Wednesday, July 31, 2013

7 Ways to Tear Down Your Classroom Walls This Year! {Around the World Wednesday}

What will you do this school year to help your students connect to others outside the classroom, outside your school, your community, even outside your country?  With a little planning, you can virtually tear down your classroom walls and allow your students to flourish!

During the school year, this is where I share ideas and projects for your Social Studies class.  As a new school year looms near and I spend time thinking about exactly what I will share with you in these Wednesday posts, I decided to offer up a challenge to you.

No matter what age you teach, what content you teach, or in what type of school you teach, you can do at least one thing to connect your classroom to another.

Again, this can be within your own school, another school in your district or county, a school in a different state or country, maybe even a school one a totally different continent!

There are many ways to tear down a classroom wall.  Start small and think big for the future!

Here are just a few...

1.  Connect with another classroom through a closed Facebook group.  Maybe students can discuss a book or poem they are reading.

2.  Set up a Twitter account just for a certain project your students are working on.  Find another teacher willing to do the same and go from there.  What if students studied weather in a climate completely unlike their own through tweets?

3.  Create an Instagram account for your classroom.  Follow other teachers that have a similar interest/content area.  Let's say your students are studying a particular region, anywhere in the world.  If you can hook up with a teacher in that region, students could post pictures of all-things related to Alaska, for example.  Houses, clothing, food, culture, animals...the possibilities are endless!

4.  Of course, there's always Skype.  With this one, however, you have to be more careful about time zones.  If you can work that out, students could even teach each other how to do math problems or collect data from each other for data and probability tasks.

5.  Pen pals, the old-fashioned handwritten kind, are still around.  You can have individual pen pals for each student or just have a group pen pal from one classroom to another.

6.  If you have a bit more time to spend, classroom blogs are an excellent way to share and find information from all around the world!  For those who teach writing, this might even be a way to get more of your students interested in the content.

7.  There are many other forms of technology, websites, and apps that can effectively knock down a wall or two.  In fact, this has piqued my interest so much that I'll be doing a series on Tech Tip Tuesdays about lots of other ways to accept this challenge.  Stay tuned each week as I present these to you.

As I said earlier, you can start small....very small and work with a teacher down the hall if need be.  However, if you put on your thinking cap and use all your resources, I bet you can find a teacher much farther away who would love to join forces with you.

Since we live in a global society and our world truly does seem to get smaller and smaller, this is an awesome way to bring some real-world, authentic learning into your classroom.  Also, our students are so technologically advanced, these ideas are sure to grab their interest.  You may want to fight it tooth and nail, but technology is here to stay.  The more we can use it to our advantage and create real learning situations, the better.

So, are you up for the challenge?

I would LOVE to hear from you about some of the ways you are already incorporating global learning, with or without the use of technology, into your classroom.  

How are you tearing down walls?

Enjoy :)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Math Monday ~ Pi and The Lost Function {with a giveaway for you}

Math Monday here on Making It As A Middle School Teacher got a little facelift.  Remember this?

I felt as though I needed something more inclusive for those weeks I want to share non-game related math ideas.  Yes, I have some of those, too.  Believe it or not.

However, this week is ALL about a great new 3-D math adventure game that I was recently introduced to.  You are going to LOVE it!  Stayed tuned till the end for the giveaway information.

So here it is!  Pi and The Lost Function from AT&LT Games!

Pi and The Lost Function is a 3-D algebra readiness adventure game that intervenes when it detects students are struggling with specific math skills.

I absolutely love the fact that this is geared towards the students we teach!  It's not a program that has been retrofitted in an attempt to appeal to middle schoolers.  Even the graphics and the characters are age appropriate and will be easy for adolescents to identify with!

When you look at the press release a little further down in this post, you'll recognize some of the top-notch writers on this project.  How cool is that?

But writing is where the story ends, unfortunately.  That's where you come in!  AT&LT Games is looking to add voice-over to the high quality video images.  You'll hear about the educational advantages to that in just a bit.

Here's a video to help explain it all.

Just to recap...

With your help, we can reach students with special needs by adding voice over to:
  • Increase student understanding
  • Combine verbal and visual information
  • Increase student motivation 
  • Help struggling readers 
  • Improve language skills
  • Engage all students 

Be sure to read all the way to the end to see lots of awesome screenshots from Pi and The Lost Function.  They make me want to play NOW!  You'll also see several quotes from teachers who have already had a chance to use the program.

If you are able to contribute, even at the $1 minimum level, you will be helping out a wonderful cause! We all want students to be more engaged, right?  Many of the levels even include a free download of the game, t-shirts, and more!

We also want our students to have fun while learning.

Wesley enjoys the humorous storyline while playing The Lost Function. The game’s intriguing storyline is written by Lee Sheldon (writer for Star Trek: The Next Generation, Charlie’s Angels, and Cagney and Lacey) and two-time Telly Award winner and Emmy winner, Graham Sheldon.

Another high mark for this program is that students aren't just left to "play" at their computer station.  Pi and The Lost Function allows teachers and tutors to assist students when needed.

Math Tutor, Ellen Clay, assists a student with graphing on the coordinate plane as he plays The Lost Function. Teachers and tutors often use The Lost Function as a supplemental classroom tool that goes along with their instruction.

Lastly, students will be presented with real-world, authentic math situations to solve as they take on the role of the main character, Pi.

Wesley encounters a character with a real-life mathematical problem. She must help Troy, the veterinarian, with his dilemma.

Take a look at the Press Release.  


Virginia Beach, Virginia – July 30, 2013 – ATLT Games, creator of the math educational game Pi and The Lost Function, has started a Kickstarter campaign to add voice acting to its currently text-based storyline to help learners with special needs. The campaign begins on July 29 and ends on August 27.
Pi and The Lost Function is a 3-D algebra readiness adventure game that intervenes when it detects students are struggling with specific math skills. Currently, the storyline is text-based, and ATLT Games would like to add voice acting to the 3-D characters to assist learners with disabilities.
To add voice over technology, the Kickstarter campaign will help raise the $41,223 needed for the technology addition. Kickstarter is an online funding platform that has funded many creative endeavors by allowing supporters and fans to financially back projects before the creation of the product, promising its investors rewards of varying levels. To support the Pi and The Lost Function Kickstarter campaign, visit
“The typical classroom includes general education students as well as students with special needs…the addition of voice over would truly make it a more differentiated experience and make the game more accessible to a variety of students.”- John Merritt, Special Education Inclusion Teacher
The addition of voice over will help students with vision impairments, emotional/behavior disorders, dyslexia, autism, ADD/ADHD, struggling readers, and English as a second language (ESL/ELL).
The game’s intriguing storyline is written by Lee Sheldon (writer for Star Trek: The Next Generation, Charlie’s Angels, and Cagney and Lacey) and two-time Telly Award winner and Emmy winner, Graham Sheldon.

About ATLT Games:
Advanced Training & Learning Technology (ATLT Games), LLC was started in 2010 with a mission to develop innovative educational technologies. Our current line of products enhances and improves student performance by combining the power of gaming technology with subject matter content that is aligned with the Common Core State Standards. Our educational games provide students with various learning modalities and include instructional support tools that reduce workload for professional educators and allow for better classroom differentiation.

Primary Contact:
Lauren Franza
Educational Designer

If you'd like to keep up with AT&LT Games and Pi and The Lost Function, you can find them on Facebook and Twitter.  

Now for the giveaway!

AT&LT Games has graciously provided me with a Validation Key Package which includes a license for the game download and single student use to pass along to one of my readers.

Could it be you???

Entering it super easy.

The contest will run through midnight on Wednesday, August 7th.  I will post the winner here.  You will have 3 days to contact me with your e-mail address or I will select another winner.

Thanks and good luck!  Also, please spread the word to your friends who would be interested in winning the giveaway or in finding out more information about this program.

a Rafflecopter giveaway