How I Use It
I use this tool during our morning stations time. I have my 4th and 5th graders rotate through grammar, math, writing, and spelling stations. These are different every day, and I like to occasionally use Free Rice as a station option for either grammar or math. I taught my students how to use the tool and find the different subject areas, so I never have to reexplain. When I have students using Free Rice, I like to give them a specific number of grains of rice they need to earn before they move on to the next station. Students often can get 500 grains of rice (5 bowls) within a few minutes, particularly if they are doing multiplication drill-and-practice. I also like to use Free Rice as a differentiated vocabulary instruction tool. During our computer time each week, I have students go on Free Rice "English Vocabulary" page. I have students of all levels of English proficiency, as well as students with specific learning disabilities in language arts. This tool is perfect, because it gives students new vocabulary words right at their level. I encourage students to keep getting higher scores, and provide rewards for reaching a certain number of bowls of rice. I have also sent this website out to parents of students with Limited English Proficiencies, so that the students can practice building their vocabulary at home. One thing that would be helpful would be some sort of accountability for the teacher to be able to register students and then check their progress. At the moment I am using it as a practice tool, and not an assessment tool, but an assessment component would certainly be helpful.
I think that this quiz site is highly motivational for students, because they see the grains of rice quickly building up, encouraging them to continue rapidly answering questions. Free Rice pays attention to what types of words the student is getting correct or incorrect, and uses that information to give leveled questions to the student. This is great, because it automatically differentiates without the student really even noticing. For instance, if being used for math drill-and-practice, Free Rice will recycle the 5 times tables for a student struggling with those, rather than going on to harder questions the student will not be successful at answering. The site is also great for teaching advanced students, because in the same way, if a student gets a difficult word correct, they will continue getting harder and harder words, which is extremely motivating for gifted students. My one criticism is that occasionally the site will stop counting grains of rice for a student, so they can keep playing but it doesn't add their scores. When this happens, the game loses its luster very quickly.