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Ambassador Spotlight: Jean Turney and Amy Hoffman

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Jean Turney and Amy Hoffman are a special pair of teachers. The 3rd grade educators share a room for their classes at the Biome School STEAM School in St. Louis. The Biome is a small, K-4 STEAM school with a heavy focus on educator agility, student success, and project-based-learning. It is here that Jean and Amy wrangle their 38 students into one room and teach them 21st century skills. The classroom isn’t small, but that many kids will make any space feel like a closet. The tables are lined with supplies, arranged in groups. The walls are covered in writing prompts and login credentials for class tools. It feels like a makerspace, like a tech incubator, but for much smaller entrepreneurs. Character seeps from every corner.

The Biome is 4 years old. The small STEAM charter school is built upon creating “a balanced learning ecosystem in which teachers work together with students to cultivate a growth mindset as they discover their unique gifts, talents and interests.” You feel this as soon as you cross the threshold into the building. Jean and Amy’s room is the first classroom accessible as you enter.

I recently sat down with this duo and asked them about being in a shared space, Bloxels EDU, and why they do what they do. Then I got a chance to talk to their students about using Bloxels EDU.

So tell me about yourselves. What did you do before you came to the Biome?

AH: I taught in Jennings. 4th grade.

JT: Well I spent five years as the Education Coordinator for Forest Park Forever. There I trained teachers to use the park as an extension of their classroom. So I did a lot of teacher training and then working with different groups. But I was in the classroom for 20 years before that.

 
Jean Turney

Jean Turney

 

And what made you come to Biome?

JT: I actually came here for a workshop. Amy and I were both with similar groups of this experiential educators exchange (EEE), a kind of collaborative group of teachers who use more experiential based stuff. And we held an event here and I was super impressed with the school. I met Myles (another teacher at the Biome) in one of the workshops and he explained his project with the zoo and it was very much in the same vein of projects I had been trying to get teachers to do. Not making these places one-time field trips but more extended tools. I loved making bigger community based projects but I missed the direct connection of being in the class so I began to think that maybe there was something more. And then Trump happened and I needed a place to use the energy of the emotions I felt, and I felt that being a teacher on the frontlines was where I needed to be.

I went home from that event and looked up the school and saw the way they emphasized the kids and community over scores and saw they had openings and it kinda went from there.

Did you guys start at the same time?

AH: I have been here three years. So, a year longer than Jean. I was one of the people working to get the EEE stuff here. I came initially because of the project based learning focus and the autonomy. You know, established districts are so bogged down in red tape it’s hard to make anything happen, or adapt with the changing landscape. That really began to frustrate me. Here, I love that we can choose, it affords us a kind of agility that I didn’t have before.

How does Bloxels EDU work into your classroom?

JT: So we have been doing a Science piece about the medicinal properties of plants in the Missouri Prairies. So their stories start with something like, “Oh, I have head lice,” and then somehow they learn that Big Bluestem will help. So as their character collects that and cures it, they move on to the next thing like stomach aches, making them have to find another plant. I can guide them through doing their storyboards and getting their ideas out. Once they start making the games in the app and on the boards with blocks they really take over themselves.

AH: The kids pick up the app and its functions so fast. Most of the time it is the keeping up with them that is hard.

JT: Exactly. I work it into my Reading and Writing block, having the kids work on things like character building and world building as well, in an ongoing project. Really the kids teach us how to use the app, and they teach each other the tricks that they have learned.

 
Amy Hoffman

Amy Hoffman

 

How does all of this work with you guys sharing a single space?

AH: It is a bit of a challenge. It’s great that we like each other, because if we weren’t lucky enough to have that dynamic that would make this really difficult. But it has been excellent in that we can learn from each other and play off of each other. It’s hard for the kids sometimes because it is incredibly difficult to get small group time, there just isn’t enough space for that.

JT: Their own space to be able to spread out. And, you know, as a school we are really committed to project-based-learning and so, we still do them, but with more space it would be easier for them to organize their stuff and have a place to go to and grab their things.

It’s almost like you guys have to build theater sets in between lessons, with all the parts that have to be put away and then other things brought out.

AH: Yup.

JT: Exactly. So literally, when we do our own reading groups, we put up these little barrier walls to create a sense of separate spaces.

AH: Still, even then, there is always someone moving. Always someone talking. Especially with 38 kids in a single room. But this prompts the kids to coexist more, collaborate more. It really gets them to socialize and learn to work together.

JT: The kids have just gotten to the stage where they are working with each other on their games in Bloxels EDU and teaching each other things and then playing each others games. Really in the end it’s about flexibility, it’s about communication and working together. And that’s really what Bloxels EDU is about: Giving kids those opportunities to solve problems and figure things out together.

———

I wrapped up with Jean and Amy and then their classes came in to ask me questions. The kids had dozens of suggestions for features and possible updates, they had kept track of the issues they had run into and gave me little bug reports, Most importantly, they were excited about what they were creating, and they couldn’t wait to share with me.

———

We want to thank Jean Turney and Amy Hoffman for taking time out of their day to talk to us. We certainly had a blast and we can’t wait to see what they do with Bloxels EDU in their unique classroom and with their peers.





iTunesU Course: Engaging Writers with Bloxels

 
 

by Coby Reynolds
Teacher, Apple Distinguished Educator

The Big idea

One of the great thing about Bloxels as an educator is the limitless learning opportunities it provides for students. The depth of creativity is only limited to the user's imagination, which means it can be used to engage students in all areas of learning. The first thing that comes to most people's mind is the computer science element of the game, however, I believe it is much more, which is why I have developed an iTunes U course to showcase some of these possibilities. As an educator I am always looking for new ways to engage students in a range of tasks so they have a more authentic learning experience, and therefore, develop a deeper level of understanding of the topic. The iTunes U course incorporates elements of real-life learning and gameplay to engage students in varied forms of writing styles. The course is broken up into four main sections; Designing and Planning; Creating; Evaluating the Audience and Advertising.

Designing and Planning

The idea came about to place the student at the center of the learning by beginning with a letter from a gaming company to the student as the game designer. This outlines the design brief, which requires the students to pitch their idea in a persuasive letter. From there the students explore the elements of what makes games enjoyable and all of the features of Bloxels itself. This section is particularly important as this is the key to the engagement level of the rest of the course. This is where they are able to develop the fun element of the gameplay and begin to let their imagination run wild. In this section students also begin to create a design portfolio that is an ongoing task throughout the unit which can be used for assessment purposes.

Creating

Students then go through a process of designing a character and theme for their game, which they can describe in a range of writing types as well as a narrative style backstory, where students can be super creative with their imagination. This section provides multiple opportunities to engage students in the a range of writing genres through the gameplay of the app. This part of the course is only limited to how long you want to spend on this. It could be done across a week as a summative assessment of the writing genres or over a whole term, covering all explicit teaching of the different genres along the way - it’s entirely up to you. 

 

Evaluating the Audience

Once students have completed their game they then move onto the refining and feedback from peers. They need to record classmates observations and constructive feedback and make any changes if necessary. You may notice that they will not change anything, so I will have them justify why they do not agree with the suggested changes - some interesting justifications have come from this. This section can also be integrated into mathematics to collect and graph data on peer responses to their game as well.  

Advertising

The fun continues as students now become the advertisers for their game. This can come in a range of modes from written, video or poster form. This engages students in being able to write persuasively to convince the audience to play/purchase their game. Students are encouraged to create an iMovie trailer which includes persuasive devices, video gameplay and some small acting (kids love acting). There is also the ability to create a print advertisement, which students can use to link their iMovie trailer using a QR code to make a great display of interactive posters around your learning area.
Assessment

Throughout the course students are encouraged to document their progress and reflections using Book Creator as a design portfolio. This is a great way for teachers to collect formative assessment along the whole design process as students are required to document their learning in written, verbal or photo/video form. Each element of the writing process can be assessed as individual pieces of work and can be stand alone assessments in their own right. The completed Book Creator project can be used as a summative assessment type for teachers purpose, however can also be easily shared to peers and parents for feedback on the whole project.


 

Get the iTunesU Course

 
 
 

Be sure to check out the course here (click on this link in Safari on your Apple device, with iTunes installed first) and remember this is just one element of the many ways I have integrated Bloxels into my classroom, your imagination is endless.


Follow Coby on Twitter at @coby_mr

 

Bloxels BACK TO SCHOOL!

You're going BACK TO SCHOOL, educators! We've got a lot in store with some great news - keep reading for the latest and greatest from Bloxels!

 
 
 

 

Bloxels EDU Facebook Community

Please join the new Bloxels EDU Facebook Community this school year. This is an open group - designed for educators to share Bloxels lesson ideas, feedback, and all the great things that they do in their classrooms to empower students with video games.

For those considering Bloxels in their classrooms and schools, this group of innovative educators can help illustrate that Bloxels is the ultimate STEAM education tool - with amazing digital storytelling and collaborative features.

Once you're logged into your Facebook account, go to www.facebook.com/bloxelsedu to join!

 

Bloxels EDU Lesson Plans & Activities

The Pixel Press educator in residence, Robert Kalman, has been hard at work this summer curating content area-specific lesson plans that teachers can utilize in their classrooms with Bloxels. Several Bloxels EDU Ambassadors, including Jill Badalamenti, Karie Huttner, and Richard Campbell made contributions as well!

Please join the Bloxels EDU Facebook Community, and follow us @bloxelsbuilder on Twitter to get these lesson plans as soon as they're complete.

 

Bloxels at the Apple Distinguished
Educator Summit in Berlin

Bloxels was all the rage at the 2016 ADE Summit in Berlin. Several BloxelsEDU Ambassadors and advocates presented about Bloxels, including Mark Anderson, Steve Bambury, Michael Lang and Coby Reynolds. These awesome educators love Bloxels, and wanted all of their ADE peeps to know how amazing Bloxels is too. Check out a few highlights of the #ADE2016 Twitter action below.

 

Bloxels #BackToSchool
Team Builder 5-Pack Contest

We're running a special #BackToSchool Contest on Twitter so that one lucky educator and classroom can begin using Bloxels with his/her students during the 2016-17 school year ASAP! To enter, please follow the instructions below:

 
 
 

 

Are you on the map?

Check out the BloxelsEDU Map, search your city and if you are not on the map let us know by completing the submission form on the map page!

 
 
 

Stay tuned here for more great content and offers, and be sure to follow along on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Also, remember to rate and review Bloxels Builder on the Google, Apple and Kindle app stores. Your feedback is important to us!

Please email us at support@bloxelsbuilder.com if you have any questions about your order, using Bloxels, or just to drop us a note. We're here to help.
Best,

- The Pixel Press Team
 

Game Jams with Bloxels!

 

Summer doesn't stop us from Building!

 

Last week, we got to build video games with the YMCA Bellville Summer Camp and the Lab Revolution 4-H Club in Farmington, MO! 

The Table of Builders

The Table of Builders

 

From solo builders to team building, these kids had an incredible knack for building video games. A team of four got together and built a 4 room game together which they titled "A Link Between Worlds" (not to be confused with the Legend of Zelda title). An animator/game designer team built an awesome game featuring a dancing worm as the hero and evil unicorns as the enemies! 

Congrats to 13-bit Builder Garrett for winning our Box set raffle! 

It was a blast building with you all, Bellville YMCA and Lab Revolution 4H club! 

 

 

Building with the College School!

Summertime Building

 

Last week, we hung out with the College School in Webster Groves to build some awesome video games with Bloxels! Telling the kids that they were going to be building a video game today made their eyes glow, and right when we gave them the boards and blocks, they immediately started building. Some of them even recognized us from Vat19's "Peep This: Bloxels" video!

Some built in teams while some built solo, but all the games and creations they made were nothing short of amazing. A team of four got together and built one game room each, combining them to make one big 4 room game! 

 
 

It's always incredible to see kids coming together to collaborate and create with Bloxels. Thank you so much for having us College School! Can't wait to build with you all again soon! 

 

#ISTE2016

 

Education, Tech, and a whole lot of Coffee

 

 
The ISTE bear was bummed he couldn't get in (he was too big to fit in the building).

The ISTE bear was bummed he couldn't get in (he was too big to fit in the building).

 

Last week, we traveled to the great land of Colorado to join over 15,000 educators from across the globe for the International Society for Technology in Education convention at the Denver Convention Center and WOW was it a blast.

Though we didn't have an Expo hall booth, Bloxels was recognized everywhere! We were active in events and playgrounds throughout the pre-conference and ISTE schedule in Denver. Our participation in ISTE 2016 included the Mobile Megashare Pre-Conference, inclusion in the iSchool Digital Learning Revolution Tour Bus, several ISTE PLN Playgrounds, and Vicki Treadway's Digital Storytelling Poster Session. It was very rewarding to see so many educators eager to empower the students in their schools, classrooms, and Makerspaces with Bloxels!

 

Classroom Gaming

STEAM education (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) has been a recent focus of many educators, and Bloxels excited many as it truly epitomizes every aspect of STEAM learning!

 
                                 Teachers love Bloxels!

                                 Teachers love Bloxels!

 

The hands-on experience of building and designing your very own video game resonated well with the educators, and they all couldn't wait to get this amazing tool into their students hands. 

Bloxels received nearly all positive feedback and excitement from educators from around the world for its accessible game creation. It was were even featured, alongside Pixel Press's other video game building app “Floors”, in the eBook "Learning STEM From Play" by Kurt Klynen, a guide to the best STEM learning tools to bring into the classroom! You can view our blog post about this amazing eBook here.

 

Game Based Learning...with Coffee!

Bloxels presented at the inaugural CoffeeGBL, a discussion about game-based learning at Backstage Coffee, one of Denver's local coffee shops. When it was announced that Bloxels was going to present, there were only about 50 seats available for reservation. Those 50 seats were reserved in a matter of days. With the overwhelming requests to squeeze a few more seats in, we had expanded the guest list to about 70, which filled up again in a matter of days. The CoffeeGBL attendees had a great time building and creating with bloxels. All the responses were overwhelmingly positive, and some lucky educators even got to take home a set from our raffle!

We had a great time sharing the magic of Bloxels with all the amazing teachers and educators at ISTE 2016. Congratulations to all who got to take home a set from our raffles and giveaways! Kitty Tripp (@Kitty_Tripp) was the winner of our #BloxelsEDU Team-Builder 5-Pack Contest on Twitter. Once she has gotten a chance to implement Bloxels with her students, she plans to share how our platform has impacted her students and classroom. See you all next year!!!

 

 

 

Building with the Think Camp!

Thinking like Game Designers and Artists

"Alright everyone, its time to clean up!" said Ms. Panneri, the counselor at the Think Camp.

"But we're not done!" shouted one of the kids. 

"But you've been playing Bloxels for 2 hours now!" Ms. Panneri responded.

"We want 2 more!" 

On Thursday, we got to build with the kids at the Wilson School Think Camp! These super smart builders were creating some amazing characters and levels. It was great to see some collaboration in making their games! 

At the end of the session, each of the builders got to showcase their creations on the big screens. When asked who wanted to showcase their creations, all of the kids raised their hands and wanted to show off their games and characters!! Building was a blast, but being able to share their content was the highlight of their day. 

A big thanks Wilson School and Malika Panneri for having us! 

Bloxels Around the World

Anyone, anywhere can build games with Bloxels!

Kids around the world have been getting their game design on. This past month Google held Bloxels workshops in Ghana and Singapore. Over 50 kids participated and had a blast! Kris Lee, the Singapore workshop designer, said students were engaged and excited about designing game levels. They took their ideas from paper to digital and then shared them with friends and family!

Next we want workshops on every continent! We're looking at you Antarctica!!! 

 

 

 

 

 

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STEM Day with Bloxels!

Learning Through Making

The Clayton School Districts third annual Fifth-Grade STEM Day was celebrated last Friday, and Pixel Press had a great time building and playing games using Bloxels with everyone! The kids had a blast collaborating and working together to build their games. Some of the groups even got to mess around with the new Power-Ups coming in the latest update! 

We were amazed at how quickly the kids picked up Bloxels and started creating in-depth games with unique hero's and themes! 

A huge Thank You to Clayton School District for having us! 

 

 

 

Building at Holman Middle School!

 

After-School with Bloxels! 

Playing video games after school is a common theme among kids, but what about building video games? 

This week, we got to spend time building and playing Bloxels with Stephanie McCreary's After-School club at Holman Middle School. They were all natural builders. They even had great ideas for new features, including the most popular request for bosses! A few of the builders even got a chance to use the Shrink and Invincibility power ups coming in the new update. 

A blast was had by all! 

Keep on building, Builders! 


Interested in a Skype call for your classroom? Our Bloxels classroom 20-Pack includes two (2) 30-minute classroom Skype sessions! Click here to learn more!

 

Creating in the Classroom!

 

Skype Sessions with Pixel Press

Students from the Clayton Bradley Academy in Maryville, TN joined Pixel Press for a Skype call! They've all been having a blast learning game design and building their own games and characters with Bloxels! 

They then got a chance to ask co-founder and Community Director Josh Stevens about Pixel Press, Bloxels, and what it's like to work in the video games industry. 

 

Can't wait to see your creations hit the Infinity Wall


Interested in a Skype call for your classroom? Our Bloxels Classroom 20-Pack includes 2 30-Min classroom skype sessions. Learn more here!

 

 

Lessons in Level Design with Professor Phil #1

Attention students! Class is in session. Get out your #2 pencils and put on your learning caps! I'm Professor Phil!

Attention students! Class is in session. Get out your #2 pencils and put on your learning caps! I'm Professor Phil!

Hey Builders! It's Phil again with a new, planned recurring series of articles for the Bloxels blog! While I am not really a professor, nor do I play one on TV, you can count on me to provide my fellow Builders with advice on how to create great designed levels in Bloxels. 

On this inaugural edition of Lessons in Level Design with Professor Phil, I am going to use a real game example of a level that is well designed, explain why the level is so well designed, and offer tips on how you can use the information provided here to build better levels in Bloxels! 

The game I will be using for this first edition is the Super Nintendo game, Donkey Kong Country, a classic Rare-developed, Nintendo-published 1994 reawakening of Nintendo's classic arcade franchise. Unlike previous games in the series, Donkey Kong Country was a side-scrolling 2D platformer, similar to Super Mario Bros. in some aspects. Though in this case, instead of needing to rescue a damsel in distress, Donkey Kong and his pal Diddy Kong were going after their stolen hoard of bananas. 

With the introduction of the game out of the way, let's get to one of Donkey Kong Country's levels, as that's really what we're all here for. The level I have selected is the first level of the penultimate world of the game, Kremkroc Industries. It's Oil Drum Alley.

So many levels in Donkey Kong Country and its various sequels take a main gameplay mechanic or gimmick, if you will, and iterate on it from the start of the level where it is introduced to the end, where the gimmick is placed in its most challenging iteration. In Oil Drum Alley's case, the main gimmick used is that of the oil drums. 

Hello, Diddy Kong and enemy Gnawty the Beaver. this is the beginning portion of Oil Drum Alley. It eases the player into the level. There are no enemies nearby where the Kongs begin this level. That is because it'd be a bit tacky to immediately throw the player into harm's way. Not to mention quite frustrating.

Here lies the first instance of the oil drum. This one has a constant stream of fire coming out from its insides, harmful to the touch as you could probably expect. This first oil drum is as simple to avoid as having a running start and leaping over it. There will be no burnt monkey fannies while I'm around! 

This oil drum looks innocent enough, but it actually houses a bonus area. Taking a TNT barrel from the start of the level and having it hit the oil drum will reveal a hole that allows the player to access a secret bonus area. Keep players engaged and encourage exploration by creating hidden areas in your levels. There is nothing quite like discovering a secret location in a level to make you feel rewarded for your exploration. It's even better if there's something really special hidden there, perhaps a secret stash of coins?

Here's the second instance of an oil drum. This time we see it on a descending set of platforms akin to a staircase,  This is also pretty simple to a void, just a jump from the top platform to the bottom platform. Safe and sound!

Here's a precarious scenario, the first real challenge involving an oil drum in this level. Here, the player will need to bounce on this tire to get enough height to launch over to the right, over the oil drum, and safely to its other side. 

Now, the level designer makes the oil drum obstacle more challenging. First, notice how each instance of oil drums that the player needs to avoid are introduced in a way that they slowly rise in difficulty. You don't get an easy jump, then a brutally difficult jump, to a normal difficulty jump, ending with an easy jump. Instead, there's a steady difficulty curve. That is, the level starts out easy enough, and its major challenges are at the end of the level. 

Here, there are a series of tires the player needs to bounce on to make it over each of these oil drums. It's like the oil drum challenge that came before it, but now there's more drums and tires to worry about.

Now, the designer of this level is getting a bit mischievous! The oil drum here is placed over a bottomless pit. Not only does it rest in a dangerous location, but the fire inside it rises and falls intermittently. It's here that now timing is needed in the player's jumps to avoid a fiery bottom.

Taking the oil-drum-over-the-bottomless-pit idea and doubling it, now there are two oil drums in a row over this precarious chasm to be considered with. Again, the fire inside each drum rises and falls, meaning that proper timing in Donkey and Diddy Kong's jumps now is doubly important.

The conclusion of the Oil Drum Alley is the most difficult portion of the level, which makes sense as it's the final part. It takes all the player has learned about oil drums, and uses that knowledge to create a final challenge worthy of the end of the level. There are a handful of oil drums that burn on and off, tires to time bounces on, and a giant bottomless pit underneath to add some pressure (as if it was needed at all). However, there is always that sigh of relief to be had when the player completes this final stretch of level and reaches the goal.

So, what does Donkey Kong Country's Oil Drum Alley have to do with building levels in Bloxels? Well, the same design ideas and principles can be used. You can start out with a level with simple jumps, maybe with the player having the ability to fall safely if he or she misses a jump by having floor underneath. Further in the level you can make it so jumps no longer have that safety net, instead replacing it with a chasm or pool of lava. Then, to finish things off you can have much more challenging jumps, perhaps with platforms that are only one block wide, over a long bottomless pit. This is just one way you can create a level with a steady difficulty curve in Bloxels.

As Bloxels gains new functionality, new things can be added to your levels to make them even more interesting. Please look forward to new additions to Bloxels, as well as future editions of Lessons in Level Design with your friend, Professor Phil! I hope this read was an interesting, informative, and entertaining one. Stay tuned to the Bloxels blog for future updates!

All screenshots were taken from YouTube user's MegamanNG's video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_NSqG3Ozd0

 

Of Builders and Engineers

 

Robotics Engineers love building with Bloxels!

This past weekend, we attended the Vex Robotics Competition to check out some incredible Robots and showcase Bloxels! We met many Robotics engineers, from middle school to university students, with some amazing robots and game designs. 

We had a blast getting to introduce these amazing engineers to Bloxels. Congrats to all the competitors at the Vex Robotics Competition and thanks to all who stopped by the Bloxels Booth to build some games!

 

 

Getting to Know the IDEA Lab

 

Meeting the Next Generation of Game Designers

 

Last week, Josh had a Skype interview with the Girls only Coding and Game Design club at Hubbard Woods School IDEA Lab in Winnetka, IL. 

We had a great time speaking with the girls about what it's like to be a game designer and developer. We got great questions about how Pixel Press began, how the design and development process of Bloxels and video games work, and to the inspiration of the infinity wall. 

These young designers are well on their way to revolutionizing the next generation of games and interactive media. 

Coders and Game Designers interviewing Josh from Pixel Press! 

Coders and Game Designers interviewing Josh from Pixel Press! 

Josh answering questions about the creation process of Bloxels

Josh answering questions about the creation process of Bloxels

A list of questions for Josh to answer

A list of questions for Josh to answer

We were asked great questions, given awesome feedback, and had a great time all around. 

Thanks for hanging out, Coding and Video Game Design Club! Can't wait to see all your Ideas come to life!

Learn more about the IDEA Lab here.


Interested in a Skype call for your classroom? Our Bloxels Classroom 20-Pack includes 2 30-min classroom Skype sessions, learn more here.

 

Welcome Robert! Educator in Residence

We're extremely excited to announce that Robert Kalman is joining the Pixel Press team as our "Educator in Residence". Robert will be taking on the responsibility of developing the educational experience around Bloxels and managing Bloxels EDU; working with teachers, educators and parents to best leverage Bloxels in the home and classroom.

Read on below for some background on Robert's experience and a bit more on why he's so excited about Bloxels EDU.


Robert Kalman, Pixel Press Educator in Residence

 

I am an enthusiastic middle school computer technology teacher from northern New Jersey. I am married to a fellow computer tech teacher, and we have a beautiful daughter named Toby. After teaching all subjects in a fifth grade position for two years, constantly aiming for tech integration and exciting 21st century projects, I was lucky enough to transition to an ICT position in our 1:1 iPad middle school this past year.

In this role, I have the opportunity to work with each 6th, 7th, and 8th grade student for six weeks out of the school year. My goal as an edtech teacher is to expose students to relevant and innovative technologies, while also creating authentic projects through Problem-Based learning, Coding, and Design Thinking. I place emphasis on CREATION: we don't simply play games, we make games. Each student leaves my class having made several impressive, technology-based artifacts with their iPads and computers.

Each day, I try to create a culture of innovation in my classroom by fostering a student-centered culture and encouraging students to “fail forward” with a growth mindset. I also attempt to tear down the walls of my classroom by having all students create websites to house their work, sharing them with the world, in addition to using our class Twitter account to connect with other classrooms, students, and educators.

I mirror this mindset professionally, as I'm very active on Twitter myself - constantly discovering and sharing new ideas with my Professional Learning Network online, and at workshops and conferences.

Based on my educational philosophy, Pixel Press is the perfect place to be an Educator in Residence. I first learned about the organization through Twitter. After initially reading “draw your own video game,” I decided that I had to give Pixel Press Floors a shot. I loved it. More importantly, my students loved it. I found the creativity, coding connection, design process, supportive educational materials, and the innovative technology to be amazing for my students.

Once I heard about the release of Bloxels, I connected with Robin Rath, CEO & Co-Founder, and suggested that I could help spread the word about this awesome game design and coding tool. Not only are Pixel Press' inventions fun, cool, exciting, relevant, authentic, and challenging, but they also give students a unique voice that they aren't often provided in school. I'm thrilled to be helping Pixel Press help educators put Bloxels into students' hands.

Please connect with me on Twitter @robert_kalman, or shoot me an email at robertkalman (at) gmail (dot) com.

- Robert Kalman


If you are not already registered, please sign up for our educator mailing list on our Bloxels EDU page. We are also currently forming a Bloxels Educator Ambassador program. If you are interested in participating in this program please contact Robert directly at the email address above.

 

Classroom Video Chat with the Creators of Bloxels

Interested in a classroom video chat with the creators of Bloxels? We're offering an exclusive Bloxels package that includes 2 30-minutes video chat sessions (via Skype or Google Hangout) where we'll cover any topic of your choice, including Train-the-Trainer, A Students Introduction to Bloxels, Show & Tell with the Creators and more.

Head on over to our Store to browse our Classroom Packages for more information.

Below are photos from one of our past video chats. This is from two classrooms in the United Kingdom.