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15 Best Common Core-Based Apps for Kids

15 Best Common Core-Based Apps for Kids
Lots of apps claim to align with the Common Core, but many fail to live up to the level of the standards. Rather than testing out Common Core aligned apps on your own, we’ve found some of the top apps for you to try out in the classroom or at home. In order to make our list, apps had to encourage kids to think critically and work creatively to master the standards.

If you’re just looking for a way to keep track of all of the standards, a few apps stand out:

MasteryConnect takes the Common Core standards and organizes them by state. It also includes state standards for science and social studies. Find your state, download the free app, and always have your standards at your fingertips.
Common Core State Standards from Customizabooks provides a handy reference for the Common Core, along with the ability to add student rosters and take notes related to the standards.
Apps for Common Core helps you find more apps aligned to specific Common Core standards. Users add and help align apps, so the more people who use it, the more content it will contain.

English Language Arts

For English/Language Arts, apps should allow kids to think critically, analyze texts, and writing in a variety of ways. These apps help encourage high-quality ELA instruction based on the Common Core.

Question Builder teachers kids to make inferences and think critically while answering questions. Designed for younger kids, it uses simple pictures and questions to help kids start to learn about the question and answer procedure. It also works well for kids with special needs.
News-O-Matic brings informational texts into the classroom through daily news. Kids will learn about current events that interest them through articles that have been written just for them.
Toontastic, while pricey, is a high-quality app. Kids can create their own cartoons, allowing them to express themselves creatively and think critically when writing. Lesson plans and worksheets also help teachers align the content to the standards.

For English/Language Arts, apps should allow kids to think critically, analyze texts, and writing in a variety of ways.

Shake-a-Phrase builds kids grammar and writing skills in a fun way. Rather than using boring old sentences, the app uses silly sentences to help kids learn their parts of speech. It also suggests zany writing prompts to get them to think beyond the norm when writing.
World’s Worst Pet – Vocabulary combines an engaging story with vocabulary practice. Kids will see words in multiple contexts, explore synonyms and antonyms, and read kid-friendly definitions as they play the fun games.
Subtext gives teachers a way to share a variety of online texts with students. Since the Common Core standards involve reading a variety of texts, teachers can find relevant articles or websites and add notes or assignments to help guide students as they read.

Math

Common Core math apps should go beyond basic problem-solving. They should help kids look at problems from different angles and provide them with real-life problems to solve.

Virtual Manipulatives helps kids interact with fractions through virtual fraction bars. This free app gives kids and teachers a chance to write their own problems on a virtual whiteboard using the bars, rather than providing problems for them to use.
Splash Math offers Common Core –aligned math apps for each grade-level from kindergarten through 5th grade. These apps incorporate a variety of mini games that kids play as they build up their basic math skills. While not incredibly unique, the games are a lot of fun for kids and the app also offers progress-tracking.
Bugs and Buttons is designed for younger kids and focuses on teaching basic math skills. Kids will learn to think creatively as they play the fun games. They’ll also subtly learn about numbers, patterns, shapes, and other basic math concepts at the same time.

Common Core math apps should go beyond basic problem-solving. They should help kids look at problems from different angles and provide them with real-life problems to solve..

DragonBox Algebra 5+ bills itself as the game that secretly teaches algebra. As kids solve the puzzles, they learn the basics of addition, subtraction, and multiplication. The game teaches critical thinking and creative problem-solving. DragonBox Alegebra 12+ uses the same system as DragonBox Algebra 5+, but includes more advanced math skills to help kids in middle and high school build their skills.
Crackers and Goo provides kids with a unique and fun way to learn about math patterns. The game is designed to be played by kids in kindergarten through fifth grade and beyond, with different levels in the game corresponding with different grade levels. The game builds critical thinking and mental math skills.
MathBoard gives kids a way to solve math problems by actually writing out the answer rather than just having them select the correct answer. The app is also designed to teach, outlining the steps they need to take to solve a particular problem. Student profiles allow parents and teacher to track progress of multiple users.

These apps offer creative ways to help you incorporate the Common Core State Standards in your classroom. Do you have any favorite Common Core apps? If so, share them in the comments so other teachers and parents can check them out!

Top 10 Ways to Teach the Common Core ELA Standards

10 Ways to Teach the Common Core ELA Standards
Bringing the Common Core State Standards for ELA into the classroom may seem like a challenge. With the new shifts in ELA instruction and a wealth of standards, it’s hard to know where to begin. While they look intimidating, the Common Core ELA standards simply promote a comprehensive approach to ELA, focusing on the skills students need to be ready for college and their future careers. Keeping this focus in mind and incorporating a few key elements can make teaching the Common Core ELA standards much easier.

#1 Introduce Informational Texts

One of the biggest elements of the Common Core ELA standards is the focus on informational texts. While literature still plays a key role, kids need to learn to read texts with more technical vocabulary, analyze arguments, and pay attention to key text features such as charts and tables. When reading these informational texts, kids can also focus on key reading strategies, such as analyzing cause and effect relationships, finding the main idea, and comparing and contrasting ideas within and between texts.

#2 Introduce New Formats

Along with introducing informational texts, teachers should introduce new text formats. This includes showing kids the movie version of a book they’re reading or even using movies as a teaching tool. It also includes incorporating newspapers, advertisements, and other text types to help kids learn in different ways. Websites such as LearnZillion provide videos to help students learn and teachers can also search for interactive websites on the subjects they want to teach to help students see the information in new ways.

#3 Bring in Modern Texts

While teachers need to bring in new text formats, they also need to move to teaching more modern texts. The Common Core has a place for teaching traditional literature, but kids also need to see how writing has changed over time and read texts that deal with more current issues. This includes some of the latest children’s books and young adult literature. To find books, teachers can look to resources such YALSA’s book awards and selected book lists and the latest Caldecott and Newberry Medal winners.

#4 Compare Texts

As students read a variety of texts, teachers should encourage kids to read texts with similar themes or topics, both literary and informational texts. They can then compare and contrast how those texts deal with their specific themes and topics. At lower grade levels, teachers can take a traditional fairy tale and have kids compare and contrast different versions. At higher grade levels, teachers can introduce two passages on the same topic and have kids compare and contrast the point of view or author’s approach to the topic.

#5 Connect to Other Subjects

In the ELA classroom, teachers should also pay attention to what kids are learning in other areas. By connecting other subjects to ELA, kids can start to see the importance reading and writing play in nearly all subject areas. They can also start to develop the skills to help them read and analyze subject-specific texts, thereby improving their performance. Many of Help Teaching’s reading strategy worksheets focus on subjects such as science and social studies, but teachers should not limit themselves to traditional reading passages or worksheets. They can also bring in charts and tables and take the time to review them with kids or even solve a set of math word problems, focusing on helping kids recognize the vocabulary they’ll find in traditional problems.

#6 Focus on Vocabulary

In fact, the Common Core ELA standards place a greater emphasis on vocabulary, especially domain-specific vocabulary than most previous ELA standards. While teachers may still want to incorporate spelling and vocabulary tests into the curriculum, the words they choose should tie directly to the texts kids are reading or the subjects they are talking about. Teachers can find a wealth of vocabulary words related to science, social studies, math, and other key subjects in Help Teaching’s collection of vocabulary questions and use those questions to create their own vocabulary worksheets for students or get started with some of Help Teaching’s subject-specific free vocabulary worksheets.

#7 Change the Way You Teach Grammar

The way teachers teach grammar also has to change. Instead of simply diagramming sentences and filling in the blank, kids should move to analyzing how certain elements of grammar are used within a text and to actually putting those elements of grammar to use in their own writing. At the younger grade levels, this will still include a lot of simple grammar activities, but at higher grade levels, grammar instruction should be more complex. For example, instead of simply identifying adjectives, kids can analyze the degrees of meaning in adjectives and determine whether the correct word was used.

#8 Encourage Analysis

In everything they do, teachers should encourage analysis. This includes analyzing the author’s word choice and determining how the words help shape the meaning of a texts. It includes comparing and contrasting within texts, making inferences and drawing conclusions as they read texts, and determining the main idea and theme of a text. Instead of simply saying “what does this say?” kids should be asking “how does it say it?” “why does it say it that way?” and “how does this compare to or differ from other things I’ve read and heard?”

#9 Conduct Research

As kids start to analyze and ask questions about texts, they start to come up with ideas for mini research projects. Instead of providing kids with the answers, teachers should encourage kids to look the answers up themselves. As they conduct research, kids will learn to read a variety of different texts and learn to make meaning from those texts.

#10 Get Kids to Write

After conducting research, kids can write about what they’ve learned. They can also write essays, short stories, poems, and other traditional texts. However, the Common Core ELA standards encourage kids to write more than just the traditional types of texts. They should write in journals and write as they answer open-ended questions on exams. They should write letters, speeches, advertisements, experiment summaries, and a wide variety of texts that help them get used to different types of writing and express their thinking using the written word.

When teachers incorporate these 10 different elements, the Common Core ELA Standards will become less intimidating for both kids and teachers. Kids will also get the opportunity to think more critically about what they’re reading and gain skills to help them in college and their future careers. Many of Help Teaching’s ELA worksheets support the Common Core State Standards, but we know there are other resources out there as well. What are some of your favorite resources or strategies to help bring some of the elements above into the classroom?

Supporting Common Core Math Standards with Images

Supporting Common Core Math Standards with Images
Math is an inherently visual subject. Would you ask a first grade student to describe the properties of a triangle, but not allow her to draw one? Test a geometry student’s understanding of the relationship between parallel lines and transversals, but provide no visual model for the question? Ask an algebra student to solve a quadratic equation, but never have him plot one on a graph? Math questions with graphics allow students to comprehend mathematical concepts more quickly and more completely than those without images.

Help Teaching maintains a database of hundreds of graphics that directly support Common Core math standards. So whether you are introducing kindergartners to counting or high school students to the Law of Sines, here are some suggestions on how to incorporate images into your standards aligned math questions or worksheets.

Fraction Visual Fraction Models support a range of grade one to six standards in the Geometry, Numbers & Operations – Fractions, and Number System domains. Students can develop an understanding of equal shares and fraction equivalence by comparing shaded models while older students can use models to hone critical thinking skills by solving real world problems.
1000 Block Base Ten Blocks provide a visual representation of place value and support Number & Operations in Base Ten domain standards for kindergarten through grade five. Base ten blocks can be used to represent ones, tens, hundreds, and thousands and build up to illustrating multi-digit arithmetic. Combine blocks with pictographs and their use can be extended to include Counting & Cardinality standards by having students use them to learn number names and count sequences.
Graph X and Y Grids and Graphs are mathematical staples when it comes to problem solving, so it comes as no surprise that the coordinate plane is mentioned across domains for middle and high school Common Core standards. For example, fifth graders can use Cartesian planes to learn to graph and locate coordinate pairs, directly supporting geometry standards while high school algebra students are expected to create and graph equations in two or more variables.
Circle Circle and Polygon diagrams effectively illustrate geometry concepts across all grade levels. Beginning with learning to name and identify attributes of shapes in kindergarten to understanding circle terminology in high-school geometry, the inclusion of shape graphics in geometry questions is essential to improving student comprehension of Common Core standards.
Complementary Angle Angle images directly support a wide range of geometry standards. Elementary students are expected to draw, recognize, and classify angles, while middle school students extend and apply this knowledge to describe geometric figures based upon their properties and solve multi-step problems to determine the measurement of an unknown angle. At the high school level, geometry students benefit from graphics to prove theorems like  vertical angles are congruent.

These are just a few examples of the Help Teaching images available that support Common Core math standards. View our complete selection of images or browse our collection of questions featuring graphics. Have suggestions for new math additions? Post your comments below or send us a note.

Read “How to Write Higher-Order Math Questions” and “How to Use Questions with Images” for more tips on creating quality, standards aligned math content.

Announcing New Premium Worksheets

The Common Core State Standards are one of the current hot topics in education. As schools across the country have begun to adopt the standards, teachers must find new ways to assess the critical and higher order thinking skills they measure. Test Designer’s members can now find ways to assess the Common Core State Standards directly through standards-aligned worksheets on HelpTeaching.com.

Worksheets aligned to the Common Core English standards can already be found on Test Designer. As soon as you open a Common Core aligned worksheet, a new module on the print preview page allows you to instantly see the standards the worksheet is aligned with.

One of the first subject areas of Test Designer to be aligned to the standards is language arts. Many of the worksheets you will find in the reading strategies category have been designed to include the in-depth analysis, reasoning and comparison and contrast skills that the standards promote. Students will also be introduced to longer reading passages and associated questions, similar to what they will find on many standardized exams. For example, eighth grade students can analyze President Roosevelt’s Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation in the Analyzing a Speech worksheet and fifth grade students can analyze characters in popular short stories. Common Core aligned worksheets are also available for grammar instruction. Instead of simply identifying the parts of speech, students can put them to use combining sentences and correcting punctuation. Many of the Common Core Standards for language are already represented through worksheets available on the Test Designer site.

English teachers are not the only ones who can access standards-aligned worksheets. Worksheets are also available for math for grades two through five on topics such as money word problems and for grades six to eight on topics such as the Pythagorean Theorem and Geometric Solids. While the Common Core Standards do not cover general science and social studies skills, teachers can also access premium worksheets in these areas. These premium worksheets, such as one Muscular System Anatomy, feature high-quality images and content.

Throughout the summer, Help Teaching team plans to add worksheets covering nearly all Common Core standards and content areas. However, access to these Common Core aligned worksheets and future worksheets is only available by subscribing to Help Teaching Pro.

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