What do video game creation and function writing have in common? Well, five amazing fourth graders would tell you there's quite a bit! A few weeks ago I was looking through the upcoming English Language Arts unit, and noticed fourth grade would be learning about functional writing. Recently I learned about PixelPress Floors, a free video game drawing/creation app, and decided to talk to our amazing Special Education teacher to see if he'd be interested in using PixelPress Floors with his students. I figured if students created their own video game, they could write step-by-step directions on how to play or create the game (functional writing), create advertisements to pique interest and gain players, and problem solve throughout the experience. The teacher expanded on this idea and will be having the students present their games to classes in our building (speaking and presenting skills).
Today I went in and introduced students the five students to PixelPress, demonstrated how to draw the different components, shared the overall purpose, and set the students loose to create! As they realized what they'd be getting to do, one student exclaimed "You're a Christmas miracle!" To begin, I showed students a level I created ahead of time, and then created another floor as they watched. Next, they were given a copy of the Floors Sketch Guide, and told to explore the app. During the exploration time, the teacher and I encouraged students to problem solve and work together, and explained that they will be writing about their video games, creating advertisements, and presenting their games to their class.
I've co-taught, modeled lessons, and observed learning in their classroom before, and was blown away at the level of engagement the students showed. They were on task the entire time, helping each other problem solve technical issues, shared ideas, and didn't want the class time to end and head back to their classroom. I look forward to spending more time in their classroom over the next few weeks, watching the video games come together, and the writings developed.
If you're looking for a motivating way to get students creating, writing, problem solving, and working together, I encourage you to give PixelPress try. While I am using it with fourth graders in English Language Arts, I believe it can be used at other grade levels and subject areas. If you've used PixelPress, I'd love to hear your experience!
Lesson Quick Facts:
Grade Level: 4th grade Special Education
Content Area: English Language Arts
Technology Tool(s) Used: PixelPress Floors app