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ABCmouse for Teachers
Pros: Learning content ranges in presentation and covers a wide variety of topics.
Cons: The virtual classroom has a lot going on and varies in pedagogical quality.
Bottom Line: Though it's not for deeper thinking, this free platform has a ton to offer.
ABCmouse for Teachers can be a fun and comprehensive resource for reinforcing important early learning themes. Teachers might want to let kids use the default learning paths that match the student's age. However, if teachers want to customize learning paths for individual students, activities can be better targeted. For instance, if teachers have just covered a particular science topic, they can assign review activities to the whole class. Or, if a student is falling behind in reading, teachers can assign them reading activities for extra help. Though the original video series can introduce new concepts and spark curiosity, the activities are best for practice and reinforcement.
A simple tracking system gives teachers a general idea of the activities their students have completed, but not how well they're understanding the material. Teachers can use ABCmouse for Teachers in the computer lab, at rotating stations, or with the whole class, although not all activities will lend themselves well to use on a projector or an interactive whiteboard. There are also plenty of printables to help bridge online lessons with off-screen classroom activities.
ABCmouse for Teachers offers pre-K through second grade curriculum touching on a variety of topics, many of which correlate to the Common Core State Standards. Kids visit a virtual classroom where they can play games, learn or review material, visit the zoo or a farm, or tend to a pet hamster or a fish. When kids complete activities, they earn tickets they can use to buy items in a virtual store.
Kids follow a learning path that gets progressively more challenging as they use the site. Their level is set based on starting age, and they can either follow a customized learning path or choose activities at random. Teachers can also choose and assign particular activities for each student. Content focuses on reading and writing, math, art and music, music and songs, social studies, and science and health. Content is presented through art, books, songs, puzzles, games, and printables. New content is added -- and removed -- regularly, including original video series that explore topics such as culture and geography, science, or timely world events. There are Spanish language activities as well as an option to set the main navigation menu to Spanish. Teachers can track kids' progress through the learning path as well as conduct other assessments. With a free teacher subscription, all content is available on the web and in multiple companion apps. Teachers can also provide kids with a code to access any assigned content at home.
ABCmouse for Teachers is chock-full of age-appropriate content that comes in an engaging format. Activities cover an impressive variety of topics from multiple perspectives. Not only does this allow for repetition without being tedious, but it also reaches lots of students with differing interests and learning strengths. The option to customize a learning plan is a good way to target specific areas of need for particular students.
However, though the content is presented clearly and is well organized, ABCmouse for Teachers has a lot going on. This could make it easy for students to get confused and overwhelmed. Kids will likely need help and some time to learn how to navigate; supervision to ensure that they're on track might be necessary. It would also be nice to see the activities adapt according to a student's actual performance, rather than progress based only on completion, and more activities that engage critical thinking would be nice. Also, some may not like the extrinsic reward system that lets kids buy virtual items with tickets after completing activities. Not only is the ticket dispenser at the end of each activity distracting, learning is a reward in and of itself, especially for kids this young. It could be easy for them to get lost in these "reward" activities, and then hitting the Back button takes a student to the learning path instead of the last screen they visited, which could cause confusion. For a free program with teacher tools, it does have a lot to offer, but it's important for teachers to note that the quantity doesn't necessarily mean quality when it comes to deeper learning, thinking, and engagement.