Sunday, August 13, 2017

Language Arts in Elementary Schools

I am familiar with the VocabularySpellingCity adoption by schools, districts, teachers, and parents across the country.

It started with the automated spelling test.  What a gas! Kids were finally empowered to really test themselves and not have to ask for help to practice their words. And, the test itself and all the practice activities were gamified so the kids stopped complaining about practicing their spelling words and started learning them.  

Teachers were like Oh WOW, I don't have to grade and record a spelling test this week? Or ever again.  Suddenly, after years of fighting technology, somebody has actually introduced some technology that simplified their life and saved them class time and effort. How much do teachers LOVE VocabularySpellingCity? So Much.  Other activities have come along which have also made a huge difference.

For nstance, the site introduced tens of thousands of word lists ready-to-use on almost any topic. Want to have a vocabulary test on top European countries?  Third grade geometry words?  1st Grade Compound Words?  8th grade level analogies and metaphors.  The site has a veritable Swiss Army knife of possibilities.  Want help finding the right materials for your grade? Start with the info on your grade level. Here:


Kindergarten Word Lists;
1st Grade Word Lists
2nd Grade Word Lists
3rd Grade Word Lists
4th Grade Word Lists
5th Grade Word Lists
6th Grade Word Lists

Lastly, the site has a serious number of great learning games. I won't list them here but still, fantastic materials. Enjoy! It's only $2.25 per student per year for schools!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Phonics Prereading skills

Homeschool moms: pay attention to the sequence of learning to read. While there is much to debate and which doesn't relaly matter, afew things do.

What may or may not matter. Letter names. Plenty of kids have learned to read without knowing the names of all the letters. I fyou think about it, knowing what the name of the B or the D is does not help you to read at all. It arguably gets in the way since its name is a useless fact. Of, you could argue that knowing the name makes it easier to deal with letters.  Many countries such as England and France do NOT teach letter names until later in elementary school after the kids have learned to read. They, by the way, have less problems teaching kids to read that the Good Old USA!

What does matter. Phonological skills. The kids who do not learn to discriminate between p and b, or m and n, and so on, have a very difficult time with both verbal and reading skills.   From early on, parents should play games and find software that helps kids build these skills. Examples:

Sound It Out - A great Phonological Skill Building game. Her'es a detailed description of how these phonological prereading skills are developed by it.  And here's a link to a collection of prereading phonics-skill building games.



Why are these phonological skills important? 

Building early literacy skills begins with phonological awareness, the key element in learning phonics. Once they can begin to understand phonics, the system of sound and letter correspondence, beginning readers can accurately decode words and writers can spell them. Word recognition also includes the automaticity of word meaning. Developing good spelling and vocabulary skills is essential for effective written communication as well. Vocabulary development also promotes fluency by building background knowledge and concepts necessary for reading comprehension. Developing these skills over time achieves the ultimate goal of reading and writing fluency.

For English Language LearnersSound It Out is exceptionally useful.  As background, we all know that one of the challenges for ELL students is mastering the phonological skills of distinguishing the sounds (both for hearing and for speaking) that exist in English but not in their original languages. For instance, native Spanish speakers need to learn to distinguish the English /v/ from the /b/ sound.  Other English sounds that are difficult for native Spanish speakers include the /l/ sound, the short /i/, and the /ch/ sound. But with Sound It Out, these tough sounds can be listened to and practiced, sound by sound, giving them the power to pursue proficiency.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Education Is Fun

As Marshall McCluhan reportedly said, "If you don't think entertainment can be educational, you don't know the first thing about either one."

We shape our tools and afterwards our tools shape us. 


Here some images that I'm going to post temporarily as part of a tech test project. Stay tuned. Plus, I need to look up Marshalls name....









Sunday, January 22, 2017

Education and Games

An Opportunity for Game Developers to Pool Sales and Marketing Efforts
I received this email last week and I assume it's a marketing come-on in which I pay fees for marketing under the auspices or guise of a "collaborative." Or maybe it is some brave sole trying to create a new channel and visibility for educational games. Maybe I'll check it out. Of course, a lot of our educational marketing is for Susan's homeschoolers.

John,

You probably know that one of my passions has been finding a way to increase the use of game-based learning in schools. And you probably also know that the sales channel has been the single greatest challenge in the education market.

I am now creating a sales and marketing collaborative so that education game companies can pool their sales and marketing resources, and have a better chance of selling into schools.

If you know of games companies that might be interested, or if you want to find out more, please let me know. I'll be at FETC next week, so if you're there, we can find a time to talk.

Thank you, and hope you have a great 2017,


MitchWeisburgh
Academic Business Advisors