MobyMax: individualized student curriculum built from the Common Core

KidComputerTeachers, you have got to check out MobyMax!  It’s a fantastic K-8 online lesson system that is taking the country by storm.  It’s comprehensive, fun, individualized, and effective.  It’s all built on the Common Core Curriculum.  And it’s cheap!  There’s a free version and a $99/year version with extensive capabilities and access to games and contests.

MobyMax is great for today’s busy teachers with large classes.  The site give students a placement test and then automatically assigns them lessons.  There are many subjects: math, math facts, different types of reading, vocabulary, grammar, writing, and test prep.

Students love working at their level.   MobyMax keeps kids in their zone of proximal development (ZPD).  That’s the sweet spot where the work is neither too easy nor too hard.  The site is efficient because it doesn’t spend time on standards the kids have already learned.

I like that MobyMax lets you differentiate instruction so easily.  The site does most of the work for you, although you can tweak it considerably.  For example, you can set the grade level at which placement tests begin.  You can assign any lesson at any grade level.  You can assign vocabulary words or let Moby choose and teach.

MobyMax is very motivating.  Probably the most motivating element is game time.  The site has over a dozen games, and students earn time by working on lessons.  You choose how much game time Moby awards.  It starts at about 2 minutes for every 5 minutes of work.  When I did sample lessons, I found that frustrating, so I chose a 1:1 ratio for my students.  It sounds like a lot of game time, but it works out.   It’s interesting to see how students use their time.  Some burn through their time and work for five minutes, then play.  They’re living close to the edge.  Others get really into the lessons and rack up over an hour of game time.  If they want to play for an entire class period, so what?  They earned by doing focused work.

MobyMax also offers other incentives.  There are badges, contests, and ways for student and teacher to communicate.  You can send your kids messages called Vibes. The messages can be attaboys or get-to-works.

MobyMax offers lots and lots of data.  You can get detailed results from the placement tests, showing which standards student have mastered and which they still need to learn.  You can collect data on student progress through the curriculum.  You can track exactly how much time your students spend on each component of MobyMax .  (My students worked much harder once they found out I could track them to the minute.)

I think you’ll find that it’s worth the $99 for the full MobyMax experience.  After the 30 day trial period, the free version is a letdown.  There’s no game time.  You can’t assign lessons to individual students; they just take what Moby assigns them based on their placement test.  Vibes and other features are gone, too.

Parents, MobyMaxis great for families, too!  If you feel that school doesn’t meet your child’s needs, enroll your child in Moby.  It’s great for extra practice, home schooling, and beating summer slump.

You’ll love MobyMax!

Posted in Academics,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Dec 29, 2014

 

Carpet squares make the best whiteboard erasers

WritingOnBoardTeachers, the best whiteboard erasers are free!  That is, if you can find a store that will give you old carpet square samples.  Just cut those carpet squares into small pieces and use them for excellent whiteboard erasers.

I came across this tip by accident.  The school district used my school as a summer school.  When I returned in the fall, carpet square-whiteboard erasers were right there on the ledge.  I quickly figured out what they were for.  My goodness!  They erase better than anything.

You don’t need fancy Berber. Cheap carpeting is fine.

Other ClassAntics posts about whiteboards:

Low-budget whiteboard markers and cleaners

Cheap “whiteboards” for no-budget classrooms

Posted in First Year Teachers,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Dec 22, 2014

 

Make tasty school lunches for kids (or teachers) with Laura Fuentes’ cookbook and Momables meal plans

HomemadeLunchesParents, get tips for making healthy school lunches from Momables!  Teachers, these recipes make great lunches for you and your family.

Momables.com has recipes, meal plans, and products.  The recipes were developed by creator Laura Fuentes in conjunction with dozens of moms, a chef and a nutritionist. The idea is to create delicious, fresh foods that kids will actually eat.

Momables has a nice collection of free recipes, but the good stuff comes with a subscription.  Then you’ll have access to meal plans and recipes.  The recipes are single serve, so it’s easy to figure the appropriate amount to make for your needs.  You can try Momables for a free week.  After that, you pay $8 a month or $79 for a year.  Momables has a regular plan and a grain-free plan for kids with allergies or special dietary needs.

An easy way to try Momables without the plan is to buy (or borrow from the library) a great cookbook from Momables creator Laura Fuentes.  It’s called The Best Homemade Kids’ Lunches on the Planet: Make Lunches Your Kids Will Love with More Than 200 Deliciously Nutritious Meal Ideas.  It has tips on stocking your fridge and pantry to streamline lunch making.  There are organizational feedback charts that let you track your kids’ reaction to each recipe.  The recipes are delicious and cover hot and cold lunches.  There are soups, snacks, riffs on sandwiches, desserts–it’s great!

As much as possible, try to involve your kids in planning and making school lunches.  Kids will value them more, eat lunch rather than trade, and learn valuable cooking and planning skills.

Other ClassAntics posts about school lunch:

Back to school: watch out for kids that don’t have a lunch

Mix It Up At Lunch Day: October 30

How Lunch Money Works

Help your child fill up at school lunch

Posted in Food,Tips for Parents by Corey Green @ Dec 15, 2014

 

Create Goofus & Gallant skits for classroom do’s and don’ts

boyraisinghand2Remember Goofus and Gallant?  The old cartoons in Highlights for Children demonstrated proper (and improper ) behavior.  Teach your students about Goofus and Gallant, then create skits and cartoons to illustrate do’s and dont’s for the classroom.

Goofus and Gallant activities can be as elaborate or simple as you wish.  Whatever your speed, start by showing your students what the original was like.  Click here for Goofus and Gallant archives going back to 1959.  After a few examples, your class will be well-versed in the Goofus & Gallant format.

Now, have some fun!  Brainstorm classroom procedures that could benefit from the Goofus & Gallant treatment.  Assign them to groups of 2-4 students and challenge kids to create 20 second Goofus & Gallant demonstrations for the class.  Your students will have a great time creating and performing these skits.

You can also ask students to make Goofus & Gallant comic strips.

Don’t limit Goofus & Gallant to the classroom.  Rules and procedures for many school activities make good Goofus & Gallant topics.

  • Recess
  • Lunch
  • Before & after school
  • Bus, parent dropoff & pickup, walkers, bike riders, etc.
  • Social skills: making friends, interacting with adults on campus, getting along with the family, etc.
Posted in First Year Teachers,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Dec 8, 2014

 

Get your class excited about Peter Pan Live!

Peter Pan and Captain HookPeter Pan Live! airs on Thursday, December 4th at 8/7c.  Encourage your students to watch.  It’s a fantastic opportunity for them to see a live musical.  It will be like Broadway came to their living room.

The show looks promising.  Allison Williams stars as Peter, Christopher Walken plays Captain Hook, and Tony Award-winner Christian Borle performs the roles of Mr. Smee and George Darling.  It’s from the producers of The Sound of Music Live!, which I thought was an excellent show with great production values.  I can’t wait to see what they do with Peter Pan.  I am most excited about seeing Christopher Walken as Captain Hook.  I read in Entertainment Weekly that he is a professional dancer who fell into acting, and that his tap-dance scenes will knock America’s socks off.

For a little character education, tell your students how hard Allison Williams worked to get the role.  I read in Allure that as soon as Peter Pan Live! was announced, she contacted her agent.  “Too soon?” she asked.  The agent said yes–they hadn’t even written the script yet.  Allison made sure everyone connected to the show knew she was interested.  She used her phone to film herself singing the songs and sent it to producers.  When interviewers asked  about roles she wanted to play, she strongly hinted at Peter Pan.  It worked!

NBC and YMI have produced teaching materials to accompany the show.  Print out a full-color poster to promote the event.  Give the students copies of the synopsis and song list.  (These would be good printed back-to-back and sent home for students to share with their families.)  Simple-but-slick worksheets would make great extra credit activities.  Here’s one with a short quiz and here’s one  with lyrics to “I Won’t Grow Up” and a challenge to write your own verse.  Play the preview and accompanying promotional clips that take you behind the scenes as the cast and crew prepare the show.  There is a commercial after the preview, but after that, the promotional clips play without interruption.

You can buy Peter Pan Live! on Amazon and in stores on December 16th, so you could show it in class before Winter Break.  In the meantime, teach your students about The Sound of Music Live! with that show’s DVD, available on Amazon and in stores.  It’s fun to watch the show live, but it’s also nice to watch it without interruptions.  Plus, the DVD comes with a feature about producing the show.  Students will enjoy seeing the hard work and preparation that go into producing a musical.

Posted in Tips for Parents,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Dec 1, 2014