Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Prodigy Math Game: Game-Based Learning for the Common Core

- click here to check it out - 
Game-based learning is a topic we have revisited numerous times on this blog. The implications it has on student engagement and learning cannot be overstated. If you have not already experimented with game-based learning with your class, make 2015 the year you do!
One program that is doing an unbelievable job of gamifying math is Prodigy Math Game. Prodigy is a free, adaptive math game that integrates 1st to 7th grade math into a fantasy style game that students absolutely love playing. Prodigy’s math content is completely curriculum-aligned and covers standards from the Common Core, MAFs, and TEKS curricula depending on your location.  Prodigy takes game-based learning a step further and provides teachers with a powerful set of reporting and assessment tools that allow them to easily identify trouble spots, differentiate instruction, and better manage classroom time.

Over 1,500,000 students and 50,000 teachers use Prodigy for free math practice and it’s easy to see why. Here’s what teachers we spoke to had to say about the program:
The Prodigy program has been an invaluable tool to my students and me. My students are motivated to practice their math skills in a fun and interactive way both at school and at home. The greatest benefit for my students is that they are able to work on skills currently being taught in class and Prodigy automatically adapts based on their performance. The progress reports highlight individual strengths and needs. This helps with my planning and differentiation for my students.  Ivan Dublin, SERT Brimwood Blvd. Jr. P.S.
“What I really love about the Prodigy program is the feedback that I get in terms 
of what the students know and where they need to improve. I also love the fact that I can see what questions were difficult and how the students answered them. I believe that students have improved their confidence in all areas of the math program. They are so excited to play and learn!Sue McCulloch, Grade 3/4 Northport Elementary School

Prodigy is extremely effective at engaging students using an adaptive technology to cater to each individual. Prodigy’s personalized approach quickly identifies gaps in students’ understanding and works with them by pulling them back to prerequisite skills and then scaffolding them forward through more difficult concepts. Prodigy has also built out tools like virtual manipulatives, which teachers can use to walk students through solving certain problems.  Prodigy also has a fantastic assessment feature, which allows teachers to customize content and align the game with what they are teaching in class. Assignment questions are integrated right into the game so students have no idea they are working on an “assignment”!  The program is very user friendly and makes teaching math easier and more enjoyable.
You can Sign-up your class for free in less than 2 minutes, and see why teaching math will never be the same!  

The owner(s) of this blog is not compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics unless specifically noted. This author was compensated to host this guest post.  The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog owners. If we claim or appear to be experts on a certain topic or product or service area, we will only endorse products or services that we believe, based on our expertise, are worthy of such endorsement. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Four Ways to Support Your School’s Digital Transformation #FutureReady #DLDay

Four Ways to Support Your School’s Digital Transformation

Digital learning is an instructional practice that effectively uses technology to strengthen a student’s learning experience. It emphasizes high-quality instructional pedagogy and provides access to challenging content, feedback through formative assessments, opportunities for learning anytime and anywhere, and personalized instruction to ensure all students reach their full potential to succeed in college and a career. The Alliance for Excellent Education, one of the top bipartisan, non-profit education-focused organizations in the nation, has been a leader on the digital front. Their nationwide initiatives reach millions of students and educators each year. Listed below are two resources to support your school’s transformation as well as two ways to get involved in nationwide efforts.

  1. Webinar: “Getting Started: Practical Tips for Going Digital”, Digital Learning Day Series
With billions of dollars invested in educational technology each year, there is always a new set of devices, software, applications, and digital tools competing for the attention of educators and education leaders. Whether you are starting a school-wide digital initiative for the first time or simply looking to refresh the digital learning toolbox in your classroom, what questions should you ask before going digital?  During this webinar Tom Murray, is joined by Rich Kiker, Kyle Pace, Tony Sinanis, and Amber Teamann as they discuss how the Future Ready Schools effort can provide a great framework for digital decision making at all levels and how Digital Learning Day can help districts celebrate their success. This webinar covers the following digital transformation components:
  • Strategies for mastering the art of blended instruction;
  • How instructional techniques influence the choice of digital tools;
  • Professional learning in Future Ready Schools;
  • A “yes culture” of leadership;
  • The leadership necessary for digital initiatives to be successful; and
  • Community engagement
  1. Webinar: “Co-Creating Digital Learning Experiences”, Digital Learning Day Series
When implementing a new lesson idea or digital device into classrooms, developing a habit of co-creating those experiences—rather than creating them in isolation—is often the key to increasing relevancy, effectiveness, and student engagement. In Future Ready schools, the co-creation process often involves:
  • Transforming physical learning spaces to be more student-centric and better support blended learning instructional practices;
  • Incorporating student input on personalized, project-based learning opportunities; and
  • Borrowing, remixing, and partnering with other teachers and/or institutions to develop cross-disciplinary digital learning experiences.
During this webinar, Tom Murray is joined by Steven Anderson, Erin Klein, Joe Mazza, Joe Sanfelippo, and Angela Watson as they discuss what the co-creation process looks like in a Future Ready school.  

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Helpful Resource to Support Close Reading in the Classroom via Snap!Learning

Taking a Closer Look at Close Reading
- click here to take a look - 

I've had the pleasure of speaking across the country on a variety of literacy topics, mostly focused on reading and writing workshop.  Recently I've been asked to consult with several districts and speak at many conferences on close reading.  Last year was the first time I presented on the topic of close reading in Las Vegas.  Wondering how I could speak for 75 minutes on close reading, I decided to model a lesson and make the session interactive and hands-on for the participants.  It went so well that one of the districts in my session recently flew me out from Michigan to return to Nevada to do an entire day workshop on literacy strategies and technology integration for their faculty.  What a great experience! 

What is Close Reading?

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) describes close reading in light of the Common Core State Standards.  Close, analytic reading stresses engaging with a text of sufficient complexity directly and examining meaning thoroughly and methodically, encouraging students to read and reread deliberately.  Directing student attention on the text itself empowers students to understand the central ideas and key supporting details.  It also enables students to reflect on the meanings of individual words and sentences; the order in which sentences unfold; and the development of ideas over the course of the text, which ultimately leads students to arrive at an understanding of the text as a whole. (PARCC, 2011, p.7)

How Should I Implement Close Reading?

Over the past few years, I've been collecting resources to support the implementation of close reading in our classroom.  Because the resources have been challenging to find, I typically end up creating my own.  This can be time consuming, especially when trying to think of engaging ways to have students dig deeper into a variety of texts (some in which I may not be familiar with).  I found myself spinning my wheels trying to stay current on the many stories the students were reading.  While I enjoyed creating my own resources, I began to wonder if a simpler solution was available and would be just as effective as what I was doing each day for my students.  That's when I came across Snap!Learning.  I liked them so much, I invited them to partner with my blog so I could be sure to share their resources with all of you.  Just the graphic (as seen above) alone helped me so much!

What Resources Are Available?

I had been familiar with Snap!Learning for guided reading, but now I could utilize their resources for close reading strategies as well.  This was exciting!  

With the resources from Snap!Learning, I now felt like I had not only a framework of how to structure my lessons over the course of a few days but I also had the materials available for me to plan and students to utilize.  The site is comprehensive yet easy to navigate.  

One of my favorite components of Snap!Learning is that it doesn't tell me how to teach or provide me with a forced script that I must do with fidelity each day.  Instead, Snap!Learning offers me resources to support my teaching in a successful manner.  For example, I have an array of texts at my fingertips.  I can sort through those books quickly by reading level, grade level, or genre.  Then, my students have access to step by step close reading strategies that can help them be successful as independent readers.  

What About Resources for Teachers?

As a teacher, I'm also given access to a variety of resources that can support my professional learning as I dive deeper into close reading with my students.  Snap!Learning provides teachers with user-friendly guides that walk you through implementing close reading into your literacy instruction.  These helpful resources are available in print and in video.  

How Can I Try Snap!Learning?

I am excited to share a resource with you that will not only save you time and simplify your planning but most importantly that will benefit student's reading abilities.  You're encouraged to try it out for free... you can request a demo simply by clicking here!

Be sure to check out the Snap!Learning blog.  They feature teacher interviews, funny comics about literacy and learning, and helpful tips to support teaching and learning.

This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me. For questions about this blog, please contact  Erin at

The owner(s) of this blog is not compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog owners. If we claim or appear to be experts on a certain topic or product or service area, we will only endorse products or services that we believe, based on our expertise, are worthy of such endorsement. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.

Friday, February 20, 2015

6 Reasons the Intel 2 in 1 is the Perfect Fit for Effectively Designed Blended Learning Spaces #intelEdu2in1

6 Reasons the Intel 2 in 1 is the Perfect Fit for Effectively Designed Blended Learning Spaces

As a current classroom teacher, I can attest to the importance of smart classroom design along with finding resources that support what happens within your space.  As any teacher can tell you, each year is different.  Curriculum changes.  Students change.  District expectations change.  What remains a constant is the need to be flexible and creative.  Today’s classrooms are increasing in size, and there is an increasing need to personalize instruction for the special needs of all learners along with meeting the learning styles of the entire class.  Thankfully, technology is a resource that can help teachers support all students.  

Technology is a tool that will never replace good teaching.  However, when used effectively, it can help teachers and students in various measures.  While there isn’t one “silver-bullet” that is the best device, there are some that have more benefits than others.  Personally, I prefer to bring in resources that are easy to use and reliable.  Because my student’s technology skills range from novice to proficient, I need devices that they easily understand how to navigate and use.  I’ve found the Intel 2 in 1 is a great classroom solution for many reasons.  

Wouldn’t it be nice if a company valued to support education beyond the physical device? Check out how Intel is supporting education in ways that go beyond an effective device… they have truly captured what matters within the classroom space!

 1.  Mobility
The Intel 2 in 1 is a mobile device.  It’s easy to maneuver.  This is especially important as students begin to collaborate more and move towards a blended learning model of instruction.  No more are the days where the teacher lectures in front of the classroom for hours.  Classrooms today encourage student collaboration, small group instruction, personalized learning, and teacher facilitation.  Resources and tools need to be accessible and flexible.  Students need to be able to grab and go!  

2.  Productivity and Performance
Because the 2 in 1 contains the Intel Core Processor, it’s more than a tablet.  You get the benefits of an actual robust machine.  Students are able to do more!

3.  7.8 Hours of Battery Life
Allow students to work throughout the school day without the worry of having to recharge.  This is especially nice as outlet can be scarce or charging ports can be limited during school hours.  Students can access the resources they need throughout the entire day.  

4.  Student Centered
Intel Education has designed this device with the student in mind.  Beyond the obvious: it’s a touch screen plus laptop, the suite of resources available are engaging and thought provoking.  As I browsed the content available and the archives of resources, I was inspired to continue clicking on each link.  The lessons are inquiry based, project focused, and highly engaging.  As a student, I couldn’t imagine a more fun way to learn.  I love being challenged and having the freedom to discuss my thinking with others.  Intel Education provides several collections of content resources and lessons to engage K-12 students.  

5.  Numerous Teacher Resources
Teachers are busy.  We love to find wonderful and creative lessons that are standards aligned, differentiated, fun, and inspiring.  Intel Education is saving teachers time by curating amazing resources, lesson ideas, lesson plans, rubrics, interactive textbooks, assessments, and more - all in one spot!  I especially love the classroom videos available on the site so I can see how to use the devices and the lessons within the classroom.  Intel makes it easy for me to see, print, adapt, and incorporate.  These tools are most helpful!  

6.  Focus on Education
 Intel puts the focus on pedagogy rather than the device.  This is important as good teaching must start with the learning.  Intel has developed a vast collection of teacher and student resources.  These resources compliment the 2 in 1 device.  To enhance the curriculum, the technology can be utilized not only engage the students but to have them collaborate and create in ways they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to do.  It’s refreshing to see a company who values what teachers and students need rather than other external factors.  

Brought to you by Intel Education.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Celebrate Digital Learning Day & Get Your School #FutureReady with @All4Ed & @OfficeofEdTech! #DLDay

Future Ready Schools
Preparing Students for Success

I'm honored to be a part of this year's annual Digital Learning Day held in Washington D.C. on March 13, 2015 with inspiring educators from around the country.  In years past, I've followed the event closely from Twitter and through the resources attendees shared out during the conference.  I'm always inspired by the single focus guiding this day of collaboration and sharing: students.  When we keep kids at the heart of what we do, better decisions are made that will truly make a difference in the lives of learners.  

Be sure to also take a moment and check out the joint effort between the U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology and The Alliance for Excellent Education on Future Ready Schools.  Join the thousands of schools across the country who have already taken the pledge

Learn more about Future Ready Schools - click here to visit the Office of Educational Technology website for additional resources.  I also invite you to view my recent conversation with The U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology regarding "What Are Future Ready Classrooms?"  Simply click the video below to hear the discussion.  

What is Digital Learning Day?
Digital Learning Day is a celebration to highlight the importance of providing opportunities to all students that will better prepare them for their future.  Throughout the day, stories will be shared by thought leaders and educators who have personally seen positive transformations take shape within their districts through the use of integrating technology in meaningful ways to connect students and communities, enhance curriculum, and empower teachers while enabling their ability to better personalize instruction for all learners.  You can click here to read more about DLD.

Why Support Digital Learning Day?
The power of having so many real stories shared on one day, for one event, has a huge impact.  The amount of information and resources curated from DLD is impressive!  Creating awareness for the importance of educational technology is imperative.  Oftentimes, many believe integrating technology is about putting devices into the hands of students.  However, DLD helps to share the narrative of planning for meaningful integration of technology by leading with the learning.  

Technology Has Positive Impacts on Student Learning
Thomas Murray, State and District Digital Learning Director for The Alliance of Excellent Education recently interviewed Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond regarding "Three Factors for Success in Using Technology to Support At-Risk Students."  You can click here to view the full report.  

Who Can Be a Part of Digital Learning Day?
Everyone!  Our hope is to see this event continue growing each year... that's why we are personally reaching out to every educator across the country to invite them to take part in this day of collaboration, learning, and sharing.  Together our collective voice is stronger!

You can click here to view past National Town Hall Webcasts from the live events.  

Register for the event by clicking here!

How Do I Get Involved With Digital Learning Day?
There are several ways to get involved and support digital learning in education.  Please find one or a few ways below to support this effort!  We would love to have your support and involvement.

Amazing Free Classroom Resources for Teachers 
  • Nominate YOUR Digital Learning Champion - click here

  • Check out the vast archive or rich, free resources for teachers! - click here
  • Follow the buzz leading up to the event and the day of by using the hashtag #DLDay
  • Visit the site and see how you can make a difference for kids! - click here
  • Register to attend the 2015 National Teaching and Learning Conference - click here
  • Join @OfficialDLD on Twitter to Stay Connected - click here 
  • See the FULL DLD Schedule of events - click here 
  • Check out the presenters and speakers for this national event - click here 
  • Subscribe to the AEE mailing list - click here
  • Subscribe to the DLD mailing list - click here 
Be Sure To Check Out The Free Online Resources!
- Simply Click the Image Below to Connect To Some of My Favorite Digital Goodies

Sunday, January 18, 2015

With @ClassDojo you can NOW send private messages, share photos, & voice notes to parents & students!

New Flagship ClassDojo App Enables Teacher­-Parent Partnerships to 
Help Students Achieve their Greatest Potential

- click here to connect now for free

I've blogged about ClassDojo for a number of years.  In fact, I was one of their first users when they were just starting up in 2011.  I remember doing video chats to provide feedback on their platform with their CEO, Sam, when my son Jacob was a baby!  I have always had a desire to support individuals who possess such passion to support teachers.  Sam's vision spoke to this.  

For years, many have used ClassDojo as a tool to provide communication regarding positive classroom behaviors.  When I see a great platform, there's often more creative uses than meet the eye.  I've enjoyed using ClassDojo to set up classroom expectations at the beginning of the year, take attendance, and allow students to fill one another's buckets!  You can click here and click here to see a previous post I've done regarding more creative uses for the platform.  

Now I'm excited to share a few NEW ClassDojo Features that just launched!

These new features help teachers encourage students and build great relationships with parents!!

The new app includes:

Tailored views for teachers, students and parents:
one app, three ways. Teachers get a view of their students and parents; parents see their child’s progress and can message with teachers; students can keep up with their progress in real­-time.

ClassDojo Messaging:
with enhanced messaging capabilities, teachers and parents can communicate safely, securely and instantly message all parents, or just one at a time. In addition to text messages, teachers and parents can stay in touch easily with Voice Notes ­­ on ­the ­go teachers can record and send a message home without the need for a phone call. Teachers can also send parents messages with fun ClassDojo branded stickers, too.

ClassDojo Photos:
teachers can share photos of fun classroom moments, projects and documents in real­-time with parents, right from the ClassDojo app. No need to exit and open any other apps or tools!

A more seamless interface:
the app has been designed from the ground up to be even easier to use.

-  Teachers can easily encourage students and engage parents, right from the class screen. Teachers can take actions ­­ such as giving feedback, photo sharing and messaging ­­ directly through each student or parent profile. No more separate apps or disparate workflows for each action.

- Parents can see their child’s progress in real­-time, at a glance, and send messages directly to the teacher with just one click.

The free app is available for download now in the iTunes and Google Play stores. For more information about ClassDojo and its new app, visit

Click the image below to download for free!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Differentiate and Personalize Literacy Instruction for Your Elementary Classroom!

Adaptive, Personalized Learning for Literacy Instruction in Blended Learning Environments

What Is Lexia Core5?
Lexia Reading Core5 is an online literacy program developed with an instructional model and scope and sequence based on research published in numerous peer reviewed journals.  The program was developed and refined based on educator feedback and rigorous, ongoing research, and has been recognized by independent review organizations.

Designed specifically to meet the Common Core and other rigorous state standards, Lexia Reading Core5 provides explicit, systematic, personalized learning in the six areas of reading instruction, and delivers norm and criteria-referenced performance data and analysis without interrupting the flow of instruction to administer a test.  

Using Lexia Reading Core5, students are automatically placed at the proper level and work independently on developing their fundamental literacy skills. The program provides explicit, systematic, adaptive learning, scaffolding students as they struggle and advancing them to higher levels as they demonstrate proficiency.  School-to-home access allows students to continue their independent work at home, in blended learning models, extended-day programs, or libraries and other community centers.

While students are working independently in the online activities, Lexia’s embedded assessment system, Assessment Without Testing®, provides educators with actionable, norm and criteria-referenced performance data without interrupting the flow of instruction to administer a test. The assessment data is correlated to and highly predictive of outcomes on DIBELS, AIMSweb, MAPS and other commonly used norm-referenced assessments. This lowers expenditures on assessments and, according to a national survey, saves teachers up to a month of instructional time.
Lexia Learning and the Lexia Reading Core5 program are the embodiment of Research and Innovation at work.

*I encourage you to also check out this article on "Students Using Lexia Reading Core5 and How They've Made Dramatic Gains of Two or More Grade Levels During the 2013-2014 School Year."

How Teachers Can Use Lexia:
I've seen teachers use Lexia in a variety of ways.  One of my favorite ways is to have children use Lexia as a station during guided reading instruction.  This tends to work really well for those who may not have 1:1 devices for each learner.  Teachers can have three different groups going on at the same time.
  • Read to self: students reading independently
  • Lexia Core5: students working on devices
  • Guided reading: students working with teacher
Having students working in three different groups for about 15 minutes - 30 minutes a day can work well to help differentiate instruction for smaller groups of learners.  

Using Lexia to Guide Instruction:
Because Lexia has students take a pre-assessment, students are placed in a level in which approximates their skill competency.  Because the program is adaptive (as students answer questions correctly, they receive more challenging activities and as they answer questions incorrectly, they receive less challenging activities), students quickly find their "just-right" level for practice.  

Teachers can access a rich archive of student data that allows for better planning to personalize instruction for guided reading groups.  Imagine what a planning time-saver this could be!

How Students Like Lexia:
Having used Lexia Core5 Reading with some of my students and my own two children, I can tell you that kids enjoyed using the program.  The game-based nature of the software keeps children engaged and interested in the content.  

You can click here to see a variety of sample videos from phonological awareness, phonics, structural analysis, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.  This page also shares more information on the student driven learning components of the program.  

Monday, November 3, 2014

Educators Across the Country Challenge the @FCC to Bring #Internet4Schools to ALL of Our Kids!

40 Million K-12 Students Do Not Have the Level of Internet They Need in Schools

The Federal Communications Commission, FCC, is considering expanding access for kids across the country.  We need your help to convince them to vote "YES" in order to expand E-rate so that our students can benefit from the access they need in our schools.  

Your Voice Matters

How Can You Help?
Educators across the nation are creating 15 second videos to share via social media expressing the need for #Internet4Schools.  You can create a short video in Instagram and share it via Facebook and Twitter, or you can simply create it using your video camera and share it via Twitter.  Please be sure to mention @FCC and use the hashtag #Internet4Schools.  Here's my video...

Videos can be simple.  You can stand or sit in front of your camera for 15 seconds and just share out why access to the Internet is important for students today.  No need to get super fancy.  It's the message that is important.  Our collective voice counts!  You can see another example here and here.

Be Sure to Challenge 3 Friends!
In effort to help spread the importance of this initiative, after you create and share your 15 second video, please be sure to tag and challenge 3 of your friends to also create their 15 second video sharing why kids need access to the Internet in school.  Don't forget to use the #Internet4Schools tag!

It's Easy - You Can Borrow This Tweet to Copy As Your Own:

Why #Internet4Schools matters: (insert your video link) I challenge @--- @--- & @--- to create a 15 sec. video! cc @FCC