Sown to Grow is a new platform that is designed to help students set goals, track progress, and reflect on their learning. The platform also allows teachers to help guide learning, monitor growth, and provide feedback to their students. In short, Sown to Grow is meant to provide students with more ownership over the learning process, and help promote reflection over classroom assignments and activities. Continue reading on our Review's page.
Reading Horizons has spent the last 30 years working towards creating programs to support beginning and struggling readers at the K-12 level and beyond. They offer a wide range of solutions and products with this goal in mind, and you can also read our earlier reviews of Reading Horizons Discovery for K-3 students and of Reading Horizons Elevate for 4th grade to adult.
For anyone interested in learning more about the Reading Horizons method, this YouTube playlist is a great place to start.
The Reading Horizons team has always offered on-site professional development (PD) to support these resources, but the team has just released a collection of online training modules which are designed to provide additional training and support to teachers and schools who have signed up for Reading Horizons. Continue reading on our Review's Page.
Marbotic is a french company that was formed in 2012 with the goal of creating education technology apps and tools for young learners. They currently offer two products, Smart Letters and Smart Numbers (or a combined kit with both). These products are meant to help preK-2 students with a variety of ELA and math skills. Plus, the team has an excellent, CCSS-aligned lesson book that is available for teachers as well. Continue reading on our Review's Page.
Utopia 360° is a company that offers a variety of virtual reality and augmented reality experiences. In terms of K-12 STEM education, they currently have three bundles and apps: Space Exploration, Dinosaur Experience, and Animal Zoo. All of these are meant to help students explore content through both augmented and virtual reality. Each bundle comes with a headset and cards. These cards are then used to trigger the augmented/virtual reality experience.
For this specific review, I had the opportunity to test out the Space Exploration bundle, which is designed to let students explore content related to the planets, the solar system, space missions, and content along these lines. Continue reading on our Review's Page.
KIBO is a robot from KinderLab Robotics that aims to help preK-2 students and teachers integrate programming and STEAM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) into their class and play time. KIBO can be used without a device or a screen, and is meant to be a hands-on, active programming and robotics experience. The robot is based on 15 years of child development research, and has been used in classrooms, libraries, museums, clubs, and camps around the world. Continue reading.
For any K-12 science teacher, the name Vernier is most likely a familiar one. The company has been making science equipment since 1981, and is a common classroom name. As a former biology teacher, I was always a fan of Vernier’s data collection probes and sensors. And now, classroom teachers have a new reason to be excited about Vernier, because they’ve launched an entirely new line of wireless, Bluetooth enabled, Go Direct sensors.
I had the chance to review the Go Direct Force and Acceleration Sensor, and was impressed with the overall ease of use. Read the complete review on our Review's Page.
Reimagining Library Spaces by Diana Rendina centers around the idea that the traditional school library model is due for an upgrade, and that it is no longer as effective as it once was. Throughout the book, Rendina offers clear, specific, and practical ways to help schools and library media specialists reimagine what their space could be, and to do so with limited financial resources.
Rendina’s suggestions are based on years of experience and practice, and she does an excellent job providing thorough and thoughtful advice on how to transform the library into a space that supports flexible, collaborative, and hands-on learning. Continue reading on our Review's Page.
Book Review | Nurturing Young Innovators: Cultivating Creativity in the Classroom, Home and Community by Laura McLaughlin Taddei & Stephanie Smith Budhai
Nurturing Young Innovators explores how preK-5 teachers can engage families and communities to better create an environment that fosters creativity, innovation, and collaboration. Throughout the book, Taddei and Budhai offer practical suggestions and real-world examples for how teachers can bring parents and communities together in support of the development of these types of environments.
It’s an excellent read, full of useful resources and guides to help educators put these ideas into practice. Continue reading on our Review's Page.
For this year's installment of "Free Classroom Apps to Try This Fall" I decided to round up a collection of apps that might be somewhat lesser known, but still offer lots of classroom potential. Additionally, I tried to find apps that could be used across grade levels and/or subject areas.
If you're interested in checking out our previous lists of free apps, here they are:
2017's Free Classroom Apps to Try This Fall
Kiddom: A Collaborative Platform for Teachers and Learners
Kiddom is a free platform for teachers and students that is perfect for classrooms using standards-based or competency-based grading. Teachers can create assignments, collaborate with other teachers, and track performance related to specific standards (CCSS, NGSS, state, or customized). Plus, students can gain a better understanding of their own achievement levels.
In short, Kiddom offers an easy way to plan, assess, and analyze student learning. Teachers use one collaborative platform for planning, assessment, communication, and analytics. You can also plan curriculum and differentiate learning pathways for groups or individual students. Kiddom also offers a huge content library of standards-aligned resources that teachers can use and modify.
Generation Global: Preparing Students to Navigate Difference
Generation Global is a completely free resource that is designed to help students learn how to work across cultures. Cross-cultural dialogue is at the core and heart of what they do and how they believe we can better counter conflict and violence around the world. They have an excellent collection of resources and a wonderful platform for helping to bring students together to begin discussions.
Within that overarching mission of helping students learn how to navigate difference, Generation Global focuses on three specific approaches:
Quill.org: Free Interactive Writing and Grammar Activities for K-12
Quill.org is a free tool that is designed to help K-12 students develop their writing skills by providing activities and feedback as they progress through a variety of activities. In its current state, the tool is designed to help students begin constructing complex sentences, but in the future the team has plans on expanding that to include thesis and essay writing.
Quill was founded as a nonprofit with the singular goal of helping struggling writers, particularly in low-income schools, improve their writing abilities. As so much of successful communication depends on writing, I couldn’t agree more with their mission.
TinyTap: Create Games and Interactive Lessons for preK-12 Students
TinyTap is a preK-12 educational platform that can be used to create interactive games and then share and sell those games through their online marketplace. While TinyTap does offer a Pro version, the free version of the platform has a lot to offer and can be a great classroom resource for teachers and students alike. TinyTap can even be used by students to create their own interactive games as a way to present and share what they’ve learned.
Where I think TinyTap truly shines is in its potential use as a student creation tool. By asking students to create their own interactive activities and presentations, you can open up unlimited possibilities for how the creation app can be implemented in the classroom. Plus, you can do all this for free!
Workbench: A Comprehensive Platform for Project-Based Learning
Workbench is a platform that provides teachers and students with everything they need to organize, create, and share projects, equipment, and student project portfolios. The Workbench team provides a place where teachers can get ideas, students can find new ways to use products, and everyone can share code, lessons, experiences, and tips with the community.
Overall, Workbench is an absolutely wonderful platform. Implementing Project-Based learning can be an enormous challenge, even for experienced teachers. By using Workbench, teachers can get ideas of what has been successful for others, use and remix existing lessons, create their own lessons, and communicate with other teachers to share ideas and get tips. For a completely free platform, Workbench has a lot to offer for both teachers and students.
CommonLit: Free Literacy Resources and Progress Tracking Tools
CommonLit is a completely free literacy resource design for 5th - 12th grade classrooms. The resource is accessible on any internet-enabled device and offers a growing collection of literacy resources, questions, and tools for helping students improve their ELA skills. Overall, CommonLit is incredibly user friendly, and for a free resource, it offers a wealth of possibilities for the classroom.
The overall goal of CommonLit is to provide teachers with a free collection of readings that they can use to address a wide variety of topics in 5th - 12th grade classrooms. If you are in need of high quality ELA lessons for your classroom that are aligned to the CCSS and come with a variety of pre-built assessments addressing both lower and higher order thinking skills, CommonLit is absolutely worth exploring.
Science in the Classroom: Annotated Research Papers & Teaching Materials
Science in the Classroom (SitC) is an online resource from that folks at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The resource is meant to provide students with access to annotated research papers from Science’s journals, as well as provide teachers access to a wide variety of teaching materials that can be used to support the use of these articles in the classroom.
Overall, Science in the Classroom is a completely free, mobile-friendly resource for teachers and students that is grant-funded by the NSF. The primary audience for the resource is undergraduate students and advanced high school students; however, I think it can definitely be a useful resource throughout many secondary science classrooms as well.
Flipgrid: Use Student Videos to Promote Discussion and Engagement
Flipgrid is a new K-12 resource that is designed to promote open discussion between all students within your classroom. Teachers post topics, videos, or links for discussions and students respond to the prompt and to each other with short video reflections. It’s a wonderful resource, and Flipgrid's free plan offers a wide range of functionality and classroom possibility.
Overall, Flipgrid is meant to provide a digital space for students to share and reflect on ideas with their teacher and with their peers. It’s a wonderful way to get students participating equally in discussions, and for students to hear their peers voices and insights.
That's it for this year's post! I hope you find these resources helpful, and always feel free to email me with any questions you might have! If you're interested in more free apps, don't forget to check out our posts below from previous years. Have a wonderful school year everyone!
Author: Bob Hand
Regardless of the subject of your classroom, art can — and should — play a role in your curriculum. Indeed, artistic skills are essential in the modern age, and focusing on digital content creation, a component of teaching greatly emphasized by Common Core standards, will help prepare your students for their future careers (and, if they develop their artistic skills, perhaps tackle some of their inevitable student debt?). Continue Reading.
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