Once upon a time, my new students arrived with a false sense of the purpose of technology. Their prior experience had taught them that technology was for research or drill and practice games. I wanted to change that. My goal, each year, is have them explore the world of possibilities that technology has to offer them, "professionally" and personally. As we begin the year, my students come to realize that all of these tools that they are applying to our various writing projects support the learning that they are doing.
One day, two of my students approached me with an idea. The entire class was working on creating tech-supported writing projects on the theme of friendship. This is a theme that the students had chosen for our collaborative digital journal we publish with students from across the country. As these two students were working, they told me that they had come up with a brilliant plan. They told me that they felt that their writing about the obstacles to true friendship would come alive for their audience if they could create a video game where the audience would have to overcome different obstacles (one per level) to find a true friend.
Well, I have to say that I had to agree that this was a brilliant plan. My students weren't just wanting to create a game, they wanted it to support their writing because they were thinking about their audience. Since I didn't know any free video game creators that fifth graders could figure out and design, I headed to my trusty Twitter PLN and @jackiegerstein suggested we give Playcrafter a shot. Playcrafter has all the basic features available for video game creation; some are free and some are not.
Several of my students have found other authentic ways to use Playcrafter to support the learning for themselves and their peers from coast to coast. Do these students now understand the importance of technology tools in supporting their learning? Absolutely!
You can find their friendship game here: True Friend