Online Educational Games
by National Hall of Fame Educator Alan Haskvitz

Games are an interesting way to teach concepts and provide rigor. They also enable early finishers to challenge themselves. Here are a few of the better sites.

146 Educational Games

English and Mathematics
You need to registr

Alpahabet Related Lessons

Games and Puzzles by Subject Matter

Primary Level Games
Very popular site with a lot of content

Mixed Subject Matter

Quiz Hub
K-12 online games revolving around subject areas

Math and English Games

Huge link site using apps

Educational Web Adventures

Science related links by topic, grade level

Science and wildlife oriented.

Math and English remedial work lists
Good for review
Math related games

Sophisticated science games — mainly physics
“This site contains interactive plasma physics topics, ranging from electricity, magnetism, energy, and fusion. Please visit the “Virtual Tokamak” and our “Virtual Magnetic Stability Module” to learn about Plasma and Fusion Containment. “

NLVM for Interactive Mathematics
Terrific interactive math site with great learning activities — this is a must visit.

Apps for teachers: Mostly free
by National Hall of Fame Teacher Alan Haskvitz

Using Android or iPod cell phone applications in the classroom is easy to do, but finding good ones is very difficult and time consuming. Since there are apparently new ones coming out daily my recommendation is to check through these large collections using your “find” feature to locate those that have the ingredients you need most. Most of the apps listed are free, but some carry a charge. Use the Internet to harvest opinions about what others say about a particular application before purchasing.

Another good one is a listing of 20 good ones for teachers.

Using applications in the classroom is very challenging, especially with nearly 40 students in some rooms. I suggest that you only use one and hook that up to an overhead for sharing. It would be nice to build learning centers around them, but the monitoring of them would be a huge challenge.

The future is clearly in your hands, pun intended, and the creation of applications is just beginning to show some maturity. For the most part they are silly games or material you could easily live without. But in some cases they offer a change for you to add depth to lessons, make individualizing lesson much easier, and save on the cost of supplementary materials.

One of the most useful apps is from Awesome Stories and it is called the Story Builder. It enables students to use primary and secondary resources to create stories, reach conclusions, and it is applicable to various subject matter.

Best Free apps
Wide variety of topics

Top Free 50 from Apple

Best Free Educational Software
An interesting array of all levels

Free application list site

Android applications for teachers

Free phonics app

Great site that enables teachers to share ideas, resources, and lessons. Exceptionally useful.

An improvement over Twitter for teachers and students to share information. Private. Must register.

Send work to be checked for plagiarism. Takes a while to master.
Plagiarism Detect. May have charges to use.
Millions of copies of original historical documents located in the Library of Congress and other government resources.
Note taking app

An interesting sharing site for most curriculum areas. This is a fun site to see what other teachers are doing and share yours. You can make your own multimedia presentations online. Check for costs.

Brain Tuner
Challenges your brain. Great for early finishers.,review-2267.html

Cliff Notes on the Go
Read quick/simplified versions of classic literature.

Mainly encyclopedic type facts related to history.

QuickVoice :
Quick Voice
Enables you to record your thoughts.

Turns an iPhone into a book reader. Charge

Information on all US presidents.

Words of the World
Learn new word every day.

Best free apps for Language Arts

Best free apps for Mathematical

Best apps for science and social studies

Best apps for working with autistic students

Fun, Joy and Flow: The Unloved Words in Education
by National Hall of Fame teacher Alan Haskvitz

There is little doubt that fun and education standards are mutually exclusive terms. The demands for teachers to produce students with higher test standards is universal. Indeed, Common Core is built on that premise. Better marks mean better students. Better students mean a richer nation. All this is well and good for some, but the real keys to student learning are three fold. First, the goal should be to teach the students how to learn. Secondly, to develop questioning skills and thus create citizens not easily swayed by propaganda, false advertising, and the cult of looks or personality. Finally, to promote a joy and love of learning.

Acres of forests land has been denuded to produce research on how students should learn. Everything from the types of learning to testing to insure learning to classifications for those who don’t learn well have been documented. Critical thinking is the common core of Common Core. Despite research that points out that brain growth in children would make critical thinking next to impossible for younger children. Regardless, it is always good to get students to ponder.

What I am rallying for is to retain, promote, and insist upon keeping the fun in education, and I don’t mean having class parties. Fun is the real backbone of learning. It does not have to be formal or take the form of a computer game. What it does have to have is for the ability of the child to be able to learn creatively in a manner that creates a flow or zone learning opportunities.

Brain research has shown that long term memory can be enhanced by fun activities. Many of you readers can’t remember a teacher’s name, but the field trip stays with you. Judy Willis writes that the fun of having students discover the answer encourages enthusiasm for the subject. I have often seen teachers use a “sponge” activity to start a lesson, but not many were imbued with fun. When I teach my students mnemonic devises I stress silly ones. They retain them better and are eager to share ones that they have created with others. Having students apply their learning skills trying to write out a line or two from a short story that would show the character was using propaganda and having them share it makes students more eager to read the story and research the types of propaganda that could be used in the created passage. This type of fun activity makes for a positive emotional state and the personalization of the material wakes up the student. Such fun based learning activities also reduce stress and high levels of stress can actually reduce the size of the hippocampus and thus impair memory. You can easily see that when an unsure student is asked a question and “freezes.”

Fun makes learning relevant to students. It is no longer a meaningless event, but one in which they enjoy putting their personal stamp on and sharing it with others thus building cooperation. By no means does that mean that every lesson must be fun reliant, but it does mean that having fun activities, as almost all teachers know, creates a better atmosphere for learning. Creativity surges during play related activities and makes the lessons more pleasurable and stimulating.
The fun lessons could extend to all classes and to assignments at home. For example, the student could read about a character in history and explain it to his parent or guardian and have them write a note explaining why this historical person was absent from class. Sure, the answers might be simple: I am dead. But the lesson about the person should be long lasting for all involved. And asking the students to share could bring about additional learning possibilities.

Having fun and working do not have to be opposites in the classroom or in life. Someone in charge, or a rich person who thinks being rich qualifies him or her to influence decisions about education, should be given a remedial class on the benefits of play on the human body and mind and learning. Why not have students create their own games for physical education classes? In science class how about having students studying the periodic element table create comic books about their element? In Language Arts class use as a sponge activity to enhance the student’s imagination with real life stories.

The point is that having fun in class contributes to the essence of low in learning and can be a positive way to reinforce lessons, encourage learning, and to reduce stress. Every college teaching preparation program should have at least one section on how to make fun lessons. At schools across the country the principal should ask the teachers to share their fun lessons and encourage them to develop new ones. Administration reviews should also include a comment on the flow of the lesson placing the emphasis on the way the students reacted to the lesson and appeared to be motivated by it.

Above all it must be remembered that fun does not mean party time or joke telling. Fun and enjoyment of a lesson must result in learning and offers students intrinsic motivation. It means having some lessons that provide learning in a fun way. University of Chicago professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and found the fun is not easy to define, but he listed some attributes. Among his findings was that there is a difference between pleasure and enjoyment and that the latter is far longer lasting and needs more skill. Enjoyment is relaxing and can result in a situation where time is no longer an element of consideration. Lessons that find the class so involved in a fun learning activity that the end of the period finds them scurrying to find their book bags with some reluctance is something most teachers can relate to and is evidence that a fun lesson need not include laughter.

The bottom line is that learning should provide pleasure regardless of the topic. The motivation must come from within, but the teacher needs to find the lesson that will push this motivation into a product without undue coercion. Preparing for a test by reviewing may result in short term learning, but having the students creating their own questions to give to others makes the learning more enjoyable with a myriad of ways to provide longer lasting retention.
Learn by doing is an excellent way to instill this flow into a lesson. For example, the students read a chapter of a book and teams are chosen to rewrite the chapter from another viewpoint and all of the narration must be written in one syllable words. I have found that the best way to improve flow is to have the students create something tangible to share. It does require higher level thinking skills and thus promotes critical thinking, but for many students the lessons needed to create the item become more ingrained and the experience becomes more pleasurable.

Fun, joy and flow are as related as peanut butter and jam. They go together. Yes, they can be separated, but they aren’t as good. When a student has fun learning it turns to joy and is the best reward of all, intrinsic. That fun and joy result in a flow of pride, enjoyment and appreciation of learning, and long term changes in attitude. Every subject needs to be rethought. Common Core does supply the basics, it is the creative teacher that needs to supply the student centered learning that achieves the goal.

Finally, don’ t reinvent the wheel. There is an abundance of lessons that can be customized to fit your needs after some fine tuning. Sharing what you have done with others also can provide feedback to improve your lesson. Above all, make learning fun even if it figuratively kills your old lessons.

Learning styles and Differentiated Assignments
by Hall of Fame teacher Alan Haskvitz

There is no shortage of research on how people learn. Indeed, people have become rich just developing theories about this important element of learning. However, in a classroom packed with students it is often difficult to provide enough alternative types of assignments to reach everyone. Thus this feature is best used to help educate the students to learn about themselves and how they learn. An excellent feature to use at the beginning of a learning term. Be advised that some of this material is complex and so a critical eye is needed when selecting that information most appropriate for various grade levels. Of note, the greater use of technology can make it much easier to adjust assignments accordingly.

Once you have reviewed the various aspects of differentiated learning you may want to sample Awesome Stories where can find a variety of ways to teach a lesson using the resources there. For example, take a look at the variety listed here: These ideas can be used to reach every level of student and motivate them while meeting Common Core goals.

Printout identifying eight learning styles
This could be printed out and placed in the classroom to help students learn how to learn.

Howard Gardner’s Types of Intelligences
Gives examples of how to relate to different styles of learning

This site is designed for students to explore their own learning style

Sideshow providing information on how to apply differentiated learning and various styles

Learning Styles, Multiple Intelligences, and Differentiated Instruction
Links to these topics and self-tests.

Homework tips for different learning styles
The information is at the bottom of this site.

Knowledge of Student Characteristics
The first part of this article provides information that provides some interesting data that can help teachers with assignments including what time of day and right and left brain differences.
Using Felder’s Index of Learning Styles
A sideshow explaining this theory. An excellent overview that provides teachers with insights into various methods to reach students.

A Moodle about Moodle
This is a tool that teachers can use to individualize lessons and provide more direct feedback. It fits into the various types of learning styles feature by making it easier for teachers to provide differentiated learning opportunities.

by National Hall of Fame teacher Alan Haskvitz

Flipping a classroom has come to mean a method in which a teacher assigns technology related assignments for homework so that more depth can be added to the lesson when the student returns to the classroom. This can be done in several ways, but the most common appears to be an online video. In that way less classroom time is taken with lecture and more with using the data to extend learning opportunities. It is also called blended learning and reverse instruction. I have used a version of this since the late 1990s using bookmark sites. Indeed, one of my lessons revolved around having the students created their own lessons using videos for other students to use in a structured format.

It has proven to be of value, but many problems must be solved first such as what to do with students without access to technology, students who don’t do the work and students who have done the homework, but did not take adequate notes. The sites below can provide good examples of how it is done and the good and needs improvement of the method.

I also strongly recommend Awesome Stories as it provides exceptional lesson plans, videos, and stories that students can use at home. The material is high interest. It is your best bet when starting to use a flipped format.

A variety of links are provided.

An excellent visual presentation from a teacher about the benefits.

A professional learning community for teachers using screencasting in education.

Pros and Cons

A series of videos of classrooms using the flipped method

Flipping must be done right
Some warnings and suggestions

An article dealing with the use of the flipped classroom methods.
Provides some insights into some techniques that can be done with the videos.

Click to access ednext_20121_BTucker.pdf

A visual explanation of what the flipped classroom is about
Some statistics are provided on its value, but no source is given as well as the level of students involved. This resource is best used as an easy to follow example of how to set one up.

You Tube Videos about Flipped Classrooms