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Categories: Authoring Tools and Games
In Summit Reflections, educators review tools that they have seen at an EdSurge Tech for Schools Summit. Summit Reflections can only be completed onsite at the event; reviewers are incentivized to leave reviews.
Teacher, School Type: Elementary School, High ELL Population, Low Income Population, Project Based School, College Prep School, 1:1 Devices
Apr 25, 2015

full starfull starfull starfull starfull star Advocate

Usage: I would use this product as an informal assessment or to reteach a skill/ content area. I would use this an independent practice time where students can play and explore. I would teach the content and then allow them to play on this website, probably on Thursday or Friday, once I feel like the students really understand the subject matter.

Strengths: Something I like that this product does really well is assess the students in a fun and engaging way. Students love play games and they probably will not realize that they are being assessed, learning, or practicing because of how fun this website is. It solves the problem of having to create games, because there are already several there for you. I also like how teachers have the option to create games. This is awesome because if I am teaching something very specific or related to a text, then this is perfect. It solves the problem of making the students feel like they are always being tested. It also allows them to have fun and learn!

Suggestions for Improvement: I honestly can't think of much I would changed. I really loved this website!
1. I love how teachers have the option to create games, but I think it would be great if the students also had that option. This will be fun and promote critical thinking. I think the students would love playing each others' games.
2. I would like more formal data and statistics on the students' performance, so I know which students are successful and which need more help.
3. I love how the search for games is easy, but I think the website can possibly be more organized in a visually appealing way because this will make it easier for the teacher.

Verdict: I would highly recommend it because these are games that the students can play on the computer, which is super fun, engaging, and exciting for them. I like the way the students have to click and drag and manipulate. This will also prepare them for Smarter Balanced in the sense that they are used to using various features on the computer.

Teacher, School Type: High School, Low Income Population
Apr 25, 2015

full starfull starfull starfull starfull star Advocate

Usage: I would use this product to introduce/review topics with my class. Brainrush is a site where students can play games to lean/review content in all areas. Students play the game until the computer thinks they really KNOW the material, so for some students the game may go quick because they know it already and for some it may take a while because they are still mastering the content.

Strengths: This product engages students, lets them have fun, and makes sure they are learning the content all at the same time. Brainrush allows teachers to assign games to the whole class and keep track real-time of their progress.

Suggestions for Improvement: I would ask the company to make the same game at varying levels of understanding so that students who already understand the concept could play a more advanced version to challenge themselves. I would also have them make partner/collaborative games so that students could work together to master a concept. And for teachers sake, I would love to see actual student responses, not just progress through the game.

Verdict: I would advocate for this product because it allows students to learn/review at their own pace. It is built in differentiation and personalization. The game keeps changing until it knows you really know the material. There are pre-made games, or teachers can create their own games.

Teacher, School Type: Elementary School
Apr 25, 2015

full starfull starfull starfull starfull star Advocate

Usage: I would use this product as supporting resorces for students. For example, students can choose a game that will help them practice a specific skill that they are either struggling in or want to advance in.

Strengths: What I love about Brainrush is that it has the ability for teachers to create their own games and share them to the public. I think it's a great way for studnets to learn as well as for teachers to connect to the community. Brainrush will help students who are stuggling in different areas become motivated and learn through play.

Suggestions for Improvement: I would love the webpage to be more fun and inviting. It would also be very nice for students to be able to create or flag games that they really like. This will help me create or find other games that are similiar. Student comments and feedback would also be of interest to my class. Having a page where they can comment or review the product would be beneficial to them. This would also be a good way to promote writing.

Verdict: I would recommend this product because it's a great visual support for visual learners. It's also stimulating and will boost up motivation. Being in the technology era, students will definitely be engaged and this product will work out great as a reward privelige. What a fun way of learning through playing games!

1st Grade Teacher, School Type: Elementary School, High ELL Population
Apr 25, 2015

full starfull starfull starfull starfull star Advocate

Usage: I would use this in my classroom as a way to find engaging games, audio, or visual to help my students grasp an understanding of different lessons that I am teaching in my classroom. I would also use this in my classroom as a free choice for students to choose as a reward for good behavior.

Strengths: This program is free for everyone. As a teacher it is always exciting to find programs that can benefit in the classroom. THere are many different topics avaiable for teachers to use. From just browsing for a while I was able to find many different videos that I could use in my classroom. You can also search videos by searching the standards that you are teaching.

Suggestions for Improvement: One way that I would change this product is to make it avaiable as an app on any device. RIght now you can only access this program through the website. It would be easier to have an app so I can search a video I am looking for and put it on for my students.

Verdict: I would recommend this because there are different videos, games, and audio avaibale for many different grade levels. There are playlists avaiable in the library with videos that you can use in your classroom.

Suzanne, Technology Librarian. School Type: High School, 1:1 Devices
Oct 18, 2014

full starfull starfull starfull starfull star Advocate

Usage: I would use this to allow student to reinforce information through learning games.

Strengths: This is such a great program. It's major strengths is that is changes for each student to adjust to their learning level and knowing that they have likely mastered that subject.

Suggestions for Improvement: Improvement would include to make the items embed-able. A teacher would likely not want to keep linking to another site but embed this within his/her own classroom management system. Another suggestion would be to link them to standards, specifically CCSS. Then searchable by standards. A final suggestion is for the games themselves: possibly include test prep. Not only ACT/SAT but the new CCSS-based items from Smarter-Balanced and PARCC. Do not require sign-in to view / play. I say this because often we cannot setup accounts for our youngest students (district and state policies). If we can just allwo them to play without a sign-in.

Verdict: Oh my gosh! How much I love this FREE product. I think that a teacher would feel confident that their student has learned (dare I say mastered) the subject matter by the end of the game.

Edwin, Educator. School Type: Middle School, High School, College Prep School
Sep 13, 2014

full starfull starfull starfull starfull star Advocate

Usage: I'd use brainrush for nearly everything! Especially to ensure students master concepts after a lesson or as an alternative to a lab when our lab is unavailable.

Strengths: Games are easy to play. Different game modes also ensure students master topics rather than just learn the game.

Suggestions for Improvement: More games (I know brainrush is growing though). Add a speaking/listening component for foreign language or ELL (much like duolingo). More game modes (not that there aren't enough but simpy to offer other options for students).

Verdict: Uses for many subjects. Also, the different mastery learning options ensure students learn and master concepts by playing games that use different styles.

Marsha, Teacher. School Type: Elementary School, Low Income Population
Oct 18, 2014

full starfull starfull starfull starfull star Advocate

Usage: I would use it to create games that would help my students learn key CCSS concepts.

Strengths: This product solves the problem of student engagement. It also helps solve the problem of individualizing instruction.

Suggestions for Improvement: 1. Provide more programs for younger students. 2. Provide pre- and post- assessments. 3. Create a method for teachers to share what they customize.

Verdict: This program should help our students perform better on the MAP test and the other state- and district-wide assessments, especially those tied to financing.

Seth, Director. School Type: Elementary School, Middle School, High ELL Population, 1:1 Devices, Blended Learning
Apr 25, 2015

full starfull starfull starfull starfull star Advocate

Usage: We would use this to make original games deriving from our vocabulary lists.

Strengths: The best element is the customizability and the ease of use.

Suggestions for Improvement: We talked to them about providing an API for a new product we are developing. They quoted $25k for an app... I know that's a good price but would love if it were even cheaper!

Verdict: We work with an original curriculum and this is a way to extend that curriculum that retains that originality.

Ariel, Blended Learning Ta. School Type: Elementary School, High ELL Population, Low Income Population, Blended Learning
Sep 13, 2014

full starfull starfull starfull starno star Advocate

Usage: In my specific environment where we have a 2:1 ratio of laptops to students and laptops stay at my elementary school, I would use BrainRush both as an incentive on Fridays in Math and ELA program with games assigned by the teacher. I'd also use the create games function to have students who finish the programs we use to start developing their own games to show how much they understand it. Then other kids could play those games created by their peers.

Strengths: This product has simple games that are easy for students to understand. They use images that students recognize such as soccer balls. It solves the problem of getting quick practice done that students get bored with. It also gives rapid feedback as does experiential learning in real life.

Suggestions for Improvement: The interface is a bit complex with a lot to click. It could be simpler for students. It would be nice to have more game coding options for students to pick from in creation. The choices are broad. Developing more games and going deeper could be helpful.

Verdict: I would recommend it because it gives students a chance to create using technology, something they will need to do in the future. They will have to solve problems and be the teacher so they will have more mastery over the material. I also like that it has very basic programming so that it is accessible to students.

Teacher, School Type: Middle School, High ELL Population, Low Income Population, Project Based School, College Prep School, 1:1 Devices, Blended Learning
Apr 25, 2015

full starfull starfull starfull starno star Advocate

Usage: I would use this either as a pre-assessment or an enrichment activity. It can take students varying amount of time, so I don't think I could use it as a daily exit ticket. However, it could be extremely useful in motivating students to stay engaged in a lesson if you use it as a reward for fast-finishers of an exit ticket.

Strengths: This product turns assessments into an adaptable game, which holds students accountable for mastery. It also allows teachers to differentiate practice for students.

Suggestions for Improvement: I think the user interface isn't extremely appealing and I could see students growing bored with it if used too frequently. Also, students can only monitor their own progress instead of competing against their class. Lastly, this product would feel more game-like if students got points for their activities.

Verdict: I love that you can choose from an activity database or that you can make your own customized game. It seems like it would be more engaging than traditional assessments and it adapts to the student. It holds students accountable for mastering content and gives them plenty of "at-bats."

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