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Math Mania Back to School Challenge

What it is: Math Mania Back to School Challenge is a FREE 48 hour math competition hosted by Voyager.  Voyager also holds the World Math Day competition each year, Math Mania is a similar competition. Students compete against other students in real time using the Vmath Live math program.  This challenge is limited to 2nd through 8th grade students in Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas who are registered by September 14th.  Other Math Mania challenges will follow (different dates depending on US state) so if your school isn’t in a state listed above, check out the Math Mania website to find out when your challenge will take place.  Although the official competition is September 15-16, students can begin practicing on VmathLive as soon as they are registered.  Prizes include student and school trophies and plaques, on-site pizza parties, visits from Vbot, and a champion hall banner awarded to the top overall performing school.  Awards will be given to the top 10 students overall, the top 5 classes,  and the top 3 schools. How to integrate Math Mania Back to School Challenge into the classroom: You have never seen students so excited to practice math facts!   Students face off with other students from around the world practicing their math facts.  The live competition with students from around the world is highly motivating and has students asking “can I play this at home?”  When have you ever had students ask to practice their math facts?!  Reserve a computer lab for September 15th and 16th so that your students can take part in the competition.  In the mean time, students can be practicing for the competition by playing on VmathLive in a computer lab setting or as a center activity on classroom computers. Tips: If your state is not listed above, be sure to visit the VmathLive site to find out when your Math Mania challenge will be held.  Print out the fliers from the VmathLive and post around your school to raise interest and excitement about the competition. Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Math Mania Back to School Challenge  in your classroom.

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Wordsmyth- outstanding illustrated e-dictionary

Posted by admin | Posted in Foreign Language, Inquiry, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Websites | Posted on 16-11-2013

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iLearn Technology: Wordsmyth- illustrated e-dictionary

What it is: Wordsmyth is a fantastic online dictionary for kids.  WILD is Wordsmyth’s Illustrated Learner’s Dictionary.  It is a truly well done young reader’s dictionary for k-3 readers or ELL students.  WILD is a simple-to-use visual dictionary that includes definitions for 1500 words, developmentally appropriate sentences for each word and for each meaning of the word, integrated visual environments that help kids really explore language, audio for each word, and fun activities that promote literacy.  Wordsmyth has a dictionary for intermediate elementary and middle school students called Word Explorer Children’s Dictionary.  The Word Explorer includes a related-words feature where students can see concept maps, easy-to-read and understand definition, word histories, Language Notes, and thousands of images and animations to help students build literacy. Finally, Wordsmyth has a comprehensive dictionary suite with easy to read entries and definitions, illustrations, synonyms/similar words/antonyms under each definition, audio pronunciation and thousands more images.  Wordsmyth has different options for use.  There is a free subscription available to everyone that will allow students to freely access all 3 dictionary suites, advanced search options, puzzles, words of the day, look up history, customized pronunciation and dictionary formats, and a glossary maker.  MOST of the site is totally free to use with the free registration!  For $9.95/year, you can also purchase an individual subscription that gives some additional features such as the ability to customize the dictionary and gain access to premium features.

An educational subscription allows access to ALL tools including teacher tools.  Best of all, it is FREE for schools for the 2013-2014 school year.  Worth taking advantage of this option!

How to integrate Wordsmyth into your classroom: I’m seriously impressed with the Wordsmyth dictionaries.  They are truly an impressive option for a digital dictionary in the classroom.  The downfall of this site: the illustrated dictionary (WILD) is flash-based.  This means that it is not easily accessible on iDevices in the classroom.  It also means that it takes a bit to load each page if your Internet connection isn’t great.  

What I appreciate about this dictionary, is the accessibility for emerging readers, non-readers, or ELL/ESL students.  The dictionary is really easy to use, the definitions are easy to understand, and the accompanying audio and images are fantastic!

If you have a dedicated writing space in your classroom, make sure to include Wordsmyth in it.  Bookmark it on classroom computers, send it home to parents, include it on your classroom blog/website, etc.  This is a wonderful place for kids to be empowered during their writing and literacy time.

If you are lucky enough to have a 1:1 device setting, this site is worth making a web clip for to make it easily accessible to everyone.

Right now our students are inquiring into how we express ourselves.  Our intermediate students are looking at different mediums and methods that people use for self-expression.  Part of that exploration has led them into a study of words.  Wordsmyth is a great way for them to explore in a place that is developmentally appropriate and helps them see the way that language is connected and can be used for expression.

Wordsmyth has words separated by topic.  As you begin a new unit, give students the opportunity to explore the vocabulary on the front end.  You can do this as a class using a projector or interactive whiteboard or individually on classroom/personal devices.  As you go through a class book or unit together, create a custom glossary that students can refer to.

Tips: Be sure to sign up for the free educational group subscription for the 2013-2014 school year.  With the subscription you get unlimited making/using/saving/sharing activities, customize the dictionary, access premium dictionary features, and access to the teacher tools.

What do you think of Wordsmyth?  How do you plan to use it in your classroom?

Comments (1)

I have a class of students with language impairments. The collections tab is a great tool for them because it allows them to make connections between the word categories. I plan to have them use that to include words in their personal dictionary so they can find them easier. Their spelling is often very phonetic so using a regular dictionary doesn’t help because their sounds are so off. I also plan on sharing with our ESL teacher. Thanks so much for sharing!

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