Sunday, May 31, 2020

Words When There are No Words

I had my twitter feed up on my laptop when my two year old came over, pointed and asked "what's that?"

It was a car on fire as a result of riots in Minneapolis.

A protester hold sign reading "Justice for George" in Minneapolis on May 28.
 Photographer: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images


How do I answer that? She's two years old. She just learned how to use the potty and is over the moon proud of herself every time. She loves applesauce and milk and blueberries and lima beans. She doesn't yet know about race or discrimination or violence. I had no words.

So I simply told her "that's a fire. That car is on fire." To which she replied "ok mamma" and scattered off to read her 80 million books in her play area. I sat there and started to weep. I didn't lie to her, but I also didn't have that hard conversation yet. That children her age, and with the same interests and wit and excitement will grow up to be treated differently simply because they look a little different than she does. But I need to. But I had no words.

If you have no idea the context of these revelations, here's a quick recap. On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, an African-American man was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota when a police officer put his knee on his neck for an extended period of time. As a result, protests occurred, and riots happened.
Something that someone said during one of my master's class has been ringing around in my head for days. "When I asked my students to pinpoint the age they realized what race they are, none of the white students could do that. Minority students could tell you right away. I realized before how privileged I am and was. The biggest difference now is that I cannot in good conscience stay silent anymore. I never should have been, and I will not anymore. I assumed, falsely, that as long as I wasn't racist, I wasn't a part of the problem and that I was doing enough. That, and voting when I can. Small changes do compound, but I have to keep making those changes. I have a daughter now that looks up to what I do. If I stay silent in fear of having those hard conversations, I am a part of the problem.

Now, the protests and riots became more about one man's death. That death became the catalyst for pent up race issues in America.

It also has become political and dicey. News reports are coming in that many rioters and looters were actually white supremacists or individuals from out of state. This is important, because so many politicians are using the looting and rioting to paint protesters as "thugs". This is so dangerous. People's lives aren't political tools. These events, however, should be spurring political change for the betterment of everyone for equity's sake. Not finger pointing and childish name calling with little to no action, besides the spurring of violent confrontation and hate.

This is not about police vs African Americans. This is about racists people vs everyone else.

There are news stories about good cops listening to the protesters and even joining them in solidarity. So this is not about cops. As an educational professional, training and critical reflection on a professional level identifying biases is something that should be included in every continuing education or professional development for adult education. This is an opportunity for educational specialist to step up and reform adult education in regards to biases and discrimination.

I had many opportunities for critical reflection and emancipatory learning opportunities to identify my own personal biases and realize how I could make small, but compounding changes to the way I do my professional work. But that's not enough anymore.

On a personal level, this breaks my heart. I keep thinking, as a mother, having to have those difficult conversations I have been putting off, not because my daughter is going to witness this racism, but because that racism could be deadly to her, her father or me. Those conversations happen and are happening in homes across the country, especially today.

On a personal level, my heart breaks for George Floyd's mother. She lost her baby simply because he looked a certain way to the wrong people.

So, my friends: My heart breaks with you. I hear you. I see you. I cannot understand what you are experiencing, but I am angry with you. It's time to take action. One cannot say All Lives Matter until we include Black Lives. Once we can identify that Black Lives Matter, then we can say in confidence that All Lives Matter. Until then, they do not all matter to everyone. And that's the problem.

So you may ask, Duchess, why are you writing this? This is a fun blog about being a geek and being married to an esports professional. Well, I have a voice and I will not stay silent anymore. If I do, then I am contributing to the problem. My platform is small. But if I can reach one person, then maybe I can contribute to the solution.

Speak up. Donate. Protest. Vote. Volunteer.

Do whatever you have to and what you can to help your fellow human beings to be equal in the eyes of the law and equal in everyone's hearts.


Saturday, May 23, 2020

Giving Thanks

There are a lot of things to be grateful for. During a global pandemic, having the luxury of being healthy, employed, and together and as a family is something that is not lost on us. We are so fortunate and lucky in our situation, and that is not lost on us.

Sure, we may have to stay at home and work in the same space. Sure it's been 50 ish days since I've been out of my house for more than a walk around the block. Sure there are some times I get delusionally riddled with anxiety about the socio-political and economic state of our country. Sure, the quarantine fifteen is no joke. And sure, there have been maybe a few times one of us has slept on the couch. But how lucky we are, truly.

So, while browsing Meijer's website to figure out what to buy for our weekly grocery delivery, the thought of Thanksgiving popped in to my head. Well, really, it was "why is a whole turkey reserved just for one holiday?" and then "dang, it's not that expensive to grab a turkey" and then "dang, the last time we roasted a turkey it lead to a very interesting evening back in college...." but that is a completely different story I will never, ever continue discussing. And before you say anything, those Thanksgiving dinners I made for the lovely folks at S2Games and for those heading to Dreamhack were a replacement of the upcoming Thanksgiving meals they would be missing. In November. So that was different. That being said, I am now quite versed in making a bomb-diggity turkey.

So....

Why not have Thanksgiving in May?

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Best At-Home Date Ever

With the stay-at-home order, and just good common sense to stay home during a global pandemic, finding time for your significant other is extremely important, but extremely limiting in creative options. There are only so many times you can order delivery from a semi-fancy restaurant and watching a movie.

























So, I decided to be a little creative. I set up our tent, turned on the fire in the back yard, ordered dessert when we ordered from Applebees and queued up some old-school Nickelodeon cartoons, like Hey Arnold, Doug, and Rugrats.

Monday, March 30, 2020

COVID-19 Update from the CPK Family Week 2

Hello friends! Hopefully everyone is staying at home and safe if possible. If you are on the front lines of this, THANK YOU AND STAY AS SAFE AS YOU CAN.

Our little household is doing as well as can be expected. As an extrovert, I'm personally struggling. By the time I actually talk face-to-face with someone other than my husband or my two year old, I may have the social skills of a caveman.



Honestly, I was going to write this and I assumed we had more to offer in the way of an update. But legitimately this is going to be some bragging as to how Breaky and I have not killed each other yet. Just kidding love, I love you!

Friday, March 20, 2020

COVID-19 Update from the CPK Family Week 1

Hello folks.




What a strange, scary time to be alive, right?


Image result for covid-19
I thought, well, hoped, that 9/11 would be the biggest crisis of my generation and in my timeline. that horrible sense that nothing will be the same for a while. Everything being cancelled and it is everything that anyone is talking about. The world didn't stay the same, but we did settle in to the new normal.



This seems just as big, if not bigger.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Two the Moon! Happy Birthday BabyCPK



Our BabyCPK, who really isn't a baby anymore, turned TWO recently. Two, y'all. I cannot even. 

Unfortunately, Breaky had to miss this birthday, as he was doing back-to-back events, but we took lots of pictures, thanks to Dylan Jeffery! 

This year we did a "Two the Moon" theme and I think it was a hit! It was definitely one of my biggest "Pinterest Victories" I have had as a parent, if I may say so myself.

There were a ton of friends and family that attended, but for privacy's sake, because a lot of the kids were younger, I am not including pictures of guests. But you can enjoy the still fantastic pics from Dylan Jeffery: 






Monday, February 17, 2020

Valentine's Day 2020

Happy Belated Valentine's Day from the CPK Family! 


Dog CPK getting her Valentine's day treat. She's such a good girl! 





Heart-Shaped pizzas for dinner! they were a big hit





BabyCPK demonstrating that no Valentine's Day is complete without cupcakes! 

Monday, January 27, 2020

Gamification and Education

** Disclaimer **
This is NOT a scholarly article. If I use specific examples I will do my best to reference and give appropriate credit, but it is really more my thoughts and musings. My hope in the next 5 years is to not only continue research and writings on this topic, but to perhaps even obtain additional graduate work.

gam·i·fi·ca·tion
/ˌɡāmifəˈkāSHən/
noun
noun: gamification
  1. the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service.
    "gamification is exciting because it promises to make the hard stuff in life fun"



I have found the concept of gamification absolutely fascinating. In a way, it combines my two "worlds" so to speak. Education and gaming. While gamification is not solely "electronic" in nature, my musings and thoughts tend to stray in the way of electronic and screen-time gaming within education specifically.

There are a lot of misconceptions of technology in and of itself. From the perspective that it turns kids in to "zombies" or creates brainless "Tvidiots" as my Dad used to call it, those perceptions have created a huge roadblock in the advancement of technology, especially in the classroom.

I remember a family member reiterating a story from a mutual friend saying "...she pulled him out of that school. They dropped an iPad in from of them for the entire day."

That has bothered me for awhile. I did not say anything at the time because we were all in the car, I didn't want to start an argument and I did not have enough research to back up my points. Side note, this is why I rarely partake in political debates online. I like to do a LOT of research before arguing or having a "conversation" with someone.

Many technologies were and are used and/or implemented for the sake of access. Be it to overcome a physical disability, like screen readers for the visually impaired, or to overcome a learning disability using virtual reality simulations. Technology, when used as a tool, can assist many students learn a topic that would otherwise be a struggle to understand. There is a type of teaching that has gotten some traction lately  that allows students and learners to learn at their own pace. The entire course is technically online via a tablet, but the learning still happens in a classroom. Student who prefer to learn on their own, completely without guidance, can do so. Students can still engage the teacher with questions and clarifications, and students can even work in groups if that is their preference and learning style. This approach caters to most learning styles, preferences, and the technology aides in allowing access to a more broad range of learners.

What does any of this has to do with games in education? Everything! There is such a stigma against technology and screens when it comes to the perception of an ideal educational setting, that implementing helpful technological advanced is hindered. This includes using technological advancements in a gamified way that can help learners obtain knowledge in new and effective ways.

All of the research I have gathered have indicated that the potential for proving gamification is a positive addition to the educational curriculum, but shy away from definitely stating the correlation. Instead, all the research has stated that there needs to be more research to come to any conclusion. It makes sense, this topic being in its infancy. But with the rise of technological tools, the research is absolutely necessary in the next 5 years. Much of the existing studies indicate a trend towards an increase in information-retention, inclusiveness, participation and teamwork. I thoroughly enjoyed the TedTalk from Scott Hebert:


In addition to the stigma against technology and screens, there is a huge stigma against play after like, grade 5, as Scott mentioned in the video above. Why does learning have to be so serious? You are not going to enjoy learning, and therefore not be as invested to remember or even care about anything that was taught.

Now, there are "gamification" opportunities in education that have absolutely nothing to do with technology. For example, I will always remember how to write clear concise instructions when my father, an English teacher of 35 years, had an assignment where we had to give instructions to a robot as to how to make a peanut butter, mayo and pickle sandwich. (which is delicious by the way)  He would then try, acting like a robot, to make the sandwich per the instructions. This resulted in some pretty hilarious antics in his classroom, such as sandwich stabbing, jar breaking (you had to be specific about how to "open" the jar) spilling of mayo everywhere, simply because the instructions were vague or not precise enough. I also remember who got the closest to a good sandwich result (spoiler alert, it was not me). It turned in to a competition, and I learned so much. Did not involve computers, but it did involve a game.



The reason that gamification and technology are synonymous, is that for everyone to be able to access materials, technological assistance is the first logical step. It allows learners to connect with their classmates to participate in the lesson, as well as connect and share with the online world as a whole. It also allows students and participants that may not have the same equitable access as others to participate on an almost even-footing.

While gamification is a fantastic addition to any educational curriculum, it is important to not add the fancy bells and whistles just for the chance to say you added fancy bells and whistles, but use tools as tools to help the content. Using gamification just so you can say you use gamification is not a good strategy. What part of the curriculum can be bettered with an educational tool like gamification? What problems in the curriculum can be fixed by using a different educational format?