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

These are the 5 most in-demand K-12 languages

Rosetta Stone releases a list of the most popular U.S., global language learning programs

Foreign language skills are increasingly important for students to have as they enter college or the workforce, and technology-based programs have made learning new languages easier for students.

“As shifting demographics, globalization and the adoption of cost-efficient technology-based products continue to increase, so does the need and demand for world languages,” said Judy Verses, president of technology-based learning solutions provider Rosetta Stone’s Global Enterprise & Education Division. “Equipping students with language enables them to differentiate themselves from other candidates in a competitive job market and, ultimately, positions them for professional success.”

Verses noted ELL (English Language Learning) students represent the fastest growing segment of the K-12 population and it is predicted that this segment will grow to 40 percent by 2030.…Read More

Inside the school that immerses students in Spanish — and technology

A Spanish immersion program makes full use of technology in the classroom

The thought of preparing our students for their 21st century futures conjures up a number of different ideas. There’s imparting the necessary technology skills students will need to thrive in their careers, as well as interpersonal skills such as collaboration and communication and making sure students can function in an increasingly globalized world. On that last point, my school, Shiloh Elementary School in Monroe, N.C., wondered if we were doing enough. Wouldn’t teaching fluency a foreign language be the ultimate means to prepare students for a diverse and multicultural world?

Since 2012, Shiloh has been very proud to have hosted what we call the SPLASH Spanish immersion program. Currently, we have one immersion class—taught full-time in Spanish, with the goal of “immersing” or teaching Spanish to speakers of other languages, like English—in each of our Kindergarten through third grade classrooms. Our school has embraced this wonderful program, and our dedicated teachers have come to us from various Spanish-speaking countries, including Colombia, Venezuela, Honduras, Chile, and Spain through VIF International Education, a company located nearby in Chapel Hill, N.C. that has provided us the means for our immersion program. These classes are effectively preparing our students to become successful, responsible, and confident bilingual students, and the use of technology in each of these immersion classrooms has truly enhanced the curriculum.

Each immersion classroom has some student computers and either a Dell short-throw projector or a Promethean Board. Our students are able to embrace and interact with the technology on a daily basis. Our immersion teachers state that these interactive tools empower them to have successful teaching environments where the bilingual capabilities of their students are fully realized. For example, SPLASH teachers use educational programs and lessons that allow their students to embrace new topics and exciting facts in a 21st Century manner. Teachers view their students as “digital citizens” who are being given the tools each day to interact in the modern world.…Read More

Utah’s early literacy program works–here’s why

Latest evaluation of statewide early literacy program shows high correlation with kindergarten readiness compared to control group

A statewide kindergarten readiness initiative in Utah is helping children develop early literacy skills before they enter kindergarten, and is doing so at a higher rate than among children who are not in the program.

The state’s UPSTART program, developed by the nonprofit Waterford Institute, uses an early literacy curriculum delivered digitally in the home.

A report analyzing the program’s fifth year suggests that technology has considerable merit for delivering curriculum, teaching critical early reading skills that are known predictors of later school performance, and closing early learning gaps that disproportionately affect disadvantaged children.…Read More

The advanced Google searches every student should know

“Did he seriously just ask that? How old is this guy?” Well yes, I recently seriously just asked a group of students if they knew how to search Google. And yes, the students got a good laugh from my question.

“Of course I know how to use Google,” I have been told by every student to whom I have asked the question.

“Really? Let’s see. This won’t take long,” I promise.…Read More

Research: Digital media could aid early math skills

Study of early learners reveals media content from the show PEG + CAT could help improve children’s critical math skills

math-skillsChildren who used media content from PBS KIDS’ series PEG + CAT showed improvement in critical math areas involving ordinal numbers, spatial relationships, and 3-D shapes, according to researchers at EDC and SRI International.

Parents and caregivers also showed greater comfort and confidence in supporting their children with math concepts and problem-solving strategies.

The randomized Ready To Learn study was based on a sample of 197 children ages 4 to 5 years old, primarily from low-income families, in New York City and the San Francisco Bay area.…Read More

How 2 simple role-play games can transform students into active learners

Role-play enhances engagement and subject matter mastery. It’s also a lot of fun

role-play-game-deskStudents learning about the code of Hammurabi by acting as a council trusted with applying it

Maybe you’ve seen them interacting at Comic Con in fantastic costumes or reenacting decisive Civil War battles down to the smallest detail. Whether you realize it or not, you’re probably more familiar with role-playing than you realize. In education, role-play-as-learning is a unique experience which enhances student engagement, social skills, interest, and mastery of subject matter. It’s an approach that can have some major benefits for students.

At its core, role-play involves spontaneous, co-creative, contextualized, personally involved learning, and one of the best ways to introduce the concept to the classroom is though LARPs. Short for Live Action Role-play, LARPs are one part acting, one part historical immersion/interaction, and one part systematic modeling. It conceptualizes major concepts interwoven within human narratives that inspire students to enjoy and retain their knowledge within their experience. It leverages emotion as a mechanism for students to personalize key knowledge, processes, and concepts. And it involves embodiment and situational modeling, guiding students to not only learn the material but to experience it in context.…Read More

5 critical 21st century skills that go way beyond the 4 Cs

Teach students to think like entrepreneurs with these skill sets

21st-century-skillsSince the publication of his highly impactful book, The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Friedman has been teaching his readers and listeners to think differently about our world and how we interact with each other. Friedman consistently talks about new skill sets that are required for anyone who wants to not only survive but truly thrive in the hyper-connected world that is life in the 21st century.

Educators have been tackling a new mindset for student learning for nearly two decades. In the early 2000s, when as a nation as we sat at the dawn of the 21st century, The Partnership for 21st Century Learning (formerly The Partnership for 21st Century Skills) introduced the education community to a Framework for 21st Century Learning, which highlighted 18 different skills. Over time leaders from a broad spectrum of business and education communities narrowed the focus to concentrate on a set of skills that came to be known as the 4Cs—communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity.

The goal was to have the 4Cs integrated with the “3Rs” that had served as the backbone of American curricula for centuries. As the K-12 education community continues the work of embedding the 4Cs into all content areas, the world continues to evolve and we find ourselves once again considering what it is all students must know and be able to do by the time they graduate from high school.…Read More

More than half of students struggle with reading, report says

New report examines literacy development and urges Congress to do the same as NCLB rewrites progress

reading-literacyNearly half of minority students and students from low-income families enter the fifth grade without basic reading skills, according to a new report urging Congress to focus on students’ literacy development beginning in early childhood.

Noting that 60 percent of both fourth and eighth graders currently struggle with reading, the report from the Alliance for Excellent Education (AEE) notes that Congress should put an emphasis on students’ literacy development from the early years and up through grade twelve as it works to rewrite the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

The report, The Next Chapter: Supporting Literacy Within ESEA, is based on the 2013 results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card. According to the report, 50 percent of African Americans, 47 percent of Latinos, and 47 percent of students from low-income families read below NAEP’s basic level.…Read More