Saturday, May 31, 2008

Another Great Way For Kids To Gain Practice and Have Fun!

Larry Ferlazzo's blog, although intended to share websites for ESL, always provides me with new and interesting websites for students of all ages and abilities. Tonight I read and "played with"(I hate students to use the term 'play' when they speak of the computer) a new website called Tutpup There are mainly games in math and spelling. A teacher signs up the class or a parent can sign up a child. When the teacher signs the class up, he/she chooses a unique Class Code. The kids are given this Class Code and this is the way they sign in. When signing in they also choose a color and an animal. They also choose the country where they live. I was represented as a red lizard and an American flag. I played against a purple bear with a flag of Italy.
The game and a level of difficulty are chosen. A player is chosen to be the student's opponent. The game begins and the student is playing against someone from another city or country. It will be fun for the kids to see where their opponent is from. You might want to place a picture of maps from other countries near the computer. Points are accumulated and there seems to be prizes, but I did not get far enough to receive any prizes.
I think your students will enjoy this competitive practice.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Interactive Websites For Summer Practice

Hi Everyone,

I am fresh from a wonderful Vegas resort vacation with the grandchildren and am enjoying the quiet that a two adult "empty nest" household can provide.

I know many of you are "winding down" and either want some fun activities for computer time or may want to recommend some websites for summertime practice for the students. A few of them have crossed my desktop in the last two days that I thought were very good, not hard for the kids to use, and had a minimum of advertising or distracting banners.

The first one comes from the Ministry of Education in New Zealand and is called Crack the Code There are three levels of difficulty. Students add numbers with the sum indicating a letter that is placed in the space. Eventually a message will be revealed. After solving the puzzle (therefore doing the math correctly) the student is rewarded with the opportunity to play an "arcade type" of game.

At first glance Arcademic Skill Builders looked to me to be a "busy looking" website that would be hard for a student to navigate. But as I chose one of the games, and saw it in isolation from the others, I really liked it. Arcademic Skill Builders are found at There are four multi player games. The student chooses a name (they can use the number/letters provided) and then they compete against unknown players. There is no information provided on any player. I enjoyed racing against three others. There are also nine single player games - math and grammar.

Most people enjoy playing Tetris. Have you ever tried it with a map? This game had me a little frustrated, but once I got going, I got better at it. Instead of positioning the typical Tetris blocks, you position states/countries at their proper location. Find at

I hope the next few days/weeks are not too tiring for you and that you have at least allowed yourself a little time to dream about the upcoming summer.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Another Reason To Perform An Anatomy on the URL

I am all packed and ready to go to the airport for a week of workshops on the east coast this week. I start out in Boston and am hoping to be the one Cleveland Caveliers fan who is wishing them a win against the Boston Celtics to move ahead to the next round of the NBA playoffs. Yeah, I know the chances are not great, but I would love to see a Cavs win!
Anyway, the reason I am going to keep my driver waiting is that I just started reading my TeachersFirst Newsletter and I was so excited about a new website and the many websites I found when I "backed up" to the source of the suggested website. Anyway, TeachersFirst recommended a website that helped students to see the growth of animal babies into adulthood. It is called Grow Up and can be found at I took a look at it, thought it was well done and would do a lot to illustrate the growth process in animals. I then did as I advise to inquire as to the origin of the website and speculate as to what else the website might offer. I did just that. Backing up on the URL to and then choosing Games I came to a wonderful choice of many games about the animal kingdom that would really enhance this area of science.From animal survival to designing a habitat to an egg and spawn race, your students will love these activities. I can't wait to read the rest of TeachersFirst newsletter as who knows what else I will find! But, for now, it is off to the airport!
Hope you are enjoying your Sunday, Judi

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Cool Game - I am Addicted!

Most of the websites I point out are for you as an educator or for your students to enhance their learning. This one is totally different. One of my blogs led me to another blog , Sega Tech (I spend way too much time going from one blog to another!). Anyway, Sega Tech describes five games that are supposedly gaining information so that computers can become more intelligent. You can read about it on this blog, however, you can also just jump down to the one game that I have found to be soooo addictive. It is called Verbosity You do have to register (not much information needed) and then when you begin the game, you are paired with another person. One of you describes a given word and your opponent guesses the word. The next time your opponent is describing a word and you are guessing. Points are given and a timer is in operation. I have been playing a lot this evening and finding it a lot of fun. If you have upper elementary students, they might enjoy this.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Great Vocabulary Learning Tool

Once a week I receive a really good free newsletter from a woman who writes a syndicated column about technology and educational websites. My newspaper does not carry it, but some of yours may. Her name is Barbara Feldman and you can sign up for her newsletter at She provides websites within categories and very often they will cover holidays or themes. This week it was vocabulary and I was really "blown away" by one of the recommended sites. It is called Quizlet and was invented by a fifteen year old student. You can find it at
You begin by signing up for a free account to build your own interactive flashcard sets. Students can study in five different modes: Familiarize, Learn, Test, Scatter Game, and Space Race Game. You can insert your own words and definitions (a great learning experience in itself if a student does this for you).
The tutorial that appears on the website is wonderful and I understood both why I would want to use Quizlet and how it could be used immediately upon watching the tutorial. I think your kids will enjoy learning using this tool.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Any Holiday - Any Date - Any Time

Now, I know that none of you woke up this morning wondering when Ho Chi Minh's Birthday was in Vietnam or when Cameroon's national Day would be celebrated, however, you never know when you might want to locate a holiday in a specific country, by a specific date, or by a religion. Well, here it all is in a very cleverly put-together website that makes you feel like you have the neatest Datebook sititng on your desk. It is the Earth Calender and can be found at I found out about it through Kathy Schrock's Sites of the School Days, which I receive about once a week. Sign up to get on this mailing list here:

Take a look at the Earth Calendar. You will be fascinated by just "leafing" through it, then file it under Reference. You may one day really have a need to use it.

I hope all of you had a fabulous Mother's Day, either your own or with a loved one who has "mothered" you.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Sharing Some Frustration

Hi Everyone,

Most of you know that most of my blogs are more "delivering of information" than sharing my everyday thoughts. I don't usually think of this blog as a personal journal where I divulge my inner thoughts, just an occasional aside about family or travelling. However, I am going to "vent" today and realized I had the audience that would most understand.
I had an occasion to visit my old school today. It is the school to which I brought technology to in the eighties and nourished it throughout the nineties. This is where I gained my passion for the new opportunities that students could have to become a part of a world-wide community of learners. This is where I had the chance to collaborate with staff and students to design, create, write, and plan using the newest technology. Well, it seems that time has stood still at this school and the computers that were there in 1996 are still there, running Windows 95, unable to use many functions of the Internet and the staff has been given so many new "cook book" ways of teaching math and literacy, that the computers sit, all having the same "screensaver disease." Although no money has gone into upgrading any technology in the school, a vast sum of money was spent on a "canned' computer program called Fast Forward. It is a computer software program designed to raise the literacy-readiness of the kindergarten students and they are now the only ones that can be scheduled into the computer lab each morning. They come six at a time with an aide. I went in to watch them today. They were clicking keys, but paying little attention to the feedback. They wore earphones and were attentive to the program, but I am not sure how much they were learning. The aide, while I was there was reading a paperback book. I asked her what she knew about what the students were doing and she said that she knew nothing about it but was just to watch them (babysit). I was soooo frustrated as were many of the teachers. They had no say in the expenditure for this program and now the little time that they had to use the computer lab was gone.
I probably would not have made this the topic of my blog tonight and I promise not to do this again, however, as I was reading Doug Johnson's Blue Skunk Blog, I came upon a video that I just had to share to express my feelings and probably to express many of yours. It is by one of my favorite children's singer Tom Chapin and is called Not on the Test. Give a listen. I know you can relate! You will find it at Not only did it express some of my feelings tonight, but Tom Chapin had some action steps that we could all take. I'd love to hear your comments.