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Faux Paw and the Dangerous Download

What it is: I love iKeep Safe and have blogged about it in the past as an excellent introduction and support for Internet Safety.  I learned today about a new Faux Paw book and video called “Faux Paw and the Dangerous Download”.  In Faux Paw the Techno Cat’s new adventure, she learns...

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News-O-Matic: New non-fiction delivered to your classroom every day!

Posted by admin | Posted in Geography, Government, History, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 14-07-2014

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News-O-Matic: New non-fiction delivered to your class every day!

What it is: Press 4 Kids, News-O-Matic is both a subscription-based app and a free daily email delivered in pdf format. News-O-Matic is a fantastic current event, news source for elementary students. It is a great resource for fresh, non-fiction material for your classroom. Recall, discussion, and comprehension questions are included in each News-O-Matic. You can purchase an app subscription for your class in the 1:1 iDevice setting, or you can subscribe for the FREE daily school edition which is delivered by email. The PDF can be printed out to share with your students, or to keep your class paperless, you can share it on an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.

How to integrate News-O-Matic in your classroom: News-O-Matic delivers a daily newspaper written especially for elementary-age students. Each edition comes with 5 current-event, news stories that cover the latest news, science, sports, and wacky kids stories. Students get a chance to not only read the news, but also rate articles, submit questions, and submit their drawings. News-O-Matic is  a great way to keep your students reading regularly. Each day they will get engaging non-fiction reading that helps build a global perspective. Use News-O-Matic daily, as a class discussion starter. Challenge your students to make connections between the current events they are reading about, and the learning they are doing in class. Integrate geography study with reading each day. If you have a classroom map, put a place marker on it each time you read an article that is location specific. This could also be done virtually with Google Earth. This practice will help students visualize where each event takes place, while at the same time building geography skills.

Tips: All publications are ad free, so you never have to worry about inappropriate content.

The school app edition of News-O-Matic is $9.99 and can be found here.

Hooda Math: math fact practice that feels like fun

Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, Knowledge (remember), Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Websites | Posted on 09-06-2014

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Hooda Math: Practice math facts and have fun

Flappy factors: learn math playing games

What it is:  Hooda Math is a fantastic collection of math games that give students the opportunity for math fact practice while having fun. The games are based on other addicting games like Flappy Birds and 2048. Instead of just playing the games to see how far they can get, students also get some built-in fact practice. For example, in Flappy Factors, students maneuver a bird through a maze of pipes. Each pipe has an integer on it, students must fly through the correct factor of a target multiple that is given. Students must avoid the pipe with the incorrect integer. As students advance through the game, a progress report is generated that can be emailed to a teacher or a parent. The Hooda Math site has been created for a variety of platforms…perfect for a BYOD classroom!

How to use Hooda Math in your classroom: Hooda Math is organized by category types: Mobile games, Shopkeeper games, Geometry games, Logic games, Number games, Physics Games, Growing games, Building games, and Escape games. The games can also be organized by grade level, subject, or category. There are over 500 games in all, ensuring something for everyone in kindergarten through high school.

Students at Anastasis LOVE mobile games. When Flappy Birds came out, they were often spending hours (truly!) playing these games in their free time. Hooda Math games are a great way for students to practice math facts and skills while they are playing. Math becomes significantly less challenging when facts become second nature. Hooda Math games are a great way for students to practice their math facts without hours of flash cards. Math practice becomes fun and the challenge is not just in figuring out the trick to the game, it is also unlocking the building blocks of math.

When I taught a computer class, I often had students lament that they would NEVER be able to learn to touch type. I often asked these students, “do you play video games? Do you have to look at the controller when you play to see what to press next?” They always answered, “No! I would lose if I had to look at the controller.” I would follow-up by asking them how they memorized what to do to the controller to win. Light. Bulb. Moment. The same is true for these math games. Students can play these games like they would other popular games, if they know their math facts, they are more likely to “live” longer and win the game.

I learned my math facts when my third grade teacher made up rhymes and a Chinese jumprope game where you had to know your facts to stay “in.” We learned our multiplication tables in no time! (If anyone knows this game, I would LOVE to remember how to play it, leave the link/directions in a comment below.) I suspect that Hooda Math games could have the same outcomes for your students. When the facts are the key to winning, there is a different motivation to know them (beyond just completing the worksheet/test).

In a one to one device environment, students can play the games that build skills where they need them. Students can play at their own level. In the one or two computer classroom, use Hooda Math as a math center rotation. Students can travel from center to center in small groups and take turns playing the games that meet their individual needs.

Be sure to pass on Hooda Math to your student’s families. It is a great way to practice at home and over summer break.

Tips: Don’t forget to have your students send you the progress report at the end. This helps you keep track of their progress without the need for worksheets.

Are you using Hooda Math in your classroom? Leave a comment below and share the ways that you use it with students!

Rodan + Fields Consultant

Fluency Finder App: Updated with new features!

Posted by admin | Posted in Classroom Management, Interactive book, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 21-08-2013

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Normally I post all of my app posts at my other blog, iPad Curriculum.  Because iDevices are becoming SO common place as a technology in the classroom, I’m going to start posting them here as well.  If you just want apps, head over to iPad Curriculum and you can search apps only!  Just like iLearn Technology, you can search any app by Bloom’s Taxonomy level.  All of the websites I share on iLearn Technology are completely FREE, the apps I review tend to be a mix of free and paid apps.  At the bottom of each post, I share the cost of the app.


Screen Shot 2013-03-04 at 2.29.31 PMFluency Finder

What it is: In the US it is back to school time!  I love these first days of school when you get to meet a new group of students and uncover their passions, strengths and weaknesses.  Fluency is one of those measures that is great to have from the beginning of the year because it means that we as teachers are armed with the background knowledge to help build reading confidence in students.   You can easily find and track fluency rates so that you have more time to help students strengthen reading skills and find books that are confidence-building and enjoyable for them.  I have written about Fluency Finder before (here), but I’m writing about it again because they have just come out with some great new features worth another mention!  Fluency Finder now has a data-sharing email function so that you can share fluency results with all stakeholders easily.  Comprehension questions have been built-in so now you have a one-step fluency and reading comprehension assessment.  Very handy!  Reading passages are being updated with a snapshot list so that you can quickly compare passages.  32 brand new passages are also being added from literary classics for 1st-8th grade reading levels.

 

I like Fluency Finder because of the way that it instantly calculates results and then stores them in your Student Record for instant access.  Really handy when you are in the library with students and want to quickly remind yourself of their current fluency levels to assist them in selecting the perfect, not-to-hard-book that will keep them reading with enjoyment.

How to integrate Fluency Finder app into the classroom:

Fluency Finder makes it simple to assess reading fluency in 1st-8th grade reading levels.  To get started:

  • Add students to the app
  • Select an appropriate grade level passage for the student to read
  • Print the passage from the www.fluencyfinder.com website (students could also read from their own iDevice or computer if you want to save paper)
  • Begin assessment, start the app timer as the student begins reading
  • Student will read from printed passage as you follow on your iDevice marking any mistakes
  • Tap the (+) button when student makes a reading mistake
  • Tap the (-) button if the student self-corrects a mistake
  • End the timer when the student finishes
  • Tap the “finish assessment” button to instantly see results

Now instead of focusing so much on keeping track of the fluency and score, you can focus on what actually matters: listening for fluency, comprehension and expression.

Being a paperless school, we are LOVING this option for helping students choose books that are at a level that is “just right.”  It gives us the opportunity to help students hunt down the perfect amount of challenge and really focus on a story they can love.  We are all about encouraging an absolute love of reading!

Screen Shot 2013-03-04 at 2.29.58 PM

Tips: Target Fluency Rates

First Grade: 60-70 wpm

Second Grade: 80-95 wpm

Third Grade: 100-120 wpm

Fourth Grade: 120-135 wpm

Fifth Grade: 130-145 wpm

Sixth Grade: 140-150 wpm

Seventh Grade: 150-160 wpm

Eighth Grade 160-175 wpm

Cost$6.99 (iTunes link)

Compatible with: iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.3 or later

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Fluency Finder in your classroom.

Shocking! The real purpose of your life! or What are we preparing for?

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, education reform, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, video | Posted on 26-11-2012

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Today @lancefinkbeiner shared this video with me.  It is too good not to share!  Now…how to make this the reality of what learning is really about in schools.  I can’t tell you how often in education that the answer for why something is done is, “we are preparing kids for…”  For example, we give 3 hours of homework to elementary students because we are “preparing them for middle school.”   In middle school we give additional homework and weekly tests because we are “preparing them for high school.”  High school has it’s own set of ridiculous standards in preparation for college.

My question: when are we preparing kids for life?  When are we preparing them to engage in the world around them?  When are we preparing them for healthy relationships with others?  When are we preparing them to ask good questions and seek answers?  When are we preparing them for what to do with failure?

The problem for preparing kids for the next system they will encounter is that the next system isn’t really the goal.  That goal is this imaginary place we call “success” and “perfection”.  Neither exist.  How do we prepare kids to live honest, meaningful lives?  THAT is what I am interested in preparing for.

ScootPad: self-paced learning

Posted by admin | Posted in iPod, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 26-09-2012

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What it is:  ScootPad is a really neat site that recognize that no two students are alike and that they will master skills in different ways.  ScootPad helps students gain mastery through gradual and thorough practice that is personalized to teach the student.  This personalized practice helps build confidence in learning and keeps students moving forward at a pace that is appropriate to them.  Students can expect a fun learning environment.  Teachers can expect automated practice, real-time progress tracking and assessments that will help you to formulate next steps for students.

All curriculum is based on Common Core Standards, including math and English/language arts for k-5 classrooms.  For students in kindergarten or first grade, there is a voice/read-aloud feature.

The ConceptBank is a free app for Common Core standards and concept review.

Teachers can easily manage a classroom of students from the teacher dashboard.  Curriculum can be customized for a class, group of students or for each student individually.

Parents have access to all of their child’s progress and alerts.  They can encourage their child using customizable rewards.

Best of all…ScootPad is FREE!

How to integrate ScootPad into your curriculum: ScootPad is a really fantastic website for k-5 students and teachers.  Here, students can get personalized practice for learning new concepts.  Teachers and parents receive immediate data about a student’s progress.

ScootPad is a great first step to personalizing the learning experience for students.  I like that it is cross-platform so that it could be easily incorporated into a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) classroom.  Regardless of what device students are using, ScootPad works for them.

Scoot Pad is really a practice site that helps you to inform instruction based on student needs.  The practice is all drill based (not a lot of room for critical thinking or different ways of showing what a student knows) but this could be a great benchmark tool to help you understand where students have strengths and weaknesses in their learning.

Tips: ScootPad is available as an app for the iPad, Android, Chrome, Mac, Windows, Edmodo,  and Schoolology.  Like I said, it is perfect for a BYOD environment!

***Want to do your part as a CHANGE MAKER in personalized education?  Check out, support and spread the word about the Learning Genome Project!

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

Mangahigh: k-12 math games

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Evaluate, Knowledge (remember), Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 13-10-2011

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What it is:  The title of this post is a little underwhelming- I had a hard time expressing ALL that this site does in one line.  Mangahigh is a game based learning site where students can learn all about math. What is unique about Mangahigh math learning games is the way that the learning topics are addressed.  These aren’t your typical drill/skill math games that only address the four basic operations or introductory algebra skills.  The games adapt in difficulty to student levels as they play.  Games continue to challenge students without getting too difficult too quickly and frustrating kids.  The Mangahigh games encourage students to observe, hypothesize, test, evaluate and conclude. All games are based on the Common Core standards making it easy to integrate the games into your current curriculum.  Teachers get their very own login to Mangahigh where they can assign challenges, track student progress and use the games as a form of formative assessment.  The mathematics topic in Mangahigh are geared for elementary, middle and high school students (I am a big fan of site that meet a variety of ages and needs!).

How to integrate Mangahigh into the classroom:  Mangahigh is a great way to shake up your math classroom while injecting it with a big dose of fun, discovery and challenge.  The best way to use Mangahigh is in a one-to-one setting where each student has access to the Mangahigh site.  This makes it easy for students to work at their own pace and for you to track progress.

Mangahigh would be a great way to tailor what your students are working on so that each child is getting challenged at the level they need.  Use the built-in analytics to help inform decisions about where to go next with your students.

Don’t have access to a one-to-one environment?  Don’t discount Mangahigh yet.  The site could be used in a one or two computer classroom as a math center.  Rotate your students through the center throughout the week.  Those who have computers at home can continue the learning there.  Mangahigh would be a great way for students to continue their learning.

Tips: Do you have a pen pal or collaborating school?  Mangahigh will let your students engage in a Fai-To where they can have a friendly little math smack down competition.

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

Story Time for Me: Digital Children’s Books

Posted by admin | Posted in Character Education, Create, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 11-04-2011

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Online Children's Stories

What it is: Story Time for Me is a beautiful collection of digital children’s books for primary students in kindergarten through second grade.  Each story includes charming illustrations, animation and professional narration with music and sound effects.  Activities accompany every story that encourage imagination and creativity (these are coming soon!).  The stories have been developed to teach important values through positive moral themes.   Story Time for Me currently has a library of over 30 books and growing.  Next Friday (April 22, 2011) Story Time for Me will be launching free personalized activity books where students can become the star of a book.

Students can choose to read each story with or without narration, with or without animation and choose to highlight the words as they are read.

I can’t tell you how impressed I am with this free digital story site.  It expands your classroom library, encourages a focus on character development and invigorates children to read more.

How to integrate Story Time for Me into the classroom: Story Time for Me expands your classroom library with winsome digital stories that your students will love.  Story Time for Me makes a great reading center on classroom computers. Because students have the option to read with narration or independently, it meets the needs of both strong and developing.  Each story reinforces positive character education values often dealing with friendship.  These stories are a wonderful way to begin class discussions about friendship and empathy with students.  If you have an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer, the stories can be used as a whole-class “big book”.

When the personalized versions are available, give your students the opportunity to star in their own story.  These personalized stories would make a fun beginning of the year activity as a way to welcome students to a new grade, or end the school year with a personalized story they can enjoy all summer.

Tips: I learned about Story Time for Me from @2sparkley’s blog, Bits and Pieces Place.  If it isn’t a blog you subscribe to, it should be!

Story Time for Me is completely free, the more visitors they can attract the more stories they will be able to add to the library. You can help them by spreading the word to family and friends on Twitter, Facebook, and blogs.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Story Time for Me in your classroom!

Word Girl Definition Competition: Live vocabulary game show!

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, collaboration, Fun & Games, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Spelling, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Web2.0 | Posted on 17-03-2011

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What it is: Mark your calendars now for the Word Girl Definition Competition on April 27, 2011; this is a live vocabulary event being hosted by Scholastic and is free to participate in!  You must register by April 22 to recieve your webcast event kit, participate in the definition competition, and be entered for a chance to win books and Word Girl prizes.  The Word Girl Definition Competition is a fun way to engage students with vocabulary words in a fun, interactive context.  The competition includes a 30 minute live webcast where students will enrich their vocabulary and have fun.  This will also be the kick off to the Scholastic summer challenge to get students excited about books and reading throughout the summer.

The competition is made up of 3 rounds plus a bonus round.  The competition will be in game-show format, students will be challenged to work those vocabulary skills as they answer questions pertaining to word usage, definitions, using words in different contexts, and reading comprehension.  Your students will play along with the game in real time by submitting answers online during the webcast and may be called out during the event.  This event will help your students understand the meaning of words, use context clues for correct word usage, leverage visuals to define words, draw on existing vocabulary knowledge, and present vocabulary words in varied and interesting ways.  Fun right?!

How to integrate Word Girl Definition Competition into the classroom: This one is a no brainer, if you teach elementary students this is an event that your class should participate in.  Word Girl making vocabulary fun as it is, combine that with a fun LIVE game show format and you have got yourself a winner.  This would be a great event to involve your students in and will have them flexing those vocabulary muscles.  I love that this competition isn’t just focused on definitions but on helping students learn strategies for decoding words using visualization strategies and context clues…those are skills that can be easily transferred!  Sign up your students today to participate in this fun, friendly competition!

Prior to the competition, build up some excitement and squeeze in some extra vocabulary practice by giving your students the opportunity to play on the Word Girl website.  This could be done as a center in the classroom or in a one to one environment.

Tips: If you aren’t familiar with the Word Girl website, be sure to check it out here.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Word Girl in your classroom!

Draw That Habitat

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Art, Create, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 24-02-2011

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What it is: I am a fan of everything PBS does, recently I ran across this gem while looking for some activities that help students learn about habitats.  Draw that Habitat is SO much more engaging than most of the “match the animal to the correct habitat” lower level thinking “games” (if you can call them that) that are out there.  In Draw that Habitat, students are introduced to imaginary animals.  They are briefed on the animal and its needs and are then given drawing tools to create a habitat.  Each month a new imaginary animal is introduced. This month’s challenge is an animal called a Flarch.  During the activity students learn that a habitat is a place that an animal lives where they get food and water, find shelter, search for a mate, and raise babies.  Students are asked to think about how and where the imaginary animal gets food and water, where it keeps safe from weather and other animals, etc.  What I love about this activity is that it calls on student’s creativity and imaginations.  They are asked to come up with a solution for an imaginary animal and in the process learn about habitats, camouflage, and adaptation.  When students are finished with their habitat, they can share it with other students and view and rate the habitats that others have created.

How to integrate Draw That Habitat into the classroom: Draw that Habitat is a great little activity for primary students who are learning about habitats, camouflage, and adaptations. It is probably best to use Draw that Habitat after students have a general understanding of what a habitat is.  This is a place where they can solidify that understanding and expand on what they have learned by creating something new.  I like the abstract nature of the activity, they aren’t creating a habitat for a known, real animal; instead, students are coming up with new solutions based on some key information they are given.  This gives students a chance to think critically, problem solve, and use some creativity and imagination.

In a one to one setting where each student has access to a computer, each student can create a habitat for the month’s challenge.  When students are finished, have a class parade, where students walk through and view the different solutions that classmates came up with.  Students can explain why they made the choices they did and see what other solutions might work.

In a one or two computer classroom, students can visit Draw that Habitat as a learning center in small groups.  Students at the learning center can each contribute to the habitat.

If you don’t have access to computers for students to visit, create a class habitat using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computers.  Each student in the class can add to the habitat and describe how their contribution is important for the animal who lives in the habitat.

As an extension activity, students can write a story about the imaginary animal and its habitat.

This site is intended for younger students (early elementary), but don’t discount it’s usefulness in upper-grades.  I find that when drawing-coloring are involved, students of all ages get excited about it- I have had 6th graders jump on this site and have a great time creating a habitat (they were jealous the younger kids got to do the activity and they didn’t- reminding me once again that kids like opportunities to play and be creative!).

Tips: Students can save the habitat they create offline as a .jpg file.  Click the “save” button to download.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Draw that Habitat in your classroom!

LEGO Education Magazine-Free!

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Create, History, Interactive book, Knowledge (remember), Math, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources | Posted on 15-12-2010

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What it is: LEGO Education has some truly fantastic resources for classrooms.  LEGO Club In-School Edition Magazines are free to schools and designed for first, second, third, and fourth grade students. The 2011 LEGO Club In-School Magazines have two themes: Ancient Egypt and Space Exploration.  The magazines can be ordered in two versions.  For first grade students, LEGO Club Junior includes puzzles, easy-to-read comics, and fun building challenges.  For students in second, third, and fourth grade, LEGO Club focuses on basic reading, critical thinking games, and building ideas.  Each magazine comes with a custom teacher’s guide that include fun hands-on activities, classroom tidbits, and articles about how to create a LEGO Smart classroom for your students.

How to integrate LEGO Education Magazine into your curriculum: These fun magazines will have your students learning about and exploring Ancient Egypt and Space Exploration in new hands-on ways.  Your students will love the building challenges, comics and reading material, and activities that pique their curiosity.  Use the LEGO Club Magazine as an introduction to a unit on Space or Ancient Egypt, or offer the activities in the magazine as extension activities.

Tips: Magazines are packaged in groups of 50, 100, and 200. Consider ordering the magazine for the entire grade or school.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using LEGO Education Magazine in  your classroom!