[Wonder Workshop (844) WONDER1]
         Many of us remember, back in the day, having to memorize the times table, do arithmetic with pencil and paper, and using other 'old fashioned' methods. A few years ago we were astounded when children started using technology in preschool.
Well, now we have children at the Upper Elementary level learning robotics and programming using Blockly!         
         Wonder Workshop's Blockly is a drag-and-drop visual programming tool that introduces children, ages 8/up, to fundamental programming concepts, including Algorithm Design, Command Sequences, Control Flow, Conditionals, Loops, Sensors and Events.
Blockly is an app for iOS and Android that can be downloaded from the publisher's website. The application works in conjunction with robots (Dash and Dot) via Bluetooth, and can be purchased with optional accessories (Launchers, Building Brick Connectors, Xylophone and more).
         One first charges the robots for 60-90 minutes, using a USB source. When turned on, the lovable characters come to life and have personalities of their own. Their brilliant color, slick finish, and animated characteristics will endear them to any child.
         With the robots on the floor, the child launches the
Blockly app which searches for the robots. A toolbar on the left provides cleverly designed interlocking blocks consisting of programming commands to be executed by the robots. When dragged and dropped onto the workspace on the right, in the desired sequence, the Start button sends the commands to the robots for execution. An auto-save feature ensures that files are saved.
         For ideas and inspiration, it is recommended that the child watch the Play Site and the Dash & Dot Show, where various Youtube videos, hosted by children, demonstrate highly creative ways to program the robots. Some topics are: Introducing Dash and Dot, Robot Fashion Show, Dot Strikes Back, Detective Dash, Dashapult, Holiday Special, and more.
         Programming with
Blockly challenges a child's creative and problem solving abilities, and offers an opportunity to turn their silliest or most ambitious ideas into reality.

[Istation (866) 883-READ]

              Istation, winner of the 2016 BESSIES in Early Learning: Reading, Early Elementary: Reading, and Multi-Level: Reading Skills, is something of a throwback - endearingly and powerfully so.  Endearingly, Istation is a downloadable software program with engaging cartoon characters and animation, especially appropriate for classrooms with limited or no access to the Internet. Teachers with legacy computers (Windows XP, and some Windows 95) taking up space in their classrooms can now have dedicated reading stations using Istation.  Powerfully, it improves reading skills of students from 4th to 12th grade.
             Complying with state standards as well as Common Core, 
Istation  uses a computer-adaptive test and ISIP (Istation's Indicators of Progress) to deliver content tailored to each individual student's skill level in the four critical domains of reading: Word Analysis, Fluency, Vocabulary, and Comprehension.  Building on those skills, Istation provides three tiers of instruction and does so with engaging, compelling content and lots of guided practice - in a format even struggling readers and ELL students will find appealing.
           Teachers will like the available resources which include directed lessons, bibliographies for each lesson, online interactive books and, best of all, student scores and placements which are completed immediately, freeing up more time for actual teaching. If improving reading skills is in your wheelhouse, you'll want to take a look at