity in having students formulate the narrative of what they see. Of course, use the pause button, and a few other ideas
-Zoom in on character, some students have a difficult time reading nonverbal signals around age and relationship between people (a skill measured in assessments like the Social Thinking® Dynamic Assessment Protocol). Scaffold statements like "a brother and sister" or "a kid who is probably like, 8 years old."
-NOTE that with the above you are working on microstructure such as noun phrases and use of conjunctions (also linking between the story elements: "A group of kids is surfing at a beach WHEN a huge wave comes.")
-Zoom in on setting, many of my students would just say "outside"- scaffold specificity such as a beach, a lake, a hiking trail, and so on.
-Consider adding a pragmatic element with an ersatz barrier task- one student can watch and narrate, then show the video to the group.

May your summer be free of Fails!

Considering your professional development schedule next year? Check out Sean's offerings for training sessions.