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Tagged With: product review

Why Game Based Learning Is the Right Choice for Remote Teaching

I don’t know many kids who aren’t excited to play games. Savvy educators have built lesson plans based on this interest for years. Today, because of the changes in education, the use of games to reinforce learning, to teach, and to engage students in their own education has become one of the most effective tools to bridge the gap between school-based and remote learning. Here’s what a joint study from Legends of Learning and Vanderbilt University found:

“…students who played the games outperformed their peers on standardized tests. Additionally, teachers saw dramatic increases in engagement and performance. “

In fact, 92% of teachers indicated they would like to use curriculum-based games in the future.

What is GBL

What is this magic wand? It’s called Game Based Learning (GBL). It simply means teachers include games in their lesson plans to teach curricular concepts. By using the games kids already love–want to play–GBL has an opportunity to turn students into lifelong learners who enjoy learning.

Good example of GBL: SplashLearn 

A good example of game based learning is the free-to-teachers program called SplashLearn. SplashLearn is an easy-to-use COPA-compliant, Common Core-aligned math curriculum for grades Kindergarten-5th that uses game-based learning to teach mathematical concepts. Students learn specific skills assigned by the teacher (to a group or individual) by playing age-appropriate, intuitive games based on appealing characters and fun interactions. These are welcome alternatives to the rote drill that many of us grew up on.

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Categories: Games/Simulations, Math, Reviews | Tags: | Leave a comment

Long-needed and Welcome Table Tool From JotForm

Education has changed. No one knows yet if it’s for better or worse but we all understand that nothing’s as it once was. That means many traditional teaching tools are no longer the best choice for the new norms. Over the past few months (well, since March), I’ve spent a lot of time reinventing my teaching protocols, doing a rigorous evaluation of whether my standard practices are best suited for the new best practices for teaching at home and school (click here for lots of info on COVID-19 and education). Because often, I’m not physically with students to help with tech problems or down the hall from the school’s tech guru if I have problems, I now heavily select for digital tools that are quick to setup, intuitive to use, and straightforward to understand as well as engaging, flexible, and scalable with dynamic traits that can be re-engineered for a diversity of situations.

I’ve found one you’ll want to know about. It’s called JotForm Tables.

You may be familiar with JotForms. It is a popular forms builder that uses customizable templates and a drag-and-drop interface to collect and curate data. It works on all platforms and can be shared via a link or embed. For more, read my review here. Over the past several years, JotForms has released a variety of features that have helped educators be more effective. These include Smart PDF Forms, a PDF Editor, JotForm Cards, and JotForm Reports (click for my reviews).

The free JotForm Tables addresses the ongoing need teachers and schools have for easy-to-understand, easy-to-customize data to help with decision-making. In place of the conventional intimidating table you get from standard spreadsheet programs, JotForm Tables offers an attractive layout, loads of customization options, inclusion of all kinds of data (like files, calendars, check boxes, yes-no answers, and ratings)–all of it quickly modified to your needs and sharable via an Excel file, a CSV, a PDF, or a link.

Here’s what one of my class tables looks like:

(more…)

Categories: Reviews, Spreadsheets | Tags: | Leave a comment

Ward’s Science–So Many STEM Resources

One of the most difficult skills to teach in school is problem solving. I can’t tell you how many kids–and parents–ask me, “How do I get an A.” My answer: “By thinking,” which oddly confuses them. We talk about what that means–problem solving, critical analysis, logical thinking–but often, that sounds hard to them–too hard. They want an easier way.

Why is that?

Basically, it’s because there aren’t enough education opportunities that require that sort of skill and those there are, usually rhyme with ‘math’ or ‘science’ which to many kids are “just too complicated”.

Enter STEM–Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

“I don’t think schools can manage without coding and STEM. In Finland, we have had coding in the curriculum starting in the first grade; it is not taught separately, but through the thinking of various subjects.” –Anneli Rautiainen, Head of Innovation Unit at Finnish National Agency for Education

Coding, robotics, and experimentation–integral pieces of STEM–give students the best start possible to the rest of their lives. They are a toolkit of life skills such as problem-solving, coding and thinking. 93% of teachers (in America) believe these sorts of thinking skills in K-12 are critical.

Nothing promotes these better than STEM. Done right, STEM turns the confusing part of ‘thinking’ into fun. I found a partner in my STEM projects. It’s called Ward’s Science.

Who is Ward’s Science

Even after 144 years, Ward’s Science continues to be a leading provider of a full range of science products, kits, and resources for AP Science, Biology, Chemistry, Digital Science, Earth Science, Physics, and more for elementary-age students through High School (and beyond)–including Makerspace environments. Ward’s Science is known to its customers and the industry as the complete solution for materials supporting classroom science subjects. They not only offer project supplies but lesson plans, curricula, how-to videos, tips and tricks, personalized help, and podcasts. They even offer interesting extras like “How to choose a 3D printer”, “Connecting your Makerspace to your curriculum”, and “How to get funding for a robotics program”. Curricula are aligned with NGSS, TEKS, and other states and many of the kits are officially licensed by Science Olympiad. They even offer grant services to support school science programs.

What I really like about Ward’s Science

Ward’s Science makes it easy to find engaging, age-appropriate STEM resources, even if you aren’t quite sure what you want. The website is clean, simple to maneuver, and easy to understand. You type in what you’re looking for and get options. No ads. No animations. Just content.

Some services I didn’t expect and that would be difficult to find in other stores–virtual or physical–are:

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Categories: Reviews, Science | Tags: , | Leave a comment

PASCO Motion Sensor–A Must for Science Classes

Data collection and analysis are cornerstones for many STEM and STEAM programs but they’re not just about math. They teach students how to think critically and solve evidence-based problems. Unfortunately, data collection hardware is expensive and setup is complicated–intimidating for many non-tech-minded teachers.

Enter award-winning PASCO Scientific with a commitment to providing innovative, affordable tools for K-12 science and math programs.

What is PASCO Scientific

PASCO Scientific is the global leader in developing technology-based solutions for hands-on science. They provide a wealth of rugged, inquiry-based products to educators in more than 100 countries around the world. Their products are wireless, Bluetooth- and/or USB-connectable, and their SPARKvue software runs on Mac and Windows platforms, Chromebooks, iPads, iPhones, and Android. No matter the technology mix in the classroom, everyone shares the same user experience, with learning focused on the subject matter not the hardware, thus simplifying classroom management for the teacher. They are NGSS-aligned as well as correlated with International Baccalaureate (IB) standards.

Among PASCO Scientific’s many devices, you’ll find:

  • a wireless weather station
  • a wide variety of sensors and probes
  • the Ergobot to teach both Forces & Motion and Programming & Robotics.
  • a wireless blood pressure and heart rate sensor
  • curricula for Chemistry and Physics that are NGSS-aligned
  • bridge building kits
  • STEM modules
  • lab equipment
  • hundreds of free labs for download from their website

Most of these are simple enough for young learners with robust features for advanced applications and many come with K-12 curricular resources and support materials.

If you’ve used probes and sensors in your classes before, maybe have older ones that you struggle to set up and run, do yourself a favor and look at PASCO’s collection. I can’t review all of them in this post (it’s already long!) so let me spotlight one I particularly like: the PASCO Wireless Motion Sensor.

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Categories: Reviews, Science | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Tech Ed Resources for Class–Common Core

CC Article Bundle Cover(3)I get a lot of questions from readers about what tech ed resources I use in my classroom so I’m taking a few days this summer to review them with you. Some are edited and/or written by members of the Ask a Tech Teacher crew. Others, by tech teachers who work with the same publisher I do. All of them, I’ve found well-suited to the task of scaling and differentiating tech skills for age groups, scaffolding learning year-to-year, taking into account the perspectives and norms of all stakeholders, with appropriate metrics to know learning is organic and granular.

Today: Common Core Bundle

Overview

In this bundle, you get 20 tech ed resources on how to use technology to achieve Common Core Standards–presented in a variety of ways including Lesson plans, webinars, and short but pithy articles. Included:

5 books (including 70 lesson plans)

8 webinars

7 Hall of Fame articles addressing Common Core topics

Who needs this

K-8 class teacher, K-8 tech teachers, tech coordinators, library media specialists, curriculum specialists

Classroom grade level teachers if your tech teacher doesn’t cover basic tech skills.

(more…)

Categories: AATT Materials, Reviews, Videos | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Tech Ed Resources for your Homeschool

Homeschool TechI get a lot of questions from readers about what tech ed resources I use in my classroom so I’m taking a few days this summer to review them with you. Some are edited and/or written by members of the Ask a Tech Teacher crew. Others, by tech teachers who work with the same publisher I do. All of them, I’ve found well-suited to the task of scaling and differentiating tech skills for age groups, scaffolding learning year-to-year, taking into account the perspectives and norms of all stakeholders, with appropriate metrics to know learning is organic and granular.

Today: Tech resources for the Homeschool Class

Besides the availability of any of the tech ed resources at Structured Learning, here are two kits designed especially for homeschools:

Homeschool Survival Kit

This is exclusively for homeschoolers–a technology curriculum for K-5. With this Homeschool Survival Kit, you get all the tech ed resources you need to integrate technology into your child’s learning, lesson plans, inquiry, and curriculum requirements. Included (click links for more information):
..

Two of the 6-volume K-5 Tech Curriculum

xx
Two years of the K-5 Technology Curriculum. This will be your curriculum map, showing you what tech to teach your children when they are ready for it. It blends skills into class studies for authentic learning. Click for more information on each ebook. When you purchase, tell us which two books you’d like in the Comment portion of the PayPal Buy button (or email Zeke dot Rowe at StructureLearning dot net).
..
Note: These teacher textbooks can be replaced with student workbooks. Click for more information on student workbooks. If you choose this option, tell us which student workbooks you’d like in the Comment portion of the PayPal Buy button (or email Zeke dot Rowe at StructureLearning dot net).
,,
K-8 digital citizenship curriculum map—what to introduce when to teach students to navigate the complexities of the internet safely, securely, and effectively. Includes 3-8 projects per grade-level, accomplished in a few minutes a day or a full class period. If students are using the internet, they must know how to use it correctly, safely, and efficiently. This curriculum shows you what to teach at what age. Projects can be tied into other classroom projects–just add detail about digital citizenship.
..

110 K-8 Lesson Plans

2-volume collection of lesson plans (Volume I and Volume II) organized by subject, digital tool, and academic topic. 

169 Real-World Ways to Put Tech into Your Class

xx
One-volume curation of the most common tech problems and issues your child–and you–face using technology for education. Be ready!

..

16 Holiday Projects

xx
16 fun and festive holiday projects. Create gifts for family and friends while learning important tech skills. Use for any holiday. They’ll fill your year with pictures, calendars, wallpaper, cards, that kids will love making and want to give to family as gifts.
..

(more…)

Categories: AATT Materials, Homeschool, Reviews, Videos | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The Case for Positive Reinforcement in Classrooms

Every teacher knows that students do better with positive reinforcement. As tempting as “punishment” might sound when referring to that student who has scrambled your last nerve, to explain consequences of actions in positive terms goes much further toward student success not only in school but in the ongoing effort to build life-long learners.

“Positive reinforcement, whether it be with your family, when following laws, or with students, can best be defined as the logical consequences of doing what’s right.” –Jacqui Murray

As an education pedagogy, pursuing a classroom management system that revolves around positive reinforcement is called Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support, or PBIS. The importance of using tools that prevent disruptive behavior and support students is explained by NEA Past President Lily Eskelsen Garcia:

The most effective tool teachers have to handle problem behavior is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) programs help teachers recognize the significance of classroom management and preventive school discipline to maximize student success. PBIS strategies are critical to providing all young people with the best learning environment.

Committed teachers can accomplish this in a variety of ways including supportive words, prizes, special activities, certificates, badges, and modeling proper behavior. Here are four online options that support the goal of recognizing students in a positive way:

  1. Class Dojo
  2. Empatico
  3. Hero K12
  4. Sown to Grow

(more…)

Categories: Classroom management, Reviews | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Tech Ed Resources for Class–Common Core

CC Article Bundle Cover(3)I get a lot of questions from readers about what tech ed resources I use in my classroom so I’m taking a few days this summer to review them with you. Some are edited and/or written by members of the Ask a Tech Teacher crew. Others, by tech teachers who work with the same publisher I do. All of them, I’ve found well-suited to the task of scaling and differentiating tech skills for age groups, scaffolding learning year-to-year, taking into account the perspectives and norms of all stakeholders, with appropriate metrics to know learning is organic and granular.

Today: Common Core Bundle

Overview

In this bundle, you get 20 tech ed resources on how to use technology to achieve Common Core Standards–presented in a variety of ways including Lesson plans, webinars, and short but pithy articles. Included:

5 books (including 70 lesson plans)

8 webinars

7 Hall of Fame articles addressing Common Core topics

Who needs this

K-8 class teacher, K-8 tech teachers, tech coordinators, library media specialists, curriculum specialists

Classroom grade level teachers if your tech teacher doesn’t cover basic tech skills.

(more…)

Categories: AATT Materials, Reviews, Videos | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Tech Ed Resources for your Homeschool Class

Homeschool TechI get a lot of questions from readers about what tech ed resources I use in my classroom so I’m taking a few days this summer to review them with you. Some are edited and/or written by members of the Ask a Tech Teacher crew. Others, by tech teachers who work with the same publisher I do. All of them, I’ve found well-suited to the task of scaling and differentiating tech skills for age groups, scaffolding learning year-to-year, taking into account the perspectives and norms of all stakeholders, with appropriate metrics to know learning is organic and granular.

Today: Tech resources for the Homeschool Class

Besides the availability of any of the tech ed resources at Structured Learning, there are two kits designed especially for the home school:

Homeschool Survival Kit

This is exclusively for homeschoolers–a technology curriculum for K-5. With this Homeschool Survival Kit, you get all the tech ed resources you need to integrate technology into your child’s learning, lesson plans, inquiry, and curriculum requirements. Included (click links for more information):
..
Two years of the K-5 Technology Curriculum. This will be your curriculum map, showing you what tech to teach your children when they are ready for it. Blends skills into class studies for authentic learning. Click here for more information on each ebook. When you purchase, tell us which two books you’d like in the Comment portion of the PayPal Buy button (or email Zeke dot Rowe at StructureLearning dot net).
..
Note: These teacher textbooks can be replaced with two student workbooks. Click for more information on student workbooks. If you choose this option, tell us which two student workbooks you’d like in the Comment portion of the PayPal Buy button (or email Zeke dot Rowe at StructureLearning dot net).
,,
K-8 digital citizenship curriculum map—what do you introduce when to teach students to navigate the complexities of the internet safely, securely, and effectively. Includes 3-8 projects per grade-level, accomplished in a few minutes a day or a full class period. If students are using the internet, they must know how to use it correctly, safely, and efficiently. This curriculum shows you what to teach at what age. Projects can be tied into other classroom projects–just add detail about digital citizenship.
..
2-volume collection of lesson plans (Volume I and Volume II) organized by subject, digital tool, and academic topic. 
One-volume collation of the most common tech problems and issues your child–and you–face using technology for education. Be ready!
..
16 fun and festive holiday projects. Create gifts for family and friends while learning important tech skills. Use for any holiday. They’ll fill your year with pictures, calendars, wallpaper, cards, that kids will love making and want to give to family as gifts.
..
Over 64 webinars spread throughout the school year–32 per each of the two grade levels you select. Designed for the adult to help them teach important tech skills to children. The digital classroom provides an opportunity to ask questions of other members or the moderator any time s/he needs a little extra help with.

(more…)

Categories: AATT Materials, Homeschool, Reviews, Videos | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Tech Ed Resources for your Homeschool Class

Homeschool TechI get a lot of questions from readers about what tech ed resources I use in my classroom so I’m taking a few days this summer to review them with you. Some are edited and/or written by members of the Ask a Tech Teacher crew. Others, by tech teachers who work with the same publisher I do. All of them, I’ve found well-suited to the task of scaling and differentiating tech skills for age groups, scaffolding learning year-to-year, taking into account the perspectives and norms of all stakeholders, with appropriate metrics to know learning is organic and granular.

Today: Tech resources for the Homeschool Class

Besides the availability of any of the tech ed resources at Structured Learning, there are two kits designed especially for the home school:

Homeschool Survival Kit

This is exclusively for homeschoolers,–a technology curriculum for K-5. With thisHomeschool Survival Kit, you get all the tech ed resources you need to integrate technology into your child’s learning, lesson plans, inquiry, and curriculum requirements. Included (click links for more information):
..
Two years of the K-5 Technology Curriculum. This will be your curriculum map, showing you what tech to teach your children when they are ready for it. Blends skills into class studies for authentic learning. Click here for more information on each ebook. When you purchase, tell us which two books you’d like in the Comment portion of the PayPal Buy button (or email Zeke dot Rowe at StructureLearning dot net).
..
Note: These teacher textbooks can be replaced with two student workbooks. Click for more information on student workbooks. If you choose this option, tell us which two student workbooks you’d like in the Comment portion of the PayPal Buy button (or email Zeke dot Rowe at StructureLearning dot net).
K-8 digital citizenship curriculum map—what do you introduce when to teach students to navigate the complexities of the internet safely, securely, and effectively. Includes 3-8 projects per grade-level, accomplished in a few minutes a day or a full class period. If students are using the internet, they must know how to use it correctly, safely, and efficiently. This curriculum shows you what to teach at what age. Projects can be tied into other classroom projects–just add detail about digital citizenship.
..
2-volume collection of lesson plans (Volume I and Volume II) organized by subject, digital tool, and academic topic. 
One-volume collation of the most common tech problems and issues your child–and you–face using technology for education. Be ready!
..
16 fun and festive holiday projects. Create gifts for family and friends while learning important tech skills. Use for any holiday. They’ll fill your year with pictures, calendars, wallpaper, cards, that kids will love making and want to give to family as gifts.
..
Over 64 webinars spread throughout the school year–32 per each of the two grade levels you select. Designed for the adult to help them teach important tech skills to children. The digital classroom provides an opportunity to ask questions of other members or the moderator any time s/he needs a little extra help with.

(more…)

Categories: AATT Materials, Homeschool, Reviews, Videos | Tags: , , | 2 Comments