Featured Post

Blogger

  What it is: Blogger is a free blogging tool. Blogger makes it easy for teachers and students to share work, class notes, and pictures online. Educators can even make private blogs for their classes’ eyes only. How to integrate Blogger into your classroom: Teachers can use...

Read More

Claco: United We Teach, build lessons collaboratively

Posted by admin | Posted in Classroom Management, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 19-09-2012

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

0

What it is:  Claco is a new website that makes it simple to build, organize and share lessons. Your lessons can be dynamic including weblinks, embed codes, online videos, files and more.  In addition to creating and uploading your own lessons, you can also search and use lessons that other teachers around the world have built.  There is no better way to stretch and grow professionally than to learn from each other!  Claco makes it easy to work with other educators in a collaborative environment to streamline the lesson planning process.  I love the vision behind Claco, they have even created a movement called “United We Teach” that encourages educators to share and enhance each other’s resources.  I learn SO much from my PLN, creating a place where this is encouraged as part of the process is fantastic!

Another feature I love about Claco: no need to download lessons, you can view and use all lessons directly from your Claco profile.  That means that lessons are available from anywhere (because they are in the cloud) and can be used from computers, iPads, and smartphones…super handy!

How to integrate Claco into your curriculum: Use Claco to save yourself time.  I tend to get lost in the OCEAN of amazing lesson ideas and resources on the web.  I like that Claco can be a one-stop shop for resources and lessons.  The ability to organize all of my findings in one easy-to-use place that can be accessed by all of my devices is also very helpful.

Aside from the time saving, Claco makes it possible to collaborate on lessons with other teachers in the building, or from anywhere in the world.  Lessons can be constructed with teammates and enhanced by anyone.  Lessons can also be easily shared with students, parents and colleagues.

Tips: You may recognize some features of Claco.  Class Connect (which I wrote about here) has morphed into Claco. The genius behind Claco, Eric Simons who created the sites after some frustrations with his own school experience.  Instead of being disenfranchised, he set out to make it better.  You gotta love that!

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

iCivics- teaching students civics through games

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Character Education, Evaluate, Government, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 11-06-2012

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

0

What it is:  iCivics is a great way for students to learn about civics in the United States.  The site features 16 educational video games that help students understand our government.  In addition to the great games, iCivics has great standards-aligned civics curriculum available for free to teachers! Games include topics like: Citizenship and Participation, the Constitution and Bill of Rights, Budgeting, Foreign Policy and National Defense, Separation of Powers, the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch, and the Judicial Branch.  The games are fantastic, and put students right in the middle of the action and story.

  • Activate- Students campaign for an issue of their choice.
  • Cast Your Vote- Students choose the questions in a debate, rate the candidates responses, and cast a vote.
  • Immigration Nation- Students help newcomers along their path to citizenship.
  • Responsibility Launcher- Students help others with civic common sense.
  • Argument Wars- Students argue a real Supreme Court case using persuasive abilities.
  • Do I Have a Right- Student run their own law firm that specializes in constitutional law.
  • Counties Work- Students make decisions about community programs and services.
  • People’s Pie- Student control the budget of the federal government.
  • Crisis of Nations- Student work to solve international problems.
  • Branches of Power- Students control all three branches of government.
  • Executive Command- Student get to be president.
  • Win the White House- Students get to manage their own presidential campaign including raising funds and polling voters.
  • Supreme Decision- Students help cast the deciding vote.
  • Court Quest- Student help others navigate the US court system.

Students can join iCivics for free.  When they do, they can take part in the Impact Competition where they play games, earn points, spend points on a iCivics real life project of their choice.

As a teacher, you can sign up for an iCivics account where you can add classes and students.

How to integrate iCivics into the classroom: iCivics is a great way to help students better understand the US government.  The games are engaging, relatively quick to play (one class period), and teach everything that students need to know to play the game.  Students with little or no understanding of the topic will be introduced to everything they need to know within the game.

The games are a great way to learn about civics because they put students right in the middle of the action, the games remind me a little of the SIMS games that I played as a kid.  Students will enjoy being the decision maker in the game-this isn’t a power point presentation disguised as a game (you know you have seen those!).

iCivics is best played on individual computers in a one-to-one or lab setting.  If you don’t have access to a lab where your students can play, students could play as a whole class using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  Make sure that every students gets a chance to participate and weigh in on decisions that are made.

Tips: The lesson plans in the teacher section are truly well done.  These are worth using in your classroom!  Games are now available in the app store as well!

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

Money Island: a financial literacy virtual world

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Character Education, Math, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 08-02-2012

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

7

What it is: Money Island is a neat site I found today while searching for some fun tie ins for our economic inquiry block at Anastasis.  This enchanting virtual world teaches students about money and how the economy works while they go on quests to destinations like the Eiffel Tower and Atlantis.  Students learn and practice the real-life principles of financial responsibility.  Students build knowledge and skills in three major areas including: saving and spending, earning and investing, and using credit wisely.  In addition to these major areas, students learn how to spend, grow and give money; the difference between wants, needs and taxes; different types of income; gain an understanding of interest; how to use credit wisely; and how to build wealth.
The site includes detailed lesson plans and activity suggestions for the classroom, as well as a specialized area within money island where teachers and parents can see what students are learning and track progress.
Money Island was created in partnership with the Young Americans Bank.  This bank was designed specifically for children under the age of 21!  Our students will be taking a field trip to the Young Americans Bank in Denver to continue their learning during this block.  If you are in the Denver area, it is a great field trip!
How to integrate Money Island into the classroom: Kids are not exposed to enough opportunities to learn and practice financial literacy.  Case in point: the national debt crisis, housing loan disaster, and credit card stats. It baffles me that we don’t spend more time in the classroom helping kids learn about money and finances!  Every teacher should take this on in some capacity, we can’t assume that someone else will teach it.  Kids need to learn about how the economy works prior to being neck deep in financial decisions on a daily basis.  Money Island is a fun introduction to all of this!
Students begin their journey in Money Island with a mission to help character Stone Broke.  Students choose a virtual side-kick who will guide them through Money Island and help them make important decisions.  Students are directed through a series of quests to help Stone Broke while learning about money and how to make sound financial decisions.
Money Island is a virtual world so it takes a bit of time to get all the way through it.  When students login, they are given a special key so they can pick up right where they left off in the game.  This is a great site for a one to one classroom environment or computer lab setting where each student has their own computer.  The site could also be used as a center activity on classroom computers with students rotating through the center throughout the week.  Because students can save their progress, they can play from both school and from home.
Money Island makes a fantastic tie-in to a money or economics unit for kids.
***Hint: Click “Join” to join.  For some reason the “Play” button is a little bit temperamental.  It worked for me the first time I played with it but not the second…not sure what that is all about!
Tips:   There is a new game featured on Money Island…Episode 2 helps students learn how to “win” at the credit game.  There are also fun mini games and comics on the site for kids to interact with and explore!

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

Ideas to Inspire

Posted by admin | Posted in Classroom Management, Grade Level, inspiration, professional development, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 27-07-2011

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

12

What it is:  Ideas to Inspire has been a favorite of mine for years, it recently got a design boost that makes it even more useable!  Ideas to Inspire comes to us from @markw29, Mark invites teachers from around the world to share their inspiring ideas for using technology in the classroom.  These are pulled together as a presentation that teachers everywhere can benefit from.  Ideas to Inspire has a handy new filter tool that let’s you find the exact resources and ideas you are looking for easily.  Inspiring ideas include: Amazing art, A to Z of ITC, audio, books to engage boys, ideas for classroom blogging, games to enhance learning, creative geography, geography gaming, get to know your new class, GIS and GPS, Google forms, Google maps, Google search, ICT control and modelling, ICT in the early years, interesting images to use in the classroom, incredible science, inspiring writing, interactive math, Internet safety, iPad, iPod Touch, learning platforms, making your lessons ESL/EAL friendly, mobile phones, Moodle, netbooks, Nintendo DS and DSi, Non-tech strategies, ways to present Internet research, Prezi, Primary Pad, Purple Mash, QR Codes, student voice, super science investigations, super snow day activities, supporting math, supporting spelling, techy tips for non techy teachers, things to do with digital images, Twitter, using backchannels in the classroom, using video conferencing to support the use of quality texts, Wallwisher, webcams, web conferencing, Wii, wikis, Wordle, document cameras, supporting writing, search engines, marvelous music, interactive whiteboards, Google docs, ICT shopping list, creative curriculum topics, pocket video cameras, teaching reading comprehension, Voicethread, YouTube and (if you can believe it) more!

The new filter let’s you filter by curriculum linked presentations or interesting ways to use: hardware, software or online tools in the classroom.

This great resource is not to be missed!

How to integrate Ideas to Inspire into the classroom: Sometimes we could all use a little inspiration.  Ideas to Inspire is just the place to stop for some guaranteed inspiration! I love that the ideas shared on Ideas to Inspire are collected from classrooms and teachers around the world.  That tool you have been using forever in your classroom? Someone, somewhere has thought up a great new innovative way to use it in your classroom for learning!  Does not get better than that!

For those of you who are enjoying the last few weeks (gulp) of summer, be sure to stop by Ideas to Inspire while you have some time to be inspired and make plans for the upcoming school year.

Tips: Fair warning: this website will suck you right in and make you want to spend hours exploring. :)

 

PlanbookEdu: Lesson Plans in the Cloud

Posted by admin | Posted in Classroom Management, iPod, professional development, Teacher Resources, web tools | Posted on 06-07-2011

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

8

What it is: Planbook EDU is a great cloud-based (a.k.a online) lesson plan book.  Because Planbook EDU is hosted in the cloud, all you need is an Internet connection, your plans travel with you.   Planbook EDU is listed in the Google Apps Marketplace and is a natural fit for schools already using Google apps for education (email, calendar, documents, etc.).  The free version of Planbook EDU has nothing to install, let’s teachers access their planbook from any internet connection, is easy to use with word processor like editing, is fully customizable, works in all major web browser and is iPad/iPhone supported (word processor editing doesn’t work on these devices).

How to integrate Planbook EDU into the classroom: I am a big fan of organizational tools, they let me organize my thoughts so that in the fire hose of ideas what is important (the learning goal) doesn’t get lost. Planbook EDU is a simple way to organize and plan units and your school year.  I love that it is cloud-based so that I can access my plans from anywhere and any time.  The basic features are robust enough to get your planning in place and the extras that can be added on make it VERY useful.

The premium version allows you to embed your planbook directly in your classroom website…very handy for keeping students and parents up to date with what is coming!

Tips: For $25/year, you get all of the free features plus- attach files to lesson plans, assign Common Core Standards, embed your planbook on any website, share lesson plans with anyone, print from your browser, export to Microsoft Word or PDF, built-in spell check and enjoy access to unlimited planbooks each school year.  EVERY user gets a free 14 day trial of all the premium options from Planbook EDU.

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

 

Collaborize Classroom-free for the 2010/2011 school year if you sign up before November 15!

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, collaboration, Evaluate, Government, History, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Subject, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 08-11-2010

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

3

What it is: Collaborize Classroom is an online learning platform developed for classroom discussion and engagement.  Collaborize lets students and teacher collaborate in online discussions. It can be used for meaningful conversations related to classroom curriculum, to ask and answer questions, to collaborate on projects, to vote on ideas/issues, and more.  Teachers can continue valuable discussions, facilitate online learning groups, encourage the sharing of resources, and provide students with space to engage in collaborative learning.  Collaborize is easy to set up and navigate for both teachers and students.  Questions can be posted easily including multiple choices, yes/no, vote or suggest, and forum.  After the questions have been answered, the results of the discussion can be published on a results page.  Collaborize has great teacher features.  Add attachments to any question including photos, videos, and documents.  Send a message to students using the built-in messaging system.  Participation reports track each student’s activity on the site including number of logins, votes, comments, and replies.  Activity reports can be sent to your email daily for review. Set up a watch list to follow a discussion more closely.  Collaborize has fantastic supporting materials including lesson plans, helpful tutorials, and research articles.  If you sign up for Collaborize before November 15, 2010, the product is being offered at no-cost (read FREE) for the 2010-2011 school year!  In partnership with Democrasoft, The Kids in Need Foundation made this free year possible…take advantage of it before the 15th!

How to integrate Collaborize into your curriculum: Collaboraize is an awesome tool to facilitate discussions in (and out of) the classroom.  The format of Collaborize makes it flexible enough to use in any classroom and in a way that works for you.  Use Collaborize to facilitate discussions and literature circles, plan a science lab or experiment to be conducted in class, practice second languages with online dialog, post current events for students to reflect on, work with classrooms around the world to discuss and debate any topic, pose a math word problem and ask students to discuss the different ways the problem could be approached.  Collaborize is a wonderful tool for student discussion and collaboration, but the teacher tools are what make it such a perfect fit for the classroom setting.  It is easy to sign up, get your free year today!

Tips: Collaborize has really helpful resources for teachers.  Learn about the do’s and don’ts of student forums, the art of asking questions, lesson and activity ideas, rethinking your role in the classroom and much more.  Even if you don’t sign up for Collaborize, I recommend spending some time checking out these free documents, they have great tips that can be applied to a variety of web collaboration tools.

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


10 Steps to Better Lesson Plans

Posted by admin | Posted in Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 14-10-2010

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

6

Recently, an article that I wrote for The Apple was published: 10 Steps to Better Lesson Plans.  I thought I would share it here and encourage you to check out The Apple for great lesson plans, education news, resources, and even job postings.

This is a repost of the article:

Kelly Tenkely | TheApple.com

Master teachers are also master lesson planners. They can look at a learning goal and piece together key components that will ensure that their students meet the goal. Not all lessons need to be a reinvention of the wheel, but there are several hallmarks of well-crafted lesson plans. Whether you are building your own lessons, or searching through databases of lessons, be sure to include these 10 key components:

1. Learning Goal-

Every lesson plan should have a clearly defined learning goal, after all, that is the reason for teaching! I have seen some very inventive lesson plans that lack this important ingredient. No matter how entertaining a lesson may be, if it is lacking a learning goal, it has missed its mark.
There is a day celebrated annually by students all over the country affectionately referred to as Mole Day. Celebrated every year on October 23 (10-23), Mole Day honors Avogardro’s Number (6.02 × 10^23), which is a basic unit of measure in chemistry. There are some fun lesson plans out there for Mole day (and in fact entire websites dedicated to the celebration). Mole day is uniquely celebrated by creating moles (the animal) and creating a diorama that represents a play on the word ‘mole’. For example “guaca-mole” or “Remember the Ala-mole”. Students spend weeks creating their moles and mole puns. But in all the entertainment, does the lesson completely lose its meaning?
What does the mole (the animal) have to do with Avogardro’s Number aside from sharing a name? When the learning goal is lost, so is the learning. When writing and searching lesson plans, make sure you always have a clear learning objective in mind: everything hinges on this.

2. Resources-

List the resources needed for a lesson. Nothing is worse than having the perfect lesson planned only to find that you are missing an important material. Jotting down a list of resources needed for the lesson will ensure that you have all the paper, glue, copies, etc. when the time comes to use them.
Don’t forget to list digital resources as well. Make sure if you are using technology that the websites you intend to use with students aren’t blocked at school. A great lesson you created at home could come to a screeching halt if you can’t access the video you found the night before. Also, be sure to note any of the plug-ins that may be required for a website (Silverlight, Flash, Shockwave, etc.). Often, if you can plan ahead, your tech department can confirm that you have everything in place for your lesson.

3. Standards-

It is important to note any standards being met by the lesson. Most schools are requiring a standard tie in for every lesson. Even if your school doesn’t require that you note which standards you are meeting, it is good practice to be familiar with your state and national standards. You will be surprised how many standards you are meeting in any given lesson. You may also choose to note how a lesson falls into the scope and sequence for yearlong learning.

4. Anticipatory Set-

After the learning goal, the anticipatory set is one of the most important ingredients in a quality lesson plan. The anticipatory set engages your students in the learning that is about to happen. It sets the tone for the lesson and makes students hungry to learn more. Think of the anticipatory set as a movie trailer. The trailer doesn’t tell everything about the movie but provides enough glimpses to leave you wanting more.

When I was in first grade, my teacher planted a UFO made out of cardboard boxes and yogurt containers spray painted silver in the middle of our classroom. All around the UFO were purple play dough “space rocks”. We were immediately engaged and excited about the lesson. We had no idea what we would be learning, but she already had us thinking and questioning. As it turned out, the UFO was introducing a new leveled reader we were going to read together called “My Pet Space Rock”. All these years later I still remember that lesson.

A good anticipatory set activates prior knowledge or encourages students to ask questions. Students learn, by making connections and exploring. Build anticipation for your lesson through props, secret notes from historians or scientists written to your class, a video clip, a song, a short story, or role play. Students love pretend play, so think about how you can get them to use their imagination and pretend as they are learning.

For example, if your students are studying dinosaurs, tell them they are paleontologists going on a dig. Outfit them with field journals and a ‘special’ paleontologist pencils that they can use to take notes. In my classroom, I like to use Wordles to begin my lessons. These are word clouds that you can create at www.wordle.net. I include several “clue” words about what we will be learning and project the Wordle on the whiteboard. As students come into the classroom, they guess what we will be doing based on the Wordle.

This gets students thinking about what they will be learning, activating prior knowledge, and asking questions. It takes 2-3 minutes of guessing before we begin the lesson and it readies students for the learning that will follow. It seems to me that the anticipatory set is the piece most often left out of lesson plans, and it is a shame because it’s what excites students about learning.

5. Introduction-

The introduction of your lesson is a great place to give your students a 30,000 foot view of the lesson. Tell your students what they will be learning (the learning goal) and give them an overview of what will be expected of them during the lesson. During the introduction, you can also begin to activate prior knowledge about the subject. Do this through class discussion, a KWL chart, or through small group or buddy discussion.

6. Direct Instruction-

Direct instruction is the meat of your lesson. This is where you are actually teaching or coaching your students. This can be done in a variety of ways. Sometimes direct instruction is simply giving students directions and guidelines for the self guided, discovery learning they will be completing independently or with a friend. During direct instruction, make sure that you are incorporating different learning styles. I have found that one of the best ways to teach something is through a story. Students may not recall a list of facts about the Civil War, but if you can tell an engaging story about an event from the Civil War that includes pictures and role-playing for students, they will be able to recall significantly more later on.

Humans learn and relate to the world through stories and pictures. When someone mentions September 11th, you likely don’t think about a definition type answer of what happened on that day. What comes to mind are the stories people told, the video, and pictures that you saw. This is how we construct and frame knowledge. As often as you can, teach through stories. This is a difficult task at first, because it requires each of us to become storytellers. The rewards are great and as you compose lesson plans; you too will begin to think in story.

7. Guided Instruction-

Guided instruction is the instruction that happens in small groups or one on one with students. This is the point where students have actually begun a project or assignment. As students work, you can encourage and guide students in their learning. Guided instruction gives you the opportunity to find out what your students know and can do through anecdotal assessment. You are observing and helping or redirecting as needed. Students can pair up in partners or work in small groups to guide each other in new learning or review. During this time, if you notice students who aren’t quite getting it, you can pull them into smaller groups to re-teach.

8. Assessment-

Every lesson should have some form of assessment. This can be formal, informal, or anecdotal in nature.Formal assessment is usually in the form of a test, quiz, worksheet, or project that is turned in and graded. Informal assessment can be done during direct instruction. Asking students to write down their answer on a small whiteboard and hold it up, using clickers with an interactive whiteboard, or a simple “thumbs up if you agree, thumbs down if you disagree”. These are all great informal ways to gauge understanding. Anecdotal assessment is usually done during guided instruction as you are walking around and observing your students understanding. Not every lesson needs to be graded but every lesson does need to be assessed. As the teacher, you need to know if your students understood the learning and what re-teaching or follow-up teaching may be required. Every lesson should include informal and anecdotal assessment throughout the lesson.

9. Closure-

Every lesson should have some type of closure where students can summarize or wrap up their learning.

This could be done in several ways:

  • Through informal class assessment with clickers or thumbs up/down
  • Students could each list something they learned as a ticket to line up for lunch
  • Students could write a sentence in their journal summarizing a lesson
  • Students could whisper the answer to a question to their elbow buddy
  • The class could complete the KWL chart
  • Students could blog about their experience or learning
  • Students can add a piece of learning to a Wall Wisher wall www.wallwisher.comOften times a completed project is adequate closure for students, but don’t let them just turn the project in, let students show off their work to others and discuss.
    10. Differentiated Instruction-
    Students all learn in different ways and at different rates. Make sure that you account for adjustments that may need to be made for students. For example, if you have a student who struggles with reading, and the history lesson for the day requires extensive reading, plan to pair them up with a buddy, make an audio recording, etc. Think about those who will struggle with the learning and make a plan for them.

    Don’t let these rules for lesson planning overwhelm you. After you have written out a few lessons you will be able to start jotting notes down in your lesson planner and still fulfill every one of these key components for a quality lesson plan.

    Lesson planning takes practice, but with a little planning, your students will be learning more effectively and you will know exactly where they need review or additional practice.

    There are thousands and thousands of free lesson plans online. As you are looking through lessons, make sure that they follow these rules. If there is a component missing, add to the lesson and customize it for your classroom.

    For some free lesson plan resources, please check out the article in it’s entirety on The Apple.com, you will find the resources on page 3 of the article.

  • Rustle the Leaf

    Posted by admin | Posted in Character Education, Evaluate, Interactive book, Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 17-08-2010

    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

    5

    What it is: Rustle the Leaf is an enchanting site that I learned about from @alexgfrancisco’s excellent blog ZarcoEnglish-Tool of the DayRustle the Leaf is a collection of online comic strips that teach about the environment.  The comics star Rustle the Leaf (don’t you just love the name?) and his friends.  Each comic is designed to help kids think about and understand their relationship to the planet and how their actions affect the Earth.  The site has a great collection of teaching resources that include lesson plans, offline games, and comics.  In the kids fun section, students will find Earth Day e-cards, printable cards, computer desktops, printable posters, and book downloads.

    How to integrate Rustle the Leaf into your curriculum: I feel like when I was in elementary school (in the 80’s), that protecting the environment was a much bigger theme in schools than it is now.  Maybe it just isn’t as widely taught at the schools I am in, or maybe it has been cut out of curriculum because it isn’t tested on.  Regardless, the environment is as important to teach today as it was when I was growing up.  Rustle the Leaf is a fun way to help your students think about and understand environmental issues.  Use the site as the basis for a unit around Earth Day or help your students understand that everyday is Earth Day by reading and discussing a new comic every day.  The comics would be great discussion starters at the beginning of the day.  The resources on Rustle the Leaf are really well done, these can be used throughout the year, monthly, or all together as a focused unit.  Set the desktops on classroom computers with Rustle the Leaf wallpapers as a daily reminder of how to care for the environment.

    I have a feeling that students will fall in love with the Rustle the Leaf character.  If this is the case for your students, they may enjoy creating their own Rustle the Leaf comics about the environment.  They could even create a Rustle the Leaf comic reminding others to turn off the water or lights to be posted next to sinks and light switches in the classroom.

    Tips: At the bottom of the Rustle the Leaf homepage in the left sidebar, you will find links to animated shorts starring Rustle the Leaf.  These are entertaining and have a great message that tie directly into the comics and lesson plans on the site.  Don’t miss them!

    Please leave a comment and share how you are using Rustle the Leaf in your classroom!

    Hot Shot Business

    Posted by admin | Posted in Character Education, Fun & Games, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 25-06-2010

    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

    5

    What it is: The Disney website has a lot of engaging and fun content for kids, unfortunately, not all of it is educational.  Hot Shot Business is one of the better Disney games I have seen for the classroom.  It teaches kids about business and entrepreneurship through a fun simulation game.  Students are introduced to the idea of entrepreneurship and franchising by their virtual business hosts, Kate and Jack.  Kate and Jack offer advice and recommendations throughout the game.  The decisions that students will make throughout the game will have consequences that extend beyond profits and losses alone.  They will have to deal with environmental factors, as well as finding ways to provide jobs for members of the community.    Students can choose to start a pet spa, a candy factory, a comic shop, custom skateboard shop, professional landscaping, or a magic shop.  Kids are sure to find a business that they are interested in!  The entire game is narrated which is great for all levels of readers.  As students play the game, they will be exposed to the nuts and bolts of running their own business, they will have to make decisions about how to respond to market trends, how to respond to customer preferences, how to respond to fast breaking news reports that may affect their business,  and how to respond to ethical dilemmas.  Students even have access to a Hot Shot Business kit where they can download and print out business cards and fliers.

    How to integrate Hot Shot Business into the classroom: Hot Shot Business was designed to meet national standards in both language arts and math, making it fit easily into any curriculum.  The ideal setup for Hot Shot Business is a few days in the computer lab for a 1-to-1 setting where each student can work individually on setting up their own store.  Game play could extend for several days depending on the unit that you are teaching.  The Disney site has some excellent lesson plans and suggestions for implementation, I highly recommend them.  I like the idea of connecting with entrepreneurs in the community during this unit so that as students are working through the game, they can get advice and recommendations from those who do it every day.

    If you can’t make it happen in a computer lab setting over several days, choose a business to start as a class and make decisions as a team.  You can do this using an interactive whiteboard or projector connected computer.  In this scenario, students will have to discuss their decisions and reason with each other to decide on a course of action.

    Hot Shot Business is a really well designed game, it would be a great addition for the 3rd-6th grade classroom.  I suspect that it ties into several of the curricula already being used in schools, I know that Treasures (MacMillan McGraw Hill) has units that it fits nicely into.  This is great hands on learning, a definite step up from Lemonade Stand. :)

    Tips: This is a really great site, but I must warn you that it eats up the bandwidth!

    Please leave a comment and share how you are using Hot Shot Business in your classroom.

    Magic Tree House

    Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 13-04-2010

    Tags: , , , , , , ,

    2

    Picture 1

    What it is: The Magic Tree House is a popular book series for kids that teaches them about history through fun adventures that take place with the help of a time traveling Tree House.  Now students can take their love of the Magic Tree House Books online with the Magic Tree House Website.  Here, students can enter the Tree House and collect stamps for their passport by answering questions about each of the books.  Students can learn more about the Magic Tree House books, even reading excerpts from the books.  There are fun online games and printable activities for students to play and screen savers and wallpapers to download.

    Picture 2

    How to integrate Magic Tree House into the classroom: This is a great site for those students who are reading the Magic Tree House books.  The quizzes are a fun way for students to check comprehension and reflect on what they have read.  I love the passport that gets stamped each time they finish a book.  If you are reading the Magic Tree House books to your students, create a class passport for the year, your whole class can help answer the questions to earn the stamps.  The site is geared toward encouraging reading and a love of reading.  It just doesn’t get better than that!

    Tips: Be sure to take a look at the Teacher Tree for some great reading suggestions and lesson plan ideas.

    Please leave a comment and share how you are using Magic Tree House in your classroom.