Featured Post

An Awesome Book by Dallas Clayton: Free online

What it is:  Dallas Clayton created An Awesome Book for his son.  The book is about the idea of dreaming BIG and never giving up.  He decided to self publish and worked hard to spread the love of reading the world over.  Since then, Clayton has offered his book free online (lucky us!) and started...

Read More

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

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

4

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.

Math Trail: Powered by GoogleMaps

Posted by admin | Posted in Geography, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Math, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 02-04-2013

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

1

Screen Shot 2013-04-01 at 1.35.34 PM

What it is: Math Trail is a neat way for students to explore virtual trails that lead to a variety of locations connected by a theme.  Along the way, students put their math and geography skills to the test.  The trail list currently has eight trails to choose from, with varying degrees of difficulty.  Students can choose an Olympic trail, 7 Wonders, Towers, Rivers, Eminent Mathematicians, Famous Islands, Cricket or Ramanujan trails. To begin, students choose a trail and then click on the “start” button.  A list of instructions pops up.  In each trail, math questions are hidden around the map.  Students zoom in within the map to the location suggested by the clue.  There are little balloons located all over the map.  If students struggle to find the location, they can click the “show location” button at the bottom.  At the bottom of the page, there is a white box that holds clues.  When students reach a location, they are given a math challenge to complete.  At each location, students have the opportunity to earn a gold coin.

How to integrate Math Trail into the classroom:  I like the integration of history, geography, social studies and math in this game.  Students aren’t just going through a series of multiple choice math problems.  Instead, students are set forth on a journey and asked to locate various places according to the clues given.  This means that as their math skills are put to the test, they are exercising that geography muscle as well!  I don’t know what it is about maps, but they are just fun to explore.  The treasure hunt nature of Math Trail keeps it interesting.  Students get math practice and geography practice along the way.  This beats the practice set that is in the textbook!

I found some of the “low” and “medium” level questions to be challenging.  Before playing with students, go through the trails to find the challenge that is most appropriate for your students.  This could mean that you have students playing different trails.  The low end seems to be 6th-7th grade math with the Medium being middle school and the High being high school.

These trails are great for exploring on their own, but you could have students go through a trail together using the interactive whiteboard.  Give each student an opportunity help the class search for the location (the class can help or bring in a Google search for particularly difficult clues).  Each student can work out the math problem on their own and then come to a consensus of which answer to play in the game.

Tips: I wish that Math Trail provided a cheat sheet of all of questions in the game so that teachers could choose a trail for their students at-a-glance.  If anyone has done this, let us know where to find it!

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

Buzz Math: Middle school math practice for proficiency

Posted by admin | Posted in Knowledge (remember), Math, Middle/High School, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 18-06-2012

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

0

What it is:  Buzz Math is not a completely free to use tool, but they do have a free option that makes it worth checking out! Right now, you can subscribe one class for free for the school edition of Buzz Math.  Buzz Math is intended for students in Middle School math.  All of the activities are directly tied to Common Core Standards.  You can assign activities based on a specific standard for the whole class, or just assign the activity to individual students.  You get feedback immediately as students complete an activity so that you can plan instruction accordingly.  These are not your typical math site activities (online multiple choice).  Instead, each activity is a little different, highly engaging, and provides students with great feedback.

Students can choose to do an activity of interest or complete the specific activities assigned by their teacher.  When students complete a set number of activities within a topic, a special mission is unlocked that is related to math history.  Students are challenged to help mathematicians to recover “lost” knowledge.  Students also have access to Buzzlab which connects the theme of the missions to the storyline.

Each activity is made up of 10 pages of practice question that cover a specific concept to help students practice and improve their skills.  Activities include both direct practice and interactive components.  Students must complete an activity with 100% accuracy (mastery) before they can unlock a mission.  The mission that follows is a more challenging problem solving activity.  Students can get example problems with each activity to help them solve problems.

I am really impressed with Buzz Math.  The entire program is really well thought out, great for students and teachers.  This is one I would pay for additional students/classes.

How to integrate Buzz Math into the classroom: Buzz Math is ideal in a one to one or computer lab setting.  I love that you can tailor Buzz Math for an individual student.  Instead of just giving a whole class an activity/assignment (which you can also do), Buzz Math lets you choose which students to assign a standards based activity to.  Duh! I can’t believe more programs aren’t set up this way.  It makes sense to use technology to customize learning to the student this way.  There is no reason not to!

Buzz Math would be great for in-class practice or for additional home practice.  Students can login to their individual account anywhere for anytime learning.

Buzz Math could be used in the one or two computer classroom as a learning center.  Students can filter through the computer one at a time throughout the week so that each week each student gets the opportunity to login to their account.

Tips: The teacher portal has a great breakdown of student progress including student session lengths, you can see exactly how long students practiced.  Detailed reports can be printed out for parents.

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

YouTube saves the day: Busting Conspiracy Theories

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Create, Evaluate, Friday Recap, History, inspiration, Middle/High School, Science, Secondary Elementary, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 18-02-2011

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

5

As  you may remember, I am currently working to bring a school from zero technology integration to full technology integration in a one to one laptop setting.  I am working alongside a WONDERFUL teacher who is eager to learn with her students.  The school initially asked me if I would just teach this group of middle school students technology as a separate subject.  I explained why I would rather work alongside the teacher so that both students and teacher could learn technology together and we could integrate it into the learning that was already happening in the classroom.  They agreed and I am now working with the teacher to weave technology into the learning that is already happening in the classroom.  On Fridays, I model how to use technology within the learning they are doing.  Today the learning focus was astronomy.  I had the students start out in Capzles where they are building an interactive timeline of the astronomy events that they are learning. Each time they learn about a new discovery, historical figure, or space mission, they add images, reflections, and information to their timeline.  I have to say, the Capzles interface is turning out to be the perfect place for them to collect all of their learning and creations in one place!

Throughout the week, students are keeping a night sky observation journal on Capzles.  Not only are they studying about historical figures who made astronomical discoveries, they are adding their own discoveries to the timeline.  Capzles lets students add blog posts right within the timeline.  Students are taking pictures, and writing about their observations, reflections, and questions as a nightly blog post.  In addition to adding their pictures to Capzles, students will also be uploading their photos to Planet FOSS where they have the opportunity to view other students night sky observations and add their own.

Today I taught the students how to add a YouTube video to their timeline.  I have to admit, this isn’t the one-step process I would hope for (either the ability to use the YouTube embed code or just copy/paste the link to embed).  Students first searched for videos about the moon using NeoK12.  Then they click on the YouTube link within the video so that they can view the video in YouTube. In front of the YouTube URL the students typed “kick” so that they could download the video to their computers.  From here, they can upload the video to their Capzles.  You can view my step-by-step instructions for that process here. Even though it isn’t a simple one-step process, it still isn’t difficult and it gave students the opportunity to practice downloading and uploading files- bonus tech skills that are built-in is always a good thing!

After students learned how to embed video, we headed over to the site We Choose the Moon.  If you haven’t seen this site, it is a MUST. It has been around for a few years and is absolutely incredible.  It drops students right into the Apollo 11 mission and gives them the chance to “re-live” that experience.  The students were totally engaged and excited to look through the pictures, video, comment on the fashion of the day, how much technology has changed, etc.  The dialogue as they explored and completed the interactive was incredible.  This interactive let students travel back in time and made them feel as if they were witnessing history first hand. Incredible.  Reading a text-account just can’t do an event like this justice.  During the interactive one of the students casually mentioned that he didn’t believe that we had ever really been to the moon, he thought it was a conspiracy theory and started pulling up websites supporting his claim.  This led to a lively class debate.

I remembered seeing a Myth Busters episode where they busted those moon landing conspiracy theories.  I pulled up the YouTube video on my iPad for students and we watched as the Myth Busters busted each one of the conspiracies that the boy had found online support for.  It was an AWESOME learning experience for all of the students as they learned about perspective, atmosphere, vacuums, and light.

You know what I love about technology?  It spurs and enables learning experiences.  Without technology in that classroom today, the conspiracy theory student might have mentioned the theories he had heard. Kids would have chuckled and rolled their eyes and that would have been the end of it.  Because we had access to technology, the conspiracy theorist was immediately able to pull up evidence to support his claim.  He even had some students who were initially rolling their eyes believing that the theories might be true.  Other students immediately jumped in to support the opposing view, that Americans had indeed landed on the moon.  This is authentic learning at its best.  Students practiced searching, taking a position, forming a persuasive argument, debating, and going through the scientific process of hypothesis, experimentation, and conclusion.  None of this was in our learning plans for the day… it was SO much better than anything I could have planned. We were able to immediately pull up a Myth Busters episode on YouTube (yet another example of why filtering policies need to be re-thought!).  The class ended with students making plans to re-create some of the Myth Buster experiments so that they could see the outcomes first hand.

Today reminded me of why I am passionate about technology in education. It also reminded me of why I love learning.

Best quote of the day from a student: “This is cool, I thought we would just learn about technology, I didn’t know we were actually going to get to use it.”

What a novel thought, using technology as a tool to learn.

Science Fix: Video demos and experiments

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Evaluate, Middle/High School, Science, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video | Posted on 16-02-2011

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

1

What it is: Science Fix is a fantastic video blog that I learned about from my friend and PLN colleague Kyle Pace. The videos are all recorded science experiments and demos from middle school science teacher Darren Fix.  The majority of the videos are chemistry related but there is also some good physics videos in there as well.  The videos are hosted on YouTube so if you don’t have access, you may have to use one of those tricky ways to download and save from home. (See Tips below for ways to do that.)

How to integrate Science Fix into the classroom: Science Fix is a great place to find demos and science experiment videos to share with your students. These videos will help your students better visualize and understand the concepts that they are learning in your class.  We don’t all have robust resource budgets, sometimes we have to pick and choose what we will be able to demo for our class live. These videos are a big help in bringing those experiments to our classrooms when budgets don’t allow us to do it live.  There are great descriptions and additional links and resources along with each video.

Tips: For those of you who don’t have access to YouTube in your building, you can still use these awesome videos in your classrooms with a little bit of pre-planning.  Download and save YouTube videos so that you can show them at school without accessing the YouTube site. UseKeepVidYouTube DownloaderHDKick YouTubeSaveVid, or Zamzar.  Some of these tools will even let you download at school if you know the YouTube url.  The downloaded video should have no trouble playing at school!

You can follow ScienceFix on Twitter here.

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

Google Science Fair: Registration open!

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Character Education, Create, Evaluate, Middle/High School, Science, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 12-01-2011

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

1

What it is: About a month ago I wrote a post about Google Science Fair… great news! Registration is now open :) Google has partnered with NASA, CERN, National Geographic, Scientific American, and LEGO group to create a new global competition.  Students ages 13 to 18 can take part in the competition and compete for prizes including once-in-a-lifetime experiences, internships and scholarships.  Submissions will be accepted between January 11 and April 4, 2011.

From the Google Science Fair website:

Why Google Science Fair?

  • Digital — Students are immersed in a digital world and can be thought of as digital natives. Why not have them investigate, evaluate, analyze, synthesize, and publish their results using an electronic medium that is relevant for them? It is a cost–saving and greener alternative.
  • Global — This program’s reach goes far beyond that of any school site, district, region, or even state. Be among the schools around the world that will be sharing students’ findings with each other.
  • Collaborative — Google tools are all made to be collaborative whether students (and teachers) are in the same classroom or across the Atlantic. Students have the ability to work together anywhere, anytime to investigate a topic or question of interest.

How to integrate Google Science Fair into your curriculum: Google Science Fair is a fantastic opportunity for your students to connect with others globally and work on some scientific inquiry at the same time. Check out the website for full details about the competition and ways that you can integrate it into your classroom.

Tips: Sign up today to receive the Science Fair kit and get your students entered into the competition!

Figment: Writing community for students

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Blogs, Character Education, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, inspiration, Internet Safety, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 08-12-2010

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

4

What it is: Figment is a brand new website and writing community for students 13 years old and older (middle or high school only!).  This is a place where students can read student writing, share their own writing, connect with other student writers, and discover new stories and authors.  Students will find a community of writers and readers who like to share collaborate, and discuss a variety of topics in the online forum.

How to integrate Figment into your curriculum: Do you have students who can’t get enough creative writing time?  Figment is a perfect match.  Students who love to write can join a community of other students who enjoy to write.  This is a great place for them to share their writing, read other students writing and learn how to give, and accept, critiques and recommendations on their writing.  This is a great place for students to analyze and evaluate each other’s writing.  Have a class of creative writers?  Send all of your students to Figment to share their writing with other students.  Your students can learn and practice providing constructive criticism and netiquette in Figment.  Working with another class from another school, district, state or country?  Send both sets of students on Figment as a platform for sharing and discussing their writing.

*There is no teacher portal for Figment, if your students are using Figment in school, be sure to sign up for an account and monitor your students use of Figment.

Tips: The sign up requires an email address, twitter account, or Facebook account. Make sure your students have one of the three before using Figment in class.

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

Read Me

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Blogs, Character Education, Create, Evaluate, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Music, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 27-09-2010

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

6

What it is: Do you want your students to become deep thinkers?  Read Me is an incredible set of engaging resources that will have your students thinking deeply about who they are and how learning and thinking is vital to their life.  The resources have been designed to reach 11 to 14-year-old boys, to excite them about reading in and out of the classroom.  I can tell you that as a girl, I am enjoying these resources just as much,  I think that would be true of girls in the 11 to 14 age range as well.  Read Me (by the National Schools Partnership) has created six modules that connect with students at their interest level and teach them how to be reflective, deep thinkers and learners.

This is me- covers an understanding of autobiographical texts in traditional (diary) and modern (blog) contexts.  This is me includes teachers notes and presentations that will help students to explore autobiographical texts and self-expression through blogging.

Sport & me- asks students to explore sports websites and media texts by analyzing their structure and presentation.  Students take on the role of a persuasive sports person and ultimately create their own report or website.

Love 4 me- helps students explore different types of love by using texts from a variety of time periods and genres (including images, short extracts, music, lyrics) as well as in Romeo and Juliet.  Students engage with a range of texts that are thematically linked by love.  The culminating activity here is for students to create their own chat show and to create a collage based on love.  (I’m not sure if 11-14 year old boys would be into this topic…but this one will hook the girls for sure!)

Film + me- students use film trailers and titles to develop an understanding of how meaning is created through a combination of words, images, and sounds.  After students have analyzed film trailers and titles, they are asked to present a novel as a trailer.

Graphics 4 me- this one is my favorite because it comes with an awesome graphic novel tool (learn about it here) Here students explore how graphic novels work and become familiar with the medium and its complexity.  Students can create their own graphic novel online using this tool.

Music in me- students explore songs, their lyrics, and the impact they have on their audience.  As a result, students understand how society is presented through music and the media and stereotypes and attitudes it can help to perpetuate.

How to integrate Read Me into your curriculum: There is so much learning that will happen as a result of these six modules, but at the heart of Read Me is a goal to excite kids about reading.  Read Me has incredible ideas and resources for the language arts/literature/literacy classroom.  Use these resources to connect your students with story, passion, and understanding of how language is used.  There is something for every kid to connect with here.  Each module contains teachers notes, resources, links, and tips.  This is a truly incredible resource and collection for this age group.  Read Me encourages students to understand, analyze, evaluate, apply, and create.

Tips: This site includes a graphic novel creator.  I am writing about it separately because it deserves its own post.  You can find it here.

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

MathMovesU

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Evaluate, Knowledge (remember), Math, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 22-09-2010

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

6

What it is: MathMovesU is an interactive virtual world where middle school students can interact with algebra, geometry, decimals, fractions, and word problems through topics they are passionate about like sports, music, and fashion.  As students navigate through MathMovesU they will encounter math problems delivered through games, polls, and fun facts.  The site is a great supplement to curriculum and will help students practice and improve their math skills in a fun, engaging manner.

How to integrate MathMovesU into the classroom: MathMovesU is an innovative approach to math practice that shows kids how math is used in real life.  As students explore the MathMovesU virtual world they will collect points by discovering math and tracking solutions.  This site truly encourages students to discover more, dig deeper and think critically about math.  Start your own MathMovesU class competition for the school year where students work to earn the most points.  MathMovesU is a great alternative to worksheet practice.  It is best to use MathMovesU in a one to one scenario where each student has their own computer to work on.  If a one to one experience isn’t possible, use classroom computers as a center.  Throughout the year students can rotate through the center to earn points and practice.

Tips: MathMovesU needs a robust network, the site is highly interactive but can crawl if you have a lab full of students accessing it at once.

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

Math Doesn’t Suck

Posted by admin | Posted in inspiration, Math, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 24-05-2010

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

2

Picture 5

What it is: Danica McKellar (also known as Winnie Cooper of The Wonder Years) has written a book called Math Doesn’t Suck.  Danica makes her love for math contagious and helps middle school girls to realize that Math Doesn’t Suck.  On the Math Doesn’t Suck website, students can take a fun quiz called “Do You Hide Your Smarts (especially around guys)”, access a full solution guide to accompany the Math Doesn’t Suck book, learn more about the book, and get news and book signings.  

How to integrate Math Doesn’t Suck into the classroom: There is a large population of girls (particularly in middle school) who believe that they are no good at math, they have already convinced themselves that girls are not as good at math as boys.  They may believe that it isn’t cool or fashionable to be good at math.  Danica aims to change these perceptions with her fun book Math Doesn’t Suck. If you teach girls in middle school math, start the year off with the “Do You Hide Your Smarts” quiz.  It could give you great insight to what your girls believe about themselves in relation to math.  Start a book club or assign Math Doesn’t Suck as reading to start your year.  The book is a fun read that girls will connect with.   Help transform your students perceptions of math and begin the year with girls who believe that they can be successful and good at math.  The book includes

  • A unique Troubleshooting Guide to help students get “unstuck” and overcome their biggest challenges
  • True stories from Danica’s own life as a terrified math student, confident actress, and everything in between
  • A math horoscope, math personality quizzes, real-life testimonials, and more!

Tips: In the trouble shooting section, students will find solutions to these common math problems:

  • “Math bores me to death.”
  • “When it’s time to do Math, I get scared and try to avoid it.”
  • “I get confused and lost during class.”
  • “I think I understand something, but then I get the wrong answer in my homework.”
  • “At test time, I freeze up and can’t remember anything.”

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Math Doesn’t Suck in your classroom.