I’ve just begun using EduRoo in my classroom. It’s a new online resource for Australian (at present) primary school teachers and it currently is in beta.
First and foremost, I should advise of my bias here. EduRoo is primarily the creation of my interactive developer husband with a lot of input from me, my husband’s sister and her now husband (the three of us are all primary school teachers with a combined total of over 22 years experience).
A little context
My husband has a background in game development, having been responsible for the build of a world first game on MSN messenger centred around the old favourite Battleships game. Still being a child at heart – and an avid gamer to this day – he recognises how games capture children of this age in such a strong way.
My husband also recognised the limits of many of the current systems already available for teachers to use today. All of these had pre-made and non-customisable games. He could tell that we needed – and wanted – more control over the content that was in these games. Even if we didn’t really realise it yet!
Thus EduRoo was born over countless discussions.
He, rather ingeniously I have to say, has worked out a way for teachers to provide interactive and engaging games and activities for our students that has exactly the content we want to teach. No longer do I have to be content with an interactive memory game with only the sight words the developer thought my students need. Now I can give my students the exact words I know they need.
Now in beta, I find myself able to use many of the systems and games that I have spent hours upon hours discussing with my husband – with many more games in development. I teach Preps (5 year olds) and this has proved an interesting test to the simplicity of the system.
How I’ve used it so far
EduRoo was sent live on the 25th of June 2012 to absolutely no fan fare at all. Just what we wanted actually – a gently, gently approach to help get all the bugs ironed out. Five weeks later and the rest of this blog post sets out how I’ve used the system to date.
Sentence Show is a versatile tool to use on interactive whiteboards that displays sentences. I’ve used it in a couple of ways so far.
- On the first day of Term 3 I set up a series of sentences to prompt activities for the whole morning block.
- This week I put in a few sentences from a story we had read throughout the week. By turning on the drawing overlay I asked my students to come up and circle any sight words they could identify from the now well known sentences.
This tool is an incredibly easy way to take a sentence the students know, bust it apart and have them put it back together. Inspired by the Sentence Making activity in the Reading to Learn program, I loved how my students were all very active in helping each other put the sentence in order again. A game version of this tool is coming where the students complete the same task but receive clues throughout to try and catch the mischievous master of disguise Wiggleston.
- I chose two sentences from a text we had studied to bust apart on my interactive whiteboard. I found this strategy very useful for ascertaining whether students, particularly for this age group, had a concept of words and the ordering of words within sentences when I used prompts that focused on reading for meaning or letter-sound relationships.
The latest game addition to the EduRoo Activity Library, I absolutely love what my husband has created. No where else will you find a word find generator that gives you as much control over the content and direction of the words as this one does! Apparently it actually is no where else – my husband looked extensively online for one.
My class loved this – which is saying something given they have only just learned how to complete word finds! Even with their limited experience, my students we all desperately trying to locate the words. Worked wonders to reinforce letter identification!
- I introduced the word find, using words from the story we had been reading. I turned on the drawing overlay tool that is turned on whenever a teacher opens a game or tool (very handy for the whiteboard).
- I supported the students in how to locate the words by giving them a few strategies to find words.
- I printed 5 copies of the word find, photocopied for Ss and handed them out – Ss quickly realised it was harder to cheat off other people now. The printable version created a great opportunity to assist individual students in developing strategies for locating words that matched their current understandings. Was a great informal assessment of some children’s letter identification competence too.
This is a mental maths based game that is highly customisable at all year levels. Using a range of the options provided, teachers can create the exact combination of sums their students need to practise.
- I have assigned this one student to test…he logged 3 results very quickly and enjoyed playing the game.
- I have heard good feedback from my sister-in-law who has trailed it with a number of grades and the student’s loved the space theme. Some have even logged in at home to continue playing the game outside of school hours!
While I admit my obvious bias in regards to EduRoo, I also must say that it has been a wonderful experience to actually use many of the games that I have had a hand in developing. I have used my experience in teaching, my knowledge of what students like and incorporated all the pedagogies that have become part of my daily practise into this product.
My wish is that other teachers can see how a system that is designed by a teacher for teachers can only be of benefit to our practise and to the learning experiences of those we spend so long worrying about and planning for – our students!