Category Archives: Curriki News

Got Curriki? Summer Tips for Teachers

Portrait of a mature woman lying on a sandy beach

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

I enjoyed a recent blog on Top 12 Summer Tips for Top Teachers from Edutopia that includes lots of great tips on how we, as teachers, can become more productive and better at our jobs.

I thought I’d build on these tips with some additional ideas:

  • Rework the Worst to Be the Best. Take the time to revise last quadraticyear’s lesson plans to make them even better. Incorporate recent events, videos or hands-on learning experiences to enrich the classroom experience. You can find lots of ideas on Curriki. For example, use the Curriki Search function to find games like Quadratic Review or Free Online Math Games to make learning fun. Curriki also has video collections like this Technology Video collection from STEMbite that includes how to make your own bone conduction headphones, and how you can use a new pair of sunglasses to explore the polarization of light.
  • Tinker. What better way to spur creativity, especially in the dog alicedays of summer! Why not explore 3D printing or learn a new skill? We follow Teacher Christine Mytko, who’s using 3D printers in her classroom and blogs about it in Tales of a 3D Printer. Did you ever want to learn programming? Check out the free workshop Getting Started with Java Using Alice, where you can learn basic Java programming concepts with little or no programming experience. It’s fun and you can spend time creating animated stories, movies and games.
  • Laugh. I’m sure you can find plenty of things that will have you laughing out loud. But as teachers, we sometimes appreciate a special kind of humor. “Like” Teachers with a Sense of Humor  or Grammarly on Facebook to get more of these posts.

grammarly

LOL. If you know a teacher, please share this post with them!

Teachers: Equip Your Classroom for FREE

teacher2

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

janetpic_preferred_cropped

Do corporations make their employees pay for their own office supplies? Nope. Yet the average teacher spends up to $1,000 of his/her own money every year on classroom supplies (not to mention personal time spent getting the classroom in shape before school starts!).

Teachers, here are a few ideas to help you out:

  • First of all, don’t be afraid to ask. Create a wish list and ask the parents of your students for supplies. But don’t forget to also ask local bookstores, or craft and office supply stores for discounts or freebies. Many companies can write donations off as a tax break. Tell them a little about your school and your students and how you plan to use the resource. You may get a donation or at least a discount. A nice gesture would be to send a thank you note to the business with a picture of the item in use. Or post to your social media page and thank the business publicly.
  • Register your classroom at Adopt a Classroom. Individuals can go to this site and search for a teacher they know, a school they have a connection with, or a subject they’re passionate about and fund it. 100% of their tax-deductible donation goes to the classroom. A similar site is DonorsChoose, where public school teachers can post classroom project requests online. When a project reaches its funding goal, they ship the materials to your school.
  • If you’re at a low-income school, you may qualify for free school supplies from Kids in Need Foundation, which maintains a national network of Resource Centers where teachers can get free supplies for their students who are in need.
  • Love shopping? Here is a list of 80 stores (from Office Depot and the Apple Store, to museums and clothing stores) from Gift Card Granny that offer discounts to teachers.  And you can find other teacher discounts on the Teacher Discounts Pinterest board.
  • NEA publishes a monthly list of 10 FREE Things, which includes “the best websites to find printables, your favorite books, instructional videos for you and your students, lesson plans, and other FREE stuff for your classroom.”
  • And finally, if you’re looking for free, high-quality teaching resources, make sure to check Curriki often as we’re continually adding new resources.

If you know of other free resources, would you please share?

5 Fun Summer Learning Activities for Kids and Teens

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

janetpic_preferred_cropped

Worried about summer brain drain? Encouraging kids to continue learning so they stay on track when they return in the fall is a top priority. Here at Curriki, we wanted to ignite the learning spark by taking advantage of the out-of-classroom time to allow kids the freedom to direct their own learning. Here are some fun and creative ideas for students of all ages.

 

reading3Read a book!

StorySnoops has many different recommended reading lists for students and you can search by age and topic ranging from “Girl Power” and “Feel Good Reads” to “Books for Reluctant Readers” and “Coming of Age” books.

 

monster physics liteFive Free Apps for Summer Fun and Learning

Curriki is featuring 5 apps that are both fun and educational.

 

 

 

aliceFree online workshop to learn computer programming

 

“This is a part of truly inspirational course with great support both online and in the final two face to face days… it is a highly engaging tool for students … Did I mention that the ORACLE Fundamentals of Java course is free?” – Clifford F, Curriki Member

From Oracle Academy, Getting Started with Java Using Alice engages students with little or no programming experience to learn basic Java programming concepts. Participants use Carnegie Mellon’s Alice* platform to do something fun – create animated stories, movies and games.

 

podcastLearn to create a podcasT

This highly rated Podcast Collection resource was created by Judy Scharf and includes ideas for podcast topics, tips to create a podcast, how to submit a podcast to iTunes and more.

 

 

?????????????????????????????????????????Science Experiments

 

Here are a few special science collections that include hand-selected engaging, open-source, interactive digital content created by Curriki teachers and partners such as NASA, PhET, and Khan Academy.

Choose from “Fish Mummy Project,” or “14 Experiments on Plant Life & Growth” to “Chemistry Video Project,” and more.

 

Meet Kristen Blomstrom, Student Ambassador at Curriki

Curriki Student Ambassador Kristen Blomstrom

Curriki Student Ambassador Kristen Blomstrom

In this interview, Kristen Blomstrom shares ways that fellow students can use Curriki for homework help, to study for a test or just learn something new. She is a junior at Carroll Senior high school in Southlake, Texas.

What is Curriki?

Curriki is a free website with resources in all different subjects that are credible and useful for all ages. It’s a great website for parents, teachers and students.

Do you use Curriki in your studies?

I’ve used Curriki since I was a freshman. I use mostly the Sal Khan math resources (e.g., Algebra or Calculus) and some sciences (e.g., Physics or Biology) too. I learn best visually, so these videos are good for me and they help me gain a better understanding of the topic – especially when I’m not grasping the topic from the teacher’s explanation.

What do you do as a Curriki Student Ambassador?

I demonstrate Curriki at different schools so more people can benefit from the thousands of high-quality learning resources, all available for free! I recently talked to a 5th grade class of gifted students at a public elementary school nearby. They attend a very progressive school where all students have their own iPads and they’re using open educational resources (OERs). Since the class was working on a project on the American Revolution, I showed them how to type in a topic, filter a search, and find the resources they need – whether a document, PowerPoint presentation, video, map, or something else.

What do you like most about Curriki?

I like that it’s free, and has very reputable content. It’s not random stuff – which is what the internet offers. Plus, there’s the Curriki Review System, so I know I’m getting top-quality resources.

If I’m a student, how can Curriki help me?

Curriki is great for homework help, studying for a test or just learning something new. Curriki can help you expand education and really, truly grasp certain concepts. I always want to learn something new, and it’s a really great place to do that. I’m a big reader and into the Classics, and we read Shakespeare freshman year. I enjoyed it so much that I used Curriki to find additional resources so I could learn more about Shakespeare.

What are your favorite Curriki resources?

I use the Sal Khan videos a lot, they’re probably my favorite – especially the math videos.

What advice do you have for students who are just getting started using Curriki?

Start with the tutorial videos on Basics for Using Curriki. And connect with Curriki via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or the weekly blog to find out about new resources, activities and ideas.

About Kristen Blomstrom
Kristen Blomstrom is the President of the Student Ambassador Program at Curriki. Since 2012, Kristen has brought a student’s perspective to the Curriki team through reviewing content and sharing Curriki with social media such as Twitter and Facebook. In addition, she speaks to teachers and students around the country about integrating Curriki into the classroom. Kristen frequently collaborates with the Executive Team to bring resources of the highest to students across the globe. Kristen is currently a junior at Carroll Senior High School in Southlake, Texas. She has received numerous academic and service awards throughout her high school career. Kristen is also a top-ranked equestrian and competes in events across the country.
 

studenthow to Become a Curriki Student Ambassador

Curriki Student Ambassadors are creative and resourceful individuals who are passionate about learning and want to spread the word. At this time, new participants are being accepted into the program. Find out more here. You can earn volunteer hours, gain valuable marketing and leadership experience, and proudly show your commitment by being featured on our website and more.

 

How Should Teachers Be Evaluated?

blackboard

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

janetpic_preferred_cropped

Are teacher evaluations useful, or even necessary? Do some methods affect “good” teachers in a bad way, and perhaps reward “bad” teachers in a good way? For example, some teachers in Florida are evaluated on student test scores in subjects they do not even teach, which could mean that an Art or PE teacher would have his/her value or rating based on their students’ English and math scores!
Every state is figuring out how to conduct evaluations to ensure learning. Clearly, there’s no single, best answer.

Most evaluations today are based on test scores and classroom observations. The problem with student test scores is that teachers with students at higher achievement levels tend to fare better. Yet despite all the furor over test score gains, a report from The Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution found only 22 percent of teachers are evaluated on test score gains. On the other hand, all teachers are evaluated based on classroom observation and that “nearly all the opportunities for improvement to teacher evaluation systems are in the area of classroom observations rather than in test score gains.”

Then again, what decides a teacher’s effectiveness? While teachers must be experts in their subject area, they must also be able to share that knowledge in an interesting, memorable and engaging way. But how do we factor in other qualities that make for an effective teacher like patience, empathy, and commitment?

We need to continue to assess the way we currently evaluate teachers and figure out how and where improvements can be made. Do you have an innovative idea to share in this area?

How are Schools Using 3D Printers?

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

janetpic_preferred_cropped
Are you experimenting with 3D printers in your classroom? While 3D printing technology has been around since the 1980s, it’s only become commercially viable (read: affordable) in the last few years. For those unfamiliar with 3D printers, they are a form of manufacturing that takes three-dimensional image files and “prints” them into physical objects using a variety of materials, typically plastic.

 

Christine Mytko

Christine Mytko

A handy resource for teachers and students is Teacher Christine Mytko’s blog Tales of a 3D Printer, which takes a look at the “fascinating potential of 3D printing and the process of getting there.” She has many useful resources listed on her site including:

 

Teen Crime Solvers Use 3D Scanning and Printing 

There are so many ways to use 3D printers in the classroom! For example, a middle school in Richmond County Schools, North Carolina, is giving students hands-on experience in forensic science with their 3D Academy, which is equipped with an HDI Advance R1X 3D scanner from LMI, Geomagics software, 3D Max, and Cube X and Cube 3D printers from 3D Systems.

Students scanned evidence found at the “crime scene,” including a body, as well as finger, hand and shoe prints. The fingerprint was transformed into a virtual block in Cubify Sculpt and 3D printed using their Cube 3D printer. Read the whole story here.

According to this list from EduTECH, 3D printing can be used to demonstrate principles in subjects such as:

  1. Math – 3D print those equations.
  2. Art – 3D print necklaces and sculptures.
  3. Business and Economics – sell the 3D prints!
  4. History – compare 3D Printing to the production line and other manufacturing techniques.
  5. Biology – 3D print cells structures and viruses.
  6. Chemistry – 3D print molecules and proteins.
  7. Show how proteins and catalysts work by physically piecing the models together.
  8. Technology Studies – sit the printer next to the lathes and the welders – another way to make items.
  9. Computing Studies – how 3D Software works.
  10. Drama – Quick, we need some 3D Printed Masks!
  11. Home Economics – 3D Printing food is a form of Molecular Gastronomy.

How are you using 3D printer technology? We’d love to hear your ideas – please share below!

Technology Helping To Personalize Student Learning Experiences

SU13StudentsReportCoverBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

Students learn in many different ways, whether they’re a visual learner preferring pictures and shapes, or an auditory learner preferring sounds and rhythms. Oftentimes, we use a mix of learning styles and techniques to process information.

Unfortunately, traditional textbooks simply can’t meet students’ diverse learning styles, since every student has unique interests, attention spans, and needs. So how do we ensure the success of every student? The key to a personalized learning experience is technology.

A recent study from Speak Up published this month explored how K-12 students are using digital tools and resources to enhance their schoolwork activities.

SU13_MobileLearningInfographic
Infographic- The New Digital Learning Playbook: Mobile Learning

Key findings from this year’s report entitled The New Digital Learning Playbook: Understanding the Spectrum of Students’ Activities and Aspirations include:

  • Girls outpace boys in use of many digital tools for learning, particularly the socially based tools like texting and collaborating online.
  • 29 percent of high school boys say that they are very interested in a job or career in a STEM field, but only 19 percent of girls say the same.
  • Students continue to report less regular interaction with traditional social networking sites like Facebook, while 44 percent of students in grades 6-12 report using social media apps like Instagram, Snapchat and Vine. Nearly one-third of high school students reported using Twitter.
  • One-quarter of students in grades 3-5 and nearly one-third of students in grades 6-12 say that they are using a mobile device provided by their school to support schoolwork.
  • In four years, the percent of middle school students taking tests online increased from 32 percent to 47 percent.
  • High school students reported a mean average of 14 hours per week using technology for writing.
  • Only one-third of middle school students say that for schoolwork reading, they prefer to read digital materials rather than printed materials; more than half, however, say online textbooks would be an essential component of their “ultimate school.”
  • Digital equity, including to student access to the Internet outside of school, is a growing concern among district technology leaders with 46 percent saying it is one of the most challenging issues they face today (compared to just 19 percent in 2010).

With the right access to different kinds of educational resources that fit different learning styles, we can allow children to learn at their own pace using various learning methods that meet their individual needs. We have an opportunity to customize education for students everywhere and to provide the education they need to shape their futures.