Welcoming a New School Year

by Sarah Avery, Community Advocate

It’s been a busy summer for the Zulama team filled with workshops, trainings, summer camps, and more! We made new connections, partners, and friends and we can’t wait to see what this new school year has in store!

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Elizabeth Forward Teacher and Zulama Consultant, Mary Wilson, working with teachers to learn GameSalad, GameMaker, and Unity at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and Zulama Game Design Collaboration Workshop. Picture taken by Norton Gusky

In addition, we’ve been working on ways to become more accessible to our community. Here’s just a few ways we’re reaching out:

Connect with Us on Twitter!

@ZulamaLearn: If you haven’t already, you should definitely follow us on twitter! We’re always looking to connect with great teachers, administrators, parents, and other members of the Zulama Community!

#ZMediaMonday: Every Monday we’ll share pieces of outstanding media we receive. If you want student work featured, tweet it to us on Mondays!

#ZMoments: Tweet in your favorite Zulama Class moments of the week!

#ZFamFriday: Each Friday we nominate an outstanding member of the Zulama Community. Tweet in your nominations for star teachers, students, and administrators in the Zulama Community on Fridays and we’ll give them a shout out!

#RMLHangout: Every month Zulama collaborates with Dr. Todd Keruskin from Elizabeth Forward and Dustin Stiver from the Sprout Fund to host Google Hangouts for Remake Learning! We live tweet the discussion and would love for you to join us!

Check out our Google Hangouts!

Each month, Nikki Navta hosts a google hangout with Dustin Stiver and Dr. Todd Keruskin for the affinity group Remake Learning. These hangouts take place on the 3rd or 4th Tuesday of each month at 2:00 PM EST. Feel free to view these hangouts with your students!
Our next hangout will take place on September 22nd when we’ll be joined by

It is sure to be an educational and exciting discussion!
Our most recent hangout featured Todd Nesloney (@TechNinjaTodd) and Nick Provenzano (@TheNerdyTeacher), two fantastic educators who joined us to discuss 21st Century Skills and Project Based Learning!

Have questions? Tweet them during the hangout to @ZulamaLearn or #RMLHangout! We’ll be live tweeting the hangout and we love to see students connecting with industry professionals!
We’re always looking for topics of interest to students! So, if there are any topics your students want to learn about send their ideas and questions to us via Twitter, Facebook, or email at sarah.avery@zulama.com and I’ll add them to our schedule!

Game Reviews!

You may have noticed we’ve been including game reviews in our newsletters. We love sharing our favorite games!
If your students are interested in reviewing games for our newsletter, just download our Game Review document, review your game, and send it back to me at sarah.avery@zulama.com!

GameReviewdocument

We’ll review the game review submissions and select one to feature in one of our newsletters!
Not sure if your students have time review games, but still think it’s a great idea? Use this activity as a professional development/team building event! All submissions (even ones from teachers, administrators, and parents) are welcome!

The First Step

From all of us in the Zulama team, have a fantastic school year! We’re always available to provide support, build connections, and help in any way we can! So, connect with us on our social media or shoot us an email at info@zulama.com or sarah.avery@zulama.com!

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Starting Off Another Great Year!

By Sarah Avery, Community Advocate

It’s been a busy summer for the Zulama team filled with workshops, trainings, summer camps, and more! We made new connections, partners, and friends and we can’t wait to see what this new school year has in store!

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Teachers from 3 different school districts collaborating on a math game at the South Fayette STEAM Innovation Summer Institute. Picture taken by Norton Gusky

In addition, we’ve been working on ways to become more accessible to our teachers. Here’s just a few ways we’re reaching out:

Connect With Us on Twitter:

@ZulamaLearn: If you haven’t already, you should definitely follow us on twitter! We’re always looking to connect with great teachers!

#ZMediaMonday: Every monday we’ll share pieces of outstanding media we receive. If you want your student work featured, tweet it to us on Mondays!

#ZMoments: Tweet in your favorite Zulama Classroom moments from the week!

#ZFamFriday: Each Friday we nominate an outstanding member of the Zulama Community. Tweet in your nominations for star teachers, students, and administration in the Zulama Community!

#RMLHangout: Every month Zulama collaborates with Dr. Todd Keruskin from Elizabeth Forward and Dustin Stiver from the Sprout Fund to host Google Hangouts for Remake Learning! During the hangout we live tweet the discussion and would love for you and your class to join us!

Check out Our Google Hangouts:

Each month Nikki Navta hosts a google hangout with Dustin Stiver and Dr. Todd Keruskin for the affinity group Remake Learning. These Hangouts take place on the 3rd or 4th Tuesday of each month at 2:00 PM EST. Feel free to view these hangouts with your students!

Our next hangout will take place on September 22nd when we’ll be joined by

It is sure to be an educational and exciting discussion!

Our most recent hangout featured Todd Nesloney (@TechNinjaTodd) and Nick Provenzano (@TheNerdyTeacher), two fantastic educators who joined us to discuss 21st Century Skills and Project Based Learning!

Have questions? Tweet them during the hangout to @ZulamaLearn or #RMLHangout! We’ll be live tweeting the hangout and we love to see students connecting to industry professionals!

We’re always looking for topics of interest to students! So, if there are any topics they really want to learn about send their ideas and questions to us via Twitter, Facebook, or email me at sarah.avery@zulama.com and I’ll add them to our schedule!

Game Reviews:

You may have noticed we’ve been including game reviews in our newsletters. We love sharing our favorite games!
If your students are interested in reviewing games for our newsletter, just download our Game Review document, review your game, and send it back to me at sarah.avery@zulama.com!

GameReviewdocument

Each newsletter we’ll review the game review submissions and select one to feature!

The First Step:

From all of us in the Zulama team, have a fantastic school year! We’re always available to provide support, build connections, and help in any way we can! So, connect to us on our social media,

facebook copy                 twitter copy               youtube copy

shoot us an email, info@zulama.com or sarah.avery@zulama.com, or start a discussion in our new teacher’s forum, accessible through the SUPPORT BUTTON in the LCMS!

 

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The Gender Connection: Girls and Gaming

By Sarah Avery, Zulama Community Advocate, Educator

Women in the video industry? Growing at a fast pace!

Girls learning coding and loving it? Absolutely!

The 2013 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry report produced by the Entertainment Software Association found that nearly 46% of gamers are female, much larger than commonly thought. Aside from just buying and playing games, in the past few years women have been working their way towards acceptance in the video game industry as well.  In 2014, GameSpot discussed the International Game Developer’s Association (IGDA) Game Developer’s Satisfaction Survey where they found that the percentage of women developers had doubled since the preceding year, coming to 22%.

Yet, there is a long way to go.

In 2014, a hashtag, #GamerGate, took the media by storm.  #GamerGate began in the summer of 2014 through the online attack of videogame programmer, Zoe Quinn, for developing Depression Quest, a text-based game designed to discuss her struggles with depression.  Before this, anonymous players advanced on other targets, such as Anita Sarkeesian, Canadian gamer and analyst who created a project with which to look at games through a feminist lense.  These two women, and more, were hacked, had their reputations smeared, and even received death threats, all for being women in the video game industry. To learn more about #GamerGate visit Gawer’s article What is Gamergate, and Why? An Explanation for Non-Geeks.

“Feminist Frequency” creator Anita Sarkeesian weighs in on the Gamergate controversy and the pervasiveness of sexism in video games.

 

In addition to these anonymous attacks, the amount and quality of female representation in games themselves is very low.  Often, if women are shown in games, they are either extremely unrealistic, barely covered, or both.

Lara Croft is arguably the gaming world’s most recognizable female character. HalloweenCostume.com looks back at the visual evolution of both the in-game and promotional design of this icon.

 

One 12 year old girl, Maddie Messer, decided that this lack of women in games wasn’t fair, so she began a survey to look at women in games. She discovered that “in a lot of video games, the default character is a guy. If you want to play as a female character, it’s not easy. Often you have to pay…. Maddie decided to test her claim with a research project. She downloaded the 50 most popular games in the same category as  her favorite game, Temple Run. She counted up how many offered female characters and how much they cost. And she handwrote her results on a spreadsheet.  Out of the 50 games, 37 offered free male characters. Just five offered free female characters” (Henn, “A 12-Year-Old Girl Takes On The Video Game Industry“).

So, Maddie decided to write an article to the Washington Post, highlighting her findings. She found in her survey of 50 games, “18 percent had characters whose gender was not identifiable (i.e., potatoes, cats or monkeys). Of the apps that did have gender-identifiable characters, 98 percent offered boy characters. What shocked [her] was that only 46 percent offered girl characters. Even worse, of these 50 apps, 90 percent offered boy characters for free, while only 15 percent offered girl characters for free.” She also found that “when an app did sell girl characters, it charged on average $7.53, which is a lot in the world of apps,” considering she paid on average $0.26 per app. “In other words, girl characters cost about 29 times more than the cost of the apps themselves” (Messer, “I’m a 12-Year-Old Girl. Why Don’t the Characters in my Apps Look Like Me?”).

After reading her article, the creators of Temple Run were surprised to find that, though there were women on staff, no one saw the problem Maddie had seen.  In response, they are creating a free female avatar for players to use. Maddie saw something the creators had not: unfair misrepresentation of females in games.  When 46% of gamers are female, it makes sense that the representation of females should also be about 50%.

Maddie brought this inequality to the forefront just as Anita and Zoe before her, and there are countless others who have done the same.  By bringing gender inequality within games to light, they are working toward leveling the playing field (pun intended).  These strong and intelligent women working in the gaming industry will foster games in which women will be positive role models for girls and young women who play games.  Only through acceptance of others, challenging the status quo, and discussing gender equality can we, with them, help change the world.

Check out AAUW.org’s article “7 Teacher Resources that Address Gender Equality” and myjewishlearning.com’s article “10 Ways you can Promorte Gender Equality in your Local School” for more ways to discuss gender equality in your classroom.

 

How have you promoted gender equality in your classroom? Comment below!

Gender Connection

Henn, Steve. “A 12-Year-Old Girl Takes on the Video Game Industry.” NPR, 8 Apr. 2015. Web. 26 May 2015
Messer, Madeline. “I’m a 12-Year-Old Girl. Why Don’t the Characters in my Apps Look Like Me?” Washington Post,4 March. 2015. Web. 26 May 2015

Interview with a Teenager

Interview with a Teenager:

Tips for Communicating with Students about Game Violence

IMG_7964By Sarah Avery, Zulama Community Advocate, Educator

Last week I sat down with my sister to talk about video games in education. During our discussion the topic of violence in videogames came up. As a teenager who is often exposed to media of all sorts, including violent media, she had some advice for parents and teachers who struggle with teenage consumption of media.

  1. Open a channel of communication with your student.  In order to do this, parents and teachers must be open to students’ opinions and respectful towards what they have to say.  By inviting them into a supportive environment, you as the parent or teacher will have more room to discuss what the student wants to share with you.  #Communicate
  2. Ask the student how they feel they are doing in the virtual world.  The easiest way to start a discussion is to ask specific questions about the games, shows, or movies they watch.  It’s not enough to ask general questions.  We all know the “how was school today” question can get limited responses, but asking about a specific teacher or favorite class can get discussions going.  Try asking about the most recent level they beat, goal they accomplished, or challenge where they are struggling. #ShowInterest
  3. Be educated about popular games.  It’s important for parents and teachers to know more about a game than just a title.  You must know the context and goal of the game. Two games that have the same goal may have drastically different game play, one game might only be jumping over mushrooms and another might have guns.  Just be educated about different games your student wants to play.  #EducateYourself
  4. Setting expectations is good. Each student needs to learn that there are things expected of them and in order to earn and deserve respect from the outside world, they need to respect themselves. To do this they need to understand that accepting responsibilities for their actions is always best.  So, teachers and parents need to make their expectations known and realistic.  Your student will mess up, but positive reinforcement is best.  #RespectYourself

These are her closing thoughts: “The use of the Internet can be a great benefit and comes with the power of knowledge, “but with great power comes great responsibility” #Spiderman #UncleBen.”