Thursday, October 22, 2015

Mystery Skype

So by the time this week is over, we will have completed a Mystery Skype with 3 different classes from all over the world.  We recently completed our first ever Mystery Skype and we survived.  Not only did we survive, we managed to overcome a 7 hour time difference and started our Monday with a call from Finland at 8:08 in the morning!  How did we do it?  A lot of preparation.

What is a Mystery Skype?  

Well, Mystery Skype is a 30-60 minute critical thinking challenge that your class takes part in while Skyping with another class somewhere else in the country or the world.  Your students' goal is to guess the other school's location (country, state, city, school name) before they guess yours.  We do this by asking yes and no questions.

Here is an even better explanation of Mystery Skype from Skype in the Classroom:

How do I find Mystery Skype partners?  

There are many ways to find partners.  One way is to connect with teachers in your professional learning network outside of your district.  Another great way of connecting is to send out a tweet with the #mysteryskype.  You'll be amazed by how many responses you'll get!  And finally, Skype in the Classroom has been making it increasingly easier for teachers to find partners.  They have a special database full of teachers all around the world that want to Mystery Skype.  You can register by going to this page:

Why should I Mystery Skype with my students? 

There are many reasons to get your kids involved.  
  • They will become global learners.
  • They will become problem solvers.
  • They will practice geography skills in real world situations.
  • They will practice their listening and speaking skills.
  • They will become critical thinkers.
  • They will use technology research skills.
  • They work together and become cooperative learners.
  • They- and you - will make relationships for future projects.
  • It's FUN!
  • AND - you will get time off!  Your students will lead the lesson!

So how do I start?

 Since we are in 3rd grade, we had to begin by reviewing simple concepts like the cardinal directions, continents and oceans, and the locations of the 50 states.  That took us weeks!  Then we started practicing asking and answering yes or no questions about hidden locations around the world and using maps, charts, and Google to help us narrow down various locations. Students also had to learn to keep the questions general so as to not waste their questions.  Usually, I pretended to be a hidden country and they were Pennsylvania.  This way I could make sure that they could answer questions that other teams would ask us about our state while they were asking me questions to determine my location. They had to know if we were west of the Mississippi River, one of the 13 Original Colonies, north of the Mason Dixon Line, landlocked, etc.  One day, we even had our principal volunteer to come in and pretend to be a mystery country and ask and answer questions!  During these mock Mystery Skypes, I was observing the students to see where their strengths were.  Then they filled out application forms to apply for the job they would like to hold for our first REAL Mystery Skype.

We printed maps of the world, the United States, Europe, and world and US time zones and laminated all of
them so we could mark them up and then erase them.  We also decided it would be helpful to have alphabetical lists of all of the countries on each continent and of the flags of the countries on each continent and laminated these, as well.  In addition, we color-coded question ideas for Continent (blue), Country/State (green), and City (pink) and put these on our white board for reference and practiced using all of these resources.

About a week before our first Mystery Skype, I put my profile on Skype in the Classroom.  I sent messages to a few teachers on the list, and I received messages from teachers looking for partners to Mystery Skype.  My first contact came from a teacher in Finland!  Not what I was expecting or prepared for!  It was even a week earlier than I had planned on having my students ready!  But we went ahead and scheduled a day to play the game and I pushed full steam ahead with my kiddos!

We had exactly 1 week from the day we scheduled our first Mystery Skype until the day of the game.  During that time, the kids practiced and I had many Skype contacts with the partner teacher.  I knew where the class was located, but my kids had no clue.

We also reviewed the jobs that would be needed for a successful Mystery Skype and signed up for 2 jobs we thought we'd really like and noted 1 job we would prefer NOT to have.  Then I reviewed all applications and assigned jobs.  Some jobs required preparation before the big day.  For instance, Greeters and Closers needed to prepare paragraphs or skits to share with the partner school, so I helped them research our state and our county so we could share information about our area of the world.

What are our classroom jobs?

  • GREETER: My job is to introduce myself (first name) and our classroom.  Example:  Hi!  I’m ___.  We’re so excited to Skype with you!  Our class has 20 students, 1 teacher, and 1 student teacher.  Our class loves Minions and Winnie-the-Pooh.  We have classroom money.  We call it Honey Money because it has pictures of Winnie-the-Pooh on it.  We spend it on candy and other prizes in our classroom store.  Do you want to ask the first question or should we?
  • CLOSER:  My job is to share something about our state, county, school, etc. after the mystery.  I can sing, dance, or read a paragraph.
  • SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  My job is to ask questions and reply to our guests.  I will make sure I look to my classmates for thumbs-up or thumbs-down signs before I respond.
  • QUESTION KEEPER:  My job is to write down all of the questions the other school asks us and record OUR answers.  This can be done on sticky notes or on Google Docs.
  • CLUE KEEPER:  My job is to write down all of the questions that we ask the other school and record THEIR answers.  This can be done on sticky notes or on Google Docs.
  • MAPPER:  My job is to use the maps and other resources to collect and analyze information and suggest good questions to the COURIER.
  • GOOGLE MAPPER:  My job is to use the Google maps and other resources to collect and analyze information and suggest good questions to the COURIER.
  • COURIER:  My job is to make sure messages from one group get to other groups so that the game runs smoothly.
  • TIME KEEPER:  My job is to note any time differences and to record the time the Skype call begins and ends as well as the time the mystery is solved. I will then create math problems for the class and they will calculate the elapsed time.  I will also correct my classmates' assignments.
  • MATH MASTER:  My job is to MapQuest the location (after it's discovered) and determine the distance from our location in miles and time.  I will then create math problems for the class using the data that has been collected.  I will also correct my classmates' assignments.
  • NEWS REPORTERS:  We are ALL NEWS REPORTERS.  Following the game, we will blog about the mystery location using KidBlog.
  • THINK TANK:  We are ALL part of the THINK TANK.  Our job is to research all leads using Google Search and work with MAPPERS to eliminate locations.
In addition, you may want to assign photographers and videographers.  We also set up our classroom so members of each team know exactly where they should be during a Mystery Skype.

The day of our first game, the partner teacher video called me from Finland about 20 minutes before the start of the game so that we could test the connections and the audio.  All was working well, so we left the connection open until it was time for the game to begin.  How the game progresses from here is up to the teachers.  You may choose to discover the country, state, or the actual city.  Due to time constraints, we only went to the country.  They found us first, but my kiddos persevered and found Finland by asking yes or no questions.

Afterwards we talked with the students from the partner class and even researched their country to listen to their National Anthem and see what their flag looked like.  We also talked about what went well, and what we needed to change or work on.  Then my kids all blogged about the experience using KidBlog.

Since starting this blog on Monday, we have also Mystery Skyped with a 2nd grade classroom from Detroit, Michigan and a 5th grade class from Austin, Texas.  My kids did such a great job inside the US and they are learning SO much about the rest of the world, as well as their own little part of it!  We have another game planned for Monday!  And this time, I don't even know the location!

Think your students are too young to Mystery Skype?  Try connecting with another class and playing Mystery Skype Number.  It's the same format, but uses place value, odd and even, and value-type questions that even young students will enjoy.  Or try Mystery Skype Letter or Animal!  You could even Skype with a friend and see if your students can guess their profession.  Just make connections and the possibilities are endless.

Here are some great resources from TeachersPayTeachers.  I started with some of these, and then adapted them to fit our classroom.
Question Cards from The Berry HillThe Berry HillThe Moeller Express
Mystery Skype Posters and Application from The Moeller Express

I hope this post inspires you to try a Mystery Skype in your classroom!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Appy Thursday Everyone!

No, that's not a type-o.  It's just me being corny!  I thought I'd share some of my favorite apps on Thursdays.
Today's showcase app is PowToon.  This app is available for Chromebooks and is also on the web at if you'd like to use it on your teacher computer.  Here's an example of a PowToon I created as an example for an All About Me digital interactive notebook my kids will be making at the beginning of the year.  This particular one is about my family, but you can make these about anything! You can make demonstration videos for the kids, or have them make video presentations about a subject or a book.  You could even have them use it to write their own creative writing story.

Here's a longer one I made with voice over.  It's not the greatest sound quality, but you get the picture.

The app is free, but of course there are options to upgrade, and some of the really cool characters and graphics are not available in the free version, but there is enough there to keep any kid (or adult) busy!  There's also an educator version, but it's pretty expensive so I steered clear of it for now.  The free version has worked well for me so far.

So, what do you do?  You start by creating an account and then creating a new presentation.  It will first ask if you'd like to choose a template or start with a blank canvas.  Of course, some of the templates are premium, but again, there are plenty of free ones to choose from.  

For this blog, I chose to start with Marker Style.  When you preview the template, it will give you a little 30 second video of the options in the set, but you can add objects from any set into any presentation.  These are more like suggestions...  For the family one I created earlier, I started with a blank canvas and added what I wanted from various collections.  And for the Continent one, I used various collections and imported a TON of my own images.  It's very versatile.
Once you click the "GO" button in the lower right hand corner, your media will load and you'll see a blank canvas.

You'll notice you have many options.  Top center, you see you can add text, sound, image, or video.  Those are more advanced and maybe your kiddos (or you) aren't ready for that yet.  Then keep it simple for today.  Just work from the right side of the page where you see all of the cute little figures.  You can start by scrolling down to the bottom and choosing a background for your slide.  For this one I chose the classroom background.  You may not see it at first, but by each category, there's a little more/less button to the right.  Use that to see more options.

Now the fun begins.  You are going to add elements to your board and decide when and how they will appear in your video.  Let's do a quick example.  Let's add an animated female teacher.  I chose her to be thinking, but there are many options.  Just drag her where you want her to be.

Now scroll down to the bottom of your screen and notice the bar down there!

This bar is important!  The red arrow shows which ever object you have selected (the one you clicked on).  Right now, it has my teacher coming into the video at 8 seconds and leaving at 10 seconds.  I want to change that by dragging the left bar to the left.

Here you'll see I dragged the bar to the left and then clicked on the black arrow for some options.  This is how you want your element to appear.  I'm going to choose Right.  So she'll slide in from the right side of the screen.  And once I select Right, I'm also going to click the Hand at the top.  That means a cool hand will appear and slide her into place.  Do the same thing with the end arrow to select how/when you want your element to leave your video.

Next I'm going to pick some props to put into the slide.  I'll choose each one and do the exact same thing I did for the teacher.  Changing their entrance/exit times and transitions.  I'll add 3.

So I added a computer to come in at 2 seconds, a cup of coffee at 3 seconds, and a smart phone at 4 seconds.  All I'm going to do next is move thinking teacher out at 5 seconds and have happy teacher pop in.

I also used the minus button on the right hand side of the bar to shorten the length of my video.  Next I'm just going to add some letters to the board behind the teacher to come in at 5.5 seconds.  I use the text effects on the right hand side and choose the style I want.

Always go to the top and save.  PowToons does not automatically save for you.  Then I'll go to the top and select the Sound button to add music.

 Again, some are free and some are pay.  I stick to the free.  Click apply when you find one you like, and make sure you check the volume.  I usually turn it down a little.  You can also choose to do a voice over here.

Save again, and then export your video by clicking the Export button on the top right.  And that's it.  You can choose to export it to YouTube or share it on FaceBook.  Here's the simple finished video.

If you have questions, just ask.  I'm not an expert, but I'll try to help!  Have fun at PowToon!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Okay, so I found a fun, new site - kind of like Glogster - not quite as versatile, but quick, easy, and fun.  It's called ThingLink.  The basic premise of this site is to take a picture and add hot spots.  The hot spots can be notes, links, music, or videos.  I used it today to make a quick site for my students to practice continents and oceans.  Afterwards I embedded it into my class website, and now it's ready for them to use.

It's free, with upgraded pay options which I didn't need to use.  Be sure to get the teacher account, not just the general account.  It gives you more options.  This is also a tool the students could use to create their own ThingLinks as a culminating activity to show what they've learned about a topic, such as the Titanic, a country or state, the Underground Railroad, a book they've read, just about anything!

So here's a picture of the one I created today.  Click Here to see it on my website and try it out.  Check out ThingLink and see if it could be helpful for you.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Minecraft Perimeter and Area

Okay!  I'm late with this post!  I wrote it during state testing time, but forgot to post it!  Sorry!

You know what state test time means, right?  It means it's time to put away the calming chamomile and get out the strongest black tea you can find!  I was exhausted by lunchtime and I wasn't even TAKING the tests!  It also means the kiddos needed a fun afternoon activity to give their brains a break, but with the math section still to come, we couldn't sit around and do nothing.  So we practiced measuring perimeter and area Minecraft style.

The kids loved this, and I'm pretty sure I got cool points for knowing my Minecraft!  It all started last year when Aiden had a Minecraft-themed birthday party.  I thought it would be fun for the boys at the party to make minecraft masks, so I spent some time cutting 1 inch squares in various colors of construction paper and collecting 9 x 12 inch pieces of cardboard for the bases.  Turns out 9 year old boys do not want to sit and make masks at birthday parties.  They just want to run and tackle each other.  So I had all of these left over supplies sitting around for a year in my closet.  The week before testing, while looking for something else entirely, I stumbled across the supplies and decided this would go great with our unit on area and perimeter.  Plus, it was almost all put together already.

I did have a minor issue with the grid.  My first thought was to run the cardboard through the copy machine at school so the grid would be consistent 1 inch by 1 inch squares.  Well, after a giant fail that lead to a call to the repair guys, the office staff and I decided the kids would also be practicing their measuring skills by drawing their own grid!  I wasn't sure how this would work, but I partnered the kids up and had one student hold the ruler while the other student drew the lines and I was pleasantly surprised.  It worked.  They did a great job on their grids.

Then I put some Minecraft images up on the Promethean board and the kids grabbed handfuls of colored squares that I had sorted into bags and cups to keep the colors straight.  It's times like these that OCD comes in handy.  The kids arranged the colored squares into any Minecraft images they wanted - sure, some started over more than once - then they glued the squares down to their cardboard.  When they were finished they used multiplication to find the area of their creation and counted the sides to find the perimeter.  They put their answers on the back of their image.

Later, I took their information, checked it to see if it was right, and put their information onto a Minecraft background for display on our bulletin board.  Here's the link to the background I used.

I covered the bulletin board in black roll paper and used green bulletin board paper to make a scrunched up border.  If you haven't done this, it's easy and super cheap.  I can do a blog on that later if needed.

Then I downloaded a $2 Minecraft themed banner from Z is for Zebra on TeachersPayTeachers.   That was it!  The kids had fun AND practiced area and perimeter!  It was a perfect activity for the afternoon during state testing week.  And my kiddos are so proud when they hear other kids comment on how cool it is to see Minecraft in the halls.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Egg-stra Special Third Graders!

So every year we have a tradition in my room; the week before Easter we start our fairy tale unit by reading The Talking Eggs by Robert D. San Souci with amazing artwork by Jerry Pinkney.  My third graders, who sometimes feel they're getting too old for picture books, love this book for its slightly creepy nature and hidden images in the art work.  Even the boys, who are never thrilled when introduced to the fairy tale theme, are intrigued by this tale.

The Talking Eggs is a Creole Cinderella variation set in the bayous of Louisiana.  It centers around the good sister, Blanche, with a spirit of do-right in her soul, and the older sister, Rose, who is mean-hearted and only thinks of herself.  Their adventures with a wise, old Aunty they meet in the woods teaches the children that good is rewarded while evil is punished.  Classic fairy tale, right?  Maybe there are a couple of twists along the way, but I don't want to spoil it for readers!

So after enjoying the story, the kiddos in my class are then challenged to work with their family to create an egg for our annual egg contest.  Every year I am simply amazed by how much creativity these families have!  This year, I actually got to be part of the creative unit in our house since my son is in third grade.  And while, yes, I kind of dreaded having to do the project, once we actually started, we had a great time together and made memories I wouldn't trade for the world.  Cool thing was, I had a lot of families post on FaceBook and share similar stories about their families working together and having a great time!  It was heartwarming to hear and see all of the memories being made.

They kids worked so hard, I had to share the egg-cellent end results.  I also have a link to the letter we send home to parents in case anyone can use it.  It's free!  And here is a link to The Talking Eggs at Amazon.  It's not free!

Happy Easter everyone!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Kahoot! It's a Hoot!

Okay, I found a new favorite FREE website! This site is so easy, so fun, and so useful!  Not to mention, it's addicting!  A colleague that teaches 7th grade mentioned using Kahoot in his class earlier in the week. I had never heard of it.  So of course, I went home that night and decided to look it up and see what it was. Boy, am I glad I did!  I immediately signed up for a free membership and quickly made a fifteen question review activity for my kiddos on the Loch Ness Monster.  When I say quickly, I mean in less than 30 minutes, with pictures, and it was my first one!  Easy!  I was so excited, I could barely wait until school the next day so I could test it out on my kids. Let's just say, they asked if they could skip recess and play Kahoot again!  I think they liked it.

So what exactly is Kahoot?
* A free game-based classroom response system
* Web-based, access from anywhere
* Teacher created quizzes with up to four multiple choice answers
* Questions are displayed on the projector
* Students respond via their own device
* Students gain Kahoot points for correct and timely responses

You can search the Kahoot data base for tons of quizzes that are already created, or make your own.  It's easy.  You start out by creating a new Kahoot and giving it a title.

Then it walks you through adding questions one at a time and inserting a graphic.  You don't have to, they'll add a graphic for you, but I just opened a new tab, googled an image I wanted and quickly added pictures of Nessie into my Kahoot. Then you type in 2-4 answer choices and designate the correct answer. That's it. Do that for as many questions as you want and you're pretty much done.  Also, you can easily share with colleagues via email or through their Kahoot usernames.

When you're ready to play the game, sign in at and go to the My Kahoots tab at the top of the page.  Then watch as the fun begins!

Open up the link of the game you want to play by clicking the play button on your computer.  You'll get a couple of options to set up your game.  When you've made your choices, click Launch to begin.

Then project the image to your board. The kids will get directions to connect to and enter a specific code. This works on iPads, iPods, tablets, phones, Chromebooks, pretty much anything that has internet connection. The players will choose a nickname and join the game. They have fun with this, especially when they're playing as a team. As they join it will let you know on your teacher screen how many players or teams are connected. When everyone's in, just click Start Now and watch the kids excitement grow.

The screen you project will show the question and answer choices while playing super cool game show music. The kids' screens will only show the shape and color buttons that represent the answer choices. They select their answer and click on it on their screen.

This is the projected image.

This is what the student voting screen looks like.
Then they wait until everyone has answered or the time - up to 30 seconds - is up. The projected screen will then tell them the correct answer.  It also tells them on their own screens if they got the answer correct, how many points they have accumulated, and who they rank behind or other important ranking information.

When you click the Next button on your teacher screen it will show rankings and Kahoot points.  Yes, they earn Kahoot points for correct and speedy answers.  And they want those Kahoots! The projected screen shows the top players and this changes quickly!  The kids love this.

Sure, as you may expect, you have some of your expected students at the top - your over-achievers and top-of-the-class students, but surprisingly, about half of the time, my leader board was topped by some of my struggling students!  I'm not sure if this is because they are more computer oriented than classroom instruction oriented or what - but it gave them a huge confidence boost and everyone was engaged.  So get Kahooting!  It's fun!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Website for Common Core

A couple of disclaimers before I start this post.  First, I'm not associated in ANY way with Education Galaxy.  Second, I did not find this site by myself. I'm fortunate enough to work across the hall from a fabulous third grade teacher - my cousin.  She found this site and shared it with our third and fourth grade teams.  And finally, I'm not a fan of the Common Core.  I guess right now I'm scared of the unknown.  Our state test has changed SO much, I'm not sure I'll even recognize it.  Our third grade team has been working hard to get our kiddos ready for fourth grade as well as trying to introduce our students to the new vocabulary and concepts needed for the Common Core, but sometimes it just seems that the concepts are not developmentally appropriate.  However, Common Core is here for now, so I have to deal with it the best I can and one of the best ways I've found so far is a website called Education Galaxy.

Education Galaxy is aligned to your state standards.  This is important since they differ slightly from state to state.  Just choose your state from the drop down menu when you set up your account.

It is also one of the few sites I've found that addresses Language Arts, as well as Reading and Math, has activities for every grade from kindergarten through high school, AND is also engaging and kid/teacher friendly.  In the primary grades the kids can even have everything read to them if they aren't ready to read on their own.  This is a sample of a first grade reading passage.  See where the kids can easily click the microphone if they would like the passage or question read to them?
Grade 2 Reading Passage

I suggest starting out by seeing what your students will be seeing.  This is an option on your dashboard.  Simply go to the Student Center tab and select View as Student from the drop down menu.
You can see that this is also where you can Add Students and then Create a Class.  The site is linked to your school.  So as you add students, you may see other students' names from your grade level if your colleagues are using this site.  This is nice since the kids will already be in the system for future teachers in your school, making future class setups even easier.  But add students BEFORE creating your class.  It's not earth shattering if you don't, but it does save some time and frustration.

Back to the Student View.  Below is a screen shot of a student dashboard for third grade.

Third Grade Dashboard
At the top, students can see their ranking, check their stats, and even see their high scores on games.  This is also where they collect Galaxy Stars and earn Rockets.  My kids LOVE this part!  I love the color coded tabs at the bottom.  At the pink tab, My Assignments, they can see if I've made any assignments for them to complete.  The yellow tab is only available for grades 2-5.  It's their My Diagnostics tab and it tests their knowledge of Common Core concepts.   The blue tab, My Recommended Topics for Study, is opened after they take their diagnostic tests.  It is also only available for grades 2-5.  This tab will start them on their own individualized learning path.  Yes!  Differentiation made easy!  It shows them where they need practice and is also linked to short games.  More on this tab and the games later...  The purple tab, My Study Plan, is  a free choice tab that allows them to pick their own skills to practice and is also linked to the games.  In my class they can use this at home, or pick skills from here if they have completed their My Assignments and their Recommended Topics for Study tabs.  The final tab, the green one, is My Resources.  This is where kids can access videos, websites, and documents about concepts they may be struggling with.  It is also a free choice tab and is good for home or after completion of other tabs.

I started my students with the yellow tab, My Diagnostics.  Each subject has its own diagnostic test that differentiates learning paths for individual student's ability level in each subject.  Subjects include Reading, Math, and Language Arts.  My kids took all 3 diagnostic tests first.

Third Grade Diagnostics

Once they finish the diagnostics, I let my kids enter the blue tab, My Recommended Topics for Study.  My kids and I refer to this as their learning path.  This is where the kids learn the skills they need based on the scores they received during their diagnostic tests.  The skills are even color-coded.  Red means there's a critical need for the skill, while yellow designates some need.  If they tested out of a skill it doesn't even show up in their path and they can only revisit these skills during free time in the purple tab, My Study Plan.
Learning Path
While on their learning path, students may choose the order in which they would like to tackle their skills.  They are given the option of starting off with a study session or going straight to the game mode.  During study session, there are no mini games, only questions.

 During game mode, students are still given the same types of questions as in study mode, but are rewarded for each correct answer with a short game.  These games are a one shot deal and don't last more than 5 seconds - at least when I play them!  For example, Tap Rocket is much like Flappy Birds.  The kids get one chance to get their rocket through the obstacles for each time they get a correct answer.  My kids love game mode and the games are so short, it's not distracting them from their learning.

Sample Grade 2 Math Question During Game Mode
Much Like Flappy Birds
The graphics are great and the kids love collecting Galaxy Stars, Rockets, and Alien Cards as they learn.  There's even an app available at the iTunes store.  We use our Chromebooks, but many kids download the app for use at home.  It's all linked, so progress is saved.

Education Galaxy also offers printable worksheets and an assessment builder tool, as well as the ability to give students virtual assignments on the site at every grade level.  It even keeps track of all the data from each student and is simple to use.  There are SO many reports you can run, both class and individual.  There's also an option to easily print reports as PDFs to share with the kids or parents.  Personally,  I love the usage report so I can see how long each student has been on the site and how many questions they've answered.  The report below gives me class data on based on the Language Arts Diagnostic Test.  I can see at a glance which subjects I need to concentrate on for whole group instruction.

I'm sure you're wondering how much this all costs.  Well you can set it all up for FREE - if you only have 10 students!  I don't - but the free option would be great for home school students.  Personally, I started with the free version and then immediately clicked the link to try the premium service free for one month.  Then I could get my whole class started at once and also had access to all the reports, worksheets, and assessment building features.  After less than a week I realized that it was worth the $5 a month the site charges per class.  Yep.  Just $5 a month for all of that!  So for $20 I used some of my remaining requisition money and finished out the year for my class.  Then our third grade team told the administration at our school all about it so they could think about getting it for everyone next year.  For the price and the benefits - they're definitely thinking about it!

Here's an introductory video that I watched before deciding if this site was a good fit for my class and I also had my students watch it on the Promethean Board before I let them begin their diagnostic tests.  It really explains the program much better than I could here.  Of course, the video's on the site, but I've downloaded it here so you can watch it and see what you think.  It's worth a look.