Online Learning Is Not Going Away : A New Resource for Math and Spelling in the Elementary Classroom
While using technology for education is not a new phenomenon, the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly shifted the view on educational technology from a want to a need. Teachers are being asked to provide educational and emotional support for students who are struggling to transition to new, unstable schedules. This change has teachers searching for online resources to engage students for the foreseeable future. There are numerous websites and forums for elementary teachers, but today I am going to examine one option that has recently surfaced–LoonyLearn.
LoonyLearn.com is a website with educational games designed for students in K-5th grade. Right now, the site has games for math and spelling, but the creators have plans for science and geography games in development.
This site provides games at different difficulty levels for each subject matter. For both math and spelling, there are games at “Easy”, “Normal”, and “Hard” difficulty levels. These levels refer tothe ease at which a student can play the game, not necessarily the questions themselves. Each level has at least three different games for a student to play. I enjoy this feature because students who are struggling can choose easier games while my high flyers can challenge themselves. It also allows students to have choice, while switching things up to hold engagement.
The games are colorful and honestly quite interesting. Students not only have to understand the subject matter they are learning, but also be able to navigate the game. Both the math and spelling have a game that is like Frogger, where students have to move a frog through traffic to get to the correct answer. This game was a staple in my childhood, so it is fun to see it’s educational use.
The way the free version of the site works is that students select a game, select a topic, then play. For example, a student selects “Whack-A-Math”, then “Adding 3 Numbers”, then hits “Play”. In the paid version of the site, the teacher assigns the topic and the level of game difficulty. Both versions allow you to select from the same curriculum topics.
In both versions of the site, students select the game they want to play. This gives students some autonomy in how they are interacting with the material. While this may lead to issues of students jumping from game to game without playing to mastery, students do enjoy having options.
LoonyLearn’s curriculum is entirely Common Core aligned. This is a huge advantage for when teachers need to target a specific standard or give evidence that they are teaching to the CCSS.
Their math curriculum has been mapped directly to the math CCSS from kindergarten to fifth grade. On their “Math Curriculum” page you can see a detailed description of how they adhere to the standards.
Additionally, their spelling curriculum is based on the Common Core ELA standards. Each spelling list is based on the CCSS and frequent vocabulary from the Texas Primary ReadingInventory (TPRI) and the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS). If you are curious about the types of questions students encounter while playing these games, or about the validity of their curriculum, they have their entire curriculum mapped out for anyone to see on their Math and Spelling Curriculum pages.
Unfortunately, LoonyLearn is in the beta stages of development, so there are some glitches that
have yet to be fixed. For example, as of right now, the voice that reads the math questions to
the students is automated, which can occasionally be difficult to understand for young kids. That
was my biggest concern when introducing this website to students.
Another thing to note is that while all the games and curriculum are free, in order to access certain site features, such as the teacher dashboard, you have to pay for a monthly or yearly subscription. Although, like I said, students can still play the games for free, you just won’t have access to student data or making assignments.
Other than these small things, the website is designed for easy use for young children, making it optimal for solo use at home.
Like I mentioned earlier, even when school buildings open back up, digital learning will still be a part of education. While I’d like to believe that teaching will go back to the way it was before, I am sure this will not be the case. Technology will become an even bigger aspect of education, and I would rather start implementing tools and strategies now that could come in handy later on. So I encourage you to examine EduTech resources closely, finding ones that your students will enjoy, because you may just be using them for years to come.