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Imagine you are a secret agent sent back in time to find a sacred object before an evil group of aristocrats finds it and uses it to take over the world. This is the scenario that 8th and 9th grade Latin students are facing this year in the digital role playing game Lapis (Sacred Stone). The students who are taught by Mrs. Katrina Finlayson (pictured below working with some of her students) have been playing the game using the new Chromebooks that the Language Department acquire this year as part of their Curriculum Cycle. The game combines culture and language study in a fun and proactive manner that draws on student interest in gaming. Students work in teams of 3-4 to control an avatar of a boy or girl sent back to ancient Italy, near Pompeii a couple of months before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Navigating through a series of obstacles which introduce them to historical figures and events, students must actively participate in their learning outside of the classroom. Each mission the teams rotate the lead operative position, which is ultimately responsible for posting their avatar’s actions by the mission deadline after team collaboration. Students are encouraged throughout the game to take risks with their language learning and are rewarded for their risks and independent research on the culture and history of Rome and its peoples. Each avatar is based on an important historical Roman figure and students must act in accordance with their avatar’s nature. While Mrs. Finlayson plays the part of all the characters that the students’ avatars interact with in the game storyline. Mrs. Finlayson said that her “students like the opportunity to say and do anything that they think will help their character advance the best. It took them a little bit to get over their uncomfortableness with interacting with their teacher outside of school in an imaginary world but they got over it fairly quickly.” Like any good game Lapis is complex, requires learning a great deal about the gaming world, and requires collaboration. The Lapis game has all the features of modern games: experience points (Latininity points), money (denarii), skills (auctoritas - leadership, dignitas - reputation, disciplina - knowledge, fides - trustworthiness, gravitas - authority, and pietas - sense of duty), and items players can purchase (togas, swords, sandals, jewelry, etc.). Each mission students earn Latininity points to advance their character based on the quality of their interaction in the mission and level of teamwork.  Many modern games allow players to increase skills such as magic, defense, attack strength, healing ability, etc. and in Lapis, teams can decide which important Roman values they want to focus on as their special skills. Students can also pursue independent learning and study outside of their team missions through the mastery of vocabulary, grammar, and culture activities. The game rewards independent and motivated students with special rewards in the form of gaming cards like those found with games such as World of Warcraft, Magic the Gathering, or Pokémon. The game is a new addition to Mrs. Finlayson’s Latin curriculum as part of last year’s World Languages Department Curriculum Cycle request. While continuing to use the textbook series Ecce Romani, this game adds another layer to the learning process by encouraging more collaborative and autonomous learning. “I can already see a huge improvement in my student’s abilities to read and write in Latin in a short period of time. Students encourage and guide each other to remember their grammar rules for writing in the language and it has helped weaker students in a fun and nonthreatening environment” Mrs. Finlayson said of her student’s progress. She first learned about the game at the Classical Association of the Empire State’s Annual Conference in October of 2014. The game designer, a Latin teacher in Connecticut, guided workshop attendees through the game and the research data that was used in its development. For more information about the game designed exclusively for Latin students you can visit http://lapis.practomime.com/index.php. Educational gaming like Lapis for Latin students is a great use of Chromebooks. If you have ideas for using these devices in your own curriculum, just reach out to the Tech Department. They would be happy to hear your ideas and get you started with you in the near future when Chromebooks make their way into your own school building!

 

While you may or may not be familiar with it, Google Groups is a collaborative space that offers several unique time-saving features for further collaboration and communication within Spartan Apps. For example, once created, each group has its own email address and members can share information using this single email address instead of emailing each member separately or needing to build a Contact list. Discussions of the group can also be stored in an online forum that can be reviewed later on the web.

Other advantages of Google Groups is that it makes it much easier to share your Spartan Apps content—such as Docs, Calendars, and files stored in Google Drive with multiple people by sharing to the group’s email address. Likewise as you add new people to your group, they'll automatically gain access to content you previously shared with that group! Similarly, if you remove someone from a group, that person no longer has access to any content you shared with the group.

Setting up a Group is very easy. Start by going to Groups in your waffle button of Spartan Apps while logged into your Spartan Apps account, (see screenshot below).


At the Groups main page, click the CREATE GROUP button and enter the name you want to use for your group’s email address, (see screenshot below). The name can be anything you like and your group’s email address will end with nhart.org. Once done, click the Create button at the top of page. For the group type, leave it set to Email List and you can adjust permissions as you see fit and need.


Next, you must enter the names of those you want to be Members of the group. This can be done by either inviting them via an email invitation or directly adding them. The steps for inviting members can be found here or if you prefer to add them directly, you can find instructions for them here.


Now that your Group is up and running, you can now send an email to all members or share content simply by your group’s email address. Hopefully now that you know about it, you can take advantage of using Groups to speed up your email communcations and sharing of content with colleagues and students even faster than ever.

 
   
Web 2.0 Tools for Teachers
 
iTunes Content for Your Classroom

Are you looking for a student-driven digital portfolio that empowers students of all ages to independently document and share what they are learning at school? If so, Seesaw is a great tool to take a look at.
 
Using either the web app or mobile apps, Seesaw make it easy for students to capture their student learning using photos, videos, drawings, text notes, links or PDFs to show what they know and store evidence in their digital portfolio. Likewise, teachers can browse work from the entire class or for a single student. Lastly, teachers can involve parents in the learning process by inviting them to view updates to their child’s Seesaw journal with immediate, visual updates. For a cool modern portfolio solution, check out Seesaw and see the possibilties for yourself!
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TEDTalks(hd)
TED Conferences LLC

TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. On this feed, you'll find TEDTalk videos to inspire, intrigue and stir the imagination from some of the world's leading thinkers and doers, speaking from the stage at TED conferences, TEDx events and partner events around the world. These talks are on a variety of interesting, exciting topics and are relevant to many subjects and grades levels. Take a look and you are sure to find something interesting for use in your own classroom today!.
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The New Hartford Tech Spotlight is a monthly informational e-mail newsletter published for all faculty and staff of the New Hartford Central School District by Mike Amante & James Davis. If you wish to contribute to or inquire about the newsletter, please visit here.
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