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BrainNook: Virtual Learning World for Elementary Students

What it is: BrainNook is a virtual world for kids where they can develop math and English skills while playing in the free online playground.  There are over a hundred education games packed into the BrainNook virtual world, all of them are based on foundational math, English, and grammar concepts.  The math games cover concepts from single digit addition to 3D spatial visualization.  English games cover everything from building simple sentences to counting syllables.  The games are all woven into a fun virtual world that students can explore and unlock.  BrainNook also strengthens students reading, reasoning, decision-making skills, analysis, and computer literacy.  Students choose a character (alien) and name, when they enter BrainNook for the first time, they are dropped onto Earth where their spaceship has crashed. They are greeted by an earthling named Bella who teaches them how to navigate the world, and earn stars by playing games. The stars that are earned can be used to buy back spaceship parts.   Students can travel to several locations within the virtual world that are based on real-life regions of the Earth  Students learn about each region through trivia, question popups, and local artifacts. In each world students can play math and English games with other players in the safe online environment. As they build up their skills, new worlds will be unlocked and they can buy items from the local market or work on assembling their spaceship by assembling puzzles.  The games in BrainNook are scaffolded so it adjusts to students ability level as they progress.  Games can be played individually or in head-to-head competition. Because this site is geared toward elementary students, no personal information or personal messages are included in the virtual world. How to integrate BrainNook into the classroom: BrainNook is a brilliant virtual world for elementary students in first through fifth grade.  The virtual world allows students to learn and practice math and English skills at their own pace, and at their own unique level.  The games are great for building and reinforcing foundational learning skills.  Because the game progresses as students do, students could continue on in their virtual world throughout their elementary school experience.  BrainNook is ideal as a computer lab activity or in a 1 to 1 situation.  If you don’t have time to use BrainNook as a virtual world for each student, consider signing up for an account yourself that can be used as a class account.  Review the games that match up with skills students are learning in class and have the whole class play the games using an interactive whiteboard or on classroom computers as a center.  Make sure to tell parents about BrainNook, this is a fun way for students to get extra math and grammar practice at home. Tips: If students sign up for an individual account, they will need a parent’s email address validated before play.  BrainNook also has a school account option that you can learn about here. Please leave a comment and share how you are using BrainNook in your classroom.

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Codecademy: Learn how to code

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Create, Interactive book, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Websites | Posted on 05-01-2012

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What it is:  Codecademy makes learning to code a snap.  It is an interactive, fun way to learn coding one step at a time.  The site will prepare students to program websites, games and apps.  Learn independently or with friends, keeping track of their progress and comparing it with yours.  Students can track and share their progress to see how much they have learned and to stay motivated.  The platform could not be simpler to use and after just a few lessons…I’m starting to really understand and get the hang of programming.  I think that is pretty impressive considering that I have never had a lesson before now (not entirely true, a few years ago I went through the learn C in 24 hours course…I could follow along but didn’t really understand what I was doing.)!
How to integrate Codecademy into the classroom: With the popularity of apps, I have students who are just itching to learn how to program.  It is great to see boys and girls of all ages excited about learning how to code.  Codecademy is something that you can use to learn right along with your students.  You don’t have to be the expert because Codecademy guides everyone step-by-step through lessons and lets everyone move at a pace that is comfortable to them.  If your students can read, they can learn to code with Codecademy.  Today, a fourth grader at Anastasis started going through Codecademy lessons and quickly surpassed me.  His excitement was evident as he figured out variables in lines of code, how to set off an alert or command.  What I love about using Codecademy as a class or school is that students can work together, encourage and challenge each other.  When students hit certain lessons, they unlock new badges to display.
Codeacademy’s obvious use is to learn how to code.  For students who are passionate about gaming, websites, and programming this is a great sandbox to learn in.  Students get immediate feedback about the code they are writing.  Start a class club where students learn how to code together.  Use some time each week to learn to code with students, you could set the goal of learning to code together over the course of the year.
Codecademy is great for students who are reluctant to read but love technology.  This reading is for a purpose and students love it!  With Codecademy, getting an online education has never been so much fun!
Tips: Codecademy has created a new site called Code Year.  Make your New Year’s resolution to learn to code and sign up for Code Year.  Each week, you will get a new interactive lesson delivered to you via email.  By the end of the year you (or your students) will be lean, mean coding machines!  So cool!  I’m taking the challenge with several interested students and am looking forward to learning something new this year!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Code Year in  your classroom!

Comments (3)

LOVE THIS! I know HTML but have always wanted to learn other code. My son just learned Java in HS and he wants to learn C now. Great resource! Thanks for sharing!

Love it! Needed this site back in 1996–when I was learning HTML! Great tool to teach kids behind the scene web activity and start creating cool sites.

Thanks

Love your tips on integrating it into the classroom. There’s really a lot of room for improvement in teaching computer skills, especially programming, in the classroom and I hope teachers put this to good use.

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