Saturday, March 22, 2014

Hot Apps for Class Ed Tech and STEM Tweets of the Day 3/22/14
I did an informal survey of which apps elementary kids (K-6) enjoyed the most. These were installed at school, either in a computer lab or iPads in the classrooms (where they were available).
Most often, Coolmath was mentioned as the favorite.  
Although, when I asked them if it helped with the basic skills of math, such as memorization of mulitplication facts, the kids said no, it was mostly games. Mom, Dad or Grandma helped them memorized their facts at home, usually with flash cards, store-bought or hand made. I asked a few teachers if they saw a connection to math improvement and this app, they did not. But the problem solving skills in gaming may be more subtly identified.

There were actually fewer reading apps readily in use than math ones in the several elementary schools I checked with. But maybe because there is one old favorite that is as popular as Coolmath.

Renaissance Learning's program has been around so long, I was even trained in all its beauty over ten years ago. I love AR, and used it K-12, with great success, particularly the reading component. Kids still love it, too. They choose real,  three dimensional books leveled by AR,  placed in their hands by the school librarian and read at school during special AR Reading times, as well as at home. The books are not online and are not read on screen. (Unless the families invest in Kindle.) There are reading requirements specified for each student by volume and targeted exactly at their current reading level, which can be modified as they pass tests. The kids actually like the program, including moderately handicapped kids in Special Day classes. That is a wonderful accomplishment for Renaissance Reading. Kudos to you!
Teachers get lots of valuable data from both the reading and  math programs. The program is constantly aligned with State/and or Common Core standards.

Accelerated Reader

The math component to Renaissance Learning is very effective, but less popular with the kids.

Ever order a magazine to your home for your kids? Maybe ZooNoos, Ranger Rick  Highlights ? Still a good idea, for that warm, tactile experience of handling and even the olifactory thrill of smelling a new magazine. That being said, I found fewer schools using reading apps than math apps (with the exception of Accelerated Reader, which is mandated by the district.) Now each schoolsite chooses its own apps.

Where this app was found, kids enjoyed it. This series of stories are informational as well as fictional with exciting illustrations and not too many questions. I don't know why it is not more popular.





This next app is designed for the lower elementary and Kindergarten kids learning to read--watching the kids use it reminds me of effective one-on-one reading tutoring without the warm smile of the tutor. Even the Kinders are very adept at using the app and enjoy it.


Reading Eggs 


These are the apps kids in my part of the world are enjoying--the schools I checked with include some affluent schools, some parent choice schools, some lower income schools with lots of diversity, and some special education classes. They all loved Coolmath and Accelerated Reader. 

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