StarrMatica’s detective themed K-2 Story Clues lesson just launched!

Students learn how to use context clues to identify an unknown word, how to make a reasonable prediction, and how to draw a conclusion by combining their own knowledge with a clue in the story.

A few lesson highlights include:

Light Bulb Conclusions – Students choose the conclusion they can draw from the given statement.

Game:  Riddle Me This –  Students draw conclusions from the clues they are given to solve the mysterious riddles.

Enrichment:  What Did You Say? — Students are challenged to figure out the meaning of common idioms by hearing them used in a sentence.

To access these resources, login and choose K-2 Lessons.  Then choose Story Clues  from the Reading Menu.

This is the fifth in a series of seven posts sharing reasons virtual manipulatives should be the cornerstone of interactive content in the classroom including specific practical examples.  (The previous posts can be viewed here:  Part 1-Visualizing, Part 2-Explore Difficult Concepts, Part 3-Access Materials/Added Value, Part 4- Inquiry Learning)

Virtual manipulatives can provide a new way to present a concept to student.  We know that students learn in different ways, so using an uncommon manipulative can be a way to help students understand a concept they are struggling to grasp.  Using a variety of manipulatives can also challenge the understand of advanced learners and encourage them to look at a concept in a new way.

Below are three manipulatives that help students look at concepts in a new way:

Place Value Abacus

Build numbers with a model that is uses colors to indicate value.  Compare this model to traditional base ten blocks.

http://www.wmnet.org.uk/resources/gordon/Abacus.swf

Number Line Bars

Use number line bars to explore the concept of multiplication as repeated addition.

http://nlvm.usu.edu/en/nav/frames_asid_180_g_2_t_1.html?open=activities&from=category_g_2_t_1.html

Musical Patterns

Create a pattern with images and sound.

http://www.harcourtschool.com/activity/pattern/pattern.html

There seems to be such a rush for schools to get technology in the hands of teachers and students that often the reasons for technology implementations revolve more around positive publicity than a well thought out plan for how the technology will be used.  From interactive whiteboards to tablets, there is a push for hardware in the classroom often followed by dismay over why teachers aren’t using that technology effectively even though they have had little to no professional development on how to modify their instruction to make best use of the technology.

Technology is a tool, and just like I wouldn’t use a hammer to paint a wall, technology isn’t always necessary to achieving a learning goal.  However, there are many times technology can be an integral piece of the learning process.  The challenge is knowing when this is the case.

One of the greatest reasons for justifying the use of technology is when it allows you to see or do things not otherwise possible because of a lack of access, time, or materials—or because technology is simply the only way it is possible. Here are a few examples:

This site challenges students to build a cell phone to suit the exact specifications of a customer and then test and revise their designs.

This site allows students to see a simulation of particles so they can draw a conclusion about their movement in solids, liquids, and gasses.

http://www.harcourtschool.com/activity/states_of_matter/molecules.swf

This site allows students to see simulated damage from earthquakes at all magnitudes in order to draw conclusions about the richter scale.

http://www.iknowthat.com/ScienceIllustrations/earthquake/earthquake_movie.swf

This site allows students to construct an environment for fish and then test that environment to determine how many will survive.

http://www.ecolonization.com/level1.swf

This StarrMatica activity asks students to conduct a probability experiment by pulling balls from a pit ten times and one hundred times to compare the experimental results with theoretical possibilities. (*You must be a member to access this resource.)

http://www.starrmatica.com/lessons/direct.php?l=probability&id=4586

This site allows students to create an animated story to bring their writing to life.

http://stagedproject.com/

Share your thoughts with us below about the necessity of technology in your classroom.

Meet Billy Strickler.  He is in his 8th year of teaching 4th grade students at Washington Elementary in Fairfield, Iowa.  Billy has a great group of 19 students this year.  He has a Mimio interactive whiteboard in his classroom, access to the school’s computer lab twice a week, and access to two MacBook computer carts with 25 computers each that he schedules to use almost daily.  Billy has been using StarrMatica in his classroom for the past six years.  Here is how he uses our content in his own words:

StarrMatica allows a more kid-friendly approach to concepts, especially ones that might be a little difficult.

I use it to lecture in a more engaging way than me standing at the front and talking.

I can place activities and games in individualized backpacks that my students can work on to better their skills in areas they need to improve. Students can do this on their own during center time, free time, or even at home.

Kids enjoy the games and activities and I never have to worry about engagement. I have kids taking more ownership of their learning, because they will work on things at home using StarrMatica.

I have started to use StarrMatica in every area, as they have a great search and find component built in. It is a quick way to find engaging activities for my kids, using technology. Instead of having to go out and just search and search for things to fit all of my areas, I can go to one website and do it all in half the time. Teachers are always struggling for time, and this helps alleviate that stress. And I know that all of these activities and games are aligned to the Iowa and Common Core. StarrMatica just makes things easier for the teacher.

This is a website that I trust my students to use.  I know the activities and games are going to work and will be there the next time I want to use it. It gives every kid, no matter their skill level, a chance to succeed. It gives teachers a chance to differentiate without having to search on their own to find websites that meet each students’ learning abilities. I fully support StarrMatica and highly encourage everyone to use it.

Want to be our next teacher feature?  Contact us.  We would love to hear about your experiences.

This month a new Science topic was added to our resource library:  Plants.  This topic includes digital content for learning about plant needs, plant parts, seeds, flowers, trees, and photosynthesis.

Check out one of the great new resources! Do you have what it takes to help grow a plant to its greatest height? http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/plants_grow.swf

3…..2……1……Lift Off!  StarrMatica’s space themed K-2 Alphabet lesson just launched!

Students learn about the alphabet alongside Alex the Alien.  Concepts include: identifying letters and their sounds, differentiating between upper and lower case letters, writing upper and lower case letters, and putting letters and words in alphabetical order.

A few lesson highlights include:

Zap! – Students move their spaceship into position and zap the correct letter ship.

Alphabetical Order Abduction –  Students rush to put cows in alphabetical order before they are beamed into the aliens’ ships.  Students can choose from three abduction speeds to vary the challenge.

All activities include multiple levels of difficulty and many activities allow you to choose the letters you would like included in the activity.  You can even choose the letters you would like a student to practice before putting an activity in a student’s digital backpack!

To access these resources, login and choose K-2 Lessons.  Then choose The Alphabet  from the Reading Menu.