Sumdog: Free Learning Games
Type of Technology: Website: www.sumdog.com Application: iPad (Sumdog)
SAMR Model Rating: Redefinition
Grade Level: Any Grade Level
Subject Areas: Mathematics, Language Arts
Cost: Free (*In app/website purchases available)
Over the course of the school year, I have quickly learned that keeping students engaged in each and every lesson can be a tall task, but I have also learned that whenever technology is integrated into a lesson, it greatly increases my success rate. Unfortunately, I do not have access to technology as much as I would like, so when I do get the opportunity to use the technology available, I try and make the most of it. My students get the opportunity to go to our school computer lab once a week, so I decided to try and find a website that the students may login to and practice some of the skills that we are learning in the classroom in a fun and engaging way.
Inspiration arose though several conversations I overheard my students having throughout the year. These students could not stop talking about online games they play together after school. These conversations made me realize,
What is more engaging for ten year olds than games in which they get to play with or against their friends or other individuals around the world?
After some searching, I found a website that had everything I had been looking for. Sumdog is a free interactive online website in which students play a variety games with or against each other. It focuses on math, writing and reading fluency. Each student has an account (created by a teacher) and gets to create an avatar of them self. They get to buy their avatar clothes with coins earned while playing the games and they can request and add friends from all over the world!
The beauty of this website resides in the fact that each student plays at their own ability level. I know what you may be thinking, “Do I really want to go to this website, create accounts for all my students, and then have to adjust all my students accounts so that they can have an appropriate amount of rigor?” Simply put, you do not have to do a thing! Sumdog automatically adjusts the difficulty of questioning for each student in relation to their success rate of the questions they have been previously asked. So if a student is consistently answering questions correctly, the difficulty will increase until they reach a “sweet spot” in the rigor of questioning that provides a productive struggle. This feature allows all students at varied levels the chance to play games together, but at their own ability levels. I love this feature because it levels the playing field for all students and provides students with the opportunity to have fun together.
Another great feature that keeps the students engaged and wanting to keep playing is their own personal avatars. Each student gets to customize their own avatar to their liking and gets to buy their avatars different clothes with the coins they earn while playing. Other features include the students ability to add friends to their accounts which allows them to know when their friends are online so that they can play games together. The students do not have the ability to chat with each other, which I feel is a great feature as well because it makes the website strictly about the gameplay.
In regards to the teacher aspect of the website, it also provides great features as well. The teacher account allows you to monitor each students progress, the average time it takes them to answer a question, their accuracy, as well as their accuracy in relation to the grade level in which their questions fall under. For example, one student may have an 85% accuracy level in 4th grade questioning, but may be at a 65% level in 5th grade questioning. This provides essential information on the students progress in their grade level skills. Other great features that can be used by teachers is the ability to create quizzes or assign specific concepts for students to practice, such as fractions, exponents, decimals, adding, subtracting, etc. while they are playing the games.
I could go on and on about how Sumdog can be beneficial to your classroom, but I would rather share how my students have responded to the website. We have been using this website for about 3 months now, and I now have an excitement in the classroom every time we go to the computer lab because the students want to play the Sumdog math games and play those games with each other at the same time. I have students who choose to have their recess time in the classroom and play the games because they want to be on Sumdog. I also have a group of students who ask me if they can stay after school to use my classroom computers to play Sumdog, and then yell in excitement when they see that one of their classmates is online at home playing as well.
So if you feel like your students would enjoy creating a junk pile at a dump, jet skiing at the beach, creating new animals by combining upper and lower bodies of various animals together, or fighting off an alien invasion, but at the same time developing their fluency in various subjects, then I would highly recommend Sumdog to you and your students. Enjoy!
***There are several in app/website licenses (purchases) you may make, but they are not necessary. This website can be used as a free resource if chosen to do so.