Category Archives: Education

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.

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My Favorite Online Math Sites

Many schools are out for the next two weeks, which gives teachers the opportunity to catch up on their personal lives.  Sometimes, though, teachers like to use this time for planning.  As the number of subscribers to this blog climbs, I am aware that many of you may not have had time to read all of the posts, or might have missed some of the earlier suggestions.  So, 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 Online Math Sites:

#3 – Math Pickle – This site has great higher order thinking activities for different grade levels.  Videos and printables are provided.

#2 – Thinking Blocks – I really like how the students can use online manipulatives in order to visualize these math problems.  The only disadvantage of this site is the inability to track the progress of students in your class.

#1 – Manga High– I have been phasing this program in with my gifted students in grades 3-5, and they are really excited about it.  This is a relatively new site, which means that there are features being added on a regular basis.  However, it already has the options for assigning lessons to your students and tracking them.  You can view their progress individually or as a class.  You can even print out progress reports for them.  This is all for free, and allows you to offer some differentiation to your students for the times when you cannot work with them individually.

If you are interested in reading my original posts on each of these resources, please click on the following:  Math Pickle, Thinking Blocks, and Manga High.

My Favorite Online Writing Tools

Many schools are out for the next two weeks, which gives teachers the opportunity to catch up on their personal lives.  Sometimes, though, teachers like to use this time for planning.  As the number of subscribers to this blog climbs, I am aware that many of you may not have had time to read all of the posts, or might have missed some of the earlier suggestions.  So, 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 Online Writing Tools:

#3 – Writing Prompts – Luke Neff provides this site with wonderful writing prompts usually accompanied by thought-provoking graphics.

#2 – Read Write Think – The student interactives alone on this site make it well worth a visit.  But it is also rich with lesson planning ideas and other resources for teachers and parents.  It’s one of the many sites tied to Thinkfinity, which I featured as one of my favorite teaching tools.

#1 – Storybird – I cannot say enough good things about this site, which allows students to create stories from sets of illustrations provided on the site.  Students can comment on each other’s work, parents can view the stories online or even purchase published products of their children’s masterpieces.  I have had several students who thoroughly dislike writing suddenly plunge themselves into weaving tales on Storybird.  One of them even wrote a thank you note to me for introducing him to the site.  This is, by far, one of my favorite discoveries this year.

If you are interested in reading my original posts on each of these resources, please click on the following:  Writing Prompts, Read Write Think (part of my post on Thinkfinity), and Storybird.

My Favorite Educational Technology Blogs

Many schools are out for the next two weeks, which gives teachers the opportunity to catch up on their personal lives.  Sometimes, though, teachers like to use this time for planning.

In case you have any time over the next couple of weeks to explore some other blogs, these three have been my favorite “go-to” blogs for finding new technology resources for the classroom over the last year:
#3 – iLearn Technology:  this blog by Kelly Tenkely regularly offers new ideas, and each post has a thorough explanation
#2 – Free Tech 4 Teachers: Richard Byrne is the author of this award-winning blog, which often gives several new links a day, and recommends how each tool can be applied in the education classroom
#1 – KB Connected – There are usually at least two or three resources added by Karen Bolotin per day with short descriptions, allowing me to easily scan the page for something new that I think might engage my students.

My Favorite Teacher Tools

Many schools are out for the next two weeks, which gives teachers the opportunity to catch up on their personal lives.  Sometimes, though, teachers like to use this time for planning.  As the number of subscribers to this blog climbs, I am aware that many of you may not have had time to read all of the posts, or might have missed some of the earlier suggestions.  So, 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 Teacher Tools:
#3 – Thinkfinity:  This site is a great place to look for quality, standards-based lessons in a variety of subjects.  Many of the lessons are linked to free online printables or interactives that will enhance your own prepared lessons.
#2 – Extend-A-Menu:  This tool is invaluable for any teacher who would like to differentiate by using menus.  By selecting from his or her own online menus, the teacher can create a printable task sheet for any number of topics.  (If you do not want to purchase it, you can use the demo option at the top.)
#1 – Triptico:  Download this tool to your desktop, and you will be amazed at the ease in which you can incorporate it into your daily routines.  Once you load a class list, it will select teams for you, randomly choose names, create word magnets (with 42 different backgrounds to choose from; it’s great for an interactive board!) and many other really neat tasks.  It is very user-friendly, and the students love it.
Here are links to my posts on each of the above in case you would like to read more about them (the above links will take you directly to the sites for each resource):  Thinkfinity, Extend-A-Menu, Triptico

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.

Creative Snowflakes

This post, from The Art of Education blog, gives some great suggestions for a simple art challenge for the students who might be so inclined.  I would extend the topic even further by having the students brainstorm other possible ideas for illustrating an entire page:  ladybugs, flowers, holiday candy, cars, etc…