Providing opportunities for kids to practice concepts at their level is critical to help them build deep understanding. Fortunately there are many options for students to develop their skills and study other interests outside the normal school day.
At both elementary schools students have iXL accounts which they can use both inside and outside of school to deepen their understanding of math concepts. IXL's tagline is "practice that feels like play." From my experience so far with the platform, I definitely see truth in that statement. After introducing it, I have students ask me many times a day when we'll be using iXL. As we set up our class routines and culture, I see iXL being a great way for students to practice math independently almost anytime they have downtime (maybe even inside recess!). It is easy to get logged into, it's chunked into small enough pieces that you can feel accomplished even in a short amount of time, and it keeps track of student progress. Most of importantly, like I mentioned earlier, the kids love it!
Something else Harvey Swanson is using, as well as other teachers selectively throughout the district is RazKids. RazKids is a very similar platform to iXL, but instead of math the focus is reading. It has hundreds of books that students can read or have read to them, with comprehension quizzes at the ends of each book. Each book read and each quiz taken gives students stars. As students accumulate stars they can customize a robot with unique features. This "gamification of learning" is very popular and seems to motivate students as they seek badges or rewards for practicing.
A slightly different approach to online learning is Khan Academy. At Khan Academy someone can, as they say, learn anything. They have everything from basic math learning to complex calculus to art history to organic chemistry and so on. It's a pretty amazing site, with lessons, quizzes, and progress tracking. The best part... it's totally free. The lessons are pretty good, and I use many of the math lessons in my own classroom when students are struggling with a concept.
If you'd like any more information about these platforms or any other suggestions, check out the links in the links for families section of the website. For even more information please contact your child's teacher or me.
The first week of school is always fun and full of optimism about the new year. This year feels especially exciting because of all the unique opportunities we have at Brandon. I will keep adding new opportunities and useful information under the "Links for Families" tab to the left. Please check out the LEGO robotics information and get ahold of Mr. Spiece for more information,
In school, we've been getting to know our new math program and new technology. It's been really cool to see students who have all different experience levels with the iPads get a chance to explore the most current mobile technology available.
We're starting with responsibility and the basics when it comes to iPads these first few weeks. The teachers at HSE have decided to start with a fun lesson that goes some necessary information, but has a fun (and functional!) twist at the end. I've been lucky enough to be invited into a few classrooms to help lead this lesson.
First, we looked over the iPad. We talked about how the case helps protect the iPad from accidents, but we still need to be responsible when carrying it or using it. Next, we find each button on the iPad. The two most important buttons are the "tic-tac" button and the "belly button." The "tic-tac" button is the top button that turns the iPad on and off, and switches off the screen. The "belly button" is the circle shaped home button. The names helped students remember and easily identify the buttons.
After we went over the basics, then we learned to put a few skills together for a fun end result. All the students snapped a selfie, using the camera, and the flip camera function. They learned about how the two cameras can be used and where they were. Then through settings we made their selfie the lock and home screen. This served two functions: students now know which iPad belongs to them, and students had a great laugh when they saw their faces behind the apps! Having fun and growing comfortable with the technology is key to building digital literacy.
Welcome back Brandon! At Harvey-Swanson everyone was really looking great in their "High Tech Hawk" t-shirts. We had a great day of learning and everyone seemed to have fun. While having fun we knew how to keep safe and be happy today with an inspirational message from Mr. Phillips.
Something special that Mr. Phillips has been working on for a long time now is his signature "Hawk Talk" video series. Every Monday, Mr. Phillips, with the help of some HSE students, uses iMovie for iPad to put together a video highlighting one of the positive behaviors expected at Harvey Swanson. The videos cover everything from "walking like a hawk" in the hallway, safe playground behavior, and even respectful bus behavior.
The talks always focus on one of the four areas that HSE prides itself on. The four areas we focus on with our School-wide Positive Behavior plan are: Have Respect, Act Responsibly, Work Together, and Keep Safe! You'd be hard pressed to find a student or alum from Harvey-Swanson who couldn't recite our H.A.W.K. expectations. Mr. Phillips regularly reinforces and models these areas of pride with his videos.
Today, being the first day of school, we got an extra special video that focused on the great happiness that comes from following our H.A.W.K. expectations. It also talks about how being happy and helping others is all part of acting like a H.A.W.K. Take a look at the video below, clap along, and be happy!
Instructional Technology Coach