Image

Hour of Code & Thinglink

Hour of code  hourofcode

Next week is Computer Science Education Week so It’s time for “Hour of Code” again. If you have time next week and you want to give your students a sampling of what it is like to program, then this is for you. We have done this for the last couple of years and the kids seem to enjoy it. Here is a link to this year’s tutorials.

Star Wars and Minecraft are the two new themes. The Frozen themed activity from last year is also still available. If you are interested in hosting an hour, let Mike know.

Thinglink

The week prior to Thanksgiving all lower school students spent some time in library talking about being thankful for books and/or literacy. The highpoint of the week was definitely the Thinglink created with the thoughts, stories and memories you shared about books for which you are thankful.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 6.38.12 PM

Click the image to see a Thinglink in action

We spend so much time telling kids how important it is to read; instead of “telling”, this activity let our personal history as readers show them the power of books and reading. The strength of this lesson was definitely the stories, but Thinglink provided a great way to display all of the information in a format that gave direction of the class to the students.

Thinglink is easy to use, and a basic account is free for you. An educator account is $35 and that subscription allows you to have students create their own Thinglink projects. To create a Thinglink, you upload a photo you want to use and then add tags which appear as colored circles on the image. What  you link to your “Thing” is up to you. This project just uses images and text, but a great addition would have been to use recordings of each teachers’ voice telling their own story.

For more information you can watch their video introduction or talk to Molly or Mike.

 

A Tool: Kahoot!

Prodigy Math Game

There are lots of online math games out there. Some of them are kinda fun, some of them are pretty boring. Prodigy is not like those games.

A screenshot from Prodigy.

A screenshot from Prodigy.

Created to be like the sweeping fantasy games that are popular among gamers, Prodigy is a math game that allows users to customize an avatar, pick up new abilities and spells, and make their way through new realms. It is also Common Core aligned, and automatically adjusts to each student’s skill level. Teachers can set up accounts for their students that allow them to track progress.

The folks at Prodigy believe that their product should be available for all, so most of the game is completely free. You can upgrade to a membership, but it is not necessary to advance in the game, and the reports and tracking features that are so great for teachers are also free.

ABCMouse

ABCMouse is the new favorite in the Ed Tech world. It is an entire learning environment with lessons and activities designed to prepare little ones (2-5) for school. Users can either pick and choose the activities they want to try, or follow a pre-set path that works its way through a standards-aligned curriculum.

 

If you have an account, you can log in as a teacher and create student accounts, complete with avatars, ability levels, and pre-set lessons. Students can then log into their own accounts, and have everything set up for them to learn and explore the site. There are dozens of printables, too. 

For those of you with younger students just learning the alphabet, colors, numbers, and other basics, this is a fantastic place for interactive practice. It is free for teachers and librarians, and requires a subscription for parents. 

Teaching Blogs and Freebies

Here’s another post from our Connected Educators Month series. I have two great teacher blogs to share with you: What the Teacher Wants and Teaching Resources. Both blogs post several times daily, with great lesson plans, free handouts, and creative classroom ideas.

Here’s the Connected Educator part: I follow these two blogs through their Facebook pages. That means that all of their content is delivered straight to my Facebook feed, something that I check daily. It’s a great way to keep up with the wonderful ideas these two teachers are posting about, and to stay connected to what’s going on in the greater world of education. In addition to great ideas and lesson plans, many teaching blogs (these two included) have “freebies,” worksheets, class signs, and activity packets that you can download and use in your own class.

Bonus tip: Both sites frequently feature content available on Teachers Pay Teachers. TPT is a big deal these days: it’s a website that is chock full of handouts and lessons available for a small fee. There is so much content there, but it can be overwhelming, so I love how the blogs I follow feature certain content that they’ve hand-picked as high quality.

Graphite

If you bookmark one site I recommend all year, let this be the one. Seriously.

Graphite

You all know by now how much I rely on CommonSense Media. I use their reviews to help me purchase books, I use their curriculum to teach digital citizenship, and now, I use Graphite. Created in collaboration with the Bill Gates Foundation, CommonSense Media created Graphite to be a resource for teachers who are trying to find the best websites and apps to use in the classroom. It’s visually attractive, and easy to search by subject, grade, price, or platform (app, PC Game, website). The site is like mine, only way, way better! There’s tons of content to explore, including a blog with great ed tech ideas. You can also create “boards,” or collections of apps you use or want to use, and add your own “field notes” based on your experiences.

ePals

I recently “attended” a webinar about reaching reluctant readers, and the presenter frequently referred to ePals as a resource. In that context, he explained it as a great place for age-appropriate articles that would entice fans of nonfiction to read. Sign up for the service and articles from Smithsonian are delivered straight to your inbox.

It wasn’t until I went onto the site to sign up that I saw the true scope of ePals, and its intended purpose. While it hosts a great variety of teacher-friendly resources (lesson plans, projects, articles), it is in fact a service that matches up classes around the world as pen pals. A teacher simply signs up and makes a profile, indicating the type of classroom he or she is interested in connecting from (Spanish-speakers, students in China, students in grade 3).

Watch this video for a quick overview.

The site makes communicating with classes around the world so easy, with video-chat and email services incorporated. You can search for a class to talk with, or join a project that other classes are doing. With all the great resources (from trusted sources like National  Geographic, Cobblestone/Cricket, and Smithsonian), your class can read an article on global warming, then discuss it with another class in Argentina! Having a common discussion point can help to dispel any awkwardness.

Even if you aren’t interested in connecting with international classes, the resources on this site are top notch. There are some great project ideas, and Learning Centers with games, quizzes, articles, and videos on topics in science, current events, and books.

The site has a lot, which means it can be a bit overwhelming. I encourage you to take a look, though, because ePals is a portal to all kinds of innovative learning.