The Practical Post
I recently held Back-to-School night with my 5th grade parents. While preparing for it I asked myself, ‘what are you excited about for this year?’ Oh sure – I’m going to have to cover reading and math curriculums, homework expectations, behavior, routine and schedules, and IB traits… but what is unique about this year?
So I pondered this and I realized that the resources I have available to me right now I was either ignorant of or they hadn’t been created before.
So I decided to create and title this blog post the Practical Post. This blog is full of exciting new resources – but will I use all of them this year? Nope. These tools can quickly become overwhelming. So what is at the forefront? What are the tools that I will absolutely introduce on Back-to-School night?
Here’s the list:
1. Class Website: This website will be the hub for the parents to find tools used throughout the school year. Oh – don’t get me wrong, I also use it to communicate through, but the primary purpose is to create a place where parents can go to to find links to useful resources to aid their students.
2. Khan Academy: Many of my parents ask what their children can be doing at home to further their education. Here’s an excellent website. Last year I requested from my district that all students’ district e-mails work on this website. This year they all work! This means that my students have pre-assigned logins and I just simply have to add myself as a coach for each student. Students work through a knowledge map and achieve energy points along the way. Eventually this will earn them badges and awards. This site is also full of ‘tutorial’ videos which are clever and easy to follow – and they explain everything from basic addition to university mathematics and sciences. If students ever get stuck they can watch a quick video to aid them in understanding the concepts and content. In addition – I, as the coach, get to see each students’ statistics.
3. Spellingcity: This website is a must have and use for elementary classrooms. I have my spelling lists pre-loaded for the students so they can just find my name and get going. The website offers games to go along with the words and pre-tests (which I give an additional 10% extra credit if they print off a pre-test they completed at home). This website is such a help for students who just can’t figure out spelling.
4. Games: I have a link to Games that I have added on to my symbaloo page. These games are all educational. The first few weeks of school I let the students discover some of them (otherwise – I’m not sure they would ever be discovered). As a result – the students fall completely in love with them. Let me highlight a few of them: Oiligarchy, Electrocity, and Energyville are all games related to our unit on Energy. The students learn a lot about expenses and energy types as they work through the games. Kerpoof is a website that allows for teachers to set up their own class list and student logins. Then the students can access the website and create videos, drawings, and storybooks. The students absolutely love it. Icivics is a fantastic website for finding games related to history and civics.
5. Tools: The last link I share with my parents is the tool page. This page is full of web-based presentation tools, media tools, and search tools that the students will be using – especially in their Exhibition (the culminating event in the IB process).
I wanted to give you a quick synopsis of what I actually use in the classroom. That being said, every year I do discover new resources to use and I try to adapt my classroom. Even now I am trying to figure out a way that I will use KidsBlog inside and outside of the classroom. I hope this Practical Post gives you a better idea of what web-resources I prioritize at the beginning of the school year. Feel free to link to my games page if you have a class website (or let me know of any other excellent educational games you have discovered).