An edublog about integrating technology into the classroom.
What it is: Whiz Kids is a new site developed for autistic children. It was designed to give these kids a fun place to develop life skills. All of the games and videos have high production values, making them engaging and impressive, they feel as though you have stepped into a Pixar movie. Through this one portal, you get 16 interactive and therapeutic games. The games help kids develop essential life skills like empathy, recognizing emotion, making decisions, coping with change, transactions, non-verbal gestures, grouping, schedules, finding a route, and making eye contact. Although these games were specifically developed for children with autism, they are wonderful for primary elementary students and ELL students as well.
How to integrate Whiz Kids into the classroom: Whiz Kids has an incredible back story, the site was created by more 80 students 8 lecturers and 10 autism specialists, the project represents more than 16,000 hours of research and development. The games are tailored to fit the needs of autistic children. If you teach autistic children, these games will help them develop important life skills that will aid them when interacting with classmates. The games would be great for classroom computers as a center activity. Help other students in your classroom understand how they can help the autistic children in the classroom by having them play the Whiz Kids games as well. This will give your students a shared vocabulary and experience to draw on when they are working and playing together in the classroom. Because the games focus so much on character development, they are appropriate for any primary classroom. Help your students learn about complex human interactions like empathy, non-verbal communication, and coping with change through game play. The games can be played and discussed as a whole class using an interactive whiteboard or projector connected computer, or they can be played independently at a computer center, or a computer lab. After playing the game, practice the skill taught as a class. For example, if students play Robbie the Robot and are practicing recognizing emotion and facial expressions, follow up by asking students to work with a partner making faces and naming the emotion. ELL students can use Whiz Kids to develop character related vocabulary and understanding.
Tips: On the Whiz Kids sister site, Autism Games, teachers can get more information about individual games and how to use them with students. Each game is categorized based on the life skill that it teaches. The game descriptions and suggestions are fantastic.
Please leave a comment and share how you are using Whiz Kids in your classroom.
What it is: What makes technology SO great is the way that it can make life (and teaching) more productive and fun. Over the years, I have found so many ways that technology can make reading more rewarding for both kids who love to read, and kids who dread reading. Today, I created an “Extreme Speed Booking” website for @michellek107′s class at Anastasis. I created the site quickly using Weebly, an awesome WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) website editor. Drag and drop website building is where it is at! The idea behind the site is to introduce students to a variety of books and form classroom book groups. How does Extreme Speed Booking work? A whole lot like speed dating. 🙂 Students spend a little time with each book and then rate them accordingly with “I want to read more”, “Interesting”, “Not for me”, or “I’ve already read”. Students can also make a note of how interested they are in reading the book (maybe a 1-10 scale)? This process introduces students to a variety of books, genres and authors. Students may come across titles and authors they wouldn’t otherwise find. It also helps teachers form classroom book groups that are of high-interest and investment to students because they had input.
For our purposes at Anastasis, I created the Weebly website with a link to the “look inside” on Amazon. Because all of our students have an iPad, this was the simplest way to get the book preview into the hands of the students. Don’t have technology? No problem! Just make sure that you have enough copies of books so that each student can sit with the physical book during the Extreme Speed Booking sessions. If you have classroom computers, you can do a blend of both.
Explain to your students that they will have 2 minutes with each book. During that time, they can choose to read the introduction or first chapter, read the book jacket, or flip through and look at chapter titles and pictures. The goal during this time is to discover whether this is a book that they would like to read. It is okay if it isn’t a book they would want to read…the goal is to find out which book they are most excited about. After the two minutes is up, sound a bell that signifies it is time to switch. Before they switch, students can quickly make a note of the Title and rate the book. Continue on until students have had 2 minutes with each book. Collect the notes students have made and formulate book groups based on interest in the book.
I’ve added a few extra pages to our Extreme Speed Booking website including places where students can explore other books that they may like to read (Shelfari and Book Wink). I’ve also added a form that book groups can fill out as they are reading. The form gets emailed directly to the teacher. Our students will probably be blogging quite a bit of reflection about their reading. I thought it might also be useful to have a place for groups to answer questions, make comments, or update their teacher with their progress as a group.
@michellek107 created a Google form for her students to fill out while they are speed booking. Great idea! She is so smart. This will make it easy to collect all of the responses in one place to form groups.
Suggestions for books:
Choose books from a variety of levels, make sure you have a few book options for each reading level in your classroom.
Choose a variety of authors and genres, this is a great way to expose students to authors and genres they don’t normally seek out on their own.
Set up classroom computers with some book trailer videos from a site like Book Wink…this is a great “introduction” to a book or genre and acts much like a movie trailer.
Choose a variety of books from ONE author. After students have completed reading in their smaller groups, they can come back together and do an author study as a whole class; each group contributing something a little different.
Choose a variety of books from ONE genre. Students can read books in the smaller groups but discuss common features of the genre as a class.
Choose a variety of books on a similar topic. Students can read books in the smaller groups and then discuss the different character perspectives, author approaches, etc. This would be really neat to do with historical fiction, Holocaust fiction, etc.
Use non-fiction books that reinforce topics and themes that you are using in other academic areas.
Use biographies of presidents, change makers, authors, etc. Students can learn about a specific person in the smaller reading group and share what they have learned with the larger group later.
Tips:Extreme Speed Booking is a lot of fun with tech, but equally doable without tech! If you have access to a 1-1 tech environment, or can reserve the computer lab for a round of speed booking, you can use my technique above. Weebly makes it very easy to do this!
If you haven’t already, check out Shelfari and create a virtual bookshelf of book recommendations for your class or school. You can see our Shelfari shelf for Anastasis below. If you teach 3rd-12th grade it is worth checking out Book Wink!