Category Archives: Critical Thinking

Craftsmanship Rubric

This “Craftsmanship Rubric” is a great visual to use to help your students to see what your expectations are for their artwork.  Kathleen O’Malley, the creator of this neat chart, recommends that you produce your own text to describe each picture.  Another thought might be to ask your students to help you to come up with the descriptors for each level.

Three Good Things

Larry Ferlazzo - Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day

I read this article on Larry Ferlazzo’s blog, and experienced the same reaction he apparently did when he first realized he was missing a key piece to student’s reflections in the classroom.  I have been trying to incorporate more self-reflection into the school day, and now I see that I’ve forgotten a vital part of this.  Read Larry Ferlazzo’s article to find out what you may be omitting, too!

The Akinator

I found out about this site on KB Connected right before the holidays. Karen’s site recommends to “use it to introduce: Historical figures, characters from a book, famous scientists, figures in pop culture etc.” I tried it out myself, and was impressed, so I showed it to my nine-year old daughter – who became obsessed with it!  The Akinator tries to “figure out” which character you are thinking of by asking you questions.  It slowly narrows down to the correct answer based on the answers you give to its questions.  The character can be one from fiction or non-fiction.  Of course, there is less of a chance that obscure ones will be guessed correctly.  But, you may be surprised by what The Akinator knows!  My daughter was thrilled when it guessed the character from The Fablehaven series she had in mind.  In addition, if The Akinator guesses incorrectly, you have the option of inputting information about the character to help it to “learn” more.

Be aware that the site does request a name and age.  I would recommend that you have your child or student use a nickname, but give a close approximation to his or her real age.  The questions change a little for adults and might be considered inappropriate.

My Favorite Online Educational Game Sites

As my second (and last) week of favorites nears its closing, I wanted to give you my three Favorite Educational Game Sites:

#3: Brainpop for Kids Gameup – The only reason this is #3 for me right now, instead of #1, is that it’s relatively new, and still building its catalogue of games.  I predict that it will definitely move farther up on my list next year.

#2: ABCya – If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you will know that I’ve actually never reviewed this one.  I have been reading about it on several different blogs, and on Scoopit.com, so I finally checked it out.  I think that it’s a great site for kids in grades K-5.

#1: Mensa for Kids – I love the variety of games on this site, and the different types of thinking it targets.  It isn’t a well-known site, so students generally like the novelty.

For my original posts on #3 and #1, you can click on the following:  Gameup and Mensa for Kids.

My Favorite Sites for Educational App Reviews

Did a child in your family get an iDevice for Christmas?  Or, are you a teacher who is desperately trying to find appropriate educational apps for the classroom?  It’s difficult to weed through all of the apps listed as “Educational” in the official iTunes App Store, but there are a few other resources you can use.  Here are my top three Favorite Sites for Educational App Reviews:

#3:  Mindleap – this site, though relatively new, allows you to choose a category or specific grade level to search.

#2:  Famigo – specifically designed for the user to find family-oriented apps, and allows you to search in a variety of ways (free or paid, age level, highest rated, most popular, etc…)

#1:  Appitic – this site, produced by Apple Distinguished Educators, allows you to browse for apps by: Preschool, Themes, Multiple Intelligences, Bloom’s Taxonomy, and Tools.  I love that it offers apps based on MI and Bloom’s, encouraging higher order thinking skills.

For my original posts on each of these sites, and some other suggestions not listed here, you can click here and here.

 

My Favorite Strategy/Problem-Solving Apps

I thought this might be a good time of year to summarize and emphasize some of the most valuable resources I have reviewed so far.  Today, I would like to offer my Favorite Strategy/Problem-Solving Apps:

#3:  Solitaire Chess Free – I reviewed this as a tangible game provided by www.mindware.com, but it is available as a free app as well.  This is a great way for children to learn how the chess pieces move, and to train themselves to think ahead.

#2:  Isle of Tune – You can play this for free on the web, or you can download the app for $2.99.  As it is a music app, you might question why I include this app in the Strategy/Problem-Solving category.  But, I think there is a lot of problem-solving involved in trying to figure out how to use the tools to compose your song.

#1 – Bubble Ball – This is the most requested app during Center Time or indoor recess in my classroom.  It is fun to stand near a small group of students who are playing this app as they discuss the strategies for getting the ball to the flag using the different tools provided at each level.  I still can’t believe this app is free, as it has provided endless engagement for my students at every grade level.  Another thing that I like about the app is that every level has several solutions.

Here are my original posts on each of these:  Solitaire Chess, Isle of Tune, and Bubble Ball.

Holiday Logic

I apologize to those of you who may not celebrate Christmas, as these puzzles all fit that theme.  I did look for online logic puzzles to represent the other winter holidays, and sadly did not find any that would be appropriate for this post.  I will try to be more prepared next year!

The following links are to online, flash based games that require strategy and/or logic.  They would make good centers for the last few days before the break if you are in the same boat as the teachers in our district, who are teaching into next week.  Parents, here is a way to keep your kids challenged over the holidays.  Remember, the games will be most effective if there is an accompanying reflection, whether written or verbal, about the thinking that is used to complete each puzzle.

Christmas Tree Light Up – Connect all of the bulbs and wires to light up the tree.

The Christmas Tree Maze – Drag the bar of lights at the bottom of the tree along the maze of white wires until one of the end bulbs lights up the star at the top.

Christmas Ornaments Swap – Try to get 3 or more Christmas decorations of the same type in a row.