simSchool

Technologies Education

There is only one thing more painful than learning from experience and that is not learning from experience.

Archibald MacLeish

simSchool is a classroom simulation developed to let you practice different approaches to teaching with simulated students. It includes models of learning, cognition and emotion (including the OCEAN Model of Psychology, structural-functional, and constructivist learning theories), simSchool provides a safe environment where you can explore concepts, creating and teaching virtual, artificially intelligent students that behave as real students would. "The students are virtual, but the learning is very real."

While SimSchool can be used in many different ways, we will be using it to enable you to explore and practice different teaching strategies, reviewing, and relating different approaches that you will help you to develop better lesson plans.

10 seconds in SimSchool represents 1 minute in real time. 7 minutes of realtime will simulate a 40 minute lesson period.

Each week we will undertake teaching practice sessions using simSchool, you will have time to simulate both your lesson plans, and repeat one of the once to try some alternatives. You can also use simSchool to continue this practice between tutorials.

simSchool

Lesson Tasks/Activities:

Before each tutorial, you will develop lesson plans for your D&T and DT lessons that detail a series of tasks/activities to occurring during the lesson. Where a task does not quite match, choose the closest. Of particular importance is your selection of tasks, the variety, the sequencing of your tasks, how long you allocate to each task, and how well your tasks cater for the diverse needs of your virtual students.

1. Recall

  1. Do Nothing
  2. Q&A with students
  3. Review previous lessons
  4. Short Oral/Written Quiz
  5. Student presentation on a concept/design/evaluation, etc.)
  6. (Ignore, we rarely do poetry readings in Tech Ed)
  7. Written/prep-prepared Test

3. Strategic Thinking

1. Students take notes

2. Play a game

3. Analyse a text, video, designed solution, computer program, database, etc. (Design and Computational Thinking)

4. Create a graphic, infographic, concept map, database, etc. (Computational Thinking: Data)

5. Compare and contrast approaches. (Systems Thinking)

6. Design a solution to a problem. (Design Thinking)

2. Skill/Concept

  1. Silent reading/viewing about concept or skill
  2. Oral explanation about concept or skill
  3. Group work activity
  4. Model and have students follow in completing an activity

4. Extended Thinking

  1. Student led discussion on a concept (Evaluation)
  2. Create a solution to a problem. (Design Process)
  3. Develop a project plan. (Strategic Thinking)
  4. Develop a hypothesis. (Futures Thinking)


Communication

To simulate teacher-student interaction during simulation, you can communicate with your students in various ways. This may be planned to support your tasks/activities, or unplanned in response to student activity and behaviour displayed by the simulated students . Make sure you do not lose focus on your lesson plan progression, a classroom can be a very busy place, particularly when you are trying to meet the diverse needs of your students.

Behavioural assertion:

Direct: Get back to work now.

Reward: You just earned reward points.

Focus: I need your attention.

Praise: You are setting a good example for others.

Praise: You are being good, it makes me feel great.

Threaten: I don't really want to keep you behind after school.

Encourage: I am sure you can get your work done on time.

Threaten: Do you want to loose your recess?

Threaten: If I have to tell you once more...

Punish: Go to the office.

Exasperate: I can't believe you are acting this way.

Punish: You just lost your privileges.

Punish: Move your seat right now.

Punish: Detention for you.

Defeat: Put your heads down on your desks.

Direct: Stop that.

Behavioural observation:

  • You're falling asleep.
  • You seem confident.
  • Your showing others how to behave.
  • Good teamwork.
  • You're being friendly.
  • (Smile)
  • I trust you to behave.
  • (sigh and walk away)
  • I can't tell you anything.
  • I don't get you.
  • Hmmmm.
  • (look away)
  • You're asking for it.
  • You're being a pain.
  • I can't turn my back on you.
  • Every one else is behaving well.

Behavioural Inquiry:

  • Are you doing what I asked?
  • Can you do like I do?
  • Do I need to show you?
  • Want to work in teams?
  • How are you doing?
  • Are you Ok with this activity?
  • Would you like a break?
  • What do you want to do?
  • What can I do for you?
  • Are you sure you heard what I said?
  • What do I have to do?
  • What is it with you today?
  • What are you doing?
  • Do you know the rules?
  • Can I turn my back on you?
  • Can you act like good students?

Academic Assertion:

  • Evaluate the question first
  • You can understand this.
  • Look at this example.
  • Let's think about what we did.
  • Your restatement was clear.
  • Great! I could not have explained it any better.
  • Your idea seems valid.
  • I never would have thought of that.
  • Tell me what you need to get started.
  • Maybe I should go over it again.
  • I can't give you that information.
  • That report can't be your best.
  • Stop it right now.
  • You need to recall those details.
  • I don't think you get it.
  • Pill out your rubric/criteria sheet.

Academic Observation:

  • Your evaluation works.
  • You have a good understanding.
  • (thumbs up)
  • Others are being influenced by you.
  • (smile)
  • I see how thorough your work is.
  • Your ideas are to the point.
  • I notice you wait to contribute.
  • I see you are agreeing with everything.
  • I think you're on track.
  • I haven't seen or heard from you yet.
  • It is obvious you cannot follow directions.
  • (sarcastically) Don't you think you're smart!
  • You're putting people off.
  • You're acting like you don't trust me.
  • You're racing ahead.

Academic Inquiry:

  • Could you please try it my way?
  • Do you need my help?
  • Can you demonstrate what you know?
  • Can you explain this to your neighbour?
  • Can you restate your idea?
  • Can you tell me more, please?
  • Can you describe your thinking for me?
  • What are your thoughts?
  • Should I repeat the question?
  • Should I go over it again?
  • Do you need more details?
  • Is this the best you can do?
  • Where is your brain today?
  • Can't you recall anything?
  • Can you handle this material?
  • Are you trying as hard as you can?

Week 1 Introduction to simSchool

This week you will learn how to use the simSchool simulation tools to simulate a lesson.

Watch the introductory video



In this activity you will be taking over Mrs. Showalter's second-grade class. She has left notes for you that several of her students are using counters to solve basic math problems. Only a couple of her students are working independently with word problems because few can read fluently enough at this point in the year, although Dolores, Lauren, and James are quite advanced in reading. The class is comprised of diverse learners, including some who struggle with mathematical concepts and reading. They are generally well-behaved get along with each other.

Her students have already worked on:

  • properties of operations
  • the relationship between addition and subtraction
  • activities designed to deepen their conceptual understanding of measurement and to relate addition and subtraction to length
  • lessons on adding and subtracting measurement units within 100.

Mrs. Showalter has left you her lesson plan consisting of a variety of tasks you may assign to the students. They are beginning a 5-day lesson on strategies for composing a ten that includes manipulatives, math drawings, and relating addition using manipulatives to a written vertical method.

Tip: As you are exploring and testing various tasks, use available strategies to more expertly manage individuals and the whole class. Remember that strategies include a variety of accommodations that promote inclusionary class environments and may enable you to make easy modifications to address student learning and emotional needs. Pay special attention to these options when teaching Class 4.


  1. In Class 1, observe how different students respond to various tools they may be asked to use during a task.
  2. In Class 2, make a concerted effort to use Strategies as you monitor the class.
  3. In Class 3, make special note of students you feel are struggling. Check their profiles and determine if you think an accommodation would be helpful.
  4. In Class 4, make a conscious effort to talk to your students both as they show signs of stress and signs of being satisfied with a task. Vary your tone and observe the impact.

Week 2 Content

Developing instructional activities from the curriculum, resources and competitions

This week students will learn how to simulate a single learning activity in simSchool and explore how this impacts learning for a range of different students. Then using curriculum documents, match learning outcomes to different learning activities in simSchool, and finally, match these with learning that could occur in classrooms, competitions, and extra-curricula activities.



Now that you have had a chance to view videos explaining how to navigate the simSchool playspace and decode the behaviors of the characters, you are ready to practice teaching.

In this module you will be taking over Hr. Haynes 2nd grade class. They are beginning a 4-day math lesson focused on basic patterns, multiplication, and functions. For the next few classes, let's focus on one student in particular: Dolores. Dolores is a very good student, seeks achievement, and is very curious. You'll find that she raises her hand often and regularly has something to say. Your goal in these modules is to experiment with strategies and tones of voice that keep Dolores focused and productive.

Tip: Remember to check Dolores' profile for helpful clues into strategies that will work well for her.

  1. In Class 1, play a simSchool tutorial to familiarize yourself the the playspace.
  2. In Class 2, try assigning Dolores any task from the "Understand" category and see how she responds.
  3. In Class 3, 2, try assigning Dolores any task from any category that allows her to work independently and see how she responds.
  4. In Class 4, select tasks from the "Evaluate" category or any other that alows her to work with a partner. Try assigning a partner task to her and to Lauren (at her table). What happens?









Week 3 Pedagogical approaches to teaching Digital Technologies

This week students will create short sequences of activities to reflect a range of pedagogical approaches, exploring how different sequences of activities impact the learning of the same students.



There are four learning styles, or "learning modalities," that students fall within. These modalities indicate the student's preference and ability to perform well on tasks that have certain expectations. For example, a student with a visual preference may find it easier to learn when provided with demonstrations. A student with an auditory preference may enjoy learning tasks that involve social dialogue and discussion.

In this module imagine that you are teaching abroad in a very rural community with very diverse learners. You will be teaching a literacy lesson to a primary class. Your lesson plan focuses on Literacy modules 1-3 in the Primary Curriculum Framework found on the Resources page, as well as topics in the LIfe Skills area. In this ICT-integrated lesson, students are asked to create a social story. A lesson like this works very well for students with developmental challenges and to varying student learning modalities. Social stories were first developed to help students who struggle with appropriate communication and self regulation, but they can also be good ICT tasks helpful in improving student self regulation and self awareness. Observe the differences in student learning preferences as you teach. In this lesson you will also notice different student behaviors when they are asked to listen and interact with others as several students in the class have special learning needs.

  1. Review the pdf titled "Learning the styles: the four modalities" on the resource page.
  2. Review the Primary Curriculum Framework on the resource page.
  3. In Class 1, teach the available tasks and see if you can find students who prefer visual tasks.
  4. In Class 2, teach the available tasks and see if you can find students who prefer auditory tasks.
  5. In Class 3, teach the available tasks and see if you can find students who prefer tactile tasks.
  6. In Class 4, teach the available tasks and see if you can find students who prefer kinethetic tasks.









Week 4 Scoping and sequencing activities to meet curriculum expectations

Students will explore scope and sequence collections of example activities, and replicate these in simSchool, building their simulations to a full class period (40 minutes simulation/ 400 seconds in real time (6.7 minutes).




How does the age of a student or the seating arrangement of a classroom effect your perception? Is it more challenging to attend to all students equally if they are in rows? What about tables? These variables can have a huge impact on how we move around a classroom and whether or not we experience stress when working with a group of students.

In this module you the focus is to reflect on your own emotions as you move between different ages of students seated in differerent configurations. Make an attempt to talk to all your students, use classroom management strategies and accommodations. Differentiate based on observed student need. In essence, move through all the activities necessary to effectively teach a class, but do it through the lens of considering how ages and seating arrangements may impact your actions.

  1. Review the Primary Curriculum Framework on the resource page.
  2. In Class 1, teach a 5th grade math lesson to students at tables.
  3. In Class 2, teach a 2nd grade math lesson to students at tables.
  4. In Class 1, teach the same 5th grade class now seated in rows.
  5. In Class 2, teach the same 2nd grade class now seated in a semi-circle.



Week 5 Pacing and structuring activities to build concept development

Students will refine their activity sequences, exploring how different sequences and pacing of activities can influence student learning.

Week 6 Focusing on the learning not the tools

Students will explore how educational technologies (robots, programming languages, websites, electronics kits, etc.) can be categorised as sets of learning activities, and their uses can be incorporated into lesson planning as a range of learning activities with specific learning outcomes.


Week 7 Monitoring student progress and making differentiated interventions

Students will consider how continuous data collection differs from point in time assessment, and how each can contribute to student profiling and identifying differentiated interventions. They will compare the rich data environment of the simSchool with the relatively sparse data available in a classroom, and strategies to use what data collection is available to inform their lesson and unit planning.


Week 8



Week 9



Week 10



Week 11 Assessment



Teaching Simulation Research

Dr Zagami is conducting research into the use of computer simulations to support initial teacher education (ITE) students learn how to develop lesson plans. You may volunteer to share your simulation data for use in this research and complete a very short pre-course and post-course survey on what you think about using computer simulations to help you learn.

To participate you can complete the pre-course survey and acknowledge you agree to be included in the research. At the end of the course you will be reminded by email to complete a similar post-course survey.

Informed Consent

Please complete the pre-course and informed consent survey to participate.

Informed Consent - Lesson Simulation




The post-course survey will be available from week 10