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Prodigy Math Game: Gamed-Based Learning for the common core

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.

prodigy With more and more educators embracing game-based learning, it’s important to evaluate and choose the program that works best for you and your students. But with an abundance of educational gaming options available, how does one decide which one is best for them? It’s no secret that there are hundreds of math games out there, many of which are fantastic and are changing the way students and teachers approach math. Be on the lookout for adaptive games that help you differentiate and are engaging to the point that students are likely to play outside of the classroom.

One program that is doing an unbelievable job of gamifying math is Prodigy Math Game. Prodigy is a free, adaptive math game that integrates Common Core math (1st-7th grade) into a fantasy style game that students absolutely love playing. Prodigy takes game-based learning a step further and provides teachers with a powerful set of reporting and assessment tools that allow them to easily identify trouble spots, differentiate instruction, and better manage classroom time. Prodigy has recently expanded its content offering to include skills that align to the Math Florida Standards (MAFS) and the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). As a web-based game, Prodigy can be accessed at school and at home on virtually any device.

Prodigy is extremely effective at engaging students using an adaptive technology to cater to each individual. Prodigy’s personalized approach quickly identifies gaps in students’ understanding and works with them by pulling them back to prerequisite skills and then scaffolding them forward through more difficult concepts. Prodigy has also built out tools like virtual manipulatives, which teachers can use to walk students through solving certain problems. Prodigy also has a fantastic assessment feature, which allows teachers to customize content and align the game with what they are teaching in class. Assignment questions are integrated right into the game so students have no idea they are working on an “assignment”! The program is very user friendly and makes teaching math easier and more enjoyable.

Sign-up your class for free in less than 2 minutes, and see why teaching math will never be the same!

Put working memory to work in learning

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.

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The good news for teachers and students is that it is possible to improve our working memory. These strategies can help activate and, over time, enhance the central executive function of working memory.

Repeat after me.

Asking students to repeat what you have said or to paraphrase it in their own words is a simple way to both assess and increase their working memory. The acts of listening and speaking what they have heard focus their attention on the lesson content and activate several components of the working memory model.

Make a game of it.

Children and youth love to play games, and card games like Concentration, Crazy Eights, and Uno can help to build working memory. Better yet, design learning activities based on memory games to help reinforce key content.

Emphasize relevance.

Lead a class discussion on the importance of identifying and focusing on relevant data in learning. Life is full of irrelevant information and distractions. When researching a topic online, for example, it's easy to get sidetracked by entries that are interesting but not relevant to the task at hand. A key aspect of improving working memory is developing your ability to attend to what's important now.

Hone short-term recall through practice.

Provide plenty of learning activities that involve working with bits of information. Word problems in math require students to identify, remember, and process data.

Visualize it.

Learning to picture the components of a math reading problem (as just one example) in their minds is another strategy that engages and enhances multiple components of working memory.

Teach it to learn it.

The act of teaching also engages working memory. Through activities that involve peer teaching or learning in pairs and small groups, students can enhance learning by applying their working memory to the task of explaining and teaching new content to others.

How video is redefining teacher development

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.

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Grounded in research on the effects of video on teachers’ professional learning, Teaching Channel Teams uses video to help teachers collaboratively reflect on - and improve - their instruction. In this eSchool Exclusive Ed-Tech Point of View, see how the Teams approach has transformed Common Core instruction, teachers' attitudes toward professional development, and so much more.

Click here to learn more.

ShowMe: a great learning App

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.

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ShowMe is a great learning app for educators. It allows its users to create and share lessons on the iPad. It offers a nice and intuitive whiteboard surface where lessons can be shared very easily. This app , though still in closed beta, looks like it is going to be a great app for educators. Teachers can use it to create lessons on the go and share them with their students. I am hoping ShowMe will go open to public in this summer for it is the ideal tool for this season when teachers have much more free time to create nice staff to share with their learners. I have picked up this video to let you have an idea about what this app is going to be all about. 

A good tool for reading and summarizing long articles

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.

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Not having enough time to read a long article? Too long didn’t read (TLDR) does the job for you and provides you with a condensed summary of the main ideas of the article. We have installed the app and tried it on few articles and it appears to work perfectly.

TLDR analyzes the content of the article and creates a synopsis of it. You can also highlight text to be TLDR’ed for use with comments or on social media. We have checked user reviews in the Chrome web store and noticed several people gave it good ratings. We thought you may want to give it a try and see if it works for you. Watch this video to learn more about "Too long didn’t read app".

Which of these 4 Instructional Strategies do you use in your class?

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.

Instructional strategies, according to Alberta Learning, are “techniques teachers use to help students become independent, strategic learners. These strategies become learning strategies when students independently select the appropriate ones and use them effectively to accomplish tasks or meet goals.” the strength of instructional strategies is that they determine how teachers can go about realizing their teaching objectives.

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Instructional strategies are derived from different educational theories. Here some examples of 4 key instructional strategies as identified by Gayla S. Keesse.

  1. Direct Instruction. This is what some refer to as the traditional method. Direct instruction is primarily teacher centred and consists of direct lecturing or vertical teaching. It is a form of explicit teaching that consists of repetitive practice, didactic questioning, drill and demonstration. This strategy is particularly useful for ‘providing information, or developing step-by-step skills.
  2. Interactive Instruction. As its name indicates, this strategy consists of creating learning environments conducive to interactions and discussions. It posits that learning takes place through interactive communication of knowledge and this interaction can happen in different forms including: open or closed group discussions, collaborative project work, whole class discussions …etc
  3. Experiential learning. One of the seminal works in experiential learning is Dewey’s "Experience and Education". This strategy highlights the primacy of the process of learning over the product of learning. The purpose is to enhance students motivation and increase their retention rates by connecting classroom learning to their lifeworlds. This can happen through engaging students in reflexive thinking about their own experiences and how to leverage what they learned in the past in new contexts.
  4. Independent Study. Gayla defines this strategy as “the range of instructional methods which are purposefully provided to foster the development of individual student initiative, self-reliance, and self-improvement. Independent study can also include learning in partnership with another individual or as part of a small group.

Google relased a new service called Youtube Kids

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.

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Google released a new service called YouTube Kids which is ‘a new family-friendly app that makes it easy for kids to explore a vast selection of videos on any topic.’ YouTube Kids features popular children’s programming, plus kid-friendly content from filmmakers, teachers, and creators all around the world. YouTube Kids apps are available for both Android and iOS.

This new app provides young learners with a variety of kids-appropriate channels and playlists including: Sesame Street, Thomas & Friends, and Dreamworks, online hits like Mother Goose Club, TuTiTu, and Super Simple Songs, plus anything else they’re into - music, gaming, science, crafts, and more.

YouTube Kids also provides parents with a set of interesting features to allow them to oversee how their kids are using the app. For instance there is a timer that parents can set to let their kids know when it’s time to stop watching. Watch this video to learn more about YouTube Kids. 

A classroom poster on steps for good writing

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.

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5 Steps to Writing A Poem is a visual created by Cambridge University and outlines the 5 major stages to composing a poem. In fact, the steps mentioned here are generic and can be used for writing any other genre, of course with a bit of tweaking. As a teacher you might want to share this work with your students and guide them through the different stages they need to follow to produce a good piece of prose or poetry.

The 5 steps featured in this visual are : inspiration (some basic techniques for generating inspiration and ideas to write about), Brainstorm (mapping out ideas), Form and Style (raise students consciousness to the different styles out there), Word Choice (use of language and vocabulary), Five Sense (engage your senses to create and imagine scenarios for your ideas and writing).

The visual is available in PDF format that you can download for free and use with your students. Here is the download link. Click here to see and download the original poster. 

Get 500 free books on coding

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.

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Coding is one of the most demanded skills in the 21st century learning. There is a growing need for teaching students the fundamentals of coding and computer programming not only because these are the skills needed for the future job market but also because coding allows learners to better understand their digitally focused life and therefore enhance their interaction with digital media.

We have already featured a plethora of interesting resources, apps, and tools that teachers and parents can draw on to introduce coding to their kids and today we are sharing with you another important resource we learned from Life Hacker. The popular GitHub has compiled this excellent list comprising more than 500 free books on programming and coding. The books cover different topics from programming languages to software architecture.

We thought you might want to have a browse through this list and see if anything grabs your eye. Enjoy 

Professionally designed templates to use in Google Docs and sheets

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.

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Template Gallery is a useful Google Doc add-on for teachers and students. It provides you with a variety of professionally designed templates for your documents and spreadsheets. Most of these templates are not available in Google Drive’s public gallery. Examples of the templates provided by this add-on include: calendars, schedules, invoices, time sheets, budgeting tools, letters, resumes, financial calculators, and more.

To use Template Gallery, you need to install the extension from this page. Once installed you can then browse through the gallery.”When you find a template you want to use, click on the Copy to Google Drive button and the add-on will save a copy of the template into the root folder of your Google Drive.”

Gianfranco D'Aversa

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