Sunday, May 12, 2013

Play Games or Create Your Own Through YoYo Games

YoYo Games offers a free game development tool called Game Maker 8. Game Maker 8 enables users to develop simple video games using a drag and drop editor. Game Maker 8 gives users the ability to customize backgrounds and actions throughout their games. For the first-time user YoYo Games offers a series of free Game Maker 8 tutorials.

Game Maker 8 is available in three versions; Studio which will allow you to export games for play on PC or Mac, Standard which for $50 unlocks advanced features and supports Windows 8, and a Pro version which costs $100 and unlocks even more features and supports mobile play.

YoYo Games hosts hundreds of relatively simple online games created by amateur and professional game developers that you can play for free too.

Applications for Education
Game Maker 8 could be a good tool for students to use to try to develop educational games. After a unit of study instead of having kids give a presentation have them try to develop a game which demonstrates what they've learned. Perhaps they could develop a game based on a set of mathematics concepts or a game based on a set of historical events.  

Use Clips of Seinfeld to Teach Economics

Over the last couple of days I've shared some resources for teaching and learning about economics. Here's one more that I've used with some high school students in the past.

The Economics of Seinfeld is a neat concept for teaching economics lessons developed by economics professors from Eastern Illinois University and Baker University. The Economics of Seinfeld is a catalog of clips (sometimes entire episodes) from the hit sitcom Seinfeld that demonstrate various economics concepts. There are seven pages of clips that you can browse through. Alternatively, and more practically, you can search for clips by entering an economics term like "demand," "supply," and "substitute goods."

If you plan to use The Economics of Seinfeld, you should know that it doesn't host all of the video clips. In some cases you're just directed you to episodes and time-frames within episodes to find clips. You'll have to find the episodes on Hulu or acquire a copy of Seinfeld on DVD to use the clips in your classroom. (Seinfeld fanatics can get Seinfeld - The Complete Serieson DVD from Amazon).

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Life on Minimum Wage - A Hands-on Economics Lesson

Over the last few weeks I have received a lot requests to share the Google Document for my economics lesson Life on Minimum Wage. I thought I had made the document public, but apparently I didn't so I'm sharing it again here.

The purpose of Life on Minimum Wage is for students to recognize how difficult it is to save money when your only job(s) pay minimum wage without benefits. To win (prize not determined yet) at Life on Minimum Wage the students have to reach five financial goals that they select. To earn money the students have to complete the tasks of their assigned jobs. The students then have to pay required bills before using money for their selected financial goals. As the game progresses students will be issued "surprise" cards which require them to spend money on things like speeding tickets, trips to a health clinic, and increases in rent.

All of the jobs in Life on Minimum Wage are connected so that if one "business" slows production or closes, the workers of another business are also effected. The goal here is to demonstrate the effects that a business closing has on a small town's economy.

The Physics of Bird Migration

Untamed Science and Pearson OLE recently published a new video about bird migrations. Physics of Bird Migration provides some short explanations of why birds fly in V formations, how they navigate thousands of miles and return to the same places every year, and how they prepare for a long migration. The short video is embedded below.


Applications for Education
Physics of Bird Migration isn't an in-depth video, but it could make for a nice introduction to an elementary school science lesson about physics and or birds.

Vocabla - Learn English and Spanish

Vocabla is a service for learning English, Spanish, and Polish vocabulary. The service can be used online or with the free iPhone and Android apps. The concept behind Vocabla is similar to a lot of other language learning applications. In Vocabla you can create lists of words and phrases that you want to learn. Alternatively, you can select a list that was made by someone else and shared to the Vocabla library. You can study each list in a flashcard style until you feel like you're ready to take a practice quiz. You can earn digital trophies and badges for your scores on the quizzes that you complete.

Applications for Education
The aspect of Vocabla that makes it a nice option for use by teachers is that you can create a list of words and share publicly. All of your students can then use that list to study on their own.