Friday, May 29, 2009

Surviving the last 2 Weeks (#1): Classtools Interactive Games

Year end is coming! I usually have mixed feelings when I reach the last 2 weeks of school. On one hand, for me the holidays can't come fast enough.
Image Source: Dave Walker at We Blog Cartoons. [Note: the original sign message has been changed.]

On the other, I wish we had an extra week or two extra because I'm often running behind and have to pack 3 weeks' worth of instruction and review into two.

Image Source: Lambert Consulting Group. [Note: the original badge captions have been changed.]

The kids are becoming raggedy and difficult to manage. The pressure is on in every class and they feel it. We teachers are cranky and quick to react. I secretly pray for a rainy June to help keep my classroom cool and make it easier for the students to stay on task. When the sun shines, they spend too long at the beach and come in the next day with sunburn and sunstroke. I keep the lights off and dole out wet, cool paper towels for the back of their necks and other sunburned bodied parts. The long hours of daylight can lead to drinking and driving or taking a lift home from a party in the car of an inexperienced driver. I worry about who might not make it home safely.

Screedbot June Survival

I thought I'd dedicate my next few blog entries to interactive educational games that can make review more engaging for students. My first pick is Russel Tarr's wonderful collection of Classtools. I have been looking for ways to create quick review activities for the new Science 10 program here in BC. There are several geography samples on the website that have sparked some creative ideas for me.

" allows you to create free educational games, activities and diagrams in a Flash! Host them on your own blog, website or intranet! No signup, no passwords, no charge!" Russel Tarr has created dozens of interactive activities that I think kids will find very cool. Each template can be saved as a stand alone HTML file or you can use the embed code to post games you've created on a class website, blog or wiki. Russel will store your files on his server indefinitely. Only those not used for a year are cleared out periodically.

To access a game template click on a link in the list on the right side of his home page. The question mark button (bottom right) will take you to a help page where you'll find an overview of the activity, lesson plan suggestions, and samples if any have been posted.

I think my favourites are: the Virtual Book,

Click here for full screen version

Diamond 9,

Click here for full screen version


Click here for full screen version

the Fishbone (I've linked the diagram to a how-to video for you),

and Arcade Game Generator. When students open one of these, they can choose any of the 5 game formats.

I have provided screen captures for all except the Flashcards. If you look at my next post in a couple of days, I'll be writing about a different website my students are using to build their comprehensive sets of flash cards for learning and reviewing terms and key ideas.

As you can see from these clips, I'm not a skilled gamer. I'm also new to using Blogger. Here's the link I used to figure out how to get an animated gif image to play in blogger. I made my banner in Screedbot.

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