Nov 16, 2016

Prodigy: Fantasy Math Game

Prodigy is a freemium interactive math tool that integrates game-based learning and teacher friendly management and reporting tools. Teacher and classroom accounts are completely free; parents have the option to upgrade to access non-essential/non academic game content.

Teachers may create student accounts, or students can create their own and join the class with a teacher provided code. Usernames and passwords are automatically generated -- a negative for districts that use standard logins. Students can access the games either through the website or the Chrome app.

Games allow students in grades 1-8 to play games and practice Common Core aligned content. The game interface reminds me of Nintendo DS games -- there is a dialog box at the bottom of each screen where Noot (a fairy like creature) guides the new Wizard (student) through the game. Limited reading is required, although the game is intuitive and easy to follow. Students can play through all skills at their own pace, or teachers may create assignments based on single or multiple skills. On screen tools such as pencils, counters, fractions, base blocks, and coins help students work through their response. Incorrect response result in hints that explain how to find the correct answer.

Students can interact with other players, although this is limited. Game names are completely different than real life names; no personal information is shared or shareable. Teachers can monitor progress and usage through several reports: weekly activity, standard coverage, topic coverage, student usage, and student progress.

Support is easily accessible and plentiful:
  • Zendesk powered Support links to common topics, an active community forum, and a support ticket for unique issues.
  • Resources page links to videos, upcoming webinars, presentations, and additional resources.
  • The Prodigy blog has great resources for implementing Prodigy and game-based learning in the classroom.
  • Browse play throughs at ProdigyGame YouTube channel.

Nov 14, 2016

On the School Sites: Picture Book Month

This week our School Sites are celebrating Picture Book Month! Students will be asked to vote for their favorite picture book.
Middle school students will write-in their favorite titles and/or authors. Elementary students will have a ballot comprised of the top 10 favorites (based on circulation records for the past 4 years, excluding multiples in series or authors):
  • Don't let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems
  • Chippy Chipmunk by Kathy Miller
  • Fancy Nancy by Jane O'Connor
  • Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
  • Hooray for Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold
  • Houdini by Kathleen Krull
  • If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff
  • Martin's Big Words by Doreen Rappaport.
  • Mermaid Queen by Shana Corey
  • Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt


Nov 9, 2016

Digital Citizenship: Email Security

G Suite accounts provide access to more than just email -- your login gives access to files stored in Drive, private Sites, and saved passwords in Chrome. It is not just your data that could be compromised, it is also student, colleague, and district information. Don't be the weak link in your school's security chain: protect your password, read popup and other messages, think critically about what email messages and links are asking you to do. Anyone can be fooled, even the most "tech savvy" professionals: This is the email that hacked Hillary Clinton’s campaign chief.
  • If you have any doubts about a message, forward it to your district technology team.
  • Carefully read all messages. Rarely does a reputable company send a message with spelling errors or odd logos.
  • Hover over links to see if they are legitimate. Put your cursor over a link; look at the address that appears in the lower left corner. A common trick is the include a legitimate looking address in the url. 
  • Avoid shortened URLs from unexpected sources. Google (and other sites) will not use URL shorteners, especially regarding security. If an email asks you to check your settings, manually type the true address (not the tinyurl or bitly) in the address bar.

Nov 7, 2016

On the School Sites: Election Day

Like many schools across the United States, our students have been exploring the presidential election process in their classrooms. Teachers have carefully navigated the news reports in order to keep the focus on media and political literacy. It was interesting to hear the older students discuss the challenge in differentiating news from gossip, and how all of that impacts their view on the candidates (and the election process).

Since the election takes place early in the week, our front page media is lighter on election, heavier on fun.

The elementary school site presents a retelling of a silly election story: Doreen Cronin's Duck for President (as retold by Miss Yumi).

Middle school students can bop along with Flocabulary's Presidential Election Process.

On Tuesday the middle school will have a mock election where the will cast a vote for President. Based on "population," each homeroom has been designated 1 or 2 electoral votes. Will the homeroom teachers follow the will of the students? Or will they vote for their preferred candidate?

Oct 23, 2016

On the School Sites: Apples and Cavities

In celebration of apple picking season, the elementary students have Ten Apples Up On Top sung in the style of Jason Mraz.

In anticipation of the candy-filled holiday Halloween, our middle school students can learn something about tooth care from the TedEd video "What Causes Cavities?"

Oct 17, 2016

Digital Citizenship Week

Digital Citizenship Week is upon us once again! Below are the plans for my district as we recognize the skills and dispositions that lead to good digital citizens.

Digital citizenship can be defined as the norms of appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use. When discussing digital citizenship we often focus on one of the 9 Themes: access, commerce, communication, literacy, etiquette, law, rights and responsibilities, health and wellness, and security. This week will focus on Digital Citizenship as a whole:


Elementary Students
  • Video on the school site: Super Digital Citizen.
  • Grades K-2 will practice being a good neighbor in the computer lab.
  • Grades 3-5 will discuss how to share our opinions respectfully (anytime, but especially online), how we feel when someone disagrees, identify appropriate ways to respond, and decide when to involve our trusted adult.

Middle School Students
  • Video on the school site: 458 minutes
  • During advisory, middle school students will determine the rights and responsibilities of digital life and consider appropriate responses to real-world scenarios.

Parents will receive this newsletter: