End of Year Projects - Part II
May 2, 2017
Teach Measurement with Minecraft
Young learners are already engaged with Minecraft. But did you know that you can teach measurement with it? A Minecraft block has set dimensions. With that in mind, you can have students build a real structure inside its virtual world, figuring out how a real life measurement adapts to virtual block measurement in Minecraft. For more ideas, you may want to read this introductory activity. Then move up to teaching perimeter and area. If you are in a school-based program designed to halt summer slide, then consider getting Minecraft: Education Edition. Otherwise, the Windows 10 version or Pocket Edition of Minecraft will suffice.
Cooking with Video
Cooking can be an excellent way to introduce students to math concepts at home (or school). Dina O’Brien, math specialist and instructional coach, suggests several approaches, one of which is shown below:
"Imagine cooking dinner and having to redo the menu for five more guests and then discussing the recipe and how to double it. You can have your child sketch out the seating arrangement for dinner as well."
One approach you can take involves having your child make their thinking visible as they prepare a meal. Then publish the video online via YouTube. Use an app like Toontastic, Shadow Puppet Edu, or YouTube Capture to create the video, whether as a story or a straight recording. Another possibility involves having students refresh and “upgrade” recipe cards using the Canva app.
Finding Shapes in the World
While the tips above involved math applications, you can access a variety of reading apps featuring free content (e.g. OpeneBooks), whether audio books (e.g. Tales2Go) or text. And, eReaders are inexpensive and available (e.g. BiblioTech), depending on your locale. Check out these blog entries focused on reading and ebooks:
Listening Yields Same Results as Reading
“Listeners and readers retain about equal understanding of the passages they’ve consumed,” says Melissa Dahl, citing research in this New York Magazine article, which is another key point for listening to audio books as well as reading them. Listening to audio books has benefits for students that go beyond simply reading text on the printed page. Combining the two experiences yields dividends, but don’t sell audio books short. Here are some research-based benefits of audio over text reading:
- Fiction (which is great for second language learners) read aloud encourages your brain to picture the scenes.
- Listening to audio books enhances listening skills as ears strain for the next word.
- Audio book “reading” can be done on the go, which may match the needs of certain busy people in our lives.
Not convinced about the impact of listening to audio books over reading print? You may want to check out this recent study: Two notable findings are that students using Tales2go attained 58% of the annual expected gain in reading achievement in just 10 weeks, putting them three months ahead of control students. Plus, the study group outperformed the control group across all measures, by three times in reading comprehension, nearly seven times in second-grade vocabulary, and nearly four times in reading motivation. These increases came after students listened for twenty minutes three times per week in the afternoon program at school, and an additional two twenty-minute sessions at home.