Education website I love!

For an assignment we had to review a few educational apps/websites. I reviewed the website ABCya.com. It’s a FREE website full of educational kids games! I used it in the Autism K-2 self-contained classroom that worked in this past school year. The kids LOVED it, especially when we hooked a computer up to the interactive white board…big screen!!!

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Featured in The New York Times App Smart Column, in Disney Family Fun Magazine, and on NCS-Tech.org, this teacher-created website provides a fun and educational space for elementary students. With free online Flash capabilities, students grades K to 5 are invited to play educational and kid-friendly games. Easy to navigate, children can meander through the site, engaging in age-appropriate virtual games and activities. This site is divided by grade levels as well as into categories, Letters, Numbers, More (shapes, Social Studies, Art) and Holidays. Children can play independently on the computer, or join together playing the game on an interactive white board. This is a safe website, does not require a login to play, and can be used even with young students (Kindergarten). Additionally, this website has developed games for the iPad that can be downloaded at a minimal cost.

I would recommend this website for teachers, parents and their kiddos. Teachers can model and enhance lessons, and students can play virtual educational games. Mom or Dad will be happy to know their babies are involved in learning games with age-appropriate content. It is a safe website that you can trust, and feel good knowing your children are learning at the same time.

The only real downside I see is that it does have banner adds which may distract or even lead kids to other websites. Also, you can’t save data or student progress, but it will provide you with a raw score and percentage correct at the end of most games on the screen.

PS….for lower grades, you don’t have to be able to read the directions as many of the games tell you what to do! It’s a nice feature for your students who are young, struggle with reading, or who are even English Language Learners.

I hope you all try it out. Let me know what you think and feel free to share more engaging educational games that you use in your home or classroom.

Let’s make learning fun!

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Food for thought

“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important.” _Bill Gates

Bill is on to something here… I believe that we, as educators, have a responsibility to use technology as a teaching tool. We must first learn how to use it, then teach our students appropriate ways to use technology in their educational journey.

This quote is very telling to my current endeavors, as I have been working on an IWB (Interactive White Board) lesson for class. We recorded ourselves teaching the IWB lesson to several classmates and are now in the editing phase. It’s a (dare I say, painful) process to watch ourselves on video, but it’s a tremendous opportunity from which to grow. I am seeing how I teach, what I need to change, and what I like. I also am getting a “student’s view” of myself, how I express myself and explain lessons, as well as how I interact with the IWB. Through this experience I was able to download the SMART software on my laptop and dabble in IWB lessons. It’s a bit overwhelming at times because the SMART software seems to provide endless opportunities. I have only begun to learn how to operate and navigate this software, but I am excited to explore more and see what I can create. I look forward to the times in student teaching that I will be able to actively engage students in the lesson by using technology, and the IWB.

Times are changing and technology is transforming the classroom. So long are the days of endless worksheets, copying notes from the chalkboard or overhead projector, or going to the “computer” class elective to play “Oregon Trail”. The availability of technology in the classroom has replaced these antiquated ways of teaching and learning. With this digital evolution, I too must evolve in my own learning and teaching methods, and I feel that this class is a catalyst for such change.

A Lego school?

Today is a day off from work, but that doesn’t mean it’s a day off from school work. I started my day off with a quick trip to Starbucks and hunkered down on my iPad to read my RSS feed. (I’m using the “Pulse” RSS app from the Apple App Store…it’s free and very user friendly!) One of my semester long assignments is to create and maintain and RSS feed. I already spend too much time on my computer or iPad so this assignment is actually a great way for me to be more productive…more “bang for my buck”, so to speak, when it comes to the time I spend browsing websites vs using an RSS feed. This app allows me to get all my news, headlines, social networking updates, and even my pop culture fix, in one spot. I also feel like I’m more in tune to the world, because it is so easy to get the news! There is no excuse for not knowing what is going on in our world with an easy to use app such as Pulse.

So one of the stories that caught my eye was this one: Lego school in Denmark

It’s a quick read about a new school Lego is opening in Denmark…no, it’s not to become a Lego builder, but they do claim to be engaging and promote learning through a creative lens. The article says, “The school will emphasize fun, creativity, and “playful engagement” to help make learning more enjoyable, but it will still follow a standard curriculum.” Sounds pretty good to me! I think it’s always beneficial to students when they are engaged and motivated to learn…if the Lego company can promote this idea through a school, even better!

I wonder how they will use creativity and fun to engage the students however. I also wonder if they will incorporate technology with their learning too. I think I’m going to investigate a bit more to see. Have any of you heard of this school? What are your thoughts on playful learning? Do you know of any schools like this that also use learning technology?