Articles by Rachel Samuel

9 Free Summer Activities for Kids And Parents to Enjoy Together

Summer is just around the corner, and ordinarily, we’d be looking forward to fun activities and holiday plans. However, with many parts of the country and the world still in varying degrees of lockdown due to the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic, our summer vacation plans may be in need of a revamp.

Students have now been engaged in home-based learning for the past few months, and if they do not keep up with educational activities during summer, the effects of summer slide could be very pronounced. Summer can be used as an opportunity for kids to dive into experiential learning, outside the structure of the classroom. These activities can keep your child’s brain engaged while also being fun!

If you’re feeling stumped about how to keep kids occupied at home during the long summer months, we’ve got your back. Here are some free summer activities your kids and you can enjoy together!

1. For the Art Lover

The Smithsonian Museums have a variety of resources available, including online events and workshops, open access to digital images and data, and games and activities to keep children occupied for hours. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York also has specially designed a section for children to explore interesting exhibits, as does the Boston Children’s Museum.

2. To Make Young Scientists Squeal with Glee

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is another museum that offers virtual tours of their exhibits. The American Museum of Natural History also has virtual field trips designed for students of different grade levels.

3. For the Intrepid Traveler

International travel may have been severely restricted, but there’s no reason why you can’t still take your children on a trip of a lifetime this summer – for free! Why not take a virtual vacation outside of the US? Use the power of technology to “teleport” to iconic landmarks throughout the world, and be back in time for dinner. 

Fancy a visit to Easter Island off the coast of Chile? What about a trip to the Sydney Opera House? Perhaps explore the architectural wonder that is the Eiffel Tower! You can even spend an afternoon or two exploring the British Museum in London, the Louvre in Paris, the Vatican Museums, or any of the hundreds of other museums worldwide with the Google Arts and Culture platform.

4. Space Adventurers Aboard!

If you and your children are feeling particularly adventurous – NASA’s Glenn Research Center offers virtual visitors an inside look into their testing facilities.

5. Something for the Nature Buffs

National parks are also stepping up their game and offering virtual visits to their premises. Yellowstone National Park has virtual tours of Mammoth Hot Springs, Norris Geyser Basin and more, while many other parks have set up live streaming webcams for virtual visitors to enjoy the sights and sounds of the park from the comfort of their homes. You can even Find Your “Virtual” Park to discover what else the National Parks have to offer.

6. For the Young Zoologist or Aspiring Veterinarian

Nature and animal enthusiasts will also enjoy the variety of live streaming webcams available for viewing. The Nature Conservancy has webcams featuring some of their popular animals, while Explore.org has wildlife webcams to pique anyone’s interest. WildEarth hosts a guided live stream of their sunrise and sunset safaris daily, and many zoos and aquariums such as San Diego Zoo and Memphis Zoo also post live webcams of their popular residents.

7. Bring out the Bibliophile

Libraries are a great treasure trove of resources and activities to do with your children during summer. From summer reading challenges to virtual storytime at the library to weekly creative writing prompts by beloved children’s authors, summer can be the perfect opportunity to cultivate your children’s reading habits and engage in literacy activities together. In addition to special programming created in response to the pandemic, libraries also have a huge variety of eBooks, audiobooks, videos, and more.

8. For the Moving, Grooving and Active Kids

Get your groove on with Just Dance, a YouTube channel that will get the whole family busting out the dance moves and working up a sweat. If you just need your kids to settle down and stretch for a while, Cosmic Kids Yoga has videos for yoga and mindfulness suitable for the whole family, while PE Teacher of The Body Coach regularly puts up PE lessons that will definitely be a workout for mum and dad too.

9. Give Your Child a Virtual Internship with Read to Lead

An award-winning gamified platform that puts children in the boss’s shoes within an immersive virtual workplace, Read to Lead games are the perfect summer activity to keep children reading and leading. Each game is also accompanied by free lesson plans and discussion questions that you can use with your children to explore different professions, and engage in meaningful discourse about topics such as decision-making in the workplace, the importance of cooperation and more!

The COVID-19 pandemic may have put a damper on our summer plans, but there’s no reason to squander away this precious time we have with our children at home. By doing different activities with your children during the summer vacation, you can help keep their minds and bodies active while strengthening your bond with them – all for free!

We Stand Firm For Black Lives

 

The Classroom, Inc. team stands with the millions of Americans seeking justice and humanity for Black lives lost including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, and countless others. We condemn systemic racism.

Black lives matter and we will continue to use our voice, actions, and platform to fight for change. 

Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop said, “All children need a mirror to see themselves, a window to see the world beyond their own, and a sliding glass door to encourage them out into that world.”

We want Black youth to see powerful images of themselves in their learning. We are committed to creating more “windows, mirrors, and doors” that elevate and empower Black lives through the characters, scenarios, and conversations they encounter in Read to Lead

We will work with our community of educators, families, and supporters, to create and share tools that expose all youth to diverse ideas, diverse people, and tough decisions by: 

• Providing Black students with windows to careers through our games: Only 13% of children’s literature includes multicultural content. We will continue to work tirelessly to design new learning games that elevate Black lives and put them in positions of power. 

• Supporting educators with the tools for dialogue and processing: We will develop educator resources that help all students navigate deep conversations, tackle tough issues, and broaden their understanding of “other”. These conversations are essential to combat racism, and bias.

• Designing our games to challenge our students to see themselves as leaders and changemakers: We will give students agency to make difficult and complex decisions as the boss, helping them to transform into the leaders of the future. Empowering and preparing youth now will help them create a more just world that is free of oppression against Black lives. 

In addition, we commit to critically examining ourselves— identifying new voices and perspectives and creating opportunities for dialogue with our staff, Board, and supporters. Through these efforts, we will hold ourselves and our community accountable for elevating Black lives and dismantling systemic racism. 

Yours in grief and hope, 

The Classroom, Inc. Team

Mental Health Awareness Month

When it comes to students’ learning success and overall well-being, their mental health is just as important as their physical health.

Mental health problems can affect a student’s ability to focus and their energy levels, and in turn, negatively impact their performance in school. It is something that we as educators always need to be aware of, but now more than ever before, our students’ mental health deserves extra attention. 

The Global Pandemic & Impact on Mental Health

The current COVID-19 global pandemic has necessitated social distancing and school closures to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus. A consequence of these measures is the social isolation some of our students may be facing during this stressful and uncertain time. Humans are highly social beings, and an extended lack of social interaction with others could result in poor mental and physical health

May – A Spotlight on Mental Health

May is Mental Health Month, and a great opportunity to shed light on the importance of caring for mental health. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that almost 1 in 5 adults in the US lives with a mental health condition, and a similar incidence of mental health conditions has been observed in middle school students.

Educators and parents can demonstrate and promote healthy practices in mental and emotional wellbeing. Being open about your own challenges with your students and sharing positive strategies can encourage students to open up about their own struggles.

With the right structures in place, it is possible to foster a sense of community among our students, and to drive important conversations about our students’ emotional and mental well-being.

Read to Lead on Mental Health

Getting the conversation started on mental health can be tricky. To give educators and students alike a starting point to engage in meaningful discussions around this topic, we’re highlighting some of the Read to Lead games that can kickstart conversations on this topic.

Game-Based Learning 

In the Vital Signs series, students take on the role of Medical Director of a Family Clinic. They encounter different real-world scenarios dealing with health-related topics, including mental health issues and wellness, and must decide on the best course of action for the patients and staff.

The easy-to-navigate platform is designed for independent learning, which also makes it a great resource for students learning from home.

In the game High Anxiety, a patient believes she has an obscure disorder she read about on the internet, but the clinical staff on her case thinks that she suffers from anxiety and recommends counseling. Students learn more about the symptoms of anxiety and its causes, as well as treatment options.

The game is also accompanied by post-game discussion and debate questions. By encouraging students to think about and reflect on the topic of anxiety, educators open the doors of  communication with students who may be struggling with similar feelings. These tools can also be used to further the conversation about the challenges around discussing mental health. 

Crash Course is another game that is a valuable resource to educators in talking about mental health. A patient comes in for treatment for injuries from a car accident that he caused, and he appears to be suffering from an enormous amount of guilt. However, he doesn’t want further treatment. Students learn more about PTSD – its symptoms and treatment options – and must assess the situation to decide whether to refer the patient for therapy.

In the post-game discussion questions and debate, students are invited to explore mental health and learn some practices around effectively managing their own emotional and mental wellbeing. Educators can use this as a springboard to lead guided discussions to support their students. 

Play High Anxiety and Crash Course by signing up for a free Read to Lead account. 

Extension Activities 

Both games, like all other games on the Read to Lead platform, can be played independently and work as stand-alone lessons for students. Our accompanying extension activities can be used to foster more self-awareness and self-management among students. 

By sparking meaningful discussions, we hope to normalize the topic of mental health and emphasize the importance of implementing proactive strategies to maintain mental wellbeing and asking for help when needed.

This activity will help students identify their feelings, explore strategies to manage anxiety, and make space to uplift each other. 

This activity helps students think more deeply about their own mental health and promotes the importance of taking care of their mental and emotional wellbeing. 

Read to Lead’s Top Picks for Information for Educators on Mental Health

We curated some of our top picks for educators on how best to approach mental health with your students. 

• Mental Health Month, Mental Health America has compiled an extensive repository of information and printables on specific topics relating to mental health. These resources are research-backed and can be shared with your students remotely. 

• Child Mind Institute offers excellent classroom strategies and information on learning issues and the connection to mental health. 

• Edutopia is also a useful platform with resources for educators to address any behavioral, emotional, or social challenges their students may be facing.

There is no doubt that this is a difficult period for students and educators alike. Our students may be more susceptible to mental health issues, and as educators, we need to provide the necessary support to help them navigate these complex times.

By engaging students in meaningful discussions and providing them with tools to manage their mental and emotional wellbeing at this time, we are not only addressing their immediate needs, but also equipping them with skills for the future as well.

Sign up for Read to Lead today to explore the variety of games available for free, and jumpstart the conversation on mental health!

Make the Most of Distance Learning: Free Lesson Plans, Games, and Help

In an attempt to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), a majority of US states have ordered or recommended that schools don’t reopen for the rest of the academic year, and in-person summer programs are also slowly being canceled. Distance learning is now the mode of education for many, if not all, students, and educators are having to adapt and modify their lessons for remote platforms – no mean feat even when we’re not in the middle of a global pandemic.

At this critical time, our goal as an ed-tech nonprofit is to support educators like you and help ease the abrupt shift from traditional methods of instruction to e-learning. By providing you with free, relevant, and ready-to-use distance learning lessons and tools, we aim to help inspire your students and lighten your load. 

Our newly-launched Distance Learning Resources Center is designed specifically to help you maximize this time with your students by putting the people, materials, and tools you need at this time at your fingertips. Here’s what you’ll find in the hub!

Collection of Lessons on Timely Topics

This global pandemic is affecting all aspects of our lives, and as educators, we need to address it with our students. How to deal with a pandemic, managing the emotions that students may be experiencing at this time, identifying the positive aspects of the current situation – these were not a part of our regular curriculum, yet these are critical conversations to be having with our students at this time. 

That’s why we have created a curated collection of new Read to Lead lessons relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic. Covering topics like Making a Diagnosis, Managing Anxiety, and Looking for the Helpers, these lessons are immediately relevant and applicable to students’ lives. 

These lessons are standards-aligned and can be used towards your ELA, Science, Health, Social Studies, or SEL learning goals. Each lesson is specifically designed for a distance learning setting, and include step-by-step directions for execution as well as Google worksheets for students to complete. They aim to spark meaningful conversation, promote critical thinking, foster leadership, and provide support to students as a class community.

Google Classroom Tutorial

Google Classroom, a free web-based application that is a part of GSuite for Education, helps streamline the process of sharing files between teachers and students and is an excellent tool for distance learning. However, for those unfamiliar with the Google Classroom platform, navigating the interface can be tricky at the outset.

To help educators ease into using Google Classroom for distance learning, we have created some short videos that break down how to get started with Google Classroom. They include how to set up your Google Classroom, how to add students, and creating assignments. For students, we have created videos on how to join a class, and how to find and submit assignments via the Google Classroom app.

If there are other screencasts you require, do let us know and we will add them to the collection of videos. 

Virtual Lunch and Learn Sessions

We are hosting bi-weekly lunch-and-learn sessions for any educator in need of support during their transition to distance learning. Our Read to Lead coaches, a team of tenured educators and parents, will host informal and personalized sessions for educators like yourself to ask questions about executing distance learning.

They will be available to share more about how to implement Read to Lead in your distance learning platform, some best practices when using video call software or Google Classroom, and help you create action plans. Join us to learn more about making your remote sessions with your students a success, tackle shared challenges with other educators, or simply enjoy making connections with new friends! Click here to sign up for a free session in the form at the bottom of page.

Access the Free Read to Lead Curriculum

The Distance Learning Resources Center is also a great place to get started with the Read to Lead series – Community in Crisis, Vital Signs, and After the Storm. Each series featuring 44 games where students get the chance to take on leadership roles in different authentic work environments. 

The platform also includes complete lesson plans educators can immediately use, worksheets for students, and self-directed learning projects for students to work on independently – a total of more than 150 hours of games, curricula, and content. Most importantly all games, activities, and projects are completely virtual, easily applied to distance learning environments, and free for educators and students.

Making the transition from in-person education to distance learning can be a challenge, but Read to Lead is here to support you through this time with useful and timely resources that you can start using in your remote classrooms immediately.

If you have a question that needs to be answered right away, write support@classroominc.org and our team will respond to you within 24 hours.

Celebrating Earth Day 2020 Virtually

Earth Day is the world’s largest environmental movement recognized in over 193 countries. This year’s celebration marks 50 years of Earth Day. Typically celebrated at in-person events around the world, this year Earth Day 2020 is being celebrated digitally in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This Earth Day, why not spark curiosity and passion in students ages 10-15 about issues impacting our planet with games? In Read to Lead, students become the boss of a virtual workplace in the medical, journalism, and public service industry and solve complex challenges related to the environment.

These connections can inspire students to research topics of interest and create a plan to contribute to their own community in service and celebration of our Earth.

Click here to sign up for a free account to access over 36 games and lessons plans for students ages 10-15.

Learning Games: Students Make Decisions About the Environment as the Boss

Below we’ve highlighted some of the specific games in Read to Lead that help students critically think through environmental problems.

Everything suggested below can be found in the Read to Lead platform.

Read to Lead Game: Vital Signs
(Medical Industry) 

Earth Day Topic Explored: Pollution and the Environment 

In the series Vital Signs, children become the Medical Director at the Be Well Family Clinic. 

Games 1, 6 and 12 of Vital Signs follow the story arc of the local power plant reopening in the fictional town of Port Douglas and the negative impact this has on the local residents. Each game comes with a short “Prepare” lesson and follow-up “Discussion Questions”.

These activities are created using Google worksheets so they can be implemented remotely. Both the lesson plans and Google worksheets are located in your educator hub when you click on the game you want to play.

Here are some descriptions of the environmental challenges students will face as the boss of the games!

Episode 1: Just Breathe 

A local community center employee, Mai, comes into the clinic with a severe asthma attack. The Medical Director has to investigate the case to uncover the environmental factors that might be making people in the community ill. They must decide whether to tell Mai that the pollution from the power plant might be the underlying cause of her asthma attack. In this episode, children get a chance to learn more about the real-life impacts of pollution on our community and our planet.

Episode 6: Act Up 

Fog Hollow, one of Port Douglas’ poorest neighborhoods, has been in trouble since the power plant reopened, with many community members falling ill as a result of the pollution from the plant.

Austin, one of the staff at the clinic, is planning a Public Service Announcement (PSA) to raise awareness of the issue and Brendan, another staff member has thoroughly researched the situation in Fog Hollow. This game gives children a chance to learn about the importance of advocacy around environmental issues and how these efforts can create an impact on the community.

Episode 12: Come Together

As children work through the episode, they discover that the power plant in Fog Hollow has officially shut down! Children are able to appreciate the effect of their efforts from the previous episodes in creating the change they wanted to see in their community.


Read to Lead Game: Community in Crisis
(Public Service)

Earth Day Topic Explored: Creating a Community Garden 

In Community in Crisis, children adopt the role of Director at the Common Ground Community Center and manage the needs of a diverse community after a natural disaster. 

Episode 7: Sowing the Seeds

In Episode 7, members of the Port Douglas community are in conflict over what to do with the Center’s garden. The community is divided into teens and seniors, with both groups having distinct ideas about what would be the best use of the space available. 


Advocacy Projects: Students Raise Awareness and Take Action

1. Create a Public Service Announcement 

Use our What Does It Mean to Be An Advocate? lesson,  to help your students learn more about what it means to be an advocate and why it is important to be one. Children can pick a cause and create a storyboard for a PSA to raise awareness on this issue.

In line with Earth Day, they can consider topics such as climate change, conservation of animal species, the importance of recycling or other related topics, or even work on multiple projects on different topics!

2. Create a Community Service Plan

Use the Community Service Project to help your students think creatively about how they can help the planet and create an actionable plan or brochure describing their idea.

Some examples of student-led projects that children may undertake while at home include:

• Setting up a recycling station in the home

• Starting an indoor garden at home or a garden in the yard

• Creating a virtual presentation or awareness posters on climate change

• Additional topics and ways for students to get involved digitally can be found on Earth Day Live.

How will you be celebrating Earth Day at home this year? We’d love to hear your creative ideas! Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to share!

How to Motivate Students Virtually During COVID-19

 

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is disrupting lives across the world. In the US, with over 124,000 schools closed, more than 55 million students have been impacted. To keep up with educating our youth, many schools have transitioned to distance learning platforms, and are encouraging their students to continue their learning online.

However, distance learning comes with its own set of challenges, not least of which is keeping students motivated, something that can be a challenge for educators. Even when students are in the classroom, getting them to engage in lessons and participate in activities can be difficult. In a virtual learning world, this can be even tougher. Now more than ever, students need encouragement to be successful in their new learning environments at home. 

Our Read to Lead Million Words Read Challenge can be an effective tool to keep students motivated to continue learning from home.

Read to Lead’s Million Words Read Challenge

Registering for a free account with Read to Lead automatically enrolls your class into the Million Words Read Challenge. The challenge is simple: as a class, students have to collectively read at least one million words to win a free celebration and student prizes. 

Each game completed on this virtual learning platform counts for 5,000 words read. As students progress through the different episodes, they are awarded badges individually and as a class for reaching certain milestones and achieving certain targets. They also stand a chance to be recognized at the national level for being top readers.

So, how does the Million Words Read Challenge serve to motivate students?

Encourage Friendly Competition

As a motivational tool, the Million Words Read Challenge encourages friendly competition among students and spurs them to strive for excellence. Students can track their progress against that of their classmates on the leaderboard,  inspiring them to push for success. 


Educators such as
Ms. Deja Flynn of St. Simon Stock School and Ms. Holly Crider of Graham Middle School have reported that participating in the Million Words Challenge has improved student motivation in their classes, as even inattentive and disinterested students get into the spirit of friendly competition.

 

Build Community

At a time when social distancing has become commonplace and students are spending their days at home, the social aspect of school is still important. Indeed, maintaining a sense of community and connection with others is a critical part of reducing the negative impacts of social distancing on mental health. Thankfully, social distancing doesn’t have to mean social isolation, and the Million Words Read Challenge can provide students with the chance to build community with their classmates.

Even though students are not physically together, the Million Words Read Challenge offers them the opportunity to see how they can work together to accomplish something big – like reading one million words.

Students can track their individual and collective successes through the statistics and badges on the platform. This gives them a sense that they are part of a larger effort, and reminds them that they are not alone. This also serves as a strong motivational element to encourage students to keep reading and learning.

 

Create Moments of Celebration

Amidst the changes in their learning environment, we must not forget that students need to be celebrated for their efforts and achievements. Sending students virtual reminders of the Million Words Read challenge and their class standing can inspire them to pick up where they left off to reach new milestones and targets. In addition, we can ask students to share their badges with their families, so they can receive praise and recognition from the people around them at this time. 

Share Words of Encouragement

As students reach their target of one million words read, Classroom Inc. will share words of encouragement to keep motivating them and pushing them to attain greater heights. 

Our Words of Encouragement campaign collects “donations” of words of encouragement for middle school students. These messages are sent to Read to Lead students across the US to keep them engaged, improve their confidence, and empower them to take ownership of their learning. Sometimes, all it takes is a few simple words of encouragement to keep students motivated!

In this world of virtual learning that we have moved into, we need to find new avenues to encourage, motivate and inspire our students to keep reading and leading. By looking at new and innovative means of reaching our students virtually, we can ensure that we support them through these challenging times.

Parents: Keep Your Children Learning and Engaged as the Boss of a Virtual Workplace

The impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is being felt far and wide. Social distancing measures are in place, people are being encouraged to work from home, and school closures affecting almost 30 million students across the country are in effect. 

This unprecedented level of disruption to the K-12 school system forces many families into the unfamiliar territory of virtual learning. 

If you are a parent of a 10-15-year-old, Read to Lead can help you build your child’s literacy and leadership skills while having fun as the boss! The program combines virtual career exploration games supplemented by offline activities where they practice problem-solving, critical thinking and collaboration. 

With all of the responsibilities you are juggling during this time, we want to keep things simple. We created the Read to Lead Parent Hub so your child can get started right away. The hub provides easy access to all of our games and a collection of student-led activities.   

How to Use Read to Lead at Home


Step 1: Pick a workplace

Read to Lead offers three different industries where your child will become the boss of a virtual workplace. Each game is designed for a specific grade range. Community in Crisis, geared towards 5th-6th graders, is set in a local community center where children can learn about a  variety of jobs in the public sector from education to social work.

Vital Signs, intended for 6th-8th graders, takes place in a family health clinic and explores the medical field. After the Storm, designed for 7th-9th graders, immerses students in the fast-paced world of journalism. 

Children can have fun playing all three games but we recommend starting with the title designed for your child’s grade level. 

Step 2: Play the game

Each episode or “day at work” takes about 30 minutes to complete and children can play independently. The amount of reading in each episode is equivalent to one chapter of a middle school book. 

During this time, your child will improve their social and cross-cultural skills through interacting with a diverse array of staff and making some tough decisions as the boss. Each episode includes a typical workplace task like editing a project plan or crafting an email as a way for students to practice core reading and writing skills. 

Read to Lead is aligned to College and Career Readiness Anchor (CCRA) Standards and social-emotional competencies so you know your child is engaging with high-quality, research-backed content.  

Step 3: Reflect and discuss 

Once children have completed an episode, they can use the accompanying worksheets for post-game reflection. You have access to the answer keys so you can help your child at any point along the way or review their work.

Our discussion questions provide conversation starters around what it’s like being the boss and the different professions your child encountered in the game. This is an excellent opportunity to learn about your child’s aspirations as well as demonstrate the connection between school and the skills required in their future careers. 

Why not get started with Read to Lead today? For more information and to check out some of the episodes available for children, visit our website!

Welcome to the New and Improved Read to Lead

We’re excited to announce that we’ve implemented a spring refresh of our Read to Lead platform!

Read to Lead creates a fun, engaging, and relevant way to blast through traditional reading barriers and promote 21st-century skill-building. Students become the boss in a digital workplace. They play through their workday, reading closely, thinking critically, and solving real-world problems, all while balancing the hectic demands of an exciting career.

We use digital learning games, supplementary lessons, and community action projects to engage youth in reading and leading their way through school.


Navigating the Read to Lead Platform

You will be able to navigate games, teaching resources, reports, stats & badges, and class management tools directly through menu items in the top navigation. To learn more about how to implement Read to Lead in your learning environment, click on the “How it Works” page in the platform in the top navigation.

How to Find the Games

The Activities menu is the homepage view. In the Activities view, you can navigate to 44 Read to Lead games.

With each Read to Lead game, students read 5,000 words, make 10 leadership decisions, and practice Reading Anchor Standards. If students read their way through 12 episodes, that’s equivalent to completing a middle school chapter book! By playing Read to Lead, students can explore over 50 careers across the public service, medical and journalism fields.

You’ll find two options on the Activities page to navigate activities by either “series/title” or by “objective”.

Exploring the games by series, students can play the games within one specific industry (public service, medical, or journalism) including all of the collaborative activities and projects that prepare and extend each virtual workplace learning experience.

Browse by Objective helps you identify games that are aligned to your instructional goals, unit themes, and student’s reading level. You can use this view to filter the games by series, life and workplace skills, college/career readiness anchor standards, and Lexile levels.

Navigating Read to Lead Series

Each Read to Lead series includes 12-20 games, lesson plans, literacy skill-building lessons, and enrichment projects for educators.  When clicking on a series from the home page, you will be taken to the following page, which serves as a hub for games and wraps around curricula: 

In the top panel of the series hub, shown above, you’ll find:

1. Summary: A brief description of the series and student responsibilities as the boss

2. Starring Characters: Students will be the boss of a diverse staff. These character profiles will help build context about each character’s background and role at work.

3. Game Overview and Pacing Guide PDFs: Game Overview outlines the skills and standards addressed in each game along with sample pacing guides to simplify planning.

The middle panel, depicted below, includes menus for series-level resources:

Each series includes the following resources:

  1. Games: 30-minute digital workplace learning experiences where students become the boss, read, write, solve problems, and think critically.
  2. Introductory Lessons: Collaborative activities that set students up for success by building background knowledge, introducing vocabulary and exploring leadership traits.
  3. Enrichment Projects: Three engaging projects where students work together to apply their leadership skills and positively impact their community.
  4. Literacy Skill-Building Lessons: Close reading and reading intervention lessons provide practice in making inferences, citing evidence, interpreting words and phrases, analyzing word choice, and evaluating content    

The Game Detail page offers navigation to:

  1. Before, Play and After supplementary lessons
  2. Game Preview
  3. Instructional alignment details
  4. “How-To”/FAQ page links
  5. Answer Key
  6. Student worksheets
  7. Quickwrite graphic organizers
  8. Certificate of Completion

Class Management Tools

To use Read to Lead, you need to set up a class. Each class will have a unique student login so students can log in to Read to Lead.

To set up and manage your classes, click on the Classes tab, below, you will see options to:

  • Create a New Class 
  • Create Quick Class

Each student has their own Read to Lead account, just like you. Here are the ways you can set up your student accounts so they can start playing:

  1. Create a Quick Class

Create “anonymous” student accounts quickly! You’ll print and distribute the log-in cards to your class. The first time students log in to Read to Lead with their username and password, they will be asked to enter their name. After they do this, the account will no longer be anonymous.

  1. Enter Your Class Roster Manually

Enter your class roster one by one. You’ll print and distribute log-in cards for the students you entered.

Click the “kebab” menu for options to edit class details and manage episode access for your classes.

To display your class roster and additional class management options, hover over and click the class name.  The resulting page will include options to:

  1. Add/remove students – Add and remove students based on your class roster
  2. Print Login Cards – Provide your students their logins by printing out login cards
  3. Manage access to in-game options: Text to Speech; Replay; Retake – Based on your students’ needs you can provide additional accessibility features to support their learning.
  • Text to Speech – This provides the student with audio read-aloud functionality
  • Replay – Students can replay the games
  • Retake – Students can retake the embedded authentic workplace task (assessment)
  1. Manage student accounts (click “kebab” menu): Reset password, edit student, and delete student accounts.
  • Reset password – If you need to provide students with a new password.
  • Edit student – Edit student’s name, grade level, class setting, etc.


Data Management

Read to Lead offers you formative assessment data so you can continually adapt your instruction to meet the needs of your students. You can find all your data reports by clicking on Reports tabs in the top navigation.

The hallmark of our instructional model is the standards-aligned formative assessment embedded within each game. This assessment doesn’t feel like a traditional test but rather an authentic workplace task like gathering evidence for a report or editing a project plan. As students complete the task, you are receiving their results in real-time.

How to Track Progress

The Performance by Game Report is a classroom management tool. It provides a quick overview of how many games students have completed in a series while the Performance by Common Core Standard Report helps you identify how well your class or an individual student is performing on each assessed standard in reading.

Clicking on a student’s score lets you see in detail their answers for the workplace task, and quickwrite.  There is also a button that lets you toggle between the answer key view and the student’s answer choice view.

Did you know students read 5,000 words in a single Read to Lead game?  Clicking on the Stats & Badges tab displays how many words your students are reading as a class. When students go to the Stats & Badges page in their view they can see how many words they read on their own. Badges can be printed, hung up, or sent home as a way to celebrate your student’s hard work!

Our Leaderboard highlights how many words your class has read compared to other classes across the nation. Join our Million Words Word Read Challenge simply by playing the Read to Lead games. Once your students read one million words collectively, we’ll send them awesome prizes!

How to Get Support

If you have any questions about using Read to Lead, please contact us at support@classroominc.org

Troubleshooting

A small percentage of users may experience an issue when attempting to navigate to the new Read to Lead site. For example, hitting the login button may render a blank screen. The existence of outdated files/cookies on your browser is the likely cause of this, which is a fairly common problem for web applications. 

If you or your students experience any issues viewing the new site, please clear your browser cache. We’ve created a one-page guide via Google Docs, which you can reference and/or share with your students. Alternatively, see below other helpful web resources and links with instructions. As always, you can reach us at support@classroominc.org.

How Making Students the Boss Can Empower Them in Virtual Learning

It Is More Important than Ever to Keep Students Empowered, Engaged, and Learning

As more schools shift to online learning during this challenging time, it’s critical that students continue learning in a way that’s fun, accessible, and maintains positive communication with their teachers and classmates. 

Read to Lead is a 100% free and proven blended learning solution that leverages game-based learning to help students build reading, writing, and leadership skills. Teachers across the country use the “Be the Boss” learning experiences to engage youth, and build core academic and leadership skills essential to their success in school today and the careers of tomorrow. 

Here’s how Read to Lead can be a valuable resource while you’re planning for distance learning:

 

Deeply Engage Students at Home By Making Them the Boss

Distance learning requires flexible and self-paced learning activities that pique a student’s interests. In Read to Lead games, students become the boss of a community health clinic, online magazine, or community center. They read closely, think critically, and work with a diverse staff to solve real-world problems. 

The free web-based curriculum is modular so students can move at their own pace, logging in any time of day for any length of time. One episode, or one “day at work”, takes about 30 minutes to complete. In that time, students read 5,000 words, make 10 leadership decisions, and practice a specific Reading Anchor Standard. If students read their way through 12 episodes, that’s equivalent to completing a middle school chapter book! 

Students can self-select episodes or you can assign specific episodes based on your learning goals. Here’s an example. Let’s say your students are playing Vital Signs and you want them working on vocabulary acquisition. You would assign episodes 3, 5, 8, and 11 to your class as those episodes are aligned to CCRA.R.4

Look over the guides below to identify the skills, standards, and themes addressed in each episode and make your selections. 

Alternatively, you might invite students to read the episode summaries in their own portal and choose the episodes that sound the most exciting!

 

Track Student Progress with Real-Time Reports

You have three different reports in your Read to Lead hub that give you a clear picture of your students’ activity and growth. All of these reports are updated in real-time and can be downloaded or printed.  

The Progress Report is your built-in classroom management tool so you can see how many episodes each student has played and if they are currently logged into the program.  

 

The Performance Report allows you to see how each student is performing against Anchor Standards in Reading. 

 

The Student Activity Report shows you each student’s reading task and writing prompt.  

 

Supplemental Resources Enhance the Virtual Workplace Experience

Each Read to Lead game includes wrap around activities that scaffold and extend learning. Post-game discussion questions foster self-reflection on the decisions made as the boss. Graphic organizers are provided to assist students as they complete the in-game writing prompt. All of these resources exist as Google Documents in the student’s portal making them accessible from anywhere and easily shareable so you can offer feedback and guidance. 

Read to Lead has several other student-led projects that youth can explore at home! Students can create a Public Service Announcement or map out their dream career.  

 

Here’s some quick tips on how students can work with our Google worksheets. 

Motivate Students to Keep Reading and Leading At Home: The Million Words Read Challenge

We have a fun contest that challenges students to work together to read one million words in Read to Lead games! Once your class reads one million words collectively, they will receive prizes from the Read to Lead team!

Students are automatically awarded badges for the number of words they read. You can monitor how many words your class is reading in your account to keep them informed on their progress and celebrate their milestones virtually! 

 

If you need any guidance while planning, please reach out to our team at support@classroominc.org. We’re here for you! 

How to Prevent Spring Break Slip in Your Middle School Classroom

 

Spring is just around the corner and both educators and students are looking forward to a much-needed break to rest, recharge and refresh themselves to tackle the last stretch of the academic year. Yet, even as we teachers eagerly anticipate a break from the classroom, we worry about “brain drain”, and “spring break slip” in our students.

What is Spring Break Slip?

Spring break slip. Brain drain. Summer slide. Regression. These are just a few commonly used terms to describe the phenomenon of students’ learning loss during school breaks. Time off from school and regular lessons during winter and spring break and summer vacation is a welcome respite for students, but unfortunately, it has some negative side-effects as well.

It is a well-documented trend that students experience a negative impact on their learning after returning from vacation time. Research shows that most students lose 2 to 3 months of math computational abilities and reading skills over the course of the summer vacation, and this impact is felt even after shorter breaks in winter and spring. These losses are even more acutely felt amongst students of lower-income families who may not have access to as many resources at home as students from higher-income families.

Educators, school administrators and other prominent voices in education have shared their hopes for a more year-round instructional model to reduce long breaks from school, with increased opportunities for students to participate in recreational and enrichment activities. Yet, a significant change to the school system that America has used for decades is not likely to happen anytime soon.

As educators, we are tasked with finding ways to address brain drain and spring break slip for the foreseeable future. So what can we do to prevent and reduce the negative impacts of this phenomenon in our classrooms?

Vacation Academies

Rather than hindering students’ learning, breaks from regular school instruction may be a godsend for struggling students – if this time away from school is used to provide them with extra instruction. Recent research done in school districts in Massachusetts reveals that intensive small group tutoring can have significant benefits in helping students who may need a little extra coaching. 

Conducting “vacation academies” means that winter and spring break could become an important period for students to play catch up on material they may have difficulty with and improve their test scores. Particularly for students who are on the verge of attaining proficiency standards, these “vacation academies” can be instrumental in helping them achieve better test scores.

Technology and Digital Tools

Not all schools have the funding to provide intensive academic help to struggling students during school breaks, nor can all parents afford to send their children for tutoring. However, technology is almost ubiquitous and offers a low-cost strategy to help educators minimize spring break slip in their classroom.

A multitude of educational apps, games, and computer programs are available at the touch of a button, all for a fraction of the cost of 1:1 coaching or small group tutoring, and many are even free! Read to Lead, a free blended learning program helps build literacy in students while simultaneously developing important leadership skills on a gamified platform that simulates real-life workplace environments. The program also offers bite-sized assignments students can work on independently during school breaks, keeping their minds active and learning loss at bay.

To reinforce essential middle school math skills, TeachThought recommends a variety of apps that can help keep students on track during school vacations and combat spring break slip. With a variety of options available, educators are bound to find something that caters to the needs of their students.

Engage Parents

The best efforts of educators would be for naught without the support of parents. Particularly during vacation periods, parents have the most influence over their children. It is critical that educators leverage parents and get them on board to keep their children engaged in learning even as they enjoy a much-needed break from school. Whether it’s taking their children to museums and parks, or reading and discussing local news articles together, or setting aside time to review concepts taught in school, parents can help prevent spring break slip in their children through a variety of activities.

The learning loss that comes with students being on vacation is definitely a reality, but going into spring break with a comprehensive plan to reinforce what students have learned during the semester can help combat it. By offering intensive academic (but still fun) help during the break, using digital tools and roping in parents to help, spring break slides can be reduced in our students.

What are you doing to help minimize the impact of spring break slip in your middle school classroom? Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and share your thoughts!