Here is a revamped post from last year before break...
Break almost upon us! Long holiday breaks are great for spending time with family, eating great food, and relaxing. It is a great for our kids to step back form all the hard work they've been doing at school and feel proud, but it can be hard on a student's learning if there is a total break from from anything educational. Fortunately, being on break doesn't mean that learning stops. I always think of the advice: "Learn something new everyday."
Reading is hands down the best thing your child can spend time doing to keep their learning growing. Make time for family reading at night, or read a book to your child before bed. Kids learn so much from watching and imitating, that seeing you as a parent reading can be very powerful. These can be fiction books or nonfiction, and really try to find some "just right books" for your child. Just right books are also called "Goldilocks" books because they aren't so easy that your child will get bored, but not so difficult that your child gets frustrated. You can use the Lexile information from your child's NWEA scores as a starting point to find just right books. You can even download the app Overdrive to check out free library ebooks from the comfort of your home!
Some teachers or schools have RazKids available for their students as well. RazKids is a inclusive leveled books and assessment program where kids can earn stars for reading and correctly answering questions about reading. It's fun and provides some cool incentives for kids to read. There is a link to the RazKids site in the Links for Families section of this website.
Math practice is also very important. iXL is available to all k-1 students at Harvey Swanson and all students at Oakwood. ! Their slogan is "Practice that feels like play!" iXL is a great way to practice math facts and concepts. It offers quick bursts of practice with tutorials for questions answered incorrectly. iXL also has a incentive component that provides kids with some fun short goals to keep them engaged. There is link to iXL under the Links for Families section of our site. Second and third grade students at HSE have access to Study Island to practice math fluency.
I hope everyone has an awesome break full of learning!
There are tons of math games on the internet. Some are good, some are boring, and some make you wonder where the math is. Occasionally you find a game that really stands out as a great blend of math and real engaging fun. Gate is a game that was shared with me the Institute for Innovation in Education conference over the summer. It's awesome.
The story behind Gate is pretty epic, which adds a cool level of engagement to the game. It's art is really hip, and the gameplay is smooth, simple, and works well. You're destroying monsters from another dimension, but in order to use your magic staff, you need to build numbers correctly and quickly. It rewards players for knowing how to compose numbers using base 10 efficiently. As levels progress the ability to move up and down the number line becomes increasingly important.
Gate throws in some smart curveballs too, including blocks that float with a certain 'plus' or 'minus' to them. It intentionally exposes kids to patterns of our base 10 system and rewards them by using these patterns to be more efficient. I'd recommend the game for anyone 3rd grade and up who need practice with base 10. It's challenging enough to appeal to proficient mathematicians and offers great insight for all mathematicians.
Picture from: https://www.graphite.org/sites/default/files/experience-media-file/mathsnacksgate_ss1.jpg
I'm really getting excited for computer science week next week. I've been pushing into classrooms and exploring coding and introducing new applications to our teachers and students to help expose them to programming. One of the best apps for introducing young learners to coding is Scratch Jr.
Scratch Jr takes everything about coding and boils it down to it's simplest parts. It breaks down all sorts of barriers kids have had with coding. Reading is not an issue, because all of the buttons are symbols, which means it can be used with Kindergartners or even preschool age children. It allows quick customization of backgrounds and characters with a paint style editor.
There is still a lot of complex stuff going on under the hood with Scratch Jr. Yes, a kid can make a cat walk back and forth, but the message system adds a really neat layer to the equation. Scratch Jr uses icons that look like letters to kick off events. Basically, when something occurs with a character it will send a "yellow message" Then there is a matching "if" block that's listening for that yellow message. When the yellow message is heard, another set of actions occur, even on another character.
Scratch Jr. is super fun. Kids love playing with it and creating their own characters. I'm going to keep exploring.
Instructional Technology Coach