S'Cool Tools, Teacher Voice Edition: Raz-Kids, Big Universe, CodeSpell


This week in S’Cool Tools, we again share the real experiences of three teachers using three different tools, written in their own words. 

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Written by Hilary, a digital literacy specialist at a district in Minnesota.

EdSurge: What was the problem in your classroom or school that you were trying to solve when you implemented Raz-Kids?

Hilary: Our 4th grade team was looking for differentiated, high interest reading materials for their RTI groups.

Describe how you used the product

The teachers requested funds from the PTO to purchase four classroom subscriptions. Students have been placed into their classrooms on Raz-Kkids, and now that the initial testing to determine reading levels is done, teachers are able to assign books and customize assignments for their students.

What worked and what didn’t?

Raz-Kids is great because plenty of differentiate resources are at the touch of a button. Students are motivated to work on devices. The cost is the only potential drawback I see for teachers using this product

Written by Julie, a 2nd grade teacher at an elementary magnet school in Illinois. Julie’s school is a 1:1 device school and has high populations of ELL and low income students.

EdSurge: What was the problem in your classroom or school that you were trying to solve when you implemented Big Universe?

Julie: I wanted my students to experience how to use e-books. I also felt the need to have the option to quiz the students in various areas, of my choosing, after they read the book.

Describe how you used the product:

Each week I choose two books for the students to read and then complete the quizzes. The students are also asked to choose two books just to read on their own and place on their personal bookshelf

What worked and what didn’t?

What I liked very much is that Big Universe organizes their books by genre, which helps the students search for books they may be interested in.

Written by Pat, a high school computer science teacher from Montana.

EdSurge: What was the problem in your classroom or school that you were trying to solve when you implemented CodeSpell?

Pat: Get more students interested to try programming by incorporating gaming into the curriculum.

Describe how you used the product: 

We used CodeSpells as a programming environment to teach students coding in an easy and stress-free environment. This was done by connecting students through one of their most common past-times, video games. CodeSpells uses a character that is able to use spells to manipulate his environment. Students programed these spells through block coding, which allowed the students to choose various functions to help bend their gameplay into something they could create through code. This was a great introductory coding system for students who have little programming experience. This also benefited the more experienced coders, who were be able to create more complex programs.

What worked and what didn’t?

Generating interest in coding via CodeSpells worked very well, and piqued their interest in the discipline. Going through Steam through a public school network and proxy can be difficult.

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