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. 

14 Toys That Will Make Your Kids Smarter

I know it’s not quite Thanksgiving yet, but the holiday train has left the station in terms of media content. I stumbled across this great article and just HAD to share it with you all before we get sucked into Black Friday and holiday shopping and all that other madness. It’s a list, compiled by Time magazine, of 14 toys that encourage problem solving, imagination, and creativity in kids.

One of the toys on the list, Goldie Blox, is behind the awesome viral video that somehow successfully mashes Rube Goldberg with the Beastie Boys:

I have to admit- I may want some of these toys for myself!

Update: Apparently, the Beastie Boys didn’t care for Goldie Blox’s (perfectly legal– satire and parody fall under Fair Use) satire of their song, and have asked for this video to be taken down. There’s a new version available, featuring instrumental music, but it just doesn’t have the same charm. Oh well.

What Tech Am I Using Today: Padlet

I thought it might be fun for me to share with you what I’m using today in my classes, and how. That way, you can not only learn about a cool website, but you can see how it can be used to enhance your lessons.

In a recent #EdTechChat on Twitter, teachers were asked what their favorite Web 2.0 sites were. Listed in the top 30 or so was Padlet, a site that functions a bit like an online whiteboard/bulletin board. A teacher can create a wall, and students can sign in and add postings to it. It could not be easier to use, and allows for a fun way to collaborate and comment. Even better, the comments show up as boxes on the wall, and can be moved and organized. Posts can also be Tweeted, Pinned, Tumbled, and posted on several other forms of social media.

How can a teacher use it? Well, a teacher could post a discussion question and ask students to leave comments for homework. Or, a teacher could create their own “magnetic poetry” and students could rearrange words into poems. It could be a very simple project guide site, with each box containing a photo, file, or link to a helpful website.

I decided to use it today on a whim. My second graders have been learning all about alphabetical order, and as we approach Thanksgiving, we’re reading the book I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Pie by Allison Jackson. In order to tie the two together, I thought it would be fun to have the kids work together to put in alphabetical order all the food the old lady swallowed!

For older kids (3rd or 4th grade), this would be a center where they work independently or in pairs, but for 2nd grade, it seemed like a good idea to work together as a class. That means that I needed a way to move words around on a screen, and Padlet fit the bill perfectly. Its flexibility means that, once all the words from the book have been put in order, we can add our own favorite foods to the list, and alphabetize those as well. The possibilities really are endless.

Want to play with my Padlet wall and put the food in alphabetical order? Give it a try here.



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.

National Park Service for Teachers

 

 

 

 

Update: Shortly after I posted this, the NPS did, in fact, shut down all its web content, as well. Sad! So bookmark this one for another time. Thanks to Anne D. for discovering this.

 

National Parks Service

So you can’t visit National Parks in person due to the government shutdown. Thankfully, there is still lots of great content available online via the National Parks Service to take you on a virtual field trip!

The NPS website for teachers offers distance learning, videos, and materials lists. Their lesson plans are searchable by grade level and subject, so you can easily find standards-aligned lessons on everything from wild horses to Ben Franklin.

There’s lots of content here, and I love the idea of learning about history, biology, and ethics through the lens of our nation’s landmarks.

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.