Mr Finlayson

Education and Technology

Posts Tagged ‘Games’

Edmodo 3 – In Class

Posted by alexfinlayson on August 12, 2009

Edmodo in ClassEdmodo

 The use of Edmodo in class is the one thing that caused me a few headaches… all the computers in the school bar my laptop were running Internet Explorer 6 and Edmodo requires 7 or better to run. I went through all the appropriate channels and was kindly instructed that I could upgrade two computers to Internet Explorer 8 – I would say that the hassle associated with this (IE8 is a pain in the backside) was worth it for the benefits of Edmodo but now that we can no longer use Edmodo… well… I’ve got nothing to say…

Kind of…

 So I didn’t particularly get to use Edmodo as much as I would have liked but in the small time available we did do a number of really cool things…

 1 Embed Videos


Vid RosenEveryone knows the dangers of using YouTube in class. As educators we have to be extremely careful and sensitive with what we let our kids see. Edmodo eases that burden by swiftly and smoothly allowing any video with an embed code to be placed directly into the posts without any of the extra paraphernalia that causes Youtube-related headaches. Not only that but you can ‘tag’ each post and effectively create a ‘videos’ page where they are all listed. 






2 Embed Flash



Many of you will be aware of the myriad of Flash resources out there – being English I’m a big fan of the BBC Bitesize website and the games/lessons that they freely provide the embed codes for. I have taken a number of these in the past and posted them on Edmodo the night before the planned lesson – thus allowing those attentive kids to get a head-start (turns out that that was nearly all!)

I post these into specific subject groups, tag them and then use them in the lessons.




3 Groups and Tags




I had a group for the three main subject areas Literacy, Numeracy and Science and created tags for subgroups – easily allowing access to digital resources as stated above. If students have subject-specific questions then I encouraged them to post here and we addressed them in class.






4 Links



BBC Bitesize again, subject-specific groups again and tags… again. This time I linked a brilliant game called Questionaut (will blog at a later date) for use on the IWB by fast-finishers. We actually ended up using it a number of times as a starter activity or a group plenary but still; very effective and efficient.




5 Absenses


 In the two weeks that Edmodo was a part of my class I had three different students off school for various reasons – each student logged onto Edmodo just after 9am and talked to the class via the IWB – I even set them work to do! (Cruel I know but they did it!)

I’m sure there are a million more uses but let me end it there… the one thing I will comment on is that we are preparing our students to be safe, confident, positive people in an increasingly risky digital world. Most of my class make private use of MSN, MySpace and Facebook – why should we fear to educate them in the mediums of which they are already familiar? It is our job to guide them in the safe usage of these tools – Edmodo is a wonderful means for this end.


Posted in Education, My Digital Pedagogy (why I use computers and stuff in class) | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Timez Attacks

Posted by alexfinlayson on July 22, 2009

Timez Attacks

The cure for multiplication problems

It’s been a while since my last post so I thought at the beginning of this new term I would write about one of the coolest programs I have come across in a long time.TA6

Timez Attacks is developed by the people at

and is without doubt changing the way my kids view multiplication. The premise is pretty simple – kids hate multiplication and love computer games – so they’ve combined the two.

With a Doom/Quake-esque platform the gameplay is instantly recognisable and easy to pick up.

I downloaded the free version and was instantly hooked – and now so are my kids ( I will definitely be buying an upgrade but at the moment I’m broke – come on Union strikes do your thing!) There is also an option to purchase full-school licences as well (which would be better than your own pockets!)

The GameTA5

You play as this strange little green fella – I’m sure he has a name but my guys just call him ‘Squidgy’

You run around the spooky dungeon (nice little area for literacy development – see Myst lessons) until you come across a locked door – on the door you will see a sum (they start off pretty basic) with little cards next to it that represent the problem

TA4As soon as you approach the door it will fire out each of the cards and these will instantly turn into little creatures which you need to collect. Run around after the little snail-like critters until you get enough to correspond to the sum (example: 7 x 3 there will be 3 little critters and as you run over each one it will flash up the multiple, so 7, 14, 21)TA3

Once you’ve collected the right amount of critters you can throw them back at the door – this will then let you type in the answer using the keypad. After this, the door opens and the big bad ogre fella comes out…TA2

As the ogre approaches, various sums will appear on his chest you must quickly type in the correct answer.

Wrong answer – you get clubbed

Too slow – you get clubbed

As with regular computer games, the boss get progressively harder the further you play but here’s why I love this game so much – the sums are not consistent – sure, your first boss will only have the last sum you looked at – but bosses further along the track can throw any sum at you that you’ve looked at in the game – an excellent twist.TA1

Once you finish off the big fella, he spits out a key for the next part of the game… it’s great.

In Class 

The guys who developed this game ( really thought of everything and clearly understand a classroom environment – there is a simple admin program in which you can input class groups and individuals. I created a profile for every member of my class and generic ‘5F’ profile as well.

TA7The admin program keeps track of how much time has been spent on each profile and where that person is up to in the game – it’s great.

I’ve used this as a starter to Numeracy every day this week – placing the wireless mouse and keyboard on a small desk in front of the IWB and having students come up one at a time to tackle a sum – new sum=new student.

While this is going on my other guys are writing down each sum in the back of their math books and trying to figure out answers before the person using the game. I wish I could show you a video to illustrate just how enthusiastic my guys are for this game – there’s screaming and shouting and jumping up and down (if I let them!) all about multiplication! It’s amazing!

I’ll definitely upgrade when I can afford it (it’s only $40 or so but I’m broke at the moment) and I’ll be advertising it to all parents for their homes – I’ll also be pushing heavily for a school licence.

Negative points

If a kid is feeling like they don’t want to be involved – they could feel isolated (but that’s up to the teacher to sort out)

If you run it as a ‘shout-the-answer’ then the person in control may just type what they hear (but repetition will be beneficial anyway)

You won’t ever get the kids out of your room at lunchtime (seriously, I’ve eaten at my desk for 3 days straight)

I urge you to try it, Mr F

Posted in Education | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Myst – The Interactive Story

Posted by alexfinlayson on July 11, 2009

So here it is – the final product. Hope it works. It’s quite a large file so please be patient if your internet connection is as bad as mine out here in Central Queensland

One problem – the hyperlinks don’t seem to be working so you can only read it slide by slide – which kind of negates the entire point – but you still get the general idea.

I’ve attached a PPT file which you can download for the interactive experience.

The Myst Story

Please can you leave some feedback via comments that I can share with my class, thank you

Posted in Education | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Myst – Art

Posted by alexfinlayson on June 25, 2009

We are coming close to the end of our Myst unit and the guys are working hard on their interactive stories.
Over the course of the unit we have completed a number of art activities. One of them was the very simple, yet effective, creation of a Myst Landscape Silhouette.
The procedure is very simple,
1) I showed the students various landscape drawings and we discussed the colours of the sky at various times of the day.
2) We looked through a number of key landscapes throughout the Myst Ages and described what we saw.
3) Talked about mixing colours and using broad brush strokes to help with the ‘sky effect’
4) We looked at silhouettes and discussed the position of the sun, the way we ‘see’ light and how we can portray key landmarks with cut-out silhouettes.
5) Students made a written plan of what area of Myst they would portray as a silhouette – this included what colours they would need and what landscapes they would cut out.
6) We did it.

The criteria was simple, the landscape has to be recognisable as somewhere on Myst Island or one of the Ages.
Here are a few samples…

The Tower on Myst IslandMyst IslandThe Channelwood AgeThe Clock as seen from Myst IslandThe Clock TowerThe crystals on the Spaceship AgeThe rocks in Stoneship AgeThe rocks on the stoneship ageThe spaceship as seen from Myst Island

Posted in Education, Myst | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

The Myst Courtroom Drama

Posted by alexfinlayson on June 16, 2009

On Friday we had one of our culminating activities for the Myst unit – the long awaited Courtroom Drama. My guys had been looking forward to this for a long time and had completed a lot of work in preparation for the day.

The morning started with a simple question on the interactive whiteboard:

Which book will you choose?

Red / Blue / Green

I did not say anything to the class but let them come into the room and see the board – the discussions started immediately – and when they realised I wasn’t going to say anything – they really took the initiative. Before long there were three distinct groups in the room arguing over which book would be the best choice. Great fun.

I took the guys into an ajoining room with the labe/s Agree / Strongly Agree / Disagree / Strongly Disagree displayed in each corner – I then asked them a series of questions and got them to make a decision – quizzing them over their choices. I was surprised and pleased to find that this exercise achieved some very positive results – this is a weak group and my particularly reluctant writers thrived during this session – it was a fantastic experience.

I then got the guys together in the centre of the room and asked them to make a decision based on the brothers Sirrus and Achenar – which one did they trust? which one would they defend in court? Also, did anyone distrust both brothers enough to choose the mysterious green book? (all we know of the book at this stage is that it trapped Sirrus and Achenar – or so they say)

With a little ‘teachering’ we ended up with three roughly even groups and I gave the guys their resources for the session

  • A3 red cards with everything relating to Sirrus – transcripts of speeches, notes
  • A3 blue cards with everything relating to Achenar – transcripts of speeches, notes
  • A3 green cards with a transcript of Atrus’ speech from the digital imager

Each group also had 2 other sheets of card for their notes – they were to compose two arguments – one in defence of their choice and two, an accusation of the others.

Later in the day we had the courtroom set up – we rows of seats in a ‘U’ shape with myself behind a desk in the middle. Each team made an opening statement and then took turns to argue key points. During these turns other groups could raise an ‘objection’ which I would ‘overrule’ or ‘sustain’ (not sure who had more fun – me or the kids?)

I had a simple scoring system – everything was out of 5. I judged the quality of their statements, the effectiveness of the response and the accuracy of the counter-rebuttal.

In the end the blue team won – and it was thanks largely to one particular student who really struggles with written work but gave wonderfully concise, accurate arguments – he got my Student of the Week award solely for that.

It’s now Tuesday afternoon and the guys have just gone to Music, still talking about Friday, still asking for more of the same – you’ve got to love that!


Posted in Education, Myst | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »