David Fuerst Ackles

Pre-service Teacher. Student. Dog Dad.

Ed-Tech Inquiry: AC: DT Questions part 2

book lot on black wooden shelf

Photo by: Giammarco Boscaro on Unsplash

One thing I wanted to consider were future applications of the game. I think that Ubisoft is doing some really great work with the Discovery Tour series and can see the potential for a wide range of content. Currently, the Discovery Tour mode is only available for Assassin’s Creed: Origins and Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey which means that the only 2 locations available for exploration are Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece. Both of these places have a great depth of history and content to explore and you could conceivably spend whole terms on just one of these locations.

However, when you look at the whole Assassin’s Creed series there are so many potential locations and historical figures to explore and interact with. I went through each title and pulled examples of both:

-The Holy Land 1191 AD: Jerusalem, Acre, Damascus, Masyaf

-Renaissance Italy 1476-1511 AD: Rome, Venice, Florence, Monteriggioni, San Gimignano, Naples, The Vatican, Rhodes, Constantinople, and Cappadocia

-Colonial America 1754-1783: New York, Boston, The Frontier

-The Caribbean 1715-1737: Havana, Kingston, Nassau, Port-au-Prince

-Revolutionary France 1776-1800: Versailles, Paris

-Victorian London 1868: London

 Historical Figures: The Borgias, Leonardo Da Vinci, Caterina Sforza, Niccolo Machiavelli, George Washington, Charles Lee, Benedict Arnold, Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, Mary Read, Blackbeard, Anne Bonny, Charles Dickens, Alexander Graham Bell, Florence Nightingale, Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Darwin

If or when Ubisoft extends the Discovery Tour mode to their other games, all of these will become explorable museums with real historical figures to interact with- the possibilities are almost limitless!

Ed-Tech Inquiry: AC: DT Questions

maps lying on the floor

Photo by: Andrew Neel on Unsplash

After doing some more research I have been able to answer some of the questions I posed in my last post. I focused on the first two questions for this first round of research and have found some really interesting articles that explore how AC: DT has already bee implemented in the class.

Has the game already been used in classrooms? If so, how?

Short answer: Yes it has.

Long Answer: I found a study done by the University of Montreal (Where Ubisoft has a large office) looking at the game with 300 high school students across eight schools and 40 classes. They found that students’ grades jumped a significant portion when they used the game as an independent learning tool (22%-41%) and even more when the game was used by the teacher as a teaching tool (55%).

The study concludes that a balanced approach is key to using the game effectively. “The teacher could do things with the game they cannot do without it,” Éthier said. “They can show much clearer images of Alexandria, as re-created by Egyptologists, so people who know it well. It’s another resource in the teacher’s toolkit.”

What are the potential uses for this game in the classroom?

I haven’t found a lot on how the game was being used in classrooms but I can certainly see it in History or Socials class. Being able to explore the world you are studying could be a huge interest and engagement booster for students. I could also see the potential for uses in English and Science classes in the future. The technology isn’t there yet but because of the range of historical figures and location covered by the game series as a whole there is potential to interact with famous authors and scientists to learn about their processes or the worlds they lived in, but more on that later.

Music Resource Toolbox

woman standing watching LED light musical instrument

Photo by: Spencer Imbrock on Unsplash

Today some of our more musically inclined cohort members presented a Music Technology Toolkit they had put together. The resources ranged from speculative to interactive to practical and all but one are open source.

The speculative piece was an idea for an app for music students. It was modeled after Google Classroom but focused on music. There were spaces for quizzes, sheet music, ear training, submissions, warmups and more. Like Google Classroom it had different features for students and teachers. Overall I thought it would be a great resource for both music students and teachers and could potentially streamline the music classroom overall.

The interactive piece was a website called Chrome Music Lab and was my personal favorite discovery of the presentation. Music Lab is a very visual website that can help explain some potentially difficult musical concepts. As someone who has very little musical aptitude, this would have had a huge impact on me in high school. There are tools for learning rhythm, chords, and arpeggios. Tools to understand soundwaves, harmonics, and oscillators. It makes these things much more accessible to the average, non-musical, person.

Finally, there were a couple of different apps to scan sheet music. These made it easy to transcribe music onto other instruments and allowed you to separate different parts so you can listen to them individually. This would really help students learning a new song because they can isolate and play along with their parts or other parts as needed. These had a bit of a  learning curve but there are other resources available to help learn the ins and outs.

Podcasting in the Classroom

boy singing on microphone with pop filter

Photo by: Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

Today we had a presentation on different ways to use Podcasts in the classroom. As a listener of Podcasts, I was very excited to see how then could be brought into the classroom and the benefits of doing so. A big benefit I had not considered was the social aspect. Using Podcasts to connect to students is a great way to get to know them. The group did a great job of demonstrating this by having the class generate a list of Podcasts we listened to in a Google Doc and we had a chance to share why we like the ones we chose. It worked really well because we were able to learn more about our classmates but also identify areas of common interest we hadn’t before. It also left us with a great, cohort generated resource of diverse Podcasts and ideas of how to use them in the classroom. I can really how useful this would be for a new teacher.

Assistive Technology in the classroom

man holding black Android smartphone

Photo by: Rachit Tank on Unsplash

Today we had a presentation on different strategies for using Assistive Technology in the classroom. The focus was split between technology designed to help students with physical limitations and linguistic technology. The only experience I have in this area is with text to speech devices that were present in my elementary school classroom so it was really interesting to see what is available now.

The range of options now is pretty incredible. I was particularly interested in technology to help improve verbal expression, such as sign language translators and gesture sensing technology. During my time observing in classrooms I have seen non-verbal students who could potentially benefit from access to these technologies. Anything that makes it easier to communicate with students is worth exploring.

In that vein, the linguistic technology that was introduced is also really exciting. In particular, I was interested in how a teacher could use Youtube in education. “Youtube Learning” is like Google scholar except instead of scholarly articles the resource are educational videos with a wide range of content in a wide range of languages. They are approved as a creator of educational content to everything that is posted has first been vetted. As the presenters pointed out it is a great resource for a language classroom because it helps solve the problem of how to get authentic language into classrooms such as slang, idioms, and colloquial expressions. Existing resources are not authentic and not realistic. I think this could be really effective particularly because Youtube is a resource that students already interact with so it is not a huge leap for them.



EdTech Inquiry: Assassin’s Creed Discovery

Photo by: Nicolas J Leclercq on Unsplash

After meeting with my group last week, we have decided to shift focus slightly away from Digital Roleplay and focus more on Video Games in the classroom. We each chose one game or program to focus on and learn how it could be used in the classroom. My pick was Assassin’s Creed: Discovery Tour.

I decided to focus on this game for a few reasons. I am a huge fan of the Assassin’s Creed series and one of my favorite aspects of the games is an immersion into a detailed historical world. The games are well established and I think that is an advantage in terms of getting students to engage with the game. And finally, I have done a little bit of research into Discovery Tour previously and am excited by the potential it offers.

From here I plan to do more detailed research in the game in order to answer these questions in more detail:

  1. Has the game already been used in classrooms? If so, how?
  2. What are the potential uses for this game in the classroom?
  3. Does the game help students meet curricular competencies?
  4. Are there any issues or problems teachers should be aware of?
  5. What future applications does this game have?

I am looking forward to learning more about the game and how it can be used to promote learning.

Mindfulness in the Classroom

man sitting on rock surrounded by water

Photo by: Keegan Houser on Unsplash

Last day we saw the first Ed-Tech presentation on Mindfulness in the classroom. I thought the group did a great job and I can definitely see how this could be a useful practice in the classroom. Going into it, I had only a vague idea of what mindfulness was but discovered that I have much more experience with it than I realized. Essentially mindfulness is daily meditation, making a practice of focusing inward for a few minutes every day.

During my undergrad in Drama, our acting classes always began with warmups, a large part of which was lying on the ground focusing on our breathing and getting in tune with our bodies. The object was to focus us completely on the task at hand, we were resetting ourselves, removing everything we had carried into the room from outside before we began to work. We were basically practicing mindfulness under another name.

So when I think about spending 3-5 minutes at the beginning of every class to help students relax and focus on themselves I know how valuable that is. It is not something that was present or available during my high school experience but I know I would have benefitted from it.  High school is hard enough for students already and anything that I can do as a teacher to help them be successful is something I need to consider.

Great job all!

Minecraft in the classroom

back to school update


This week we were visited by a Teacher and her students from Colquitz Middle School who have been using Minecraft in their classroom. The most interesting part of their experience for me is the collaborative nature of their learning.  The teacher has been able to weave teachable concepts into the game play for her students, her example was using grid coordinates in game to teach the concept of x,y,z, axes grids. In turn the students help teacher her how to navigate certain parts of the game that they are more familiar with or by listening to their interactions while playing she has learned “better” ways to teach the game.

I love the idea of incorporating Minecraft in my classroom. As a future English teacher I think the potential for applications are really exciting. For example I have seen recreations of Ancient Rome or Westeros and having students be able to literally explore these settings could really help them grasp concepts or themes by seeing instead of just reading. If you are able to create interactive experiences in the game you could send students on scavenger hunts by speaking to characters from a given novel in their environment would be a great way to explore a novel or story.

There could be drawbacks however. As the teacher said sometimes student buy-in is not high and so you need to provide “opt-out” options for them. Also I think it could be easy for students to goof-off in the game instead of keeping focused on the task at hand.



PowerPoint as an Editing Tool

Image by: Me! (Thanks PowerPoint!)

Today we spent some time looking at different option for creating graphics and editing photos. Some of the programs I am somewhat familiar with, such as GIMP and Photoshop but I had never known about or even considered PowerPoint as an editing tool.

Because I am lucky enough to have access to Photoshop I have been able to play around with it a little but I found that the learning curve is massive. Even with the help of Youtube tutorials it took me a long time to do something as simple as isolating a part of an image and removing the background.

In the last 15 minutes of playing around with PowerPoint as an editing tool I was able to combine three images to create the image I posted above.  Its definitely not perfect but for my first time using the program and 15 minutes of effort I think its pretty good. It is certainly  much more user friendly than Photoshop.

This is definitely something I will continue to use going forward.

Mandolinquiry Week 2/3: Next Steps

First off: I have not been able to dedicate a lot of time to the Mandolin in the last couple of weeks because of school work and home life being quite busy.

That being said, I have made some progress. My goals from the post were to:

  1. Find an online learning resource.
  2. Find an online tuner/tuning app.
  3. Set a schedule for myself
  4. Learn more about my Mandolin and the history of the Mandolin

And this is where I am at:

  1. I have found an online resource! After doing some research and looking at several options I have decided to go with MandoLessons, which has a series of free videos designed for beginner Mandolin players. The instructor is Baron Collins-Hill, a self-described musician and educator based in Maine. I chose his site because all of his videos are free but also I like his teaching style. He takes time and care to explain everything so that as you learn you also gain an understanding of the instrument, rather than just playing it. I have worked through the first couple of videos in the Beginner Series which cover how to hold both yourself and the instrument while you play as well some beginner chords. The chords are G, C, and D which I coincidentally already knew from my previous experience. That was a nice little confidence boost and made me feel ahead of the game a little bit. Looking ahead at the videos it looks like I will learn some basic scales as well as my first complete song. Beyond the Beginner Series, he has a ton of other videos teaching different songs as an entire section about techniques and fundamentals. I am looking forward to putting more time into both this website and my Mandolin.
  2. MandoLessons has an online tuner on its website, but it is just sound bytes of the correct notes which you can use to tune the Mandolin by ear. I am definitely not at this point yet but that can be another goal. In the meantime, while I was searching for an app I got a message from my parents asking if I wanted them to send me my old guitar tuner which has a setting for Mandolin tuning! So when that arrives in the mail I will use that.
  3. The scheduling aspect has been and is going to be the hardest part of this project for me. I have never been great at setting schedules for myself and then sticking to them. So I think the best route is to take it slow. Right now I am committing to spend an hour a week (on the weekends most likely) practicing the Mandolin and I will see what kind of progress I make with that.
  4. The reason I don’t know much about my Mandolin is that I inherited it from my Brother in Law who moves across the country and left it behind. MandoLessons had a video about choosing a Mandolin and compares models that cost $50, $350, and $4500 respectively. I was surprised to learn that mine is almost exactly like the $350 model which was a Kentucky. Some further research has confirmed this although the price has gone up a little since the video was published. It seems to be a pretty standard model and a really good beginner instrument so I count myself lucky in that department!
  5. As for history, this is what I have learned. I had assumed that the Mandolin evolved from the Lute and I was right. Around the 18th century in Italy and Germany, the first Mandolins were built, descended directly from the Mandora- a 16th-century pear-shaped string instrument with 4 or 5 strings (Source). The Mandolins 4 pairs of steel strings are tuned to violin pitch G-D-A-E. In the modern-day, there are three common types of Mandolin: “Neapolitan or round-backed mandolin, the carved-top mandolin, and the flat-backed mandolin” (Source). The one I have is a carved-top, which is common in American folk and bluegrass music. The carved-top refers to “bent ribs or sides reinforced at their
    junction with the top and back.  The top and back are hand carved in an arch, at least in the best models. The less expensive ones may simply be stamped out and bent from laminated wood” (Source). The most interesting fact I learned was that Beethoven, Mozart, Vivaldi, and Stravinski all composed music for the Mandolin. As I was familiar with the instrument only though American bluegrass and folk this came as a surprise.


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