Friday, November 18, 2011

Why Kinect?

Earlier this week I attended a presentation by the Colorado Department of Education supporting the transition to the new Colorado Academic Standards. The presenters outlined working toward "deep change" in education as we gradually achieve transformation, changing teaching and learning. The transformation will require new ways of thinking and acting. I was particularly interested in the definition given for mastery. To truly achieve mastery, students must be able to apply and transfer knowledge to new and different situations. Those are lofty and worthwhile goals for the state and I hope to teach long enough to see that transformation take place for our children. In the meantime I am exploring new ways for young children, in the first and second grade, to build knowledge and demonstrate mastery. One extremely engaging tool I am trying is Xbox 360 Kinect. At first glance it may appear that using the system in a classroom is simply playing games, but if you observe young children closely when playing, it becomes quickly apparent that the games often require children to think critically and use problem solving skills. Gaining mastery over their motor skills while making decisions and following directions is a complicated task for six and seven year olds. The games provide many excellent situations for the application and transfer of knowledge. Check out the lesson ideas at Kinect in Education for ideas and watch for many more activities to be posted soon. Simply learning and feeding back information will not be enough in the years ahead. Students will need to make connections and demonstrate the ability to apply what they learn in the real world. Little kids can venture into virtual worlds easily through the use of Kinect games providing delightful and safe environments to try out their learning and growing thinking skills. Even better, the games allow the children to experience collaboration as they work together to play the games and achieve success. Our world is changing at a rapid pace and keeping up with that change in a classroom is challenging. Kinect is an affordable and easily used tool to transform the learning experiences of children. Why Kinect? Why not?

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