About this blog Subscribe to this blog

Fun, Games and Learning

Filament evolutionWhy fight with students and a dull textbook to teach biology when they can have fun getting to know how things live and grow. Filament Learning’s PLEx Life Science is meant for middle-school students and augments the traditional biology curriculum with games and interactivity that takes learning to a new level. It can either run in a browser or as an iPad or Android app for $130 a year for up to 30 students.


Freebee Friday: GoQuest, Young Student

GoQuest - PBLThere’s bad news and good news for those of you who like teaching with Compass Learning’s Renzulli Learning curriculum software. The Renzulli product will be discontinued, but Compass is putting the final touches on a follow-on program called GoQuest. The new software covers elementary, middle- and high-school subjects and runs in a browser window, so any recent computer will work.

 GoQuest picks up where Renzulli leaves off with its familiar profile questionnaire. The idea is that kids start by taking a 45 minute survey that quizzes them on their interests and learning style. Based on the answers, GoQuest prepares a personalized education program that draws from the company’s library of 40,000 curriculum resources.

GoQuest - ProfilerTeachers can create individual or group assignments and share them across a school or district with other teachers, but the real worth of GoQuest comes at the end of each learning section with a project that each student needs to prepare. Based on a timeline of deadlines, the teacher can track who’s doing what and is presented with a yellow light for students who are three days from a deadline and red for assignments that have been missed. GoQuest will cost $25 per student for a year when it starts commercial operation this fall, but for now you can try the beta.

Curriculum Mapping Made Easy

Curriculum trakIf mapping out your school’s curriculum is turning into a time sink that doesn’t seem to end, think about automating the task. Dynamic’s online Curriculum Trak is based in the cloud so any computer can be used and teachers can collaborate by doing different sections at the same time. The results can be shared across classes, other schools and even to parents.  A district with less than 400 students will pay a $475 set up fee, which includes creating school-specific templates, plus $600 a year. A free demo is available.

Pre-School Brain Power

Screen520x924With the current expansion of pre-K classes, getting kids ready for school has never been more important. Kiko’s Thinking Time is an iPad app that stimulates and exercises a small child’s brain, readying them for critical thinking. It all seems like games, but the app can improve learning capacity in three to seven year olds. The app is free but it costs $8 a month or $50 a year to use the 10 games.

Freebee Friday: Hour of Coding Power

Code studioOne of the best ways to teach how to turn ideas into working programs is to use Coed.org’s Hour of Code interactive lesson. Once you’ve introduced the kids to the art of programming, go to the site’s lessons where students (ad teachers) can make simple programs in a matter of minutes. Many have familiar characters, such as Elsa from “Frozen.” There are tutorials on JavaScript, phone apps and making games. It’s all free and ltos of fun.

Freebee Friday: Red, Blue and Green Letter Day

AbcEvery day can be letter day with ABC PreSchool Playground because this Android app can help preschoolers learn their letters with a trio of games. Your school’s smallest students can match letters with words, trace dots to form letters, listen to the letters’ sounds and color any of them.




ISTE UPDATE: The Learning Odyssey

Odyssey labOdysseyware has a slew of new curriculum for a variety of students and teaching techniques, from going beyond meeting the Common Core standards to new Tech Ed courses. The new materials include full math coverage of Common Core standards, 20 virtual labs, six new Career and Technical Education courses and test preparation classes for the most important standardized exams.

ISTE UPDATE: Kids Clean Up

After the storm bThe intriguing idea behind After the Storm is that the educational game deals with the days after a huge hurricane has devastated the town. The town’s sixth grade class takes over writing, editing and distributing the local online magazine. Along the way, they describe the damage and how the people are coping. The game emphasizes reading, writing and role playing and it is aligned with Common Core standards for everything from finding key ideas and details to writing informative and explanatory texts. It should go on sale later this summer.


StemscopeWhy not start teaching kids about science and technology during their first days at school? Accelerate Learning’s STEMscopes NGSS does just that with a comprehensive program that takes kids from pre-K through high school. It is aligned with Common Core standards as well as those of various states and is used by 1.5-million students in Texas.



Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Tech Tools are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.