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Skratch Track

What it is: Skratch Track is an amazing virtual bookshelf for primary students.  It uses the same idea behind Shelfari, giving students a virtual bookshelf where they can track which books they are reading, rate the book, write a little synopsis of the book, and even turn in a virtual book report to...

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Snap! Digital Reading Program: 128 leveled readers

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

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Snap! Digital Reader Library iLearn Technology

What it is: Snap! Digital Reading Program is a set of interactive leveled books that can be printed, viewed on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire, interactive whiteboards or classroom computer.  All of the books in the program have been developed to help teachers meet requirements in the Common Core Standards in vocabulary and comprehension through the use of direct instruction, close reading, modeling, guided and independent practice, and text-dependent questioning.  Each leveled reader has a digital interactive version that includes fluency exercises, comprehension and multiple-choice type assessments.  As your students read, you can track what they are reading, view the digital assessments and performance reports.  These reports include information about CLOZE scores, multiple choice scores, and fluency.  You can also see information about the  last book they read (word counts, difficulty, words read correctly, etc.).  Snap! Digital Reading Program also includes lesson plans associated with each book.  While the program isn’t a free one, a year-long subscription to all materials (interactive ebooks for student, printable PDF versions of the books/lessons/other materials, and the data analytics for all of your students is just $89.  Pretty reasonable for access for every student in your class!

How to use the Snap! Digital Reading Program in your classroom: I’ve mentioned this before, but it is worth repeating: when you have a limited classroom library (due to space, as a new teacher, budget, etc.) ebooks are such a great way to instantly expand that library exponentially!  Snap! helps you do that and more.  Not only are you able to offer your students additional access to reading material, they have the added benefit of getting interactive books that give you data so that you can better guide students in choosing books that will help them fall in love with reading.  The readers can also be used for reading interventions, guided reading, shared reading and tutoring.  The leveled readers are for students in grades k-8, so even if you have a super advanced second grade student, you can continually challenge them.

Snap! Digital Reader Library iLearn Technology

The flexibility of this program is fantastic!  I’ve long been a fan of Learning A-Z for their printable books, but they are limited to a printout.  With Snap! you have the option of printing out books, but students can also access them from home device, on the iPad, Kindle Fire, Android, interactive whiteboard, or classroom computers.  The eBook version of the reader includes audio, photo slideshows, glossary terms, videos, fun facts, interactive maps and animations.  The PDF version includes lesson plans, alphabet book, word books, assessment materials and individual student record books.  Regardless of how much technology you have available in your classroom, the Snap! program works.

In a one to one setting you get the best of all worlds.  Every student in your class instantly has access to 128 quality interactive books and activities.  Did I mention $89?! That is a great deal!  You also have the ability for offline pdf books that can be sent home for extra practice.  When I taught second grade, my students loved having a print copy of the ebooks that they read in class.  It was always a treat to have those printed to color and share at home.

In a one or two device classroom, you can set up a reading center for students to cycle through.  Students can visit the center once or twice a week to read.

Model reading strategies for the whole class using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  Students can practice reading along and be introduced to new vocabulary.

Tips: The iPad version is not called “Snap!” Digital Reader.  The app you will download to access the interactive ebook library is Mobl21 HD.

Snap! Digital Reader Library iLearn TechnologyPrice of app: Free* ($89 yearly subscription required!)

Device: iPad with iOS 5.0 or later, Kindle Fire, Android, computer

The Answer Pad: BYOD Student Response System

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Classroom Management, collaboration, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, web tools, Websites | Posted on 16-04-2013

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What it is: The Answer Pad is a student response system…only better!  What makes it better?  The ability for use with BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) classrooms and the ability to collect student responses outside of your typical, limited multiple choice answers that most student response systems are limited to.  The Answer Pad is really made up of two parts.  1. The student response piece that lets students go interactive with outstanding drawing features.  2. The answer sheets that score and capture data from existing paper exams including full online reporting, the ability for students to show their work, and a variety of question types. The Answer Pad is available for the iPad, Android or from any web browser.  Download the TAPit Free app for the iPad!

The free version of The Answer Pad is pretty robust for teachers and students.  Premium features are available at a reasonable price that take it to the next level.

How to integrate The Answer Pad into the classroom: The Answer Pad is a really useful addition to the formative assessment puzzle.  I LOVE that it doesn’t limit teachers to gathering low-level data in the format of multiple choice answer (although this feature is available for those times when you want to check for entry level understanding).  The Answer Pad lets students draw and type out answers, making the feedback they give to you during a lesson that much more valuable.  The fact that it isn’t limited to the basics is GREAT!  Imagine a math lesson where students are able to actually show and demonstrate their understanding (not just their amazing guessing skills).  The instantaneous feedback is wonderful for adjusting lessons and providing more individualized instruction based on what you are seeing.

In addition to collecting more valuable math feedback, The Answer Pad also gives you valuable feedback for any subject, a blank template lets students free write/draw their understanding.  This might even be a great way for students to take notes during learning, you can give your students feedback on their note taking during a lesson.  I am always amazed when I look at student notes, some of our students really don’t know what is important enough to write down and how to organize themselves best for later reference.  Using the free draw in The Answer Pad would give you good insight into a student’s thinking process and help you to guide and direct them appropriately.

The reporting feature is also really helpful, being able to look not only at student answers, but also at the written work that led to the answer is SO valuable.  This embedded feature makes Answer Pad more than just a self-grading platform, this is feedback and data that you can really use to drive instruction.

Tips:  Premium features include: custom frameworks for scoring tests, ability to bundle assessments together for side-by-side comparison and reporting, advance functions for test scenarios, an additional drawing palette for the Go Interactive portion, support by phone, and access to black-line template library.

Thank you to @dkapuler for introducing me to The Answer Pad!

I’ve been nominated for a Bammy Award for Educational Blogger.  I’d appreciate your vote to help spread the word about iLearn Technology.  Vote here.  Thank you for your continued support!!

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  The Answer Pad in your classroom.

Mural.ly: Google Docs for Visual People

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Geography, Government, History, Inquiry, inspiration, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Science, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, Technology, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 03-04-2013

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What it is: Murally is a tool I learned about from my friends over at House of GeniusMurally’s tagline is: “Google Docs for visual people.”  Being highly visual, that description immediately resonates with me!  Murally reminds me a little bit of Wallwisher (now Padlet), it is a way for learners to come together to think, imagine and discuss their ideas.  With Murally, students can create murals and include any content they want in them.  Learners can drag and drop images, video, etc. from any website (or from their computer) onto their mural.   Learners can create presentations from within a mural they have already created.  The best part: this all happens with the ability to collaborate with others.  Murally makes it easy for students to collect, think, imagine, show and discuss learning.  Murals can be made public (shared live with a link) or private (only friends granted permission can access the mural).

*** email address, Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus account required for login.  You know what that means: 13 or older!

How to integrate Murally into the classroom: Murally is brilliant in the way that it enables learners to work and dream together.  My FAVORITE feature: you can drag and drop content from ANYWHERE!!! It works like the spring-loaded folders in Apple’s iOS.  LOVE this feature.  Honestly, this ability to clip content is a game changer.  It makes creating a mural incredibly easy.  Stinking brilliant!  

Murally is the tool that I wish existed when I was doing research projects in school.  Students can conduct and collect their research solo or invite friends to contribute to their research mural.  Students can add text, drag and drop links, pictures, video and other content.  After they have gone through the hunting/gathering phase of research, Murally makes it easy for students to go through and mindmap it all into some sort of order.  This tool is going to make me a better writer.  Visually being able to organize research and thoughts is HUGE.

Being inquiry based, I love the idea of beginning a mural for students with the driving inquiry alone on the board.  The learners job: be curious together.  Ask questions, explore, research, collect evidences collaboratively.  Capture all of that learning in one place.

Murally could be used for any mind-mapping appropriate project.  This is mind-mapping in the future.  Truly amazing!  The collaborative nature of Murally is fantastic.

Students could begin a Murally with a novel as the base.  As they read, they can include quotes, related thoughts, pictures, video clips, discussion, and related research.  I’m always amazed by the connections that our students make to other learning, a commercial they have seen, or a song.  Murally is a great way to visually collect all of this to share with others.

Murally would be an outstanding way to hypothesize about what will happen in a science experiment.  Students can then add in any research, class notes, discussion, etc.  After students have conducted the experiment they can include observations, photos, and final conclusions.

Use Murally with a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard for class notes.  As class discussions unfold, notes can be taken for the whole class and shared later.  Students can add to these later with additional learning, thoughts, and plans.

Because Murally can be used to show learning, consider creating map boards where students link what they know of Geography with the cultures, habitats, religions, politics of that area.

Murally would make the COOLEST “textbook” alternative.  Student created, mashup of all different tools, collaborative, discussion included, and organized in the way that makes sense to the learner.

This is one of those tools that has my mind spinning.  The possibilities overlap all subject areas and are endless.

Tips: The collaborative feature of Murally is so well thought out, see history and message collaborators quickly and easily.  Wonderful!

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

Qwiki Creator: Create the textbook of the future with a few clicks

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Create, Foreign Language, Geography, History, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 28-06-2012

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Play the Qwiki: Anastasis Academy

What it is:  I first wrote about Qwiki in 2010 when they launched their search service.  I just got word that you (and your students) can now create your very own Qwiki.  When students search using Qwiki, instead of coming up with a list of links to websites, images, and videos, a slide show of images and videos begins complete with computer voice narration.  It is truly an incredible experience.

With Qwiki Creator, it is easy to create your own Qwiki to share.  Creating a Qwiki is really easy and intuitive.  First, you find the content and media you want to add to your Qwiki.  This could be web content, video, images, maps, content from your computer, text or even a tweet.  Next you add narration and set your timing.  Finally you can preview your Qwiki and publish it.  I created the Qwiki above in about 5 min.

If you are looking for the original Qwiki, you can get to it at http://qwiki.com/reference.

How to integrate Qwiki Creator into the classroom:  Qwiki Creator is a fantastic way for students to create impressive presentations about their learning.  Students can quickly create mashups of web content and record or type narration to demonstrate understanding of material.  Qwiki Creator is also a great tool for teachers, create customized content for your students.  This is textbook 2.0 for sure! It can be tailored to the exact needs of your curriculum and can become an additional way for your to “flip” your classroom.

I love the idea of students creating their own digital textbooks as they learn about a subject. Throughout their learning and research, students can keep a table of contents of items they want to be sure to include in their Qwiki.  Students can create a Qwiki about the information they have learned, add text/voice/video narration to help describe the learning and publish it for classmates to learn from.  The Qwiki can be shared easily or embeded on a student blog or website.

Create your own series of Qwiki’s for your classroom blog or website where students can further their learning.  They can access any of the websites or resources you include in your Qwiki for a majorly upgraded version of a webquest.

Qwiki Creator could be used for digital storytelling.  Students can find images, videos and maps that help them tell their story and narrate the creative story for others to enjoy.

In a foreign language class, students can give a web tour where they narrate in the language they are learning.  This would also be neat to do in a geography or history class.

If you teach students who are younger than 13, consider creating Qwiki’s as a class using an interactive whiteboard and teacher account.  Students can help put the Qwiki together and the finalized Qwiki can be put on a class blog or website for students to learn from any time.

Tips:  Students must be 13 years old or older to use Qwiki Creator according to the Terms of Service.

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

Google World Wonders Project

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Evaluate, Geography, History, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 04-06-2012

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What it is:  Google has a way-cool new project called the World Wonders Project.  Thanks to Google, you can now wander the Earth with your students virtually to discover some of the most famous sites on earth.  The site makes a great addition to the history and geography classroom and opens your classroom to the wider world.  Not only are wonders of the modern world available, students can also explore wonders of the ancient world.  Using the street-view technology from Google maps, Google has made wonders of the world available to all of us at any time.  Themes include archaeological sites, architecture, cities and towns, historic sites, monuments and memorials, palaces and castles, parks and gardens, places of worship, regions and landscapes, and wonders of nature. When you explore a site, you get Google’s street view of the site, information about the site, YouTube videos related to the site and Getty images of the site.  The result is a truly rich experience that will make your students feel like they have jet-setted around the world.

How to integrate Google World Wonders Project into the classroom: Google World Wonders Project is a fantastic way to help make your students more globally aware.  The World Wonders Project lets students really explore and discover the world from the comfort of their classroom.  Aside from actually getting to visit these places in person with your students, this is the next best thing!  Understanding the world and features of the world that we live in is the first step in becoming more globally minded.  Seeing different architecture and landmarks from around the world helps students to better understand the cultures and people who call those places home.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, Google World Wonders Project is worth a hundred times more.  Students can envision geography and history because they have a picture (that they can interact with), video, a story and a slideshow of Getty images.  History comes to life when students can “put themselves” in the shoes of those who lived it.  Geography is so much more tangible when it isn’t just a label on a map.

Building up global citizens is crucial.  Below are three steps that can’t be skipped if students are truly to be globally minded:

Step 1: Encourage students to be global minded

Educational globe trotting is impossible without this important step.  Students have to understand the overlaps in humanity. They have to be willing and open to learn not only about their own cultures, but also the perspectives, values, traditions and cultures of others.
Being global minded means that students know how to show empathy and compassion for others. It means that they know how to respect others ideas.  Building global mindedness can feel like a chicken and egg scenario. Connecting your students with others globally is a great way to build global mindedness.Global mindedness truly begins in your classroom.  Build a culture of caring, compassion, empathy and respect and it is easier to transfer to the wider world.  Reflect often with students about feelings and attitudes.  When students recognized the shared humanity in their own classroom, it is easier to understand that shared humanity in light of a larger world.

Step 2: Encourage students to be inquirers

Students who are inquirers are curious, they are willing and open to discover new learning.  Kids are naturally curious, unfortunately in school we tend to “undo” this natural curiosity.  We allow students only one line of inquiry (the one they have been given). We keep kids from asking additional questions (we don’t have time for that).  We teach kids that there is one right answer (the one the teacher has).  Without an inquisitive nature, being global minded becomes just another assignment to do.  Deep connections with others aren’t made.

Step 3: Teach students to communicate effectively

It baffles me that this isn’t a larger focus in our schools.  Communication makes everything else we do in life possible.  Students have to learn how to represent their ideas and learning clearly with confidence.  They must learn how to work with others, pausing long enough to hear the ideas of others.
There are two extremes that I often see in communication: 1. The student doesn’t believe that their ideas are worthy of words.  They are shy or afraid of how they will be received.  2.  The student finally gets the floor and doesn’t want to give it up.  They want to talk and will go around and around with their ideas without letting anyone else get a word in edgewise.  There is a balance here.

Google World Wonders is one way to help students understand other cultures, ideas and times.  It can be explored by students individually on classroom or computer lab computers, or explored as a class using a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard.  If you teach young students, make this an experience.  Set up your classroom like an airplane. Take tickets, have students “pack”, serve an inflight meal, watch an inflight video about the place being visited, create a Flight Day.  When you land in your destination, students can explore the Google World Wonder assigned.

Google has some great teacher guides and educational packages to use with the World Wonders project.  Check them out on the Education page!

Tips: I am leading a session in Adams 12 tomorrow about Global education.  You can see the website I created with links I am sharing here.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Google World Wonders Project in  your classroom!

Word Dynamo: Vocabulary made fun

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Foreign Language, Geography, Government, History, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Music, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Spelling, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 02-11-2011

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What it is:  Word Dynamo is a superb site from Dictionary.comWord Dynamo makes learning new words a whole lot of fun.
Here is how it works:
1.  Answer 10 questions and Word Dynamo will calculate how many words a student knows. This is your word score. The word score adjusts as you learn new words, Word Dynamo helps give students study “shortcuts” to learn new words faster.
2.  Word Challenge- in word challenge students are offered a custom 20-level game designed especially for their skill level.  As students master meanings, they unlock the next threshold of difficulty.
3.  The Word Dynamo Library- here students can browse and search for things they need to learn.  Students can choose to practice by schooling level, SAT prep, subject or popular word lists.
4.  Play Games- students can practice vocabulary by matching terms and definitions, listening to the word and definition, spell a word out in a crossword puzzle, etc. New challenges are unlocked as students succeed!
5.  Create a Word List- this one is my favorite, I love that students can create their own lists based on what they need to work on.

How to integrate Word Dynamo into the classroom:  Word Dynamo is an easy fit into any classroom k-12.  This is a great addition to your language arts, math, economics, science, history, (ANY) classroom.  Word Dynamo gives students the keys to their own learning by working with them at their own level.  It would be wonderful to use Word Dynamo throughout the year to keep kids playing with words.  Students will love watching their own “estimated words you know” score creep up and up over the course of the school year.  Vocabulary is one of those things that students don’t always realize that they are learning throughout the school day.  Then *bam* they wake up one day and suddenly know a whole LOT of words.

The games and practice items on Word Dynamo make for a great vocabulary center on classroom computers during language arts.  But, as I mentioned before, my very favorite part is the ability for students to create their own lists.  At Anastasis, we have  students constantly adding to their own spelling/vocabulary list as they come across new words they want to learn.  I like that Word Dynamo give them a place to keep, practice and play with these words.  Students have ownership over their own learning and aren’t stuck practicing and testing on the words they already know. Do you assign spelling and vocabulary words each week?  Let students enter those words in their custom list to practice!

Because Word Dynamo is constantly utilizing the feedback it gets from students, it is constantly challenging them and urging them on to a new personal best.  Students can watch their score go up, engage in challenges, and choose fun games that keep them learning. In other words, this is a site you are going to want to have handy for your students!

Don’t have the opportunity for students to use Word Dynamo on their own account/computer?  Put up a challenge on the interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  As students enter the classroom, they can each answer a question on the way to their seats.  Keep track of the number of words that the whole class knows.

Tips: The Quick Tour will lead you through all the Word Dynamo goodies and have you ready to use it with your students in no time!  Word Dynamo looks and works well on the iPad and iPod Touch browser…great for vocabulary practice anywhere.

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

Draw a Stickman

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Create, Fun & Games, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Websites | Posted on 25-10-2011

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What it is:  Draw a Stickman is a delightful site that I learned about from @amandacdykes on her blog Upside Down Education.  On Draw a Stickman, students are prompted to draw a stick figure, the figure they draw springs to life and is faced with several challenges, students must follow directions and draw several props for their stick figure to interact with.  This is a mini interactive story that has students reading and following directions, solving mysteries, thinking creatively and solving problems.  Students will love the hero of the story (the character they created) and the villain (a dragon).

How to integrate the Draw a Stickman site into the classroom: Draw a Stickman is a fun interactive site that uses student creations to tell a story.  Students can complete the interactive on individual computers, iDevices (the site works great!), interactive whiteboards, or classroom computers.

Aside from just fun practice at following instructions, Draw a Stickman would be a great fictional story prompt.  Students have the bones of a story and can fill in details, vivid verbs, adjectives, etc. to tell the story.  Students can focus on fleshing out their hero, the plot of the story, the details, the setting, etc.  Students can come up with a moral of a story that they add in the customized ending.  This link can be sent as a tweet, facebook link, or in an email to accompany the story they have created.  These stories would be fun to share as a class…how many different stories did students come up with using the same base?

On an interactive whiteboard, students can go through the story together, labeling the different parts of the story (beginning, problem, climax, resolution, ending).  This interactive can help students identify parts in a story including setting, characters and plot.

Tips: After you have gone through Draw a Stickman, you can personalize the message at the end and share.  Add any two lines of text that you wish.  This could be a fun way to reveal messages to your students!

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

Zimmer Twins: New site just for schools!

Posted by admin | Posted in Create, Interactive Whiteboard, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, video, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 24-10-2011

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Read my previous mentions of the Zimmer Twins here
What it is:  The Zimmer Twins movie maker is one of my favorite classroom tools.  Recently, they added a Zimmer Twins at School site that has extra goodies built-in that make it an even sweeter deal for the classroom.  Yesss. I love it when that happens.  On the Zimmer Twin site, students can create really impressive cartoon animations (seriously this is saturday morning cartoon quality). Who are the Zimmer Twins, you might ask?  Edgar and Eva Zimmer are 12-year-old twins who appear normal but have developed psychic powers.  Strange things began to happen when the twins adopted a black cat named 13.  On the Zimmer Twins website, students can create their own cartoon movie endings to a story starter or create their own animated movie from scratch.  Students can create and edit movies solo or “Collab-o-write” and work together creating a collaborative movie.
With the free school account, teachers can add 5 students, make 12 movies, visit a profile page for each student and teacher, and have the ability to moderate content.  Very handy for classroom use!  In the past, I had to create an account for every student, work out how to keep track of everyone’s creations and make sure we could share with each other.  Thanks to the new school account, all of this can be handled easily right within one account!
How to integrate the Zimmer Twins School into the classroom:  Your students are going to love this site!  They can direct and produce their very own animated movies.  The easiest way to start using Zimmer Twins in the classroom, is to use it as a story starter.  Students can watch a “starter” video and finish the story however they would like.  The first time you introduce the site, it might be fun to complete a video as a class.  Then students can take over and create their own ending to a Zimmer Twins movie.  These video clips make excellent story starters for journal writing even if you can’t take the time to make it into an actual video.  To use as a story starter, show the beginning of the short animation to your students on an interactive whiteboard or projector, then let students take over on classroom computers, working together, or writing a journal entry.  After your students are familiar with the Zimmer Twins website, they can start a story from scratch.  Students could direct “screen plays” of their writing, as a way to publish their finished work.  Zimmer Twins would make an excellent alternative to the traditional book report.  Students could create a movie where the main character is being interviewed, the story is being summarized, or retold.  Students could also create movies about historical events, describing a science experiment or concept, in math as a story problem, to demonstrate understanding of character education or for vocabulary practice.  My students have really enjoyed creating movies to show what they have learned on any topic, it is always a sure winner!  Are you looking for new ways to engage your students? Why not create a Zimmer Twins original yourself to introduce a new topic.  If you are looking for more great ideas for using Zimmer Twins in your classroom, be sure to check out the lesson plans on the teacher page, there are some good ones.
Tips: Zimmer Twins School also offers a VIP account with lots of extras including the ability to add 40 students, make unlimited movies, open comments, write blog posts, write polls, enable/disable student comments on videos. Right now a month-long VIP membership is FREE!  You can get a year membership for $89.95.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Zimmer Twins School in  your classroom!

Thinking Blocks: Model math word problems with virtual mantipulatives

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Websites | Posted on 19-09-2011

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What it is:  Thinking Blocks is a great find by @matthewquigley who was nice enough to share his find and let me take the credit (I may have made up that last part…).  Thinking Blocks lets students model and solve math word problems by using online virtual blocks to visualize the problems in new ways.  Thinking Blocks includes blocks to model addition and subtraction, multiplication and division, fractions, and ratios.  On the Modeling Tools tab, students will find modeling tool videos on addition and subtraction, multiplication and division, fractions, ratios, decimals and percents, and algebra.  These thinking blocks were developed by Colleen King as she worked to help her students in their Singapore Math program.  While the concept of modeling word problems with the blocks is most closely associated with Singapore Math curriculum, it can be used to support any math program and is especially helpful to use with visual learners.  Students can use virtual blocks to model known and unknown quantities.  By modeling in this way, students are better prepared for moving from arithmetic to algebraic thinking because they learn how to break complex problems into their simplest form.   The activities on the Thinking Block website includes guided and independent practice opportunities.  The tutorials can be used for guided instruction.  Videos show worked examples from each section (addition, multiplication, division, fractions and ratios.  Progress tracking is built-in (currently this is only per session but the site notes that sometime in September this should be included for multiple sessions).  The Modeling Tool lends itself to independent practice.  Students can choose from hundreds of built-in word problems or enter their own.  Dynamically generated models let students check their own work.  A full screen option is included for use on interactive whiteboards.

How to integrate Thinking Blocks into the classroom:  Thinking Blocks is a wonderful website for exploring and demonstrating understanding of word problems.  Visual students will be keen on the ability to visualize math in this way, using the virtual blocks to represent word problems.  Because Thinking Blocks addresses so many different math disciplines, it is a great way to differentiate instruction for students at a variety of levels.

Thinking Blocks can be used with the whole class using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  Students can take turns working out word problems on the whiteboard while students at their seats work to arrive at a common solution.  Students at the board can “phone a friend” if they need a little extra help or guidance.

Thinking Blocks would make a fantastic center activity on classroom computers.  Students could visit the center to practice some word problems and record a reflection about how the blocks enabled them to visualize the problem differently.

Be sure to bookmark Thinking Blocks on school computers and let parents know to bookmark the site at home.  I suspect this site could be a life saver for MANY students (I would have been one of them!)

Tips: You can adjust the difficulty of each model by adjusting the numbers addressed before students begin an activity.

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

Fraboom Online Children’s Museum: Online classes, videos, interactive book, games, oh my!

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Classroom Management, Create, Fun & Games, Government, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, video, Websites | Posted on 04-05-2011

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What it is: Oh. My. Word. I have just stumbled on gold my friends, gold!  Fraboom is an online children’s museum packed full of games, interactive books, creativity, learning and-are you ready for this-LIVE online teachers!  On Fraboom students can learn about US presidents while they play games, watch Fraboom TV cartoons to learn vocabulary, read interactive books that encourage creativity and join live online classes with real flesh and blood teachers!  Fraboom TV has a variety of cartoons that will teach students content area vocabulary words. Each cartoon on Fabroom TV lists all associated vocabulary words so teachers can quickly find a video that will support learning.  Cartoons can be searched by keyword or category.  The very best part of Fraboom (in my humble opinion) is the live online teachers.  Drawing classes start every hour on the hour.  Students can drop into a class and learn how to draw cartoons.  There is a new challenge every day so content is always fresh!  Students can interact with teachers through the chat feature; students type a message and the teacher responds to them by name.  Fraboom cartoon characters introduce the activity for the day and the teachers interact with the cartoon on the screen- very fun!  Students learn how to draw step by step guided by the teacher and follow along on their own whiteboard space.  When students are finished, they can share their pictures with the class.  After drawing, the class completes a mad lib together.  The teacher explains a part of speech and requests words for that part of speech from the class.  Students can contribute words to the story by typing them into the chat area. Throughout the class, the teacher shares submitted pictures with the whole class.  I attended two live classes and was really impressed with the teachers in both sessions. They are upbeat, engaging and fun.  Fraboom was created for students six to twelve years old.  Content is being added regularly and fresh challenges in the live classes every day.  Plenty to keep kids creating and learning!

How to integrate Fraboom Online Children’s Museum into the classroom: With widespread budget cuts and art programs being cut regularly, Fraboom is a welcome new addition to the education landscape.  Being able to connect every student in your class with another teacher is amazing.  Fraboom could be used on classroom computers as a creativity/art/grammar center that kids can visit throughout the week.  Students can get one-on-one attention from a virtual teacher freeing you up to work in small reading or writing groups knowing that all of your students are engaged in learning.  Connect to a Fraboom online session as a class using a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard.  Students can follow along with the drawing instructions and take turns engaging in the chat as a whole class.  Students can take turns creating the class picture on the projector or interactive whiteboard while students at their seats create their own masterpiece.  This would be a great activity for students to do while you hold one-on-one student conferences in your classroom.

Fraboom TV is full of fun cartoon videos that help students learn a variety of content area vocabulary.  Use these videos to introduce a new unit so that students are familiar with vocabulary before engaging in new learning.

The interactive stories on Fraboom can be shared with your class using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  Read through the story as a class and practice comprehension strategies together.

Tips: Be sure to share Fraboom with parents, this would be a great opportunity for learning at home too!

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