App of the Week: Math gets adaptive

Ed. note: App of the Week picks are now being curated by the editors of Common Sense Education, which helps educators find the best ed-tech tools, learn best practices for teaching with tech, and equip students with the skills they need to use technology safely and responsibly. Click here to read the full app review.

What’s It Like? 

After taking an initial assessment to gauge their competency level, students are presented with a pie chart of competency, a timeline of content to master, and a number of ways to dive into that content. Once they select a subject, they’re given a fairly typical textbook-style lesson, with written explanations and vocabulary, worked example problems, and then a series of practice questions. ALEKS gives feedback on what students are doing well and struggling with along the way, and it either speeds or slows progression as it measures successful work. As kids get through lessons, sectors of their competency pie grow to reflect their emerging skill.…Read More

World’s largest K-12 reading survey identifies trends, highlights best practices

Tapping into data collected from nearly 10 million K-12 students who read 346 million books and nonfiction articles last school year, Renaissance® releases its ninth annual What Kids Are Reading report. Researchers at the K-12 learning analytics company produce the report, which provides the comprehensive review of students’ reading habits and achievement. What Kids Are Reading: And How They Grow, 2017 includes most read fiction and nonfiction books by grade level, nonfiction selections by gender, and a sampling of popular reading across the curriculum. The report is an important annual reflection on reading trends in U.S. schools.

By analyzing the data and reading habits from Renaissance’s Accelerated Reader 360® platform, researchers compiled national and state reading trends, reading habits by age and gender, and best practices for student growth.

“What Kids Are Reading offers important and unique insight into K-12 reading as we continuously seek to better understand how students read and grow as learners,” said Eric Stickney, director of educational research at Renaissance. “Each year, we discover key insights about our student readers, such as the difference dedicated reading practice can mean to a student previously thought to be constrained by the label of ‘struggling reader’.”…Read More

App of the Week: drag-and-drop virtual bulletin boards

Ed. note: App of the Week picks are now being curated by the editors of Common Sense Education, which helps educators find the best ed-tech tools, learn best practices for teaching with tech, and equip students with the skills they need to use technology safely and responsibly. Click here to read the full app review.

What’s It Like? 

Padlet is a website and app that allows kids to collect information from the internet and pin it onto virtual bulletin boards using a simple drag-and-drop system. Videos, text, links, images — basically anything — can be added to a board and organized there, like a page full of Post-it notes. There’s also the option to include rich text (Padlet provides a simple HTML guide in their Help sidebar). You can add as many notes to a wall as you like; it scrolls in all directions.…Read More

Arizona implements K-6 language development and literacy intervention for English learners

The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) is continually seeking effective ways to support educators as they work to help English language learners (ELLs) develop academic English fluency. Toward that end, the ADE, in cooperation with the Arizona State Board of Education, has embarked on an innovative, two-year pilot program to bring a technology-based language development and literacy intervention to ELLs in grades K-6.

Following a competitive bidding and review process, the State Board of Education has chosen to partner with Scientific Learning Corp. to implement the neuroscience-designed Build English Fast™ solution for this project to help ELLs accelerate their English language acquisition, and make fast and lasting gains in their language and reading skills.

Approximately 70,000 of Arizona’s K-12 students are ELLs. On the 2015 AzMERIT statewide benchmark exam, only 2 percent of ELLs passed the language arts section, and 6 percent passed the math section of the exam.…Read More

App of the Week: One-stop shop for research and writing

Ed. note: App of the Week picks are now being curated with help from the editors of Graphite.org, a free service from Common Sense Education. Click here to read the full app review.

Citelighter Education

What’s It Like? Citelighter is an engaging online platform designed to support students and teachers as they tackle the intricacies of the writing process. Students simply sign up and download the Citelighter toolbar or work on the Citelighter website. Students can work on Citelighter’s platform to research topics and construct their own written work or use the Citelighter toolbar to search and cite from the open Web. On the platform, students follow a series of scaffolded steps predetermined by their teacher; they’ll explore leveled articles and various multimedia content (videos and images) before they begin writing a paper. As students find useful excerpts, capturing and organizing is as simple as highlighting, clicking, and dragging. Citations are automatically saved and referenced in a bibliography.

Price: Free/subscription

Grades: 3-12…Read More

App of the Week: A game that teaches game design

Ed. note: App of the Week picks are now being curated with help from the editors of Graphite.org, a free service from Common Sense Education. Click here to read the full app review.
Update: Microsoft is shuttering Project Spark. It is no longer available for download and online services for existing players will end Aug. 12.

Project Spark

What’s It Like? Project Spark is a digital game creator that lets students build their own games. Students can browse, play, and learn from other community-designed games and from plenty of genres: action/adventure, first-person shooter, arcade, puzzle, strategy, and platformer. Students will build 2-D or 3-D environments, write dialogue and scripts for their characters and stories, and execute complex lines of logic. This “kode,” as Project Spark calls it, dictates what the game world, objects, and characters will do and how they will behave. Once finished, students can upload their creations for others to play and/or remix.

Price: Free

Rating: 4/5…Read More

App of the Week: The total package for middle school ELA

Ed. note: App of the Week picks are now being curated with help from the editors of Graphite.org, a free service from Common Sense Education. Click here to read the full app review.

iTooch 6th Grade Language Arts

What’s It Like? iTooch 6th Grade Language Arts is a resource for middle school language arts classrooms. Its five sections offer lessons, practice questions, and quizzes on a wide range of topics, including reading comprehension, grammar, composition skills, vocabulary, and communication. The quiz questions are notable for their depth: There are tough questions about tone and thoughtful questions about writing mechanics and grammar. Passages include fiction, nonfiction, and poetry and offer a range of topics, from a speech to children about staying in school from President George H.W. Bush to a speech about American values from President Barack Obama.

Price: Free/paid

Rating: 4/5…Read More

App of the Week: Eat your way to basic math skills

Ed. note: App of the Week picks are now being curated with help from Graphite by Common Sense Media. Click here to read the full app review.

What’s It Like? DragonBox Numbers surreptitiously introduces kids to basic number concepts through puzzles, challenges, and free play. “Nooms” represent each number from 1 to 10. Kids can stack Nooms, have them “eat” each other and turn into different Nooms (for example, 3 eats 5 and becomes 8), or slice them into smaller Nooms. In the sandbox, kids freely experiment with the Nooms against a number line. In “ladder,” kids build a Noom to reach a star on a number line, which gets more challenging as they want to avoid or pass through certain points along the way. In “puzzles,” kids create pictures using the Nooms in certain ways. All activities earn coins that kids can use to “buy” more levels.

Rating: 4/5…Read More

App of the Week: Shakespeare for the iPad generation

Ed. note: App of the Week picks are now being curated with help from Common Sense Graphite. To read the full app review, click here.
shakespeare-in-bits

What’s It Like? Within Shakespeare in Bits: Romeo & Juliet, the full text of the play is featured side-by-side with an animated reenactment. While the style of animation is somewhat simplistic, there are professional actors voicing the parts. Within the text, simply tapping any highlighted words offers a more modern-day term. Tabs at the top of the text let students move easily between the text, section notes, a synopsis, and their own notes. A navigation bar at the bottom of the screen shows all options — viewing by scene, examining characters, reading analysis, and reviewing notes.

Graphite Rating: 4/5

Price: $15…Read More

App of the Week: Skaffl

Ed. note: App of the Week picks are now being curated by the editors of Common Sense Education, which helps educators find the best ed-tech tools, learn best practices for teaching with tech, and equip students with the skills they need to use technology safely and responsibly. Click here to read the full app review.
 skaffl

What’s It Like? Skaffl is a tool for distributing, completing, and grading work on the iPad. Teachers create classes and then share each class’s unique access code with their students, who can then use that code to enroll in the class via their own Skaffl login. Teachers then create three types of activities: an in-app assignment, a student dropbox, or a handout. A handy workflow for these activities appears every time teachers create a new one. Teachers can distribute activities instantly (to some classes, some students, or all at once) or schedule them for a later date.

Price: Free/subscription

Grades: 6-12…Read More