## DragonBox Math Apps: Teaching students to think like mathematicians

What it is: I adore the DragonBox math apps! I was first introduced to DragonBox through their Algebra app. The app takes away all math anxiety by teaching algebraic concepts without numbers or algorithms. It is genius! You can read my review of that app here. DragonBox Numbers is for kids who are new to numbers, counting, addition, and subtraction. DragonBox BIG Numbers is the next level app of Dragon Box Numbers. As they play, children learn about how big numbers work, and how to perform long addition and subtraction. In DragonBox Elements, students will secretly learn geometry. By playing 100+ puzzles, kids will gain a deep understanding of the logic of geometry. As they play, students will actually be recreating the mathematical proofs that define geometry. What I love about the DragonBox suite of math games is that they are unlike any other math apps. You won’t find mindless repetitions and quizzes of math facts, instead, these games help teach students how to think like mathematicians. This is learning math through exploration.

How to integrate Dragon Box math apps into your classroom: The DragonBox math apps take advantage of a student’s innate curiosity through play and exploration of math concepts. Each game engages students through exploration, reflection, and application.  If you have a 1:1 iPad classroom, use these apps daily! Students can play a game, and then come together as a class to reflect and write down the rules they have learned in that “chapter.” Then, take an equation from the game and solve it on paper. See if students can connect the cards and rules of the game to the equations on paper. Solve the equations using strategies and rules from the game.

In a one or two device classroom, play DragonBox as a class by connecting your device to a projector. Explore the rules together and let students take turns being in charge of a chapter. Review rules and make connections as a class. Set up DragonBox as a math center that students can visit in a rotation where one center is interacting with the game, the next is an opportunity to record rules learned and reflect, and the last is application of the rules to an equation.

Be sure to check out the DragonBox for educators where you can download teachers guides and printable resources for each game in the DragonBox math suite. You’ll also find a great “rules” guide for the algebra and geometry games.

These are seriously my favorite math apps of all time! They encourage kids who can think and apply like mathematicians rather than kids who simply memorize a formula. DragonBox creates a deep understanding of mathematical concepts and number relationships.

Tips: While the DragonBox suite of math apps aren’t free, you can purchase them at a deep discount for educational institutions and bulk purchases. Teachers, you can get access for free to make sure that the apps are right before committing to a purchase for your students. You can also purchase apps in bundles.

What: The Michigan Reading Association is hosting an interactive virtual book club for anyone to join via Facebook.   This is an opportunity to network with educators around the world and take charge of your own professional development.  The first book is Readicide by Kelly Gallagher (who will be hosting the book club with the Michigan Reading Association).  If you aren’t familiar with this book, you can read a post I wrote when the book was first released here.  The idea behind the virtual book club is to give educators a place to connect with others, share ideas, reflect and improve your classroom.

Where: It is easy to join just click to view the Facebook invitation and select “I’m Attending.

When: The book club will meet during the month of May.  Login whenever you are available to browse posts and conversations and add your own thoughts.  Each week there will be a post that outlines a general road map that chunks chapters so we are reading and reflecting at a similar pace.

I really enjoyed reading Readicide and look forward to reading it again-this time with friends to reflect with!  Who else will be joining us?

Thank you to Erin for inviting me!

## Class Blogs: Blogging, virtual classroom, LMS, and more!

What it is: Class Blogs is a fabulous new way for you to easily create and manage FREE classroom blogs!  What makes Class Blogs so wonderful are all the extras that are built in.  For example, with Class Blogs you can create a virtual classroom space.  With just a few simple steps, you can create an online meeting space for your students to learn and discuss in.  Blogs can be used to post assignments; when you post an assignment to your teacher blog, students can submit the assignment and a pingback will be sent to your blog.  Class Blogs even has features that utilize SMS so that you can send a text message to students and the ability to host lesson plans complete with supporting resources!  Class blogs really offers more than just a blogging platform, it offers many Learning Management System (LMS) solutions making it a great all-in-one tool!  Here are just a few of the ways you can use Class Blogs:

• Class Blogs – Teachers and students can create blogs to help facilitate classroom learning or the blog can be an extension of the classroom conversation.
• Learning Logs – Learning logs are sites created by teachers for the purpose of creating online assignments for students. Students can then answer the questions and submit the assignments once they are completed.
• Learning Management System (LMS) – Teachers can create a blog and use it as a learning management system. Teachers can post online courses and students can submit their assignments (through blog posts) for the course online as well. These assignments can be viewed by the instructor, the instructor can submit feedback, and the instructor can grade the student’s assignment online. Both the teacher and his/her students must have blogs in order to create a successful LMS.
• Electronic Portfolio (E-Portfolio) – An e-portfolio is a valuable learning and assessment tool which includes but is not limited to a collection of resources and accomplishments that represent the individual. Moreover, it is the author’s personal reflection on the work included in the e-portfolio that creates a meaningful learning experience.
• Web Conferencing/Virtual Classroom – Teachers/professors have the ability to create meeting rooms or virtual classrooms from the backend of their site. You can upload your presentations, chat with students, public/private chat, webcam, and even share your desktop.

How to integrate Class Blogs into the classroom: Class Blogs has features that make it wonderfully useful for any classroom.  Blogging gives your students a place to write where they have an authentic audience.  An audience of one (the teacher) is SO 1995.  To limit your students to that audience is a disservice.  I find that when my students write in blog form, the enthusiasm to write increases, the richness of language increases, and the ideas are communicated clearly.  Obviously that is a bit of a generalization, I have also had students who don’t want to post for an audience, it makes them nervous to reveal themselves to their classmates in that way.  I let those students blog about topics they are “experts” on as they are building confidence in their learning process.   Students can blog to reflect on learning; write creatively; write as if they were a historical character, famous inventor, or a favorite literary figure; to chronicle learning (e-portfolio style); or to invite others on a journey of inquiry with them.

Using this type of social media in the classroom is important. It helps students learn digital citizenship, Internet safety, and netiquette in an authentic environment that goes beyond the rules and actually lets them practice it.

The additional features of Class Blog make it the perfect place to organize your classroom.  Post assignments in Class Blogs as a learning log, as students respond, your original post will get a pingback making it easy to track students progress. Class Blog also makes it easy to extend learning beyond the four walls of your classroom using the virtual classroom features.  Create meeting rooms to extend classroom discussions, offer additional learning support, or as a place to prepare students for learning.  Class Blogs makes it easy to include podcasts, videos, webcams, private chat areas, desktop sharing in your virtual classroom.

Tips: Class Blogs does not have an age requirement, this means that it is available to k-12 (and beyond) education.  Registration does require an email address.  If your students do not have email addresses, you can create accounts on their behalf.  With Class Blogs you can create unlimited class and student blogs, unlimited free classes/courses, and unlimited free virtual classrooms.  Be sure to check out the feature page for a comprehensive list of the awesome features on Class Blogs, you won’t believe what all is included!