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Aug 23, 2020 @ 01:00

Tech Talk

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Challenge of the Week

Challenge of the Week

Big challenges are best tackled in small doses!

Here’s another tip to help your learner climb the testing mountain with small steps to success! Instead of trying to complete pages of practice or large chunks of time on test prep, try weaving in a few questions for exposure each week. Use a small reading passage with a few comprehension questions to check for understanding. One suggestion is to utilize a free resource like Super Teacher Worksheets. Simply scroll down (within each grade level) to locate the highlighted “Free” tag above the selected passage and discover the corresponding questions with an answer key.

Curious to know more? Here’s an awesome article with additional creative support!

Challenge of the Week!

Challenge of the Week

This week’s challenge speaks to a technical aspect of testing. Our learners take most standardized tests on laptops with touchpads. By familiarizing them with the touchpad, we can help them be more confident taking the tests.

Many younger learners need practice with this feature, DRAGGING and dropping their answers. By starting with these basic tech tools, we know this will help them prepare and reduce anxiety related to the testing experience.

Here are more LEARNING games that your child can PLAY to become more familiar with the touchpad on a laptop.

Happy clicking!

Educational YouTube Channels for Learners

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Here are some educational, learner friendly YouTube channels for homeschooling families!


Khan Academy – Khan Academy provides hundreds of videos about math, science, computer programming, history, art history, economics, biology, chemistry, and more.

Socratica – This channel has high-quality educational videos about science, math, the arts, and more.

Crash Course – Crash Course provides courses in world history, anatomy and physiology, astronomy, biology, literature, U.S. government and politics, ecology, and more.

Smithsonian – Learn from the experts in art, design, history, culture, science and technology.


Storybook NannyStorybooks are read aloud to help capture your learner’s imagination and keep them excited while they read along with the “book nanny.”

The Grammarheads – The Grammarheads provides fun songs to help learners rock their writing.


Mathantics – Mathantics has great video tutorials for visual learners.

Numberphile – This channel provides videos that focus on numbers.

ProfRobBob – ProfRobBob has videos related to algebra, geometry, algebra 2, trigonometry, precalculus, calculus, and AP statistics.


SciShow – SciShow explores the unexpected.

SciGirls This is a PBS series for learners ages 8-12 that showcases bright, curious tween girls putting science and engineering to work in their everyday lives.

Sick Science – This channel provides cool science experiments you can do at home from Steve Spangler.


Liberty Kids – Liberty Kids has fun and animated episodes about the American Revolution.

BIO – This channel has over 7,000 mini biographies of famous people.

Geography Now – This is the first and only Youtube channel that actively attempts to cover profiles on every single country in the world.

Coding for All Grades


Coding for All Grades

These days, more and more jobs require some level of coding, and even more require some understanding of the way computers work and communicate. Some say coding helps develop problem-solving skills, and still others say it is just plain fun.

Here are some free apps and websites that will introduce your learner to the world of coding:

Daisy Dinosaur (K-3)
Kodable (K-5)
Lightbot (K-12)
Hopscotch: Make Games: (ages 9 and up)

Code Academy
Code Monster

Happy coding!

There’s an App for That

App logo

These days technology and education seem to go hand in hand. Mobile apps in particular are gaining popularity as a tool for educating learners. They encourage opportunities for creativity, active participation and collaboration at the touch of a screen. If you can search it, you can learn it. Here are just a few ideas in each of the core content areas to help you get started.

David Wiesner’s Spot: A unique digital story telling app that allows learners to use their imaginations and make decisions to create original stories. Ages 5+

Loose Strands: An interactive novel that allows the reader to control the action, keep the character out of danger, and see the consequences of his choices. Ages 8+

Sushi Monster: A fun way to learn addition and multiplication facts. This app requires planning, timing, and working memory to be successful. The learner must notice a pattern in order to fully complete the level. Ages 6-9

My Incredible Body: An interactive anatomy app that explores the body, including organs, bones, and muscles. 3D models show how the body works and how to keep the body healthy. Ages 9+

Educational Podcasts for the Entire Family


Here are some educational, family friendly podcasts for the whole family which allow the use of technology while limiting screen time!

Stories Podcast– A free children’s story for bedtime, car rides, or family time
Bravewriter with Julie Bogart– A conversation about how to bring learning to life for your learners
Brains On!– A science podcast for curious learners and adults
Wow in the World- Combination of careful scientific research and fun
But WhyA show lead by learners. They ask the questions and we find the answers to such things as: why do we need to sleep, what are Olympic medals made of and much much more!
Grammar GirlWinner of the 2017 Best Education Podcast, Grammar Girl provides short, friendly tips to improve your writing
Sparkle Stories– Each week a free story is shared from their original Sparkle Story series. Great for car rides, family time or bedtime

Available from the app store or anywhere you get your favorite podcasts.

Using Google Docs for Homeschooling


Google docs contains a suite of applications similar to Microsoft Office, but it is free! You can make a document, a spreadsheet, a slide presentation, and more, allowing other people to contribute or view it in the cloud. You can even add the application on your smartphone. This can come in handy when working with your learners at home. If you have a gmail account, you already have access to these tools! Here are some ideas on how Google docs could benefit your family.

Keeping Track
Use either the docs or sheets applications to make a chart of lesson plans for yourself or a list of tasks for your learner(s) that can easily be checked off and/or monitored from a phone or computer.

Work closely with other homeschool learners who live far from you and collaborate on a project in real time as you both contribute to the same document. You will be able to see what your collaborator writes as they add content.

Saving Things
Save all types of files in your Google drive so that you can access them wherever your homeschooling adventures may take you. In New Zealand? No problem, so long as you’ve got an internet connection!

Sharing with your Educational Facilitator
Create a file of all your work and share it with your educational facilitator!! By completing work right in your drive, your educational facilitator will have instant access. This is a nice time saver, so if you are curious about (and unfamiliar with) Google docs, your educational facilitator would be happy to assist you at your next learning period meeting.

Building Vocabulary with Technology at Home

Building Vocabulary

There is a lot more to learning new vocabulary words than just memorizing definitions. Using vocabulary in context is the single most effective way to identify if one truly understands the meaning of the word. Here is a list of some ways you can get your learners to use technology in creative and meaningful ways that will help develop and enhance their lexicon.

Adobe Spark Video Use the free app, Adobe Spark Video, or web tool Adobe Spark (login required) to create mini movies of vocabulary words used in context and their definitions. Learners can add as many words/slides as they would like to make a video.

Texting Story App – Use the Texting Story iPad app to create a texting conversation using vocabulary words and emojis. Give your learner specific words that they must use in their conversation. It is not as easy as it sounds!

Gone Google Story Builder – Gone Google Story Builder is similar to Texting Story; however, learners use this website to create an interaction on a Google Doc.

Create a Music Video – Create a music video using the Ditty app (iTunes and Android). Learners can use still images or take video footage of their vocabulary word in action. They type a single sentence, choose a song, upload a picture, video, gif, record a video or select a plain background and the app turns everything into a musical creation. It is so much fun!

Make Comic Strips – Learners will have fun creating a comic strip while weaving in vocabulary words. The Book Creator iPad app (which is coming to the web soon!) makes this very easy to do with the comic layouts. For those families with Chromebooks who can only use free web tools that do not require a login, check out Make Believe Comics (also an iPad app). It might work well to give your learner a little bit of time upfront to explore all of the different backgrounds and characters before diving into the comic creation.

Vocabulary Posters – The FREE web tool also comes as a FREE app for both Apple and Android. Learners should find a copyright free image using Photos for Class or Pixabay that would match a sentence they write using their vocabulary term. This will create a nice digital poster that they could print or upload to a Padlet wall.

Use Google Drive or PicCollage to Make Vocabulary Come ALIVE – Have learners decorate their vocabulary words in Google drawing and upload to a Google slides presentation to add sentences. iPad users could use the free app PicCollage to make their vocabulary words come alive using the new drawing tool in the main menu.

Try incorporating these into your learner’s academic activities and you will see how easy and fun they can be!

Osmo – Educational Games System for iPad


Osmo is an award-winning educational iPad game system for kids that mixes digital apps with hands-on play. This game system uses the tablet’s camera to interact with real world objects like puzzle pieces or drawings. Here are just a few of the educational games that kids can play with:

*The Tangram Game is great for developing spatial awareness by having children match colored wooden pieces to what they see on the iPad.
*Words uses a set of letter tiles to develop spelling and phonics skills.
*Numbers involves hands-on play with numbers
*Coding Awbie is great for beginning coding. It combines physical blocks to code using an onscreen character called Awbie.

Check out Osmo here!

You can also follow them on Instagram @playosmo for inspiration on how to learn and play using Osmo.

Adobe Spark


Adobe Spark is a multimedia website that allows learners of all ages to create graphics, web pages and video stories with ease. The possibilities for projects in all subject areas are endless. It is excellent for learners to creatively demonstrate their understanding on any given topic. With thousands of photo options, professionally designed fonts, layouts, colors and themes, Adobe Spark enhances the learner’s creativity. Where will your creativity take you?

Free Learning Websites for Kids


If you are looking for some engaging, educational and safe websites for your child, here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Fun Brain – Your kids will enjoy playing games while practicing both math and reading skills!
  • National Geographic for Kids – This is a fun website for learning about geography and animals.
  • PBS Kids – Your kids will enjoy hanging out with their favorite PBS characters while learning!
  • Into the Book – This website provides a great way to practice reading strategies by playing games while learning.
  • Star Fall – Your learner will enjoy these read-along stories to practice their phonic skills.
  • Seussville – On this website, learners hang out with Dr. Seuss and friends while playing games and reading stories.
  • Storyline Online – Movie stars read your child’s favorite stories while they follow along!
  • ABCyaYour learners will enjoy the fun games for practicing math and reading skills.
  • Highlights Kids – On this website, children play games, read and conduct science experiments!

In the coming weeks, we will be publishing a list (courtesy of parents and educational facilitators) of free, online educational resources you may browse on our Hub! Be on the lookout for this exciting new resource!

32 Virtual Field Trips for American History


Have you ever spent the time and money to meticulously plan and organize an amazing field trip for your learner only to be rained out of any learning to be had? We have all been there. Nothing beats the educational experience of learning through a hands-on field trip, but sometimes life just does not align for these trips to happen.

Virtual field trips are an alternative to packing snacks, checking the weather, loading the van and buying tickets to go somewhere. Bookshark offers a list of these experiences particularly for those looking to enhance their learning of American history. Besides supplementing your American history curriculum, virtual field trips also provide a way for your child to explore places that may be inaccessible. Happy exploring!


Kid-Friendly News and Radio Shows


Have you ever thought it would be nice to have some kid-friendly news and radio show options for your children? “CNN 10” and NPR’s “Wow in the World” offer wonderful news broadcasts that even grown-ups will enjoy!


CNN 10 is a new, 10-minute news show that appears as a daily digital video on “CNN 10” effectively serves a growing audience interested in compact, on-demand news broadcasts ideal for explanation seekers on the go or in the classroom. The show’s priority is to identify stories of international significance and then clearly describe why they are making news, who is affected, and how the events fit into a complex, international society. Viewers will learn from every story on “CNN 10.” The show maintains a neutral position on controversial topics. It seeks to provide multiple viewpoints, clear illustrations, and general overviews instead of graphic descriptions.

Where can I find ‘CNN 10’?
You can view it as a streamed video or download it as a free podcast, both available on their website. The show is available Monday through Friday and is available free of charge. There is no sign-up or subscription required.

RADIO SHOW FOR KIDS: ‘NPR’s Wow in the World’

“Wow in the World” is a podcast and a new way for families to connect, look up and discover the wonders in the world around them. Radio hosts Mindy and Guy guide curious kids and their grown-ups away from their screens and on a journey. Through a combination of careful scientific research and fun, Mindy and Guy explore our space and other cool new stories in science and technology. Some of their shows include:

  • “Mucus Mansions & Pooping Plastic, Invasion Of The Sea Pickles”
  • “Cuckoo For Cocoa: Journey To The Chocolate Forests Of South America Mosquitoes, Stinky Socks, And Bread….Oh MY!”
  • “Pokemon Go Make Some Friends & The Noisy Sounds of Silence”
  • “The Search For Planet 9 And Our Sushi-Powered Brains”
  • “It’s A Bird! It’s A Plane! It’s A….FLYING TAXI?!”

Where can I find NPR’s ‘Wow in the World’?

Visit their website to enjoy these shows!

NEW! Tales2go Free Online Subscription


Tales2go is a new, online FREE subscription! It is used as a literacy tool to develop vocabulary, fluency and comprehension skills, as oral language drives vocabulary acquisition and retention. Tales2go makes it easy and cost-effective to surround learners with spoken sophisticated words at home, by streaming over 6,000 audiobook titles from leading publishers and talented narrators!

Tales2go is easy to use! Select a topic listed. A list of audio books will be generated for you to choose from. You will be given a description of the book, its duration, and the age recommended. After choosing a story, it will also list other titles you might enjoy. You may download the full catalog so you can browse through the many titles!

This is a fun way for your child to be involved with rich literature. Whether your learner listens on their own or together with the whole family, they are sure to strengthen their vocabulary and comprehension by listening to literature aloud. Find a story today and enjoy!

Complimentary Subscriptions: BrainPOP


iLEAD is proud to offer a variety of complimentary subscriptions to our learners and their families. If you have not been able to check any of them out yet, here is a little insight on how to use one of our more popular complimentary subscriptions: BrainPOP! The BrainPOP website describes BrainPOP as a website where learners can view “animated, curriculum-based content that supports educators and engages learners. [Their] resources include movies, quizzes, games, informational texts, a concept mapping tool, and much more, covering hundreds of topics within math, science, social studies, English, technology, arts, music, and health. [Families] can use BrainPOP resources with desktops, laptops, and mobile devices. BrainPOP’s movies and quizzes are also accessible on mobile apps available for iOS, Android, Chrome, and Windows.”

Be sure to visit the website and if you need help navigating the site, check out their map of interactive links (shown on the image above).

Once you have familiarized yourself with the website, a simple way to use BrainPOP is to search for resources your learner is studying by using the search box! Because they offer curriculum resources across the board, make sure to search units in all subject areas. Start searching today to make the most of this complimentary subscription this year! Please contact your educational facilitator if you need help with your login information.



Duolingo is a great program/app for language learning that is completely free! You can use it on the computer or download it on any device and it allows you to practice reading, writing, speaking and listening for a wide variety of languages. It has features that make it a very motivating way to learn a foreign language. If you want your learner to join a “club” where they can challenge and encourage other iLEAD learners, choose the “clubs” tab and input the code “S34UPU” to join the iLEAD group.

4 YouTube Channels That Offer Hands-On Science Experiment Videos


Looking for resources to supplement learning at home? You may be surprised that YouTube has a plethora of fun and educational channels for you and your family for all subjects! Here are some YouTube channels that have cool science experiment videos for kids. The advantage of science videos is that the instructions are easy to follow, so after watching the videos, you and kids may want to try them out yourselves!

Sick Science! – Science giant Steve Spangler has a ton of science videos across several YouTube channels and they are all worth checking out. Sick Science! specializes in simple but awesome at-home science experiments.

Crazy Russian Hacker – CRH is simply amazing. He’s got so many unexpected ideas and experiments, from opening a can without a can opener, to how to cut watermelon. If you want to know what happens when you boil Coke, check out his videos!

Incredible Science – Incredible Science has a ton of fun science videos. There are videos that just explain science phenomena to children, as well as a large section of home science experiments.

Fun Science Demos – Dr. George Mehler and Jared Hottenstein invite you to bring fun science demonstrations to your learners. New videos are added every month.



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