Building, Making, Programing in 2016

Higher-Order thinking skills rock. While I can still name off all 50 states, the preamble, and tell you the process of mitosis, I still struggle to appreciate the value in memorizing information. That is unless that information directly supports something bigger than itself. Because of this, I tend to gravitate towards anything that can challenge students curiosity and desire to figure something out, especially if this thing is really complicated. Then we will are able to provide learners with exciting and engaging avenues to develop skills to solve problems, interact with people, and be thoughtful and caring. Then, I won’t mind that they can just Google who wrote the Gettysburg Address.

Here is a list of apps and devices that are great ways to develop learner’s higher-order thinking skills (problem-solving, critical thinking, sequence, and syntax), and beyond.
1. Osomo – ($$) This device uses the iPad to challenge learners to solve puzzles. These puzzles, come in the form of words, shapes, and even challenge learners to draw their own puzzles to solve. (My kids love this.)
2. Sphero – ($$$) These devices can be controlled via an app and programmed using an app called Tickle to challenge learners on so many levels. spatial understanding, distance, movement, velocity, not to mention trendy skills like coding!
3. Little Bits – ($$$) This product is a plug and play (literally) engineering set that lets learners build out as complex of a circuit as they can imagine. Little Bits pushes just about every critical thinking skills to the max. “If it’s broke, fix it!”, is a perfect mantra for this way of learning.
4. Scratch Jr.  – (Free) This coding app for the iPad (and android) uses blocks to build out a story by programming characters to interact in the with one another. Students can use this app to not only learn basic sequencing skills but also to develop literacy as they learn to communicate a storyline and animate characters.
This is not a new list, nor a complete one, but I believe that I do add an interesting insight into just what makes these devices powerful tools to support classroom learning.

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