We looked into Blackboard,
Moodle, PowerSchool and the
rest. They are great for admin-
istratio, not for the middle
school math classroom.
Build your own assignments,
map directly to the Common
Core State Standards.
It's about as simple as it gets.
Send any type of assignment to
your students, and have them
upload a video, image or test in
We've all heard of great
projects created by other teach
ers; now they can be shared
around the world.
Elegance in simplicity. We developed over a half a dozen LMS systems for our testing systems, multi-player games and quize modules. And then, we did what you have to do when you realize something too important to improve the
design. We started over. Through a complete re-design, the assignment builder, assign/review, story project tool and games all run on the same system.
It's a fairly big idea to suggest that teachers, who are already over-worked and overwhelmed, could develop their own curriculum directly with the Common Core. But for 20% of the school year, that's exactly what we recommend. And what's amazing is that it makes a teacher more effective and my even allow them more time.
In our research, we found the CCSS to be the most focused, coherent standards in the world. The standards are better organized than Singapore Math and more focused than Finland's. But when teachers work with "published only" curriculum, instead of working with the standards directly, there is typically a broader interpretation, which in turn requires additional work to "cover all of the content."
By developing one-fifth of the curriculum themselves, teachers are able to identify holes specific to their own classes as they relate to the standards. And, there is some evidence that teachers are more efficient at filling these gaps because they are likely to create larger "multiple standard lessons," which have a greater reach across the domains, all the while maintaining the depth of learning intended in the Common Core.
The challenge of course, is identifying which standards are associated with which lessons, and keeping track of it all. The tool to use? Our assignment builder makes it easy to create an assignment and attach any type of document, slide-show, or video and directly map to the CCSS. The best part is the tool allows teachers to share "standards-based" projects across a world-wide network.
We built our assign and review system with a focus on student revision. Having students upload a digital image of their written work makes life much easier for the teacher to manage multiple drafts, encouraging the student to take their work a step further.
Lesson sharing is one of the most difficult challenges in teaching. Part of the problem is that it is truly hard to understand how a teacher taught a lesson from looking at a planning document. And it's equally challenging to re-build assignments and apply them to your own students.
The Math Story Project Tool is our most ambitious project. World-wide sharing of lessons, searchable by standards of topic, each with it's own trailer video and in-classroom footage of the teacher and their methodologies. And the assignments? Just copy the project, and send one to your students. The next time they log in, they will see it with a red indicator badge.
At current we have 8 projects across 4 grades built by teachers that account for 28 days of the best curriculum the world has to offer, and more are being built all the time. Have an incredible idea? Join us for our 3-day Math Story Project professional development to work with our team to bring it to life.
A true story from a public middle school in an early trial of Empires...
"A student broke his arm on the playground —I don't mean a small break—it was a compound fracture. It was just kind of hanging there, so we had him call his parents to meet him at the hospital and he got on the phone...I was standing there and he said, 'Can you wait to meet me at 10AM...after math class'?"
– Sean McLean, 7th Grade Math Teacher
It took us almost exactly ten years to build Empires since our first in-class multi-player math game. That's about 10,000 hours, or the same amount of time author Malcom Gladwell suggest is reasonable to gain expertise in a particular area of work. Indeed.
Set in the dawn of civilization, students transform into an ancient Mesopotamian "ruler" and manage the problems of their empire, such as how wide to build their granary, or the distance to trade with neighboring empires. But don't let the simplicity of the questions deceive the multi-step math challenges they represent.
The social network takes on new meaning, as the comprehensive concepts of 7th grade math, and bridge concepts for 6th and 8th grade are woven into this game changing curriculum.
In every culture of the world, there is some sort of passage that marks a transition from adolescence to adulthood. The archetypal story that is created from the experience is designed to be so important it shapes the future of the child. We built a math game on that concept.
Reviewed directly by the lead author of the Common Core, Jason Zimba, the game is focused on proportional relationships, considered the lynchpin to successful learning of mathematics throughout middle school.
Built on an older technology (Flash) 5 years ago, and being retooled for the 2014-2015 year on an HTML5 canvas, Ko's Journey remains one of the most advanced games on the market. We recommend this 12-hour curriculum right at the start of 6th grade to mark the beginning of their journey into middle school math.