Earth Day is celebrated on April 22, and I’ve added some new resources to my Earth Day Wakelet collection, including a link to some Lumio templates you may want to try. (Read my post on Lumio from last week if you’d like to learn more about this free tool.)
In addition, I’ve tried to get a jump on May, which has a dizzying number of observances and celebrations, from Eid Al Fitr to U.S. Memorial Day. Here is that Wakelet, and please let me know if you have a resource that I should add. You’ll find some of favorite Mother’s Day lessons in there as well as Teacher Appreciation and Star Wars Day (May the 4th).
This post is sponsored by Lumio. All opinions are my own.
One lesson my students learned when presenting their Genius Hour projects was that getting their audience involved in some way improved their interest in what was being taught. The experience also helped the students to understand that planning for that interactivity takes more thought than just reading from bullet points on a slide, so many of them developed an appreciation for the efforts teachers make who go above and beyond a standard lecture. After all, the students were spending the equivalent of 6-12 hours preparing each of their presentations, and that time commitment isn’t very practical for full-time teachers.
What if teachers have help, though? This is an area where educational technology can be transformative, but piecing together products from different companies to pull together an engaging lesson is time-consuming, too – unless you make the choice to use Lumio. With Lumio, students can brainstorm, play games, use a collaborative whiteboard, practice lessons, and get assessed – all in one tool. And the best part is that you can deliver a Lumio lesson with as little or as much preparation as you would like.
A product from SMART Technologies that requires student devices without the necessity of an interactive display, Lumio is free for educators and amazingly easy to use. Its simplicity is almost deceptive when you begin to realize all of the ways you can use it. Like a few other ed tech products you may have seen or used, Lumio lessons consist of slides you present to students either as a teacher-led activity or student-paced. You can import slides from other software, such as PowerPoint, use your existing SMART Notebook files, or create something from scratch. If you choose to integrate Lumio with your Google Drive, you can directly import content from there. Even PDF’s can be directly added to the lesson. There is also a growing library of resources you can choose from, so you can duplicate or customize to your needs. This may sound familiar, but as you begin to customize a lesson, you will discover how Lumio separates itself from the pack. Here are some of the ways you can use it to engage your students.
1. Maybe your students enjoy playing online quizzes, but you’ve noticed that their enthusiasm begins to fizzle when you use the same format and platform every time. This is not an issue with Lumio. There are twelveGame-Based Activity templates to choose from, with multiple themes for each activity. Game Show and Monster Quiz are two popular ones that are sure to generate some smiles with their entertaining graphics, but you shouldn’t limit yourself to those. The Rank-Order tool has the potential to generate some insightful classroom discussions, and the Word Search activity can give the illusion of “just having fun” while secretly promoting some higher order thinking skills.
2. Another way to keep your students involved in their learning is that you can present slides as a digital handout (to be worked on individually), a group workspace (where Lumio will automatically create groups of students to collaborate), or a whole class activity. And you can change this “on the fly” as you present with two clicks. This flexibility gives you the power to get a sense for what might work best and make last-minute decisions.
3. As we know from Universal Design for Learning, engaging a class of students with different abilities means accommodating for as many of those differences as you can within your lesson design. With Lumio, you can add audio to your slides so your students can hear instructions, or you can turn on the Immersive Reader tool for them.
4. Whether you are doing a Design Thinking project and want students to generate ideas, or just want to find out what they already know about a topic, you can use the “Shout it Out” Activity. A couple of neat tweaks that you can make to this are that you can quickly turn on/off names to show on the screen as students contribute and you can also determine the maximum number of responses from each student.
5. You can’t keep your class engaged if the material is too repetitive or too complicated. Formative assessments with Lumio give you the information you need to pivot if necessary. At the beginning, middle, or end of your lesson, pop in the teacher-led Response tool to get real-time feedback without skipping a beat.
As you can see, Lumio combines all of the best features of other digital learning tools in one package, as well as adding quite a few extras that you won’t find anywhere else. Combined with the fact that it’s free, super user-friendly, and offers lots of opportunities to motivate and engage students, can you think of any reason not to click on this link and sign up right now?
The Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival, which held its first event in 2007, was named after a famous mathematician. Though the festival was partially sidelined due to Covid a couple of years ago, it continued with virtual events, and it looks like it has some upcoming activities. If you are unable to attend in person, though, you can still participate by playing one of the many online games, or even downloading one of the free, printable booklets. The games include some classics, like River Crossings, and Tower of Hanoi, but there are plenty of others that will likely be new to you and your students. One very helpful feature you will find is that the instructions to each game are on Google Slide presentations, with links to the online game, and an option for Spanish instructions.
I’ll be adding this link to two of my collections: Brainteasers and Puzzles and Math Sites That Won’t Make You Fall Asleep. Got advanced learners? This would be great for them! Early finishers? Students with math anxiety who need to see it can be fun? A little extra time at the end of class or a much-needed break from test prep? These are all good occasions to check out the JRMF site!
In yesterday’s post about Spellie, the Wordle variation designed for younger players, I referred to the original post by Jacob Cohen where I found that link and many more. Another daily online puzzle he made me aware of is called, “Fourword.” This is a word ladder game, where you are given a beginning and ending word, then tasked with changing one letter at a time of the beginning word to make the ending word in as few moves as possible. Each step of the “ladder” has to spell a real word. I find it to be quite as addictive as Wordle, so it’s now on my home screen as one of the daily games I do when I need a break from work or crazy dogs.
According to this post by Ian Byrd, Word Ladders were invented by Lewis Carroll. Donna Lasher, in an article about language fun for younger students, was the first one to introduce me to the Word Ladder books for elementary students, which you can see by clicking on the affiliate link in her post. If you want to make your own Word Ladder puzzles, here is a generator (FYI, there is a minor grammatical issue when you print out the instructions). And here are some printable ones — definitely for older students. This page gives you suggested games and solutions, which I find quite helpful. Sporcle also has Word Ladder Quizes, though mostly designed for age 10 and up. Of course, it’s inevitable that you can find a way to cheat (I mean, “get hints that give you the actual answers”) on the internet, so I’ll save you some time searching for that site by linking a Word Ladder solver here.
Yesterday, I landed on the goldmine of Wordle blog posts. I thought I had collected most of the Wordle variations, and then I read this post by Jacob Cohen. After adding most of the links in his post, I ended up with 54 Wordle-type games in my Wakelet collection (I think I had something like 36 before). There are sudoku and crossword versions, a Morse code version, and several that I think will make my brain explode if I try them. Since my blog audience is mostly teachers, I was conscious as I added each link of whether or not it might be good for the classroom. Most of them definitely appeal to very niche audiences, but when I saw Spellie I realized I needed to spread the word.
Spellie is designed for children, or perhaps people trying to learn the English language. It has three modes: easy, medium, hard. According to the rule page, “The easy puzzle uses short words within the Grade 2 vocabulary. The hard mode is challenging, but uses words within the Grade 5 vocabulary.” Easy mode has 4 letter words, while the other two have 5.
I will admit right now that I was completely humiliated by the easy mode. And, trust me, it was not a difficult word.
In my defense, I had gotten sidetracked by another game Cohen suggested (that I’ll be blogging about tomorrow), and my brain seemed to have difficulty changing modes.
Back to Spellie, you can collect little emojis as you guess words, which is a fun bonus.
As a reminder, for those of you wanting to bring Wordle into the classroom, don’t forget there is a Flippity version where you can customize your list with your own words. You can also customize Spello with your own lists, and it will read a word out loud, so students can try to guess the correct spelling.
Yes, you read that correctly and no, it’s not a spelling error. Jumping on the Wordle bandwagon, we now have a geography quiz called “Worldle.” Like its inspiration, it is a daily quiz that gives you six guesses. In this case, however, you are trying to identify a country or territory, the outline of which appears at the top. Your guesses are rated on “the distance, the direction and the proximity from your guess and the target country.” It looks like my average number of guesses needed will be 4, equivalent to my skill at the game that started this all.