Parents’ Ultimate Guide to “Fortnite”

It is a frenzy that shows no sign of slowing down. Many of my students are not only swept up in playing the game “Fortnite” but are also watching video after video of others playing the game. While some of these games can involve intense strategic planning and a sense of teamwork as players work together toward a common goal, they are also places where screen time can get out of control, excessive violence encouraged, and cyberbullying run rampant.

Both teachers and parents need to make the effort to at least be aware of the games that our students and children are engaging in, so that we can help them to recognize their positive contributions to learning and caution them about their potential dangers and pitfalls. Common Sense Media has put together a nice resource about the game Fortnite and, while their target audience is parents, teachers can benefit from this awareness too.

Watch the short video below, then follow this link to their website for more in-depth information including different versions of the game, game vocabulary, and some of its other social features.

Branches of Power (Gr. 4-12)

Branches of Power – Building humble issues into towering laws

Branches of Power is one of eight interactive modules available from Sunnylands Civics Games. In this module students take on roles in each of the three branches of the United States government: Congressional, Executive, and Judicial. Students float among the three branches as they follow an issue from its beginnings in a public forum to local governments, then to Congress and all the way to the desk of the President.

If this is their first time visiting the site, after reading through the directions have students start by going through the tutorial. This will pre-configure the players and allow them to focus more on the government processes themselves. There are many variables, values, and interest groups that students will need to consider at each step in the legislative process. Once students have a feel for the game, have them move to the main game module where they get to configure their own players within each government branch. Students will need to, for example, select what values their legislator will fight for and what issues will make up their Executive branch’s agenda. Winning occurs when students successfully turn all ten issues into laws, represented by towers on the game board.

This site requires Flash.

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  • If you don’t have access to a 1-to-1 environment for students to run their own governments, then project the site onto a whiteboard and divide them up into three groups  (the three branches) and have them make decisions by consensus.
  • After a game session is finished, have students reflect on the choices they made and places where they could have taken a different path.

Bojagi (Gr. 4-12)

Bojagi – Visual-reasoning math puzzles

Created by David Radcliffe, Bojagi combines multiplication with visual-reasoning skills on a grid to create interesting math puzzles. The directions are pretty straight forward:

“Draw a rectangle around each number by clicking and dragging with a mouse. Each rectangle should contain exactly one number, and the area of the rectangle should be the number that it contains. Rectangles must not overlap.”

Once you have completed the training puzzle, click on the List menu to access a growing list of user-generated puzzles, some of which are quite challenging. After you have acquired enough experience with the puzzles, click on the Create menu and try your hand at making one of your own!


  • Put a new spin on learning multiplication facts using this site.
  • Have students work in pairs to solve the same problem then compare their results to show that there may be more than one way to solve a problem.
  • Pair with an interactive whiteboard and have students solve one number at a time. Can they solve a number and still leave room for their peers to solve the remaining puzzle numbers?

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Winter Theme Magnetic Poetry w/Google Slides

Some of us have yet to see a flake so far this season, while others have already had to break out the boots, gloves, and shovels. Regardless of where you are on the winter scale, Google is here to help usher in the season with Magnetic Poetry.  Similar to the Halloween post I shared back in October, the winter version uses Google Slides instead of Drawing to create a digital version of the magnetic poetry once found solely on the kitchen refrigerator. In addition, this template comes with a word bank so you can see the list of words that are already present. Use this link to make a copy for yourself and then distribute the template to your students.

The word bank is extensive so students may need to go digging in search of specific words. Of course, since it is a Google Slides file students can make their own ‘word magnets’ if needed using the shapes tool. Project the file onto an Interactive WhiteBoard (IWB) and have students work in teams to see who can craft the best poetry piece.

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My thanks again to Kasey Bell for sharing this resource.


Halloween Magnetic Poetry w/Google Drawing

Halloween is only a few days off and teachers are on the lookout for fun and creative activities to get students into the spirit of the holiday. Look no further than this Google Drawing template designed to work like the magnetic poetry pieces one might find on a refrigerator door. Clicking the link will prompt you to “Make a copy…” from the template and save it to your Google Drive. You can then share your copy with your students as well as your peers.

The word bank is extensive so students may need to go digging in search of specific words. Of course, since it is a Google Drawing file students can make their own ‘word magnets’ if needed. Project the file onto an Interactive WhiteBoard (IWB) and have students work in teams to see who can craft the best poetry piece.

A Google Drawing template designed to act like Magnetic Poetry pieces.

My thanks to Kasey Bell from Shake Up Learning who shared this template in the Google for Education Trainer forum for anyone to use and share alike!

Simon Says…Online (Gr. K-12)

Simon Online

Play the hit memory game Simon from your computer! Simon uses four colored tiles and corresponding sounds to create a pattern that you need to repeat. For each successful pattern you repeat, Simon will add one additional step at the end. Points are awarded for each successful pattern repeat. There’s nothing more to it than that. This site requires Flash.


  • Pair Simon with an interactive whiteboard to get the entire class involved.
  • If you have multiple student devices, divide your class into teams and have them compete against one another.
  • Add another level of difficulty by muting the device to remove the audio cues. If you really want to make things challenging, hide the display while Simon plays the next pattern so that students have to rely exclusively on the button sound effects.

Simon game screenshot


PAC-MAN & Google MapsScreen Shot 2015-04-01 at 8.20.26 AM

One of Google’s many catch phrases is that they are always “Living in Beta.” This week Google decided to take a trip back in time and visit an old friend from the 80’s. When you navigate to and then direct your eyes to the bottom-left corner you will see, in addition to the tool to activate the Google Earth overlay, the option to activate PAC-Maps. PAC-Maps will turn turn the streets of your current map view into a PAC-MAN game board. The whole gang is there including Pinky, Blinky, Inky and Clyde, invincibility wafers, and even the occasional piece of fruit for bonus points. Use the arrow keys to move PAC-MAN around the board. Now, students can take PAC-MAN on a tour of the world’s greatest population centers from Paris to Dubai to Sydney to New York City!

PAC-Maps screenshot

PAC-Maps is also available on iOS and Android devices with the latest download of the Google Maps app. Just click on Settings and choose the “Insert Coin” option. PAC-MAN can only be played in a few places on your mobile device but have no fear, Google has left clues for us to try and figure out where.


This – Is – Jeopardy…w/Google Sheets &

Quiz Show Game Board, makers of activity templates for Google Sheets, has created one that mimics the classic Jeopardy game show board. In four steps you can customize a game board consisting of six topic columns with five question-&-answer squares each.

Step #1: Use this link to access a  ‘view-only’ version of the template from their website, which will open in Google Sheets. Use the Google Sheets File Menu to ‘Make a copy…’ so that you can edit the game board content. Customize the topic columns, question cells, and corresponding answer cells. Use the row headers to keep track of which questions cells are paired to which answer cells.


Step #2: Once you have finished customizing your game board, use the Google Sheets File Menu to ‘Publish to the web…’ From the pop-up menu, verify that you are publishing the ‘Entire Document’ to a ‘Link,’ then choose ‘Publish.’ Copy the URL that is generated to the virtual clipboard and then return to the game board.

Step #3: At the bottom of the Google Sheets project locate and click on the second sheet entitled, ‘Get the Link Here.’ Paste the ‘Publish link’ you just copied into the designated cell. This will auto-generate a Flippity link to your quiz show.

Step #4: Copy-&-Paste the Flippity link into a new browser tab/window to load your quiz show gameScreen Shot 2014-12-03 at 2.45.53 PM board. To the left of the game board are your colored team markers. Use these to submit team answers and it will automatically keep track of each team’s score. Use the plus/minus signs at the bottom of the page to add/subtract the number of teams who as needed (min = 1, max = 6).

For each square:

  1. Click once on a point value to reveal the question.
  2. Click on the question to reveal the answer.
  3. For each team marker click the checkmark (green) if they provided the correct answer, click the X (red) if their answer was incorrect, or leave both blank if they failed to provide an answer within the allocated time. Click the answer square to return to the game board, where that question will now be grayed out to show it has been used.
  4. Correct answers earns points, incorrect answers lose points, and no answers neither gain nor lose points.

Additional features:

  • Insert the Flippity link into your website for easy access in class and/or as a practice tool for students to use.
  • You can embed YouTube videos into a question/answer cell from the YouTube ‘Share’ link.
  • You can embed an image into a question/answer cell from the web.


  • Because you can embed an image, you could also embed a QR Code. Use QR codes in conjunction with mobile devices to get teams to use their search skills with a specific resource in order to find the answer.
  • To temporarily take down your game board for repairs, use the Google Sheets File -> Publish to web… menu option to un-publish the file. Just remember to re-publish when you’ve finished making changes.
  • You cannot save your game process, so if you close your browser window/tab mid-game then teams will lose the points they had earned.

Garfield Comics + Online Safety + iOS

Garfield is a fat, orange, tabby who loves lasagna, enjoys picking on his owner Jon Arbuckle, and HATES Mondays. In the 36 years since Garfield was born, these tails haven’t changed much. However, in the 21st Century Garfield has developed a passion for Internet Safety and a hatred of cyberbullying.

Garfield and his friends have put together a series of iOS apps to help elementary students with these and other digital citizenship concepts:

Professor Garfield: Online Safety

  • Nermal gets schooled by Professor Garfield on the Do’s and Don’ts of keeping his personal information safe online.

Professor Garfield: Fact or Opinion

  • When Nermal receives a poor grade on his report, Garfield investigates and discovers that Nermal got some of his information from websites that may not be so trustworthy.

Professor Garfield: Cyberbullying

  • When Nermal tries to enter the “Animal Idol” competition, little does he know that two dogs from down the street are planning to humiliate him online using email and social networking sites.

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Thanks to iPadApps4School for blogging about this resource.

Smarty Pins

Smarty Pins – A Google Maps game

Smarty Pins is a web-based interactive game created by Google that integrates trivia questions with map skills. Choose from six different trivia categories including current events, science, sports, and more. Click on ‘Featured Topics’ to access trivia questions that are currently trending on the web.

After choosing a topic, your trivia question will be displayed in a box in the top-left corner of the page and a large, red push-pin will be provided to your right. Click-&-drag the pin as close to the location you think answers the question (use the plus/minus sign buttons in the bottom-right of the map to zoom in/out). Once you drop the pin, you have as many chances to change your answer (i.e. move the pin) as you want. When you think you’ve got the right location, click the ‘Submit answer’ button beneath the pin to see how you did. Points are earned based on how close your pin is to the correct location. Bonus points are earned for a speedy answer, and if you get stuck Google will give you a hint to try and help.


  • This site would integrate well with an interactive whiteboard configuration.
  • Include additional students by assigning them to ‘lifeline’ roles. These students could act as “Google Jockey’s,” who work from other devices and try to Google the answer. Other lifeline roles could include “phone-a-friend,” “poll the audience,” or “ask an expert.”

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Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo for sharing this resource.