For this Ambassador Highlight, we’re getting to know Bloxels Ambassador Karie Huttner.
Hello, Karie! Tell us about yourself!
Hi! My name is Karie Huttner, and I am a K-5 educational technology coach for the Verona Area School District, and a Bloxels Ambassador! I teach at Country View Elementary, Stoner Prairie Elementary and one of our charter schools. This is my 20th year in education. I started as a middle school Spanish teacher!
Wow! 20 years!? How did you transition from Spanish teacher to Educational Technology Coach?
I went from middle school Spanish to elementary bilingual, teaching third grade Spanish and English for about 14 years. I sort of made the transition into technology based on how much it impacted my students. I found that technology gave students learning a second language more of a voice in school, and so I started really leveraging technology for that, leading me to becoming an Educational Technology Coach.
Sounds like quite the journey. It’s cool how you saw that tech brings a certain voice to the students. What inspired you to use Bloxels?
I use Bloxels because it integrates so many important areas that are key in education today. It integrates video game creation, promotes design thinking and the maker movement, and just supports a different approach to writing, storytelling, or just showing your general understanding of a subject. In the classroom we used Minecraft, and we love Minecraft don't get us wrong, but I really wanted my kids to create their own video games, and that's where Bloxels really made a difference in our school.
Do you have a favorite moment with using Bloxels in the Classroom?
I did have a very reluctant writer use Bloxels for genius hour. She picked pandas as her topic, researched pandas a bunch, took her iPad home and came back the very next day with a completely designed game. She had a background with bamboo trees, created her own animated Panda characters, and as the panda progressed through the game she would run into baby pandas that would tell you information about the life and science of pandas! It was one of those moments where you see the tool really resonate with a designer, and it was just so beautiful to see what she had created.
It’s hard to pick a favorite moment because it's just exciting to see the kids who struggle with writing have their story come to life. I found that students who struggle with writing have really thrived when it comes to using Bloxels, especially in our writing units.
So you’ve mentioned the power of storytelling and aiding reluctant writers. What other benefits do you see video game creation bringing to the classroom?
Bloxels really highlights the design thinking process. Like most great artistic mediums, your video games need a good story in order for people to stay invested. Bloxels is one of those tools that helps show kids that they can always keep adding, improving, and create multiple iterations. That kind of thinking can be used in any curricular area, which isn't very true of other tools out there.
I’ve gotta ask...Did you play video games growing up?
Oh yeah. My favorite game is SimCity. I have lost hours of my life to it. In fact, it's part of the reason why I use gaming in the classroom. I want my kids to not just consume games, but be curious about the creation process. That's why when I learned about Bloxels, I bought only two sets and put them out, but quickly realized we're not going to meet the needs of my students. Consuming games is great, but it's the creation of games that makes them so powerful!
Thanks for sharing your Bloxels experience with us, Karie! We’re proud to have you as a Bloxels Ambassador. Catch Karie and other Bloxels Ambassadors at ISTE 2018 in Chicago
Interested in becoming a Bloxels Ambassador? Apply on our website at edu.bloxelsbuilder.com.