It is back to school and you must have your sure-fire ways of assessing students’ skill levels in week 1, so you can structure your teaching accordingly.
I have a much smaller version of the same problem. My 6 year old son is back to school in Grade 2 the end of the month. I wanted to see what areas he needed some preparation before heading back to school after this long summer break. So, I turned to Murky Reef.
I setup a new profile and had him play a few games. He loves the iPad and he hadn’t played Murky Reef in a while. So, he simply loved this exercise.
Murky Reef is cross-curricular and my son ended up playing about 10 games in one session. Through his play and the app’s capability to track & report answers/scores, I got a sense of his ability level across Math, reading and language. Now, I know what areas I will need him to focus on.
This incident, led me to write this post. You may have some sense of the ability level of each student, but wouldn’t it be great if you could get some hard data on this? This data can help drive your efforts in understanding the kind of differentiated instruction you will need in your classroom this year.
I think an app like Murky Reef is really well-suited for this purpose. Setup student profiles and have the kids play various games. The report will tell you how well each kid is handling arithmetic, reading comprehension, spelling, sentence construction etc. This will help you structure and focus your efforts until you settle in and get to know more about each kid.
Use Murky Reef Lite for free. This is cross-curricular in itself. If it works well, then try the paid version with a lot more games in it.
Best wishes for a new school year!
Murky Reef had support for tracking scores and progress of 4 players. This works well in a home environment. It also works well in classrooms where there is an iPad available for every 4 students in the class.
This seldom is the case right now. Most schools are just starting to implement their iPad programs with few iPads per classroom. We have been receiving emails from teachers requesting support for additional profiles.
Murky Reef has been popular in the school community and we want to support its usefulness in schools in any way we can. Hence, we are happy to announce that the latest update of the app has support for 10 player profiles at no additional cost. You can also rename and delete player profiles. We hope that this alleviates some of the issues that teachers have been facing.
Here is a screenshot of the updated profile interface to configure players:
Murky Reef earns a new badge!
I had submitted Murky Reef for EdTech Digest awards in Feb after I saw a call for entries on an educational blog. I was happy with the reviews it had received and wanted to see how awards committees would view it. There were many categories under which I could enter, but I picked one that I thought was most appropriate - mobile apps category.
This week I heard that Murky Reef was in the list of finalists. Yay! The finalists list has some top, big players in the mobile education space. Frolyc is a “micro-dwarf” compared to the scale at which these players operate. So, it was absolutely a stunning validation of the idea and the implementation. The winners were announced a couple of days later. Brain Pop won in that category. Have to say that I am utterly thrilled at Murky Reef’s performance in these awards!
Click here to see the list of finalists & winners for 2012.
Here is the description of Murky Reef that we submitted to EdTech Digest with our entry:
Murky Reef - is an iPad app that introduces children ages 5-8 years of age, to the science of coral reefs, reef creatures, their interactions, sharks and the ocean. The app blend interactions in the ocean into a game with cross-curricular activities.
Design principles behind Murky Reef
1. Engaging thematic learning with contextual game play
Children learn about coral reef and its creatures and apply these concepts in game play.
2. Bring 21st century multi-media learning into fruition
At Frolyc, we believe that tablets like the iPad provide the ideal medium to bring 21st century multi-media learning to fruition. To this end, the material in the app is presented using informational text, audio, video and interactive graphics. Learning is re-inforced through interactive contextual game play.
3. Question based cross-curricular activities
We believe that children learn best through questioning. Carefully structured questioning expands their ability to perceive and process information. We also believe that cross-curricular learning is essential to make connections and derive inferences.
4. Design activities to address one of the levels of Bloom’s taxonomy of learning.
Most of the activities require children to comprehend, apply and analyze data to answer the question. For example, children are asked to make a number greater than or less than a given number. They apply their knowledge of place and positional value of numbers while realizing that there can be many correct answers to this question.
5. Make the app suitable for learners of all levels in an age bracket.
Though our major focus is on applying learning, we understand that children develop cognitive abilities at different levels. Hence the app has many games that allow children to practice basic Math or Language skills before applying these skills.
While developing Murky Reef, we did usability studies with kids in our local elementary schools. These were kids with cognitive levels that are considered to be in the normal range.
After release of the app, I got feedback from a couple of users that their children with special needs really liked the app. So, when there was a post on Technology in Special Education that said there were no apps catering to the needs of older kids with developmental delay and special needs, we decided to have the folks give Murky Reef a try.
We gave out a few promo codes to parents & teachers with expertise in special needs as well as through Technology in Special Ed. Their feedback was extremely positive. Barring a few enhancements requests, the feedback told us that Murky Reef is indeed a great app for older kids (10 years and above) with academic cognition levels in the Grade 1-5 range.
Here are some specific comments:
Valerie M said of Murky Reef: “My daughter is severely motor impaired but bright; she liked it because it was simple, yet conveyed a lot of information. The game feature was a reward for her more than a game, but for other kids,the game can reinforce the lessons learned. 2. It can be used as a differentiated learning tool in a mixed classroom by playing the stories over and over, simple identification and motor planning as well as finger isolation. 3. being able to change time limits and target sizes would help kids with motor delays and gross motor deficiencies to improve their motor skills. My daughter played it hand over hand the first couple of times with me and then hand under hand so she could direct me to her answers since she cannot finger isolate. In a perfect world, you could work with an app developer to make it switch accessible, but that is asking a ton.”
A parent of children with special needs reviewed the app here.
We would love for Murky Reef to be useful to the special needs community. You can test its applicability using the free version of the app: http://bit.ly/AESIEh
If you are in a special-needs school environment and want to try the full version, please contact us for promo codes. If we have enough to share, we certainly will.
Please leave your comments or feedback on this post.