Hooda Math: math fact practice that feels like fun

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.

Trapped! Punctuation: Punctuation Practice for October

What it is:  I’ve long been a fan of the BBC’s Bitesize games and activities.  They continue to grow and continue to impress me.  I recently ran across the BBC Bitesize Trapped! Punctuation game.  It couldn’t be a more perfect way to practice punctuation in October.  It has all the elements that students will enjoy: a challenge in the form of a story, spooky characters and setting (but not too spooky), a built in extra game challenge to get from one level to the next.  The game begins with a short animation explaining how students got trapped in a tower and how they will solve punctuation puzzles to get free.  Students have to choose the correct punctuation to complete each puzzle.  After they have chosen the punctuation, they have to use some physics/experimentation to get an apple into a hole to move on to the next level.  This is FUN punctuation practice!

How to integrate Trapped! Punctuation into the classroom: Trapped! Punctuation is a fun way for students to practice placement of punctuation in writing. This beats worksheet practice hands down.  I like that the site puts students in the middle of a story and challenge.  Students will have to consider why a punctuation mark is appropriate in each place.  After students choose the punctuation to complete the puzzle, students have an additional challenge of getting an apple into a hole.  There are some very basic physic principles introduced here.  Students have to use the mouse to choose the angle and speed to shoot the apple to get to their goal.  The puzzles get increasingly difficult and add the additional challenge of extra twists and turns to get the apple through.  The second challenge asks students to choose the correct form of punctuation by “herding” crates with the mouse.

I like that these games are not your typical drill and kill.  They aren’t simply choose the right answer and move on.  There is an additional problem solving component built into each game.  Can’t beat that!

Trapped Punctuation would be a great challenge for kids in a one to one computer setting.  Don’t have that luxury? The games are quick enough to be used as a center activity in the one or two computer classroom.  Set up Trapped! Punctuation as one of the centers in the classroom for students to visit as part of their rotation.

Tips: This practice is fun and challenging enough that students may want to continue practice at home.  Be sure to share this link with parents, they are always looking for good uses of home computer time!

Help me personalize education for EVERY child!  Donate and spread the word about the Learning Genome Project.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buzz Math: Middle school math practice for proficiency

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.

BBC Bitesize: Converting fractions into decimals

What it is: BBC Bitesize consistently has wonderful games and activities for the classroom.  The Converting Fractions into Decimals activity isn’t one I have come across in the past, but it is a winner none the less.  This is a great place for students to gain some practice with fraction to decimal conversion.  The activity is set up like a secret mission.  Students get their briefing on the mission (including a short description of how the conversion is performed) and must solve a series of problems to unlock secret doors and compartments.

How to integrate BBC Bitesize Converting Fractions into Decimals into the classroom:  I appreciate that BBC Bitesize didn’t just create another boring drill practice game.  Instead, they surround students with story and give them a secret mission to complete that puts their newly learned converting skills to use. The activity takes about 10 minutes (more depending on your students) and could be completed independently in a one to one or computer lab setting, as a center rotation in the classroom, or using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer as a class.  If you complete the mission as a class, make sure that each student has the opportunity to solve a problem to help complete the mission.  With young students I always like to make a big deal of these type of activities if we are completing them as a class.  I might hand out “Top Secret” folders before we do the mission with reminders about how to convert and a few practice problems to jog their memory before completing the BBC Bitesize activity.
Tips:  BBC Bitesize has links under the activity where students can read more about converting fractions to decimals and an online quiz they can take.

Super Math World

What it is: Super Math World is a site that has been around a LONG time… I mean, it is on my tenkely.org site for crying out loud! I made that site a good 8 years ago.  I took a look at it again today and am very impressed with the updates and changes that have been made.  Super Math World isn’t a totally free site but it does have a LOT of free content that kids can access.  To utilize the free portions of Super Math World, login as a guest by clicking the “Guest” button.  There are math games that teach and reinforce concepts for kindergarten through twelfth grade.  Free topics include: adding, measures, number patterns, percentages, place value, area, estimating, fractions, negative numbers, set theory, venn diagrams, and series.  The kids will enjoy the arcade-like practice area.

How to integrate Super Math World into the classroom:  Super Math World makes a great computer center activity during math.  The games are quick-enough that students can filter through classroom computers for their turn over a few periods.  The games would also make fun whole-class interactive whiteboard games.  These are intended to be one player, so you can split your students into teams and have them take turns at the board.  Keep a tally of the correct responses to find out which team is the “winner”.  My students always really enjoyed this type of friendly competition.
Of course, the site also makes a great practice area for kids in a computer lab setting.  Some of the games are multi-player so kids can team up on computers to play.
If you want a look at how I rotated students through centers on classroom computers, this post explains it.
Tips:  The paid subscription brings you LOTS more games (and concepts).  If your students enjoy the site, it may be worth getting the subscription.

Zoo Whiz

What it is:  Zoo Whiz is a new education site that encourages kids to be “whizzes” in math, reading and word development.  There are levels and content for students from 5 to 15 years old.  There are over 11,200 interactive activities to help unleash the whiz in every child.  The games and activities go beyond simple drill and skill to build higher order thinking skills and problem solving strategies.  The activities build fluency in math, reading and word development.  Zoo Whiz has kids practice math, reading and word skills through a series of activities and games that gets progressively difficult.  As students play games, they earn Zoo Whiz “money” that will allow them to purchase animals to build up their zoo.  Young students will really enjoy this aspect of Zoo Whiz!
In the math sections, students will learn:
• Numeration: integers, operations, money
• Multiplication & division
• Fractions & decimals: ratio, percentages
• Patterns & algebra: patterns, relationships
• Data: recording, displaying and interpreting data
• Measurement: length, area, volume/capacity, mass, time
• Space & geometry: 2D, 3D, position, angle, transformations, symmetry

Currently Zoo Whiz is in public beta.  There are still some areas that are being developed and released.  There are two versions of Zoo Whiz: a free account and a premium account that provides students with additional content and abilities within the game.  In the public beta, both versions are free.  While the site may have curricular material for students up to age 15+, I’m not sure a 15 year old student would spend any amount of time on this site.  It is definitely more geared for the under 10 crowd.

How to integrate Zoo Whiz into the classroom: Zoo Whiz is a fun new way for students to hone their math, reading and word skills.  Because every student has their own login, they can practice the subjects at their own level and at their own pace.  The site makes a great center activity, providing students extra practice for basic, key skills.  I like the way Zoo Whiz activities present concepts in a variety of ways to ensure that students have a real understanding of a concept (instead of memorization of a fact alone).  Zoo Whiz is a great place for students to build fluency.
I like the way that Zoo Whiz has set up the school and classroom accounts to be linked with a home account.  This makes it easy for both parents and teachers to stay aware of what skills students are working on, where they are successful, and where they could use some additional help.
Students will enjoy earning money to purchase animals for their zoo.
If you don’t have the opportunity for students to play these games individually, consider using a projector-connected computer or an interactive whiteboard to play the games as a class.  Create one class account for students to play from.  Students can take turns helping the class earn money for their zoo and decide which animals should be added.   When I had only one computer in the classroom, I turned activities like Zoo Whiz into a class game.  Sometimes I would split the kids into teams to see which team could earn the most points and others we would work collaboratively to get to a benchmark that we predetermined.  Either way, all students should be involved in game play.

Tips: I learned about Zoo Whiz from iLearn Technology reader, Tania.  Thank you Tania!  Zoo Whiz looks like a fun addition to the classroom.  Be sure to let parents know about Zoo Whiz, this could be a fun way to continue practice at home.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inside Story Flashcards: The world’s most interesting way to learn words

What it is:  First of all, how about that for a tagline?  “The world’s most interesting way to learn words” is a lofty goal for anyone to reach, but I must say, Inside Story Flashcards is doing a bang up job of it!  What makes these vocabulary flashcards so great is the accompanying pictures.  They are so appropriate for the words they are describing and offer a great visual to associate with the word.  In addition to the well matched picture, students can click on a speaker icon for audio of the word.  Students can choose to show or hide the definition.  Students can choose words at four different levels: Basic (includes words like seven, comb, typewriter); Easy (includes words like attire, inclined, endorsement); Medium (includes words like prodigy, monochrome, dank) and Hard (includes words like crepuscular, bedizened, atavistic).

The online flashcards are fantastic but there are also free printable flashcards for offline use!

How to integrate Inside Story Flashcards into the classroom:  Inside Story Flashcards are a superb addition to any classroom.  They are just the ticket for visual learners…petrified will forever more be associated with the kitten picture above in my mind!  These flashcards are a fun way to practice vocabulary and learn a new word.

Use the site with the whole class using a projector-connected computer or an interactive whiteboard.  Split students into teams to see which team can come up with the most creative sentence using the new vocabulary word.  The online flashcards also make a great creative writing prompt.  Students can use the newly learned vocabulary in connection with the picture displayed.

Students can practice their vocabulary skills on classroom computers using the “hide definition” feature.  Students can quiz themselves and then show the definition to find out if they are correct.

The print flashcards can be used in the low tech or no tech classroom.  Print out flashcards to keep in a writing inspiration station.  Students can use them to learn new vocabulary or to inspire writing.

Start your day with a new word.  This can be the “word of the day”, challenge students to use the word of the day in conversation at some point during the day.

Do you have students who are gearing up for the SATs?  Send this link home for some fun practice/learning time.

Tips: At Inside Story Flashcards, you can also purchase sets of flashcards with a theme.  I’m liking the cat and dog flashcards.  Can Haz vocabulary.

**For those who are wondering, I did write this post on my iPad.  It was not wicked hard…just different.