ClassDojo App Spotlight: Parent Connection – Sushi Monster

As a former classroom teacher I know how important it is to provide resources for parents looking to support their children at home.  When I started using iPads one-to-one in my classroom I found more and more parents and caregivers asking for app recommendations.  They wanted to make sure their children were practicing the same skills we were working on in the classroom with the devices they had at home.

One of my favorite apps to suggest to parents looking to make an at home connection to learning is Sushi Monster.  This app is completely free, made by Scholastic, and works on both the iPad and iPhone.  With this app students can practice addition and multiplication skills.  The Sushi Monster in the middle of the screen gives students a target number they must reach.  If they are in the addition level users must choose two pieces of sushi that add up to the target number.  If they are in the multiplication level users must choose two factor pairs that have the target number as their product.

When families have access to technology at home, teachers have a great opportunity to give advice and suggestions that support student learning.  In the past parents would ask for a list of books for summer reading or suggestions of what to borrow from the local library.  As families increase their use of technology in their home get ready to share a few ideas for favorite apps and websites during the school year!

Screencasts: A great way to assess student understanding!

Students can often have a difficult time demonstrating their understanding of a topic.  When called on in class they might struggle to articulate how they found an answer to a problem or not see the value in showing their work when solving a math problem.  This can be just as frustrating for students as it is for teachers as they try to figure out where a child needs extra help.

Screencasting is a fantastic way to assess student understanding and increase engagement.  A screencast is a recording of the tasks performed on a computer, labtop, or tablet.  It gives children the power to explain their own thinking and show off their thought process.  There are a variety of ways that students of all ages can capture their thinking and screencasting is simple, straightforward and definitely kid-friendly.

One app that helps kids create screencasts is Screenchomp.  With a simple cartoon interface and just a handful of buttons on the screen, students can draw and record their method for solving a problem.  This could be as simple as solving a two-digit addition problem or more complex like drawing a diagram of a square and figuring out the perimeter of the polygon.

ClassDojo asks teachers to record positive feedback and acknowledge students for completing their work.  As students work in partners or individually to create screencasts, make sure to award those who demonstrate great teamwork and persistence!


Keep students engaged with Discovery videos!

If your students are looking tired in the afternoon or haven’t quite woken up yet in the morning there are a handful of ways to grab their attention. When you are looking to hook students at the beginning of a lesson, try incorporating videos into your instruction.

There are tons of fantastic resources for high quality content that can be used throughout the school day in a variety of subject areas. These sites offer a wide range of resources that teachers can share with students. It’s so important that students are paying attention and feel like what they’re learning is connected to the real world. You can help them make these connections by placing the content you are teaching in the context of real life events and everyday situations.

One online resource that is perfect for accessing content to engage your students is the Discovery Channel. They have a terrific website that lets visitors pick and choose which clips they want to watch. There is also a YouTube channel full of their content which makes it easy to add links to student assignments or even embed a video in a class website or presentation. If you are sharing videos straight from your tablet, or want students to open a particular clip, you may want to check out their mobile apps for iOS and Android devices.

Whether you access these clips on their website or mobile apps, you’ll have plenty to choose from. Help students get excited about using context clues by introducing them to ocean vocabulary during a Shark Week quote. Ask students to summarize the conclusions drawn from a MythBusters experiment. And don’t forget to keep track of which students are “on task” and demonstrating the traits you reward in your classroom!

Overwhelmed by the Common Core? Don’t be!

Schools throughout the nation are embracing the Common Core State Standards as a guide for developing curriculum across the content areas and designing assessments to measure student performance. It’s important that teachers have an understanding of what students need to be able to do at the level they are teaching. For educators who reach a wide range of students in their everyday workload this can be an especially daunting task.

There are great resources for helping teachers access the Common Core State Standards. The Common Core State Standards has a fantastic website for teachers full of useful information. They have a clear outline of all of the standards in addition to resources for parents and frequently asked questions.

If you are operating most often with the screen of your mobile device you’ll definitely want to download the free mobile app from Mastery Connect (iOS / Android). By having this app on your tablet or smartphone, you can easily access the Common Core State Standards in a meeting, planning session, or just to answer a quick question.

One helpful feature is the ability to type in a keyword and search through the Common Core State Standards. If you’re in a school that is new to these national standards this option will definitely come in handy.  You can type in a phrase like “comparing fractions” and figure out which grade and standard applies to this particular skill. As you prepare for the upcoming school year definitely add this app to your homescreen for easy access to the Common Core!