Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a great Thanksgiving holiday!

There are more products on the way. So, we will have more reviews coming soon!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Rock 'N Learn: Multiplication Rap

You may begin to see a pattern here with the Rock ‘N Learn DVDs, which is great because it will give you a good idea about other products of theirs that I haven’t reviewed.

As my students will be learning some of their multiplication facts starting next semester, I thought it would be wise to find something to help them remember the facts. With the other Rock ‘N Learn DVDs, I also received a Multiplication Rap. The kids loved Addition and Subtraction Rap, plus it is the same characters! Their favorites are back to help them with those pesky multiplication facts.

Multiplication rap is easy to blend into any already established math program. It takes one set of multiplication facts at a time. If you are teaching the 3s, there’s a program on just that. Plus, there are sections on skip counting. Which (as I have mentioned before) using Saxon Math, that makes it easy to blend the DVD in with how I am already teaching.

Again like the previous discs, Multiplication Rap is broken into small manageable segments of only a few minutes each which makes it great for review and reinforcement. It also follows the same format as Addition and Subtraction Rap. It has a quick lesson where the answers to the problems are given and then there is a review where there is a pause before answers to allow the student to answer on his/her own. I like the format, but I feel that the pause, or wait time, between the problem given and when the answer is given is too short. I think the students need just a little longer.

So for Multiplication Rap, I think it would be a worth while buy for students a little more experienced with multiplication. I would say probably as a review for the end of third grade and up. The skip counting I would use with my second graders and probably some of the facts that are easier for them, but I wouldn’t use it with students that are just starting out with multiplication.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Rock 'N Learn: Telling Time

Rock ‘N Learn has many disks on a variety of topics. As we have already reviewed the Addition and Subtraction Rap, let’s stay in math and look at their Telling Time DVD.

I know that telling time can be difficult for students, especially in my age range. So, I like how the Telling Time DVD has broken up the programs into the easier sections that get harder and harder. They go from hour to half hour to quarter hour and so on. There is even a section where they practice skip counting by fives. Plus, this matches up pretty nicely to how time is taught in Saxon Math.

Like in the previous review, Telling Time has small manageable bites. The programs on the disc are only a few minutes long. So, they make for a great for quick reviews and reinforcements of lessons already taught.

The characters in this DVD are fun and colorful. The music is lively and easy for the students to sing along with. The students find it fun and entertaining while still being educated.

Overall, I like the Rock ‘N Learn Telling Time. It fits well into my already established math program. I would recommend using this the classroom and even for home for children needing a little extra help.

Win your own copy of Rock 'N Learn's Telling Time. All you have to do is join this blog, tweet the comment below on twitter, and post a comment with your e-mail address spelled out (jane at gmail dot com) by November 15th for a chance to win. For a second entry, subscribe to this blog. Email addresses will only be used to notify the winner. Shipping is restricted to the U.S. only.

Twitter: @classtoolsrev Visit for a chance to win a Rock 'N Learn DVD. Ends 11/15/09! RT

Good Luck!

*DVD was provided by Rock 'N Learn at for review, no money was exchanged as a result (please see terms of use).

Monday, October 5, 2009

Rock 'N Learn: Addition & Subtraction Rap

Right now, my students are learning/reviewing addition facts and taking timed assessments. By the end of the year, we will go through all of the subtraction and half of the multiplication facts. So, finding a way to make our daily addition fact practice more interesting is welcomed.

Let me start this review from the very beginning. I opened the Rock 'N Learn: Addition & Subtraction Rap DVD case and the the disc was firmly in place but easy to get out. When there are kids all around you vying for your attention and you are wrestling a case for a disc, this does actually become a positive feature.

That aside, I previewed all of the programs prior to viewing it with the students. In my preview, I really liked that each chapter on the disc had its own mini-lesson. It took on chunks of facts rather than all of them at once. This is nice because I have been able to show certain clips as they are appropriate.

With that, the clips are short. Each being only a few minutes, it does not consume a great deal of time in the day. So, showing it as a review is not a big deal. I don't have to set aside special time to "show a video." I just cue up the part I want to show that day and in a few minutes (less than 5 minutes) the kids have had a review of our current facts. I have used this as a supplement to our normal facts lessons.

The "rap" is fun for the kids. Each rap has a theme, such as the "Adding Machine." They are clear, there isn't a question as to what the rapper said. It had a simple beat that the students were able to keep with the rapper. Plus, it was interactive. In the review sections, there is a wait time. The rapper asks, "4 plus 5 is..." And, there is a pause, or wait time, to give the students a chance to respond before the answer is given. Meaning, immediate feedback!

I have been using this for about a week and a half in class. With the last assessment (the first full week of using it) I saw noticeable gains in the students' speed and accuracy. Plus, the students ask me regularly if we can watch some of it because they too really enjoy it. Overall, I would recommend Rock 'N Learn's Addition and Subtraction Rap for any parent or teacher to help your children with addition and subtraction math facts.

Win your own copy of Rock 'N Learn's Addition and Subtraction Rap. All you have to do is join this blog, tweet the comment below on twitter, and post a comment with your e-mail address spelled out (jane at gmail dot com) by November 15th for a chance to win. For a second entry, subscribe to this blog. Email addresses will only be used to notify the winner. Shipping is restricted to the U.S. only.

Twitter: @classtoolsrev Visit for a chance to win a Rock 'N Learn DVD. Ends 11/15/09! RT

Good Luck!

*DVD was provided by Rock 'N Learn at for review, no money was exchanged as a result (please see terms of use).

Friday, September 18, 2009

There Here!

Products have arrived from Rock 'N Learn. I am looking forward to reviewing their products- math set to music!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Let's Get Ready for Kindergarten! by Stacey Kannenberg

Let's Get Ready for Kindergarten (Spanish/English Edition) by Stacey Kannenberg is full of great information to help get your little ones ready for their first day of school. The inside covers are filled with great tips for parents on getting your child ready for learning, homework, and even skill levels. Of these, my favorite was the stages of writing. Many parents are concerned in the early years of school about where their child is in their development and where they think their child should be. But, Let's Get Ready for Kindergarten lays it out great.

As you move into the book, you will find numbers, letters, words, and more for your child to identify. It can be a little overwhelming for you and your child to take all of this in at once. But as it says, "This information will take time to understand. Keep reading it over and over again." This book was not meant to be completely learned by day one of kindergarten. It is a good start and meant to be referred to again and again throughout the year as practice. I would recommend taking on a page or two at a time. There is a lot of information that if done all in one sitting could stress out a 4 or 5 year old, which means stressing you out too. Also, I wouldn't recommend handing it to a child without guidance. Depending on your state's standards for kindergarten, this book could go beyond what your child is supposed to learn in kindergarten and even start to get him/her ready for first grade. Having both English and Spanish throughout the book does seem to clutter the pages. If this is a problem, see the English only version.

Having children who have come into my class speaking not a word of English, I would use this particular edition with children to help them in their English development skills, even outside of kindergarten. Everything in this book is in English and Spanish which would be great for the ELL (English language learner) student.

The book itself has thick laminated pages. Some pages call for writing directly in the book with a dry erase marker (great for using it over and over and with multiple children). It also has a strong binding to prevent pages from being easily torn out.

*Book was provided by the author for review, no money was exchanged as a result (please see terms of use).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Kagan's Learning Chips

The Kagan learning chips have many of the same benefits of the cubes in that they are quick and easy to use in addition to their versatility of use. The biggest difference is in the level for use. I wouldn’t recommend the Learning Chips for less than late 4th to 5th grade and up (yes, even high school). For the Learning Chips there are 16 chips, thus 16 different questions. Plus, they are made of a sturdy plastic, so they will last you a long time.

As I mentioned there is versatility in the use. The chips can be used with whole, group, small group, and individual. They can be used as part of the lesson or as an extension for high and lower level students depending on how they are used. I received two sets of chips for review.

Review Chips:
These chips are for reviewing a lesson, but can also be used as a wrap-up. There are many questions concerning relating the topic to the student and prior knowledge, summarizing, listing, vocabulary, and more. As I have said before, we are told constantly at workshops that for students to retain information they need to tell or think about what they have learned and this is an easy and fast way to do it.

Reading Comprehension:
I would definitely use these chips when teaching older grades. I really love the questions. It asks about character, setting, main idea, summary, style, relating to self, imagery, and more. These chips definitely hit on a lot of comprehension standards.

Overall, I really liked the chips. There is a variety of uses and questions. Plus, they are compact, easy, and fast to use.

*Learning Chips were provided by Kagan for review, no money was exchanged as a result (please see terms of use).

Monday, August 24, 2009

Kagan's Learning Cubes

Learning cubes are a different way to approach some of the questions that you may already be asking in class.

I was very excited when these learning cubes arrived. There are a wide variety of topics offered, but I chose the Lesson Launcher, Lesson Wrap-up, and Reading Comprehension cubes for this review. I am using these with 2nd graders and would not recommend going lower than that.

I found that the cubes could be used in multiple ways- centers, small group work, and even in whole group work. Using the cubes with the students was more interesting to them than just standing at the front of the room and asking them questions. They were excited with the anticipation of what the next question would be.

Also, they are a soft foam material. This keeps the noise down when there are several students or groups using them. Unless punctured with a sharp object, the cubes should last a while.

Lesson Launcher:
The Lesson Launcher cube has prediction questions, KWL style questions, and personal interest in the lesson questions. I found all of these questions relevent in that it meets the reading standards in Arizona. Just by using the cubes to introduce a new reading lesson or story I have covered several standards. Plus, it only takes a few minutes.

Lesson Wrap-up:
Over and over again at workshops, we are told you need to have your students tell or think about what they have learned in a lesson to ensure better retension of the knowledge. These cubes are a great way to do it quickly. There are several questions linking the knowledge learned to the student and his/her previous knowledge as well as how the student would reteach it and how they will remember it. Again, it only takes a few minutes to do. The language is low enough for about 2nd grade and up. This cube also meets some state standard.

Reading Comprehension:
The vocabulary used on this cube is a little harder and should be used with 3rd grade (maybe later 2nd grade) and up. It also makes use of Bloom's Taxonomy with words such as brainstorm. The reading comprehension can be used for fiction or nonfiction, which is great for consistent use with students (meaning they can be used with every reading).

Overall, I really like the cubes. They are quick, easy, and can be used frequently without a hassle.

*Learning Cubes were provided by Kagan for review, no money was exchanged as a result (please see terms of use).

Monday, August 3, 2009

Suppliers and Producers of Educational Tools


I am taking emails concerning your products now! If you would like me to review and blog about your product, email me and tell me about it. If it is something that I feel would follow the theme of what I am trying to do, you will need to send me a class sample. For example if you have individual student manipulatives that accompany a lesson on addition, I will need enough to do the lesson with the classroom. If it is a mini lesson for struggling readers, I will need a group set. The most important thing is that I need all of the parts and enough supplies to execute the objective, thus to properly evaluate your product.

To contact me:
reference: product for review

I look forward to working with you and the many great educational tools out there and getting the word out about them.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Join Today!

Hi! I can't wait to get started on this blog. Being a teacher, this blog is close to my heart. With school budgets getting tighter and homeschool budgets always tight, it can be difficult to choose what to order for your classroom. If I order something and the level is not right or it just isn't as great as it sounded in the catalog, I have just wasted a lot of money and have something else taking up my precious (and limited) classroom space.

With my blog, you will get to see some great tools that I have tested with real children in a real classroom and have found useful, educational, safe, and time-saving. If there is something you would love to see on here, let me know. I will do what I can to get it and test it.

In the mean time, join and we will hopefully be up and running soon!