It’s Pi Day! Let’s Celebrate

What day is it? Why it’s 3/14… Pi Day!

The magic day when Pi Claus manifests from your calculator and… wait, I think I made that part up. Pi Day is just a goofy math holiday that I love to celebrate every year with my class. Obviously it’s not something I made up, but there are plenty of fun activities to do with your students or children.

Even if you’re in  lower grade, it’s not to hard to get students involved in some good ol’ pi fun.

Pi Pies and Other Baked Goods

Do you like pie? How about cake? Well, now you have a reason to eat even more of it then you normally would during a Friday math class. Ask your students to bring in any circular baked goods and then let them measure the tasty delights. Circumference is the easiest, and you can add in area if you want to give them a nice challenge. Kids too young? Give’em calculators! Kids too old? Make them convert to various metric units and the like. Oh and did I mention you and your students get to eat the the treats? Because you totally do.

Pi Digit Paper Chain 

Here’s a simple one and kids of all ages seem to enjoy it. First round up ten stacks of paper, each in a different color. Above each stack of paper put a post-it note with a digit (0-9). Each color represents a different digit (if you didn’t catch that). Using a ruler, pencil and scissors your students can cut a strip from the paper they need. Hand your students a list of pi digits and have them see how many chain loops they can make in a certain amount of time. I always have one class compete against the other to see who can make the longest chain. It’s also a nice decoration for future Pi Day celebrations.

Pi Reciting Contest

I like to give my students the first hundred digits of pi a few days before Pi Day just in case they want to get serious about this one. Otherwise you can just give your students a set time limit and see who can get the furtherest in front of the class from memory. My students love the competition aspect and this year I may even have a student hit 200 digits!

There are many other wonderful Pi Day activities, but these three take the… pie. At least in my book they do. If you’d like to know more about Pi Day or ways to celebrate it you should head over to it’s official website. Have some Pi DAy traditions of your own? Leave them in the comments below!


Since the the weather out side is still frightful, my class (as well as the rest of the 6th grade) have been participating in “indoor recess”. It’s a mad house to say the least. During this time there is one girl who always comes to my room and talks to me about Animal Crossing: New Leaf, a life sim game for the 3DS that features animal neighbors. I’ve put hundreds of hours into the Animal Crossing series and this particular girl loves to ask me questions about the game or simply bend my ear about fish she’s caught or fossils she’s uncovered.

Today she was telling me about a spring festival that was going on in her town. This festival is also the arrival of…

This fellow, known as Pavé.

The student showed me her 3DS screen and said, “Have you seen this peacock guy before?”

I confirmed that I had and asked her what she thought of him.

She leaned in close and whispered, “Well, at first I thought he was a girl. Because he’s kind of dressed like a girl…

“He does have on some interesting clothing,” I agreed.

“Well, I wanted to know why he looked so funny,” she said, “So I went online and looked up stuff about boy peacocks and it turns out they’re the only one who are all crazy and colorful. They do it to attract girl peacocks! Isn’t that crazy?”

Isn’t it great that this game (which is packed full of great dialogue for reading practice by the way) peaked this young lady’s interest to the point of research? Just goes to show that you never know where students will find inspiration.

Now. Let’s all dance!

ClassRealm Complications: Multiplayer Madness

Complication – Too Many Students or Classes

There’s nothing quite like playing a wonderful multiplayer title with your best buddies. More players usually means more fun, but sometimes there’s just not enough controllers to go around. I mean you’re already using that one with the wonky control stick, you know the one.

This year my everyday teaching schedule has changed quite a bit, and it has wreaked havoc on my students’ traditional ClassRealm experience. Unlike previous years, my first two math classes have students coming in from different homerooms, which means I really only see all my homeroom students for two periods a day (sometimes only one). It’s exceptionally hard to dole out experience points and achievements when you have so many kids coming in and out of your room all day long, especially when most of them aren’t even part of your ClassRealm crew.

Now I would love to give every student who walks through my door the full ClassRealm treatment, but it’s out of the question when it comes to the paper system I have in place. Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of my 30 homeroom students, let alone the 40+ other kids I’m working with on a daily basis. This just goes to show how hard it might be to run multiple ClassRealm paper systems at once, say in a high school setting where you have different students almost every period. What’s a teacher to do?


The best answer is a simple-to-use online system that can be managed via tablet, phone or computer desktop. It seems while this multi-student and multi-class complication may be an issue on paper it would most certainly be more feasible if it was managed using the power of the internets and modern technology. It’s too bad no one is planning on building one for ClassRealm. What? We are? Well then. This could very well become a complication of the past. Here’s hoping.


Games Worth Playing: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Hello ClassRealm fans, and welcome to our second installment of Games Worth Playing. The series where we tell you about one game (educational or not) that’s worth your time. Today we’re focusing on a title and a series near and dear to my heart…

Much like every Legend of Zelda title to date, the player  takes control of the green-clad, sword wielding hero known as Link. Now there are very few direct sequels in The Legend of Zelda series, so chances are the Link you’re controlling is not that same one you’ve used to save the princess before. In this case the game puts you back in the same world from the 1991 classic A Link to the Past for the Super Nintendo, though the game is set six generations in the future.

You probably don’t care about that do you? Well, the REAL reason to play A Link Between Worlds (ALBW) is because of its puzzles, adventure elements aaaaaaaaand it’s focus on reading. In fact this is one of the first titles in which Nintendo has actually added a little note about literacy on the back of the game box.

As you can see I noticed this a while back. The ability to read certainly makes ALBW a much more enjoyable adventure. You will most certainly get lost and meet an unfortunate end if you cannot decipher all the text that pops up through out the game. Anyone who is learning to read may have a hard time getting through all the signs and character dialogue, but those with a basic grasp should be fine. While kids may love reading books they’ll probably think you’re insane if you ask them to play a video game to practice their reading.

Along with all this lovely reading come some absolutely fantastic puzzles which are always good mental stimulation no matter your age. The game as a whole is a sprawling epic that will take even veterans some time to complete in whole. It’s hard to go wrong when it comes to The Legend of Zelda series, and ALBW is no exception. Anyone with a 3DS/2DS should experience it’s grandeur, young or old.

Name: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

System(s): 3DS and 2DS

Price: $40.00 (eShop price)

Made By: Nintendo

Games Worth Playing – Slice Fractions

Did you know that ClassRealm is based on aspects of video games? Of course you did.

Well in honor of our video game roots we’re going to be sharing some educational and traditional games we think you and your students should be playing. First up – Slice Fractions!

Let me just start off by pointing out that this game features a hat-collecting woolly mammoth and a volcano with the face of a cat. If that doesn’t sell you on the game alone, I’m not sure what will. But wait, there’s more! Not only is Slice Fractions adorable and quirky, it actually teaches (and reteaches) you fractions. Can you believe it?

By slicing sections of ice and lava you can eliminate the on-screen obstacles and help your mammoth on his journey to… go do what ever it is that mammoths do.  The game starts out with simple shapes and doesn’t even include any numbers, but eventually things jump up a notch and you’re slicing fractions all over the gosh darn place.

There are currently 60 levels, and unfortunately they go by rather quickly when you get immersed in the game. But worry not, because I’ve been told there are more levels on the way! *Whew*

If you have a student/son/daughter/niece/nephew/really smart dog who is struggling with understanding fractions I would highly highly recommend this title. Or if you just want a fun little educational puzzle game all for yourself. It teaches you while you learn!

Name: Slice Fractions

System(s): Phone and Tablet (iOS and Googleplay)

Price: $2.99

Made By: Ululab

ClassRealm Tech Tips – Twitter

While ClassRealm news is a little slow at the moment I figured I would take this time to blog about other educational aspects I use in my classroom, as well as great video games that you and your students should be playing (both educational and traditional alike).

Today we’re going to talk about Twitter! What is it? Why is it a thing? How in the world could I possibly use it for educational purposes?

Well I’m here to tell you a few ways I like to use it.

Twitter is a form of social media that forces users to convey their thoughts in 140 characters or less. That’s characters, NOT words. Make sure you don’t get that mixed up!

Twitter is a fantastic form of communication between teachers and students, as well as teachers and parents. Let me start off by saying that I do not recommend you “tweet at” any students or parents during school hours. It’s not the best idea, because well it takes only  few seconds, it’s evidence that you’re not currently teaching or paying attention to your class.

What should you tweet to students and parents? 

1. Homework

2. School updates (2 hour delay!)

3. Classroom activities (Look at our science lab!)

Keep in mind that you should never use a students full names, show any assignment/test scores or post anything that would be considered inappropriate at school. The best part about having a classroom Twitter account? Parents and students don’t have to have a Twitter account to check your feed! They can simply find it in there web browser and pull up all the info you’ve provided.

Here’s an example of my one of my classroom Tweets.

It’s simple, concise and it helps students and parents quickly check the homework situation from home or even their phone. I tweet my spelling words every Monday and I know my parents (and sometimes students) really appreciate it. If you feel so inclined you can even tweet out ClassRealm updates! Heck, you could make a twitter account just for your ClassRealm info. Who doesn’t want to hear about vampires and yetis gaining experience points?

The second way to utilize Twitter is simply to use its format to help students understand the concept of summarizing. Some students have a really tough time breaking down what certain passages or chapters are all about and making them “tweet” a summary can really help. Simply hand them template with 140 small boxes and tell them they need to sum up the main points in a “tweet”. It will be evident very quickly if they are or are not grasping the key aspects of their reading. If you’re not happy with their summary simply make them do it again. It’s only 140 characters after all, right?

Have any other Twitter tips or ideas for teachers? Leave them below!

“Cool” Factor

Ice to see you again, ClassRealm fans.

That’s right, I said it. But terrible Mr. Freeze puns aside, welcome back to the official ClassRealm Blog.

Today I’d like to discus a teacher topic that is near and dear to my heart – being “cool”. Now the reason “cool” is in quotes is because I’m speaking from a student’s perspective. If you run around telling people you’re cool, chances are you’re not. Or you’re the Fonz. But can being “cool” ruin a students view of you as an authority figure?

Recently I mentioned that my students thought I was “cool” to another teacher (on the web) and they retorted that being cool in a students eyes isn’t the way to go. In the other teachers opinion students can’t respect an adult who they think is a radical dude. Their yearning to goof around and get off topic around these types of adults is too strong.

I completely disagree. Many teachers find it strange that I talk to my students often about subjects like gaming and cartoons, but in my mind this connection is one of the best relationships a mentor can have with their pupil. The teacher who yells a lot and doesn’t get your jokes or the teacher who can talk in depth with you about what he built in Minecraft last night – which one are you more likely to really listen to? If students are invested in you as  teacher than everything you tell them is gold. They hang on your every word. They remember concepts because you made them fun and relatable. It’s ok to be a friend to a student. Not all the time, and not in the same way you would with a normal adult, but enough to show them that you understand their world and want to be a part of it.

So go forth teachers. Help those students who don’t think learning can relate to their life. Being “cool” may just be the key.


Press Start: Year Three!

Great ghost of Cranky Kong! It’s been far too long since I’ve updated the ClassRealm blog. I’m terribly sorry folks! I’ll be attempting to update every week (or more) from now on.

As usual I’m here to reassure you that ClassRealm is far from dead, quite the contrary in fact. We are currently being looked at by a well known and influential educational company and we’ve never been more excited about the future of our wonderful system. That being said, the paper system is still being used by many and I just started it this week in my own classroom.

Every year I have this horrible fear that students are going to hate the concept. They’re going to groan at the prospect of making up their own character and tracking their stats. “What a drag!” they collectively yell as I weep in the corner.

I’m proud to say that this did NOT happen. The students were very excited to try ClassRealm and they couldn’t wait to start earning XP, levels and achievements. Huzzaw! ClassRealm still works. My favorite quote was from a boy (now a Shadow Yeti) who said, “I like that it only gives you points for being good, but doesn’t take them away for when I mess up.”

I like it too, Mr. Yeti. I like it too.

Here are a few profiles that I found enjoyable.

photo 3 (5) photo 2 (9) photo 1 (10)

As you can see their strengths and weaknesses are both school related and fantasy related. Fireballs and Social Studies forever!

What is Going on with ClassRealm?

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Hey folks! Been a while since I’ve updated the blog (sorry!) and I figured I’d link you to  piece I wrote for Kotaku about the journey to create ClassRealm. Just click here. Hope you enjoy it. Thanks to everyone for the continued support of our idea.


ClassRealm Complications: Who Cares?

Howdy folks. Welcome to another exciting edition of ClassRealm Complications. In this blog post I will address a particular trouble I’m having or have had while using ClassRealm in my room. So without further ado…

Complication – Lack of Interest

There will always be students who don’t care. It’s not that they don’t care about everything, just certain parts of school which don’t interest them. I have students who love math, yet loath science and don’t even feel it’s worth their time. ClassRealm is not the end-all be-all when it comes to students interests, but it’s a pretty great way to generate buzz within my classroom. Many students always ask what their level is, how many XP they need to get to the next level and what they need to do to get that next achievement. Not every student though. Some just shrug when they get XP or level up. They don’t try for achievements. ClassRealm is fine with them, but it’s not worth the extra work in their mind. It’s completely understandable. As I mentioned above, not everyone has the same tastes. Some students just want to sleep (See above).


Kick those kids out of class. Kidding! The best part about ClassRealm is that it’s fully customizable. The solution here is to make it more attractive to those students who don’t see it’s value. What do they care about? Sitting with their friends? Extra recess? Push them towards a goal that they feel is worth making in the first place. Even some of those kids who don’t care crack a smile every now and then when they level up. Maybe they want to be part of the system, they just don’t feel like they can add much. Make a big deal when an uninterested student, or any student for that matter, levels up. They just added to your classes overall level count! Your class is one step closer to one of their goals.