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20 iTunes Feeds for the 2.0 Teacher

There are a lot of free podcasts that have been created with the teacher and tech nut in mind. Most of these podcasts are available free through iTunes. (If you don’t have iTunes, you can download it for free at Apple.com.) Here are 20 iTunes feeds that would be of interest to tech-savvy teachers: Teachers...

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Hooda Math: math fact practice that feels like fun

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

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Hooda Math: Practice math facts and have fun

Flappy factors: learn math playing games

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rodan + Fields Consultant

Fluency Finder App: Updated with new features!

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

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


Screen Shot 2013-03-04 at 2.29.31 PMFluency Finder

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

 

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

How to integrate Fluency Finder app into the classroom:

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

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

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

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

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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.

Quincy and the Magic Instruments

Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, Music, Primary Elementary, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 15-05-2012

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What it is:  Next year we are adding a kindergarten to Anastasis (currently we are a 1st-8th grade school). In honor of this addition, I’ve been digging up some fun primary sites and resources.  Quincy and the Magic Instruments is a great primary site to teach students about music and instruments.  The site is enchanting with it’s interactive story/video platform. It invites students to take part in the story and introduces them to various “magic” instruments. As students learn, they get mouse practice (dragging dropping) for some fine motor skills; matching shapes, and identifying different types of instruments.  Students also get exposed to a variety of types of music that instruments are used to create.

How to integrate Quincy and the Magic Instruments into the classroom:  Quincy and the Magic Instruments is a great site to introduce students to some basic fine motor mouse skills.  When I taught in the computer lab, I quickly learned that mouse manipulation doesn’t come as second nature for all students. They have to build up that fine motor skill to click, drag and drop.  I can’t tell you how many times I had to show students that their mouse wasn’t actually “broken” – they just had it upside down. :)

Quincy and the Magic Instruments is a fun place for students to learn about different kinds of instruments and the sounds they make.  As the instruments appear, you can help students identify what the name of each instrument is and even introduce them to the idea of major and minor notes.  If you are using the site as a class with an interactive whiteboard, annotate over each instrument with the name of the instrument and what part it plays in a band.

To expand on this little online game, ask students to make up a story about how Quincy’s baton got lost and why the magic instruments turned into different animals and objects.  How did the instruments come to be magic?

Tips: On any screen students can replay a song or jumble the instruments for an added challenge.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Quincy and the Magic Instruments in  your classroom!

Draw That Habitat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, Primary Elementary, Science, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 02-09-2010

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What it is: The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That is a new PBS TV series and website that ignites an excitement about science for primary students.  The series is based on the Beginner Book Collection “The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library”.  The goal of the series and online resources is to “cultivate positive views about science and scientists among the next generation-the children who will become tomorrow’s citizens and innovators-and help teachers and families build communities of science explorers.”  I don’t know about you, but I love the idea of building communities of explorers, science or otherwise!  In the TV series, The Cat in the Hat, Sally, and Nick set off on a science adventure.  In one episode, the trio flies with birds to discover why they migrate.  In another, they are taking a snowcat to the Arctic to explore freezing and melting.  As the Cat in the Hat guides them, the children solve problems by engaging in science inquiry.  Right now students can watch video clips on The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That website, play related games, find activities and coloring pages to print, and play games with snapshots from the program.  Right now adventures on the site include science concepts like bird migration, camouflage, and melting/freezing.

How to integrate The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That into your curriculum: If you are a regular visitor of my blog, you know that I am a big Dr. Seuss fan (see pictures of Dr. Seuss inspired classroom theme here).  While this site isn’t strictly Seuss, it does a remarkable job of bringing The Cat in the Hat to life with a focus on scientific inquiry.  Use the videos on the site to introduce your students to new science concepts including migration, camouflage, and melting/freezing (my guess is more will be added as the series takes off).  Students can engage in the inquiry process along with Sally and Nick and then practice the newly acquired concept in the games section.  This would be a fun site to use as a science center that students visit on classroom computers during a coordinating unit.  Students can view videos prior to exploring the concept as background knowledge, or watch the videos after engaging in their own inquiry process on the topic and compare the journey of inquiry taken.  Did Sally and Nick come to the same conclusions?

The printables on the site include fun mazes, coloring pages, matching vocabulary, and even bookmarks, stickers, and other paper crafts.  One of the print outs in the Paper Craft Sections is a Cat in the Hat frame that would be great for framing pictures of students engaging in their own scientific inquiry.

Tips: Be sure to click on the teacher button to find an Explorer’s Guide where you can find tips for engaging young students in scientific inquiry.  You will also find tips for using the online video in your classroom, a list of Cat in the Hat science books, and find video enhanced activities.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That in your classroom!

Beginning/Ending Sounds
Beginning/Ending Sounds
Scarecrow Joe beginning sounds flipchart/game and ending sounds flipchart/game. Students drag words and their pictures to the matching beginning or ending. Pictures return to original location if incorrect. Students receive immediate feedback. Grade Level: kindergarten/first
Price: $.99

Can Do Street: Hector’s Being Selfish

Posted by admin | Posted in Character Education, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Primary Elementary, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 22-07-2010

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What it is: Can Do Street is a website that has games, lessons, and videos focused on character development for young students.  The site is membership based but does have some free content. Hector’s Being Selfish is a free video on the site that teaches students what it means to be selfish.  The cartoon is easy to understand and helps kids recognize selfishness and what it means to be a good friend.  Throughout the video, students are given the chance to interact by answering questions.

How to integrate Hector’s Being Selfish into the classroom: Selfishness is one of those characteristics that young kids find difficult to understand.  It is hard to separate wants from being a good friend and expressing empathy!  This videos helps children recognize selfishness and offers ways that they can be a good friend.  Character education needs to be taught, we can’t expect that all children will naturally pick it up.  Kids come from different backgrounds and differing expectations at home.  Hector’s Being Selfish is a good video to begin the school year with, and would be a great reminder mid-year.  Watch the video as a whole class and invite students to vote on their answers throughout the video.

Tips: Each section of the Can Do Street website has a preview so you can get a feel for the types of activities they offer.  If you decide on a membership, plans are very affordable from $4.95/month to $24.95 for the year.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Hector’s Being Selfish in your classroom.

BBC: Magic Key

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Websites | Posted on 09-07-2010

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What it is: The BBC is a constant source of excellent classroom interactives and games.  Today I ran across Magic Key while working on supplementing MacMillan Mcgraw Hill’s Treasures curriculum for first grade.  Magic Key is based on a cartoon in the UK, even if your students aren’t familiar with the cartoon, they are sure to enjoy the website adventures.  Magic Key has fun literacy games for kindergarten and first grade students.  The games help students practice full stops (sentence endings), sentence order, questions, character characteristics, capital letters, seeing patterns, figuring out new words, descriptions, and words that make sounds.  The games are age appropriate, include fun characters, and help students practice and understand important literacy skills.  In each game, students enter an adventure where the goal is to collect the Magic Key.

How to integrate BBC: Magic Key into the classroom: The Magic Key games are short and sweet, they give students the opportunity to practice new skills independently.  I like to use games like these as a center activity.  These types of short games make a great center because they provide students with immediate feedback and are self leveling.  Set Magic Key up on your classroom computers as a literacy center for students to visit independently or in small groups.  Don’t forget that the interactive whiteboard or projector connected computer can also be a center station!  These games are a great alternative to the worksheet (you didn’t really want to grade one of those anyway) and will provide your students with an opportunity to practice what they are learning.

Tips: Check out the teacher section of Magic Key for a description of each game, the curriculum tie in, and (I hesitate to mention) worksheets.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using BBC: Magic Key in your classroom.

What’s the Time Mr. Wolf

Posted by admin | Posted in Language Arts, Math, Primary Elementary, Websites | Posted on 19-05-2010

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What it is: What’s the Time Mr. Wolf is a fun sequencing and time activities for students in kindergarten or first grade.  (I was just looking for one of these for a Treasures unit in first grade, great timing!).  In this game, students are asked to sequence pictures based on the time of day that they happened.  After sorting the photos, students must choose the correct time-of-day description to match the photo.  Finally, students are given analogue clocks with various times on them.  Students have to choose the correct clock to match the narration of the story.  

How to integrate What’s the Time Mr. Wolf into the classroom: What’s the Time Mr. Wolf is a great short activity that helps students practice sequencing, recognizing time-of-day high frequency words, and reading an analogue clock.  The activity is narrated and builds listening and direction-following auditory skills.   What’s the Time Mr. Wolf is a short and sweet activity that students can complete independently.  The game includes progress monitoring and provides students immediate feedback as they interact with it.

Tips: What’s the Time Mr. Wolf is another free game from Sherston.  They also sell this game as part of a complete software package.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using What’s the Time Mr. Wolf in your classroom.

National Geographic Young Explorer

Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, Geography, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Science, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 04-03-2010

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What it is: National Geographic has fantastic resources for the classroom.  Their Young Explorer online content is not to be missed in the primary classroom.  This is an online magazine specifically for kindergarten and first grade student (I think second grade students would also benefit).  The site lets students listen and read the latest stories from National Geographic Young Explorer.  The photographs are breath taking and the reading is very accessible to beginning readers and English language learners.  Each portion of the text has a speaker next to it that allows students to listen to the text.  Click on the “More Issues” button to access past issues.  In the “For Teachers” section, you will find print versions of the teacher’s guides complete with lesson plans, discussion questions, accompanying worksheets, and more.  There is a very helpful story planner that gives you upcoming themes.  These may be helpful when planning upcoming lessons.  

How to integrate National Geographic Young Explorer into the classroom: It can be hard to find quality, accessible informational reading for primary students.  National Geographic has solved this problem with Young Explorer.  I am amazed that National Geographic is offering these online for free!  Struggling readers can listen to the text read to them and read along.  English language learners receive support for their reading of the text.  The photographs and images are nothing less than excellent.  The teacher materials that are included will help you to utilize the magazines and stories effectively.

Read and discuss Young Explorer stories as a class using a projector or interactive whiteboard.  Teach your students how to read informational text, and the comprehension strategies that will help them to understand what they are reading.  Set up Young Explorer on the classroom computers as a reading center for students to visit during reading time.  Take a look at the Young Explorer archives to see if any of the past issues will support the learning you are doing in the classroom.

Tips: In the “For Teachers” section, you will find a link to interactive whiteboard content.  This is a link to National Geographic’s premium content that can be found on Promethean Planet.  These flipcharts are fantastic and include a teachers guide, printable blackline masters, teaching notes, and offline materials.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using National Geographic Young Explorer in your classroom.

Neo K12

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Fun & Games, Geography, History, Interactive Whiteboard, Internet Safety, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Music, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, video, Video Tutorials, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 01-03-2010

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What it is: Neo K12 is an outstanding online collection of educational videos, lessons and games for students in grades k-12.  Neo K12 believes that “kids learn best by ‘seeing’ the real world.”  They have created this site with that belief in mind.  Neo K12 has cataloged the best free online educational videos from the Internet in one place.  Each video is watched and reviewed by k-12 educators to ensure their accuracy and appropriateness for students.  Subjects include physical science, life science, human body, earth and space, social studies, math, English (including phonics, stories, and grammar), and fun videos such as time lapse, slow motion, arts and crafts, learn magic, music lessons, and sports lessons.   In addition to videos, Neo K12 has Web 2.0 tools.  The  School Presentation tool is a mashup of Flickr and Wikipedia, and allows users to create and share presentations online. To create a presentation, students choose pictures for their presentation from Flickr, read and article about the subject from Wikipedia, and then add text to their presentation.   When the presentation is finished, it can be printed or viewed online as a slideshow.  Quizzes, games, and puzzles on Neo K12 are an interactive way to improve learning.  Teachers can create and share videos playlists complete with notes and instructions for their students. 

How to integrate Neo K12 into the classroom: Videos provide excellent opportunities for learning, they make it possible for kids to visualize and build a model in their minds.  This helps them to better understand key concepts and can stimulate curiosity in a subject.  When students or teachers search a subject, they are given a list of related videos, quizzes, games, and puzzles.  When a teacher creates an account, they can create a complete assignment within Neo K12 that includes instructions and notes for the students.  Students can complete the assignment by watching videos, playing related games and creating a School Presentation that shows understanding.  The presentations are easy enough for even young students to create.  Primary students can skip reading the Wikipedia article and just choose pictures and add some captions about facts they learned from a video they viewed.  These videos are a great way to introduce new learning, expand on previous learning, or to spark curiosity in a topic.

Many of the educational games and puzzles would be great for an interactive whiteboard as whole class activities.  They could, of course, also be used as classroom center activities, or completed individually in the computer lab. The jigsaw puzzles can be used as teasers to introduce a new topic.  The jigsaw puzzles use incredible images from Flickr.  Have students take turns coming up to the interactive whiteboard to put puzzle pieces together.  Students waiting at their seats can take guesses about what new learning you will be doing in class.

Tips: Create a free Neo K12 account, you will receive a dashboard where you can store videos, games, presentations, quizzes, and add notes and instructions.  You get a unique URL for your dashboard to share.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Neo K12 in your classroom.