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Crazy for Brainzy – Get a FREE Membership!

Posted by kcaise on October 22, 2014 in apps and gaming, curriculum, Digital Media |

I don’t usually endorse paid educational services but Brainzy changed my mind. Brainzy is a website created by Education.com and contains over 300 games, stories, songs and videos for children aged 3-7 years old.

There is an annual or monthly cost associated with using the site but I have 10 codes that can be used for a home membership or in the classroom with up to 35 students. Just leave a comment below I will send you a code for a one year membership. For early childhood educators or homeschool parents this is very exciting news!

The press release stated the following about this new educational website:

Brainzy_Math_and_Reading_ProgramSan Francisco, CA, September 25, 2014Education.com, the nation’s leading destination for parents and teachers seeking supplemental learning materials, today announced the launch of Brainzy, a new kind of online learning program designed to build reading and math skills in children ages 3–7. Developed using rich data gathered from the 20 million worksheets downloaded each year at Education.com, Brainzy features hundreds of interactive games and activities that captivate young minds and delight parents weary of filling screen time with so-called education apps. Brainzy’s comprehensive program follows a methodical, building-block path created to spark curiosity, giggles, and grins while building more than 30 critical reading and math skills.    

The systematic approach of the new program sets it apart from the thousands of learning apps that take a one-off, episodic approach. Brainzy covers the essential skills teachers consider most important for early learning success while deeply engaging kids in a world rich with exploration. Guided by a lovable cast of original characters, kids cover a year’s worth of learning as they play through more than 300 fun games, videos, and read-along stories.

Brainzy takes kids to a pretend land and is full of educational games. Education.com takes the data of what the students to understand what typeBrainzy_Math_and_Reading_Programs of supplemental resources educators are looking for when using educational games and websites. It gathers real-time data from the games, videos and items accessed at the site to create quality supplementary resources for educators.

Education.com’s website has five million members with millions more visiting the website for blog posts and educational articles every month. Education.com serves as one resource for motivation, inspiration, advice and materials to use with students.

Knowing this, you can rest assured Brainzy is a quality site aligned with the Common Core State Standards and is filled with fun, fantastic resources to teach young children skills they will need to be successful in school.

girl-with-ipad-hires_jpg_and_announcing_Brainzy__new_games_for_math_and_reading_-_kcaise_gmail_com_-_GmailBrainzy is kid safe and does not contain advertisements so you don’t have to worry about pop up banners or banner ads that are questionable or inappropriate.

Check it out and don’t forget to leave a comment below and I will contact you for a code for a FREE one year membership!

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5 Steps to a Successful School Year for (New) Teachers

Posted by kcaise on October 22, 2014 in blogging |

hard working womanResearch shows that October is a difficult time for new teachers. The excitement of a new school year, pristinely decorated and organized, ready to greet your crew of new students wanes around this time.  For some, this school job poses as a new job, first time being on your own in your own classroom and reality is starting to set in that things are not as you were taught (in some cases). Unfortunately this phenomenon is not related to new teachers only. It happens to all teachers.

In a way, the honeymoon period is over and it becomes apparent that you are now responsible and accountable for a group of 25 to 40ish students per class. You are responsible for preparing your students for either the CCSS assessments or state standardized testing. The pressure can be daunting. But there is good news!

1. This too shall pass. This rut or wane of energy will pass and you will resume your confidence and continue to demonstrate your expertise whether you are a first year teacher or experienced teacher. Start an exercise regimen if you don’t already have one to release stress. Start a blog so you can reflect upon your teaching or keep a journal of your daily adventures so you can express your feelings.

2. Find apps on a smartphone, tablet, or mobile device of some kind to help you be more productive. Whether you use Nearpod for interactive PowerPoint presentations, Dropbox or Evernote to have immediate access to your files or student work on any device – find what works for you. There is a complete educator’s section in iTunes to help you identify great productivity apps. Use them to ease some of the teaching responsibilities that you feel are looming over your head. Use the apps to help make tasks that you dislike more interesting or fun to do instead of dreading them.

3. Flickr CC: Kandyjaxx's PhotostreamFind a quality mentor. Find someone that has their act together, and is well respected for their classroom management and teaching strategies. Find a colleague that uses technology to integrate innovative learning activities into the curriculum. Find someone that has a positive attitude and is realistic about the expectations and responsibilities you face every day as a teacher on your campus. You will be surprised how much talking with someone who can relate and offer you advice that will benefit you will be a great relief and motivator.

You can be re-energized again and have that same excitement that you started the year with if you take certain steps to ‘protect’ that special feeling when the new school year starts. Remember, every educator has been at this point at some time in their academic career and feeling frustrated and tense is commonplace. Talk with your mentor on ways you can relieve those negative feelings and ways you can stay on track on focused on your campus vision.

4. _Never_Erase__Teacher_Plaque___zulilyBe positive and share your heart. Let your students know you care about them and want them to be successful. Let them know you believe in them and they won’t let you down. Don’t be fake or phoney though as kids can see right through that. One campus started giving bucks for behaving, following rules, being prepared for class, completing homework, etc. and discipline referrals declined by 75%. Being positive and caring for your students is catching and you will see that your students will want to please you and will work to the best of their abilities and beyond.

5. Involve your parents. Send home positive notes for even the smallest thing. I have had parents say that my phone call home was the first time a teacher called or sent a note for something positive. With parents on your side, your classroom will run smoother as you have the support and backing of your parents and your students know you are in close communication with their parents. This will alleviate and present discipline problems from exacerbating and becoming huge problems for you while you are teaching. Trust me on this. I have been in education for over 20 years and the students I had the most trouble with I made extra efforts to contact parents at the onset of a concern and continued that line of communication. Parents appreciate knowing what their children are doing in your class and that is why a blog or website for your classroom is so helpful.

paycheck of heart - Google SearchThere are many more things that I could share with you to help make the school year a success but I will finish with this. Teach your heart out and make a difference in the lives of your students. It will be challenging to not lose your temper and to be positive but the effort will pay off in dividends and you too will receive many paychecks of the heart as I have over the past 20 some odd years. Never give up and remember, this too shall pass!

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6 Great SAT Prep Apps

Posted by kcaise on October 22, 2014 in apps and gaming, curriculum |

iphone-for-me-mdEver searched for a great SAT prep app in iTunes? There are hundreds of apps and it is extremely time-consuming to read the descriptions and decide if the app is valuable, offers tips or information that will be beneficial to the user and aid in actually preparing for the college entrance exam.

What is unique is that most of the apps have game like features as there is an abundance of current research that shows many students learn more when games, challenges and levels are involved, especially with gamification becoming a large trend in education.

Below are six apps that will benefit any student preparing for the SAT/ACT that are free to download with a few offering in-app purchases for additional features or content.

Screenshot_10_21_14__6_02_PMSAT Up Score Beyond – This is a free app that does off in-app purchases for additional preparation content. This app offers over 3,000 prep questions and users can personalize the content based on strengths and weaknesses. The app tracks progress and compiles performance data from the app for you. The app is free but there is a $4.99 monthly fee that can be cancelled at any time. Looks like a great app if you don’t mind the subscription fee.

Screenshot_10_21_14__6_01_PMAce the SAT – This app focuses on mathematics questions. You can use the app without an Internet connection and there are no in-app or subscription fees like some of the other apps. Each quiz you take will feature new questions and incorrect questions show the correct answer with some explaining how to solve the question correctly. The test section tracks progress as well as allows you to take a screenshot to share with someone if you need additional assistance or clarification on the solution.

Screenshot_10_21_14__6_00_PMPlay2Prep – This app customizes training and is in a game format. You can practice with tough test questions and improve your time on each section with this app. You can create customized practice tests and track your progress, simulate real world tests and track strengths and weaknesses for future improvement. Additionally, you can play games against other or individually to practice test questions.

Screenshot_10_21_14__6_00_PMCollege Passport – SAT Edition This is more than just an SAT prep app. You can get information about colleges and track your applications all in one place. This is the only app that is similar to a flipped classroom with practice questions and video tutorials with online office hours to ensure that students receive assistance when needed. The instructors that provide assistance are trained in the same proven methodologies that the app is based. This features can be great advantages over some of the other apps.

Screenshot_10_21_14__5_59_PMKaplan’s SAT Quiz U – This app gives you free practice SAT questions in timed mini quizzes, helping you study the most valuable, score-raising topics in each area tested on the SAT. You get access to 450 questions with the option for in-app purchases to gain access to more questions. Receive immediate feedback on your progress as you work through the features of the app with the ability to submit discussion questions to Kaplan SAT teachers and get a response within 24 hours.

Screenshot_10_21_14__5_58_PMSAT Prep TestBank 2400 – The app is free but there are in-app purchases that are required to gain full access but there is a great deal here for free and a minimal cost. The authors of the app supposedly earned perfect scores on the SAT so the quality is high. The app re-calibrates based on your responses and avoids repeat questions. The app contains tips and strategies to achieve a high score on the SAT in addition to the practice elements.

All of the above apps offer great features that will greatly help any teen studying for one of the college entrance exams even though the apps are focused on the SAT. The features, questions and tips are applicable to all kinds of tests in and out of the classroom that students will encounter so take some time to explore the apps and find out which best fits your needs. If you find a great SAT prep app that isn’t listed above or find the ones shared above valuable, I invite you to leave a comment and let me know!

 

Cross posted at: http://elearningindustry.com/6-great-sat-prep-apps

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Metals in Your Everyday Life Virtual Field Trip

Posted by kcaise on October 21, 2014 in Digital Media, Discovery Education Network (DEN), online events |

Discovery Education will host another virtual field trip free for students of all ages although the resources and virtual field trip will feature 6th-8th grade students. This field trip will show middle schoolers getting a personal tour of a working copper mine live from Arizona.

According to Discovery Education,

Metals_in_Your_Everyday_Life_Virtual_Field_Trip_on_LivestreamDuring this live event, students will get a behind the scenes look into the copper industry and meet with a local Geologist and Mine Planning Engineer as they reinforce STEM and core math and science concepts within real world careers.

The event will take place November 13, 2014 from 1-2pm EST and the registration page can be found here: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/metals-in-your-everyday-life-virtual-field-trip-registration-13623473175. Check out the teacher resources on this page: http://www.digintomining.com/teacher-resources.

Teachers can submit questions prior to the event so the questions can be answered during the live event on this page: http://www.digintomining.com/virtualfieldtrips.

 

Photo Credit: Discovery Education

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Coming Soon – iOS and Android Bling!

Posted by kcaise on October 20, 2014 in apps and gaming |

Cuff_-_Smart_JewelryWith the holidays fast approaching, close attention should be paid to this blog post. Every woman loves to receive and wear jewelry and the items featured in this post might be on many holiday gift wish lists. Smartphone jewelry has arrived in the form or a necklace and several bracelet cuffs. There is a masculine cuff for the guys too!

The items are similar to the fitbit cuffs but these are considered more of a jewelry item. The featured necklace has two gold overlays and communicates with the smartphone to let the wearer know that a phone call or text message has been sent to their phone. No more missed calls or texts when wearing the necklace!

Cuff_-_Smart_JewelryThe cuffs let designed people know you need help. The app communicates with the jewelry via an electronic module and is charged in a mirrored jewelry box. The cuff is designed for activity tracking or safety purposes. One type of cuff tracks like the fitbit cuffs and ones similar to the one on the right informs those selected of your location with live audio and any other relevant information necessary to let selected parties know how to help reach you. This is great for those who travel or teach in areas that might be considered dangerous or are involved in abusive domestic relationships.

You can pre-order the items now and read more about the details on their website http://cuff.io. You can view the informational video below on the three types of items offered. The cuffs start at $49 and are really pretty. The module with a simple charger is $29. Check out the website to see all of the different items that can be ordered and how they are used. I just love these technology items – so exciting!

What do you think? Are these items on you or your family members’ gift wish list?

 

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No, it’s NOT Enough!

Posted by kcaise on October 19, 2014 in blogging, curriculum, tech integration |

Have you read a blog post or article that stated that technology will be the saving grace for solving the problems with education today? In my opinion, technology alone is not enough to make a difference.

Is technology enough?

No, it’s not enough. Is technology with training enough to positively impact instruction?

No, it’s not enough. Is technology with training, time to practice enough?

ID-100128878No, it’s not enough. Is technology with quality, time to practice and time to debrief and share experiences? Possibly. As long as the professional development is quality and effective, building technology leaders and creating motivated users with a common vision. If it isn’t, it’s not enough.

Debriefing and reflecting is an important part of the process and without the time to practice, try, fail, succeed and reflect upon a teacher’s strength and weaknesses using new technology hardware or software instruction will not significantly improve.

Time to collaborate, take risks, share what worked and what didn’t is so important to professional growth and not enough time to learn and expand a teacher’s knowledge base will not happen without just that – time to learn.

Just having the latest technology, even in a one-to-one situation, will not magically transform teaching. But having training on using digital media and slowly adding more technology tools to a teacher’s toolbox – that will pay off dividends in transforming teaching and learning.

cell phone appsReal learning occurs when the three C’s take place – collaboration, communication and creativity. Just as students are learning and exploring how to effectively use technology in the classroom so should teachers. When something exciting happens while a student is using technology they share it with everyone. Same should be happening with educators.

Unfortunately, our enthusiasm has been stifled by testing pressure and demands, ignored discipline issues in the classroom, just another program ideals, and a host of other personal and professional issues and demands that sap the life out of educators.

This is why quality professional development is needed. Create leaders who can assist other teachers. Have teachers team teach with one another. Have the media specialist and technology specialist work with the teachers and model lessons.

Do everything possible to share the good things instead of focusing on negativity to transform the teaching and learning culture. It isn’t an easy task but it is doable if you have effective professional development to train the teachers.

Enthusiasm is catching and when you have teachers and students excited about learning to use technology, coupled with continued quality, effective, and innovative professional development you have quality, effective and innovative learning happening in the classroom. That’s my two cents – what are your thoughts? Is technology enough?

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Top 20 Worst Colleges in America

Posted by kcaise on October 15, 2014 in blogging |

Washington Monthly.com posted a list of the top 10 worst colleges in the U.S. The ranking was based on a variety of reasons. The list and reasons the colleges made the list are below:

FAmerica’s_Worst_Colleges_by_Ben_Miller___The_Washington_Monthlyirst was high tuition fees with a poor quality education leading to a high drop out before graduation. This leaves students with huge loans and a large amount of debt with no degree in sight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

America’s_Worst_Colleges_by_Ben_Miller___The_Washington_Monthly

A second chart lists the top 20 worst colleges using the graduation rate as the criteria for rankings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

America’s_Worst_Colleges_by_Ben_Miller___The_Washington_MonthlyThe third chart ranks the worst 20 colleges according to, “… debt statistics using its borrowing rate. This acknowledges that a college where 90 percent of students borrow and many default is much different than a college where only 10 percent of students borrow and, of those, many default. This grouping also sidesteps the problem of part-time students being excluded from graduation rates by only counting the ratio of degrees per 100 full-time equivalent students, which includes all students, full-time and part-time.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

America’s_Worst_Colleges_by_Ben_Miller___The_Washington_Monthly

The last ranks the worst colleges according to minority numbers. This uses demographic and socio-economic statuses to set the rankings.

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Maker Space Learning Kits – Where Can I Find Some?

Posted by kcaise on October 13, 2014 in blogging, curriculum, Digital Media |

With the maker space theme becoming a big trend in current classrooms in today’s schools, trying to come up with learning activities and materials for a classroom that fits the maker theme can be a difficult and daunting task. I found several at ‘The Grommet’ website.

First is a JoyLabz__MaKey_MaKey_Kit_-_Invention_Kit__Gifts_for_Engineers circuit board kit that turns objects that conduct electricity into user interfaces and keyboard controllers. It is designed for ages 12 and up but can be for any age with supervision. Just complete the circuit to create the objects students want to make or run.

The next ‘toy’ or explorative activity item is called OgoSport constructive toy sets. These sets allow students to create open ended items and put the pieces into an endless number of configurations. The YouTube video explains more about this item.

The next item is the Sphere 2.0 app controlled robot ball. The balls are programmable with a smartphone app, can fit in your hand, light and do a variety of things once programmed. The YouTube video below shows more about what robot balls can do.

Next up is the remote-controlled robot. Remote_Control_Robot_by_RoboMeThe robot is controlled with an iPhone or iPod Touch and can dance, walk, and talk. You can let the robot more about freely or use the remote-control to program and control the robot. You can do a great deal with the programming of the robots and I highly recommend you explore this ‘toy’ as well.

The last item is the littleBits modular electronic kits. It is described as:

Just as LEGO enables kids to build complex structures with very little engineering knowledge, littleBits are small, intuitive blocks that make it a snap to create sophisticated electronics. Each bit consists of a tiny circuit-board with its own specific function (light, sound, sensors, buttons, thresholds, pulse, and motors). littleBits are color-coded and magnetic making it simple to build large circuits in seconds. No soldering, no wiring, or programming necessary. In combination with everyday materials, littleBits can be transformed into working LEGO bots, clay cars, toy nightlights—you name it, you can create it.

There is a YouTube video that explains the item in more detail.

All of these items would make great additions for coding, programming and creating things that fit the maker theme type of classroom and align to the CCSS featuring creativity. The prices vary and you can read more about each item on the Grommet toys and games page. They also have other interesting items to explore to enrich your classroom. You can apply for grants or use sites like http://donorschoose.org and http://classwish.org. They have some very interesting items that kids would love to explore and create with!

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New SlideShare App Just Released

Posted by kcaise on October 11, 2014 in apps and gaming |

Screenshot_10_11_14__11_16_PMHave you ever needed one of your SlideShare files on a mobile device for a presentation? If so, you can now download, view and upload SlideShare files using their new app. The app was just released on October 2, 2014 and is available for iOS and Android devices.   

Discover New Presentations

Screenshot_10_11_14__11_35_PMThe new app lets you browse the 12 million presentations that have been uploaded to Slideshare or discover new presentations based on a variety of topics. SlideShare gets 60 million unique visitors a month allowing you to view presentations and learn new content at the tip of your fingers from a wide variety of resources and networks. Now that the app is released it is even easier to view presentations uploaded to SlideShare.net.

  Expand your Network and Make Connections

You can view presentations uploaded from people in your network in addition to the presentations that result from a general search. This month is CoScreenshot_10_11_14__11_34_PMnnected Educators Month now is the time to take advantage of this great opportunity to expand your network and learn from one another via SlideShare presentations whether you are an educator or not. We can all learn from one another and serve as educators in a variety of capacities and this is the perfect time to reach out to those in your network and download or view their presentations offline or online using the new app. Before the release of the app you were limited to viewing presentations online only and did not have the ability to download for offline viewing.

Share your Work with SlideShare Community

Additionally, you can share your own presentations by uploading them and connecting SlideShare with your favorite networks like the SlideShare community, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Plurk – quickly and easily using the SlideShare app. Viewing the slidedecks shared on SlideShare is even easier on your mobile device as you can view them in full-screen mode. Before the app release it was difficult to view the presentations online as the images were very small and details were not as visible as they are now. Be sure to download this app and view on the go!

 

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Ready to Help NASA do #SkyScience?

Posted by kcaise on October 10, 2014 in curriculum, Digital Media |

SkyScience_–_Earth_Science_Week_2014___NASAReady to help NASA with a science project? NASA is inviting people around the globe to go outside during Earth Science Week and observe the sky, clouds, etc. and share those observations as ‘citizen scientists’. Earth Week is October 12-18, 2014 and is a great time to work on STEAM projects that have to do with weather and atmospheric conditions. I included the ‘A’ in STEAM as artwork can be done based on observations of what a students views in the sky.

Clouds are an important part of Earth’s atmosphere, and NASA scientists are studying how they affect our weather and climate. Clouds cover about half of the planet at any one time, ranging from high, wispy cirrus to dark, rumbling thunderheads. By participating in #SkyScience you will help NASA learn more about the types of clouds where you live, work and play, and help all of us celebrate the beauty of Earth’s atmosphere, and the science behind it.

Learn more:
What Are Clouds?
Earth Observatory: Clouds & Radiation
Improving Climate Change Predictions, One Cloud at a Time

What’s #SkyScience?
You don’t need a Ph.D. in a field of science to be a scientist. All it takes is curiosity and a bit of planning, and you’ll become a “Citizen Scientist” in no time!

#SkyScience is part of an annual event founded by the American Geosciences Institute to every ‘citizen scientists’ to engage in Earth Science by observing, photographing, drawing or reporting on clouds where they live and go to school.

To report your observations, share on Twitter, blog posts, Instagram, Flickr, Facebook or any other social media outlet and use the hashtag #SkyScience. During Earth Week, NAZA will share of most interesting photos on NASA’s social media outlets. For years, NASA has been involving students in cloud observation via the Students’ Cloud Observations On-Line (S’COOL) Project.

#SkyScience is one more opportunity to obtain a variety of reports in a short period of time and enable NASA scientists and personnel to study and analyze the reports shared with NASA.

To get more information and find out how the steps so you can participate, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/skysci.  Please share your form of participation with this blog – what an exciting activity for your students!

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