Category Archives: Curriki News

5 Fun Summer Learning Activities for Kids and Teens

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

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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

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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

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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.

Physics Resources for the Flipped Classroom

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

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Physics is not only interesting, but also helps us to understand how things work – whether it’s understanding kinetic energy in a looping roller coaster, or why your singing voice sounds so much better in the shower.

At Curriki, we have thousands of resources for teaching and learning physics. Here are a few of our favorites that can be used as part of the Flipped Classroom:

Coaster Creator
rollercoasterLearn the physics of roller coasters with this free, online game that allows students to explore kinetic and potential energy. Per Curriki Member Anna, “This is a great visual aid for students to understand potential and kinetic energy. In addition, it is engaging students to create a roller coaster on their own in order to experiment on what factors affect the change in energy.”

Full Physics Course from Sal Khan
You’ll find about 100 straightforward 10 – 15 minute tutorial videos comprised of simple graphics and personable narration, covering all topics in a complete high school or college course in Physics.

Physics Videos from STEMbite
stembiteThese short video clips are created by online science and math teacher, Andrew Vanden Heuvel, from Michigan, USA. Using Google Glass he makes  bite-sized videos highlighting the science in our everyday lives. The extensive Physics collection features such engaging topics as the physics involved in tennis, playrooms, and even singing in the shower!

The Physics of Sailing
sailingInspired by the America’s World Cup, Curriki just announced a new project-based learning (PBL) course that will be available shortly called The Physics of Sailing. Thanks to a grant from Oracle Corporation, the project will be developed by Curriki’s PBL team with contributions from sailing experts from Oracle Team USA.

Do us a favor please and share this with someone who’s interested in physics.