EdTech Summer – 1010!

A dear friend of mine and my personal mentor in my new life as a “techbrarian”, Tonya (You should follow her on Twitter: @tonya_nc – she’s pretty amazing!), sent me a message a few days ago telling me about an addictive, simple game app.  It’s called 1010! and has the feel of Tetris.  The premise is simply to stack the blocks of various shapes into horizontal and vertical lines to eliminate them.  Of course I tried it out and BAM! It was 30 minutes later and I realized that I was slightly addicted.  Consider yourself warned.


However, after playing a few times I put my educator hat on and saw it as an opportunity for game-based learning in the classroom.  Then I was able to chalk up all the time spent playing this little addictive devil to research… this is research of the best kind.  You see, the playing board is a 10 x 10 square which immediately triggers images of a hundreds board in all grade levels.  I can see allowing students to play for a bit, get the feel of the game, then a teacher can have the student identify the numbers that would be covered by their first three blocks given in the lower grades.  I can see setting up a tens frame and having the students fill up the tens frame within the 10 x 10 square, keeping track of the groups of ten they can create.  The goal of course would be to show that there are 10 ones in a tens frame and 10 tens in a hundreds board.  Maybe have a contest to see which student can clear ten rows, either horizontally or vertically, while counting by tens to 100.  Students can practice making groups of 10 by deciding how many more they need to add in order to clear that row or column, quickly connecting those obscure addition and subtraction fact families to ten. IMG_2757In the upper grades, students can answer questions related to the perimeter and area of the figures they received, as well as the figures they create while playing.  See which student can create the largest area/perimeter and compare the area to the perimeter of each figure given.  The importance of learning that one “block” is one square unit is a vitally important stepping stone to higher level math skills in elementary school with the goal being to move from counting blocks to discover square units to actually calculating the area by multiplying length by width.


Want a real brainteaser?  Try to figure out how they keep score in this thing!


What do you think?  Go check it out, and comment below with other ideas for use in the classroom.  As always, using technology for the sake of using technology is useless, but being able to seamlessly integrate technology to garner student engagement and enthusiasm is priceless.

EdTech Summer – Anatomy 4D

As I was reading my Twitter feed, I came across this app called Anatomy 4D.  All I could think after checking it out was why did I NOT know about this?!?! As a former 5th grade teacher in North Carolina, I taught human body systems.  This included the circulatory, respiratory, digestive, nervous, skeletal, and muscular systems.  My students were responsible for knowing the main function of each system, label the parts of the system, and describe how the systems worked together to sustain life.  We did several awesome experiments; my personal favorite involved a blender in which we ground up an apple and squished it through a long flexible hose and into a bowl to make the digestive system come to life.  When the app My Incredible Body came available a couple of years ago, I was so excited to finally be able to show my students a great interactive digital representation of the various body systems.  I have since been waiting for another quality app that allowed me to skip the body systems that yielded a more middle school conversation while still showing an in-depth look at the six body systems that I was required to teach.

Voila… Anatomy 4D (with some minor tweaking for age-appropriate images) is just that app!  I was able to download the FREE app (yes, free!) and immediately print the pages that trigger the augmented reality 4D experience on either the iPod touch or iPad.  There are two pages that come with the app – one is a full-body image and the other is an image of the heart.  Each of these pages have facts about the systems listed, which is a pretty cool bonus.  One thing to note is that this app is rated 17+ for intense sexual content & nudity; however (thinking of elementary school here) the skin can be shown as a male or female (I suggest male so the lymphatic & muscular system doesn’t make the kids giggle unnecessarily) and if the skin is shown as most transparent (use controls on the right side of the screen), students cannot see the nudity.  For my 5th graders using the full-body image, I would use the dial at the bottom of the screen to turn on only the systems that I needed and deselect all others.


How cool is this to show how the skeletal system protects the respiratory system?! Students can see inside their body!  If you want to just show the respiratory system, deselect all others to show only respiratory.  Here the student can see the main parts of the respiratory system – the trachea (windpipe), lungs, and even the diaphragm!


Now, showing the circulatory system is pretty cool because the students can see how the veins and arteries are throughout the entire body.  You can even zoom into the heart to see it more closely.


The coolest part of the Anatomy 4D app is the heart image though!  When you use the iPod touch or iPad to look at the heart image, a beating heart appears showing how the heart contracts to pump blood and even showing the oxygenated and de-oxygenated blood being brought to and sent from the heart!


You can deselect different parts like the valve, ventricles, and blood flow to allow students to really focus in on what is needed for that lesson.  For an elementary student, I wouldn’t just give them the images and the iPad and let them go conquer the world.  The full body image would definitely be a teacher-directed discussion while the students can explore more on the heart image.

Another pretty neat app working checking out is The Brain AR app – same concept, but focuses solely on the brain, from the shoulders up to the head.

EdTech Summer – Kahoot!

In an effort to stay focused this summer while still allowing myself to relax a bit, I will be posting some of my favorite EdTech tools each week.  I’m aiming for one per day, but let’s be serious – it won’t happen.  The thing that’s most important about each of these tools is that it doesn’t matter what the tool is; what matters is how you USE it to meet your desired end.  Using a cool new tool for the sake of using it is pointless.  So with each of these tools, post a comment about how you have or you would use it in the classroom.  I love new ideas, so please share freely!

EdTech Tool #1: Kahoot!

Kahoot! is one of the first tools I heard about when I began my position as media coordinator.  Check this picture out; have you ever gotten this kind of battle-cry out of a child while giving a paper-pencil multiple-choice assessment?



This kid is engaged, this kid is excited, this kid is in charge of learning.  And in case you couldn’t tell, this kid was correct!  I love using Kahoot! as a quick formative assessment tool in the media center.  Kahoot! is a game-based classroom response system.  Teachers log in through getkahoot.com and students join the game through kahoot.it using a unique Game Pin.  I have media expectations as a quiz and will use it at the beginning of the school year to quickly review expectations and procedures.  The kids beg for Kahoot!  One of my favorite features is that the students get points for not only answering correctly, but also for answering quickly.  This has really cut back on the “cheating” that can happen through digital formative assessment.  Even if little Ricky cheats off little Josue and both get it correct, little Josue will get more points because he answered correctly first.  I let the kids know that upfront and it deters many from cheating because they don’t want to waste the time looking at someone else’s screen.

Another way I have used Kahoot! is during Battle of the Books practice.  It’s a quick way to learn and review authors and book titles.  Because the time limit is adjustable, I can start the year having 20 seconds of think-time and end the year with 5 seconds of think-time.

This year I will make a Kahoot! quiz to use at the beginning and end of each quarter as a pre- and post-assessment to show growth and make students more accountable for the information they learn in the media center.  Speaking of assessment, one of my favorite features of Kahoot! is the analysis that is immediately accessible at the end of a quiz.  It lists each participant on the left side, questions along the top, and shows each answer, time it took to answer, and final score.  It will show which questions were most-missed and is color-coded green and red for quick feedback.

A final thought: there are currently 2.6 million public Kahoot! quizzes to choose from if you don’t have time to make your own!  Simply find one that meets your needs, tweak it a bit if desired, and play!

I’m looking forward to using this tool even more throughout the years.  How would you use it?