The Sumdog blog - 2010
New this week: "Play Class" option
Sumdog's "Play Class" option lets students compete against their classmates, and prevents anyone else from joining the game.
To use this option, the student's login must be part of a school, which means that it must have been set up by a someone with a Sumdog teacher login.
When students start a game, they'll see the "Play Class" option alongside "Play World" (which lets them compete against other Sumdog users worldwide) and "Play Computer" (which provides a robot opponent).
To create student logins, visit Sumdog's Students page. If you've not already done so, you'll need to sign up for a free teacher login first.
Competitions & challenges
With a free teacher login, you can now create competitions and challenges for your students covering any of Sumdog's topics.
Sumdog's competitions generate a leaderboard for your students. To take part, they play the free maths games, either against each other or against any students worldwide.
Sumdog's challenges let you set a goal for your students to complete, such as getting a set number of answers right, or winning a number of Sumdog games.
Whichever you choose, you can specify which topics the students work on, which games they can play, and when your activity starts and finishes.
To set up your competition or challenge, visit Sumdog's teacher dashboard. If you've not already done so, you'll need to sign up for a free teacher login.
We've been making Sumdog faster
As more schools around the world start using Sumdog, things are hotting up here at Sumdog HQ. Each week, you're answering millions of questions, and so we decided to bring forward some performance improvements.
In the last few days, we've made some significant changes, expanding Sumdog's array of servers, and greatly improving the performance of Sumdog's games. You may well have noticed improvements in both speed and server connection.
We hadn't thought we'd have to do this so early, but we don't mind at all - it's great that schools are working so hard on the site.
We want to make sure the performance stays good, though, so if you experience any delays or connection problems, just let us know.
Your favourite games
At the end of each game, you'll see a Feedback button at the top of the screen. You can use this to send us a comment, and also to rate the game.
We've now had thousands of ratings for the games, and we can reveal your current favourite games.In third place, it's Alien Invaders. Fighting off those spidery robot things is clearly a popular activity, and thanks to all of you saving the planet with your maths skills.
In second place, it's Street Racer. Not surprising: we all have a need for speed, and the faster you answer, the faster you go.
But in first place, the most popular game is Tower Climber. We're not sure whether you're extreme sports fans, or simply like peeping through windows, but we're glad you like it.
However, we're not stopping there. In the next few weeks, we've got some exciting new games in the pipeline. You'll be getting the chance, for example, to use your maths skills to make furry things go very very fast. And if you're lucky, you might get something festive, too.
And, like all Sumdog games, you'll be able to play our new games free of charge, at home or in school.
Sumdog's busiest school
As a result, we thought they'd be well placed to give us their thoughts on how we're doing so far. Here's what one of their teachers, Philippa Cowper, told us:I have spoken to other staff members and some children and have some feedback for you...
In terms of the content, we are a little restricted at the moment as we do not have access to the full site, although we are hoping to rectify this next year and make full use of the challenges and competitions. In terms of the kids times table knowledge, the competitive nature has dramatically improved their ability to recall facts instantly and we are looking forward to improving all their knowledge next year!
We like the new teacher portal and the flexibility to be able to select kids to get different challenges is a huge bonus. It would be really good to see a percentage accuracy for the participants in the challenges so we don't have to work it out!
The kids are thoroughly enjoying it (as you can tell by the number of questions they have answered!) although there are a couple of glitches in a couple of the games that they find really frustrating... In Alien Invaders, sometimes 2 of their avatars appear in the middle of the screen, and as a result they can't control either one and lose the game really quickly. And in Street Racer apparently there is a loop in part of the track so it looks like they are going no where apart from a small section of track from the roundabout.
One thing the kids would like to see is the opportunity to vary their avatars a little more.
Overall we love the way the site is headed, and love the new games that have been developed. Thanks very much for developing Sumdog!
It's great for us to hear that students are enjoying Sumdog, but it's even more useful for us to hear about the problems, too. As a result of Philippa's comments, we've already fixed the glitch in Alien Invaders, and we're working on the other one.
So, please tell us what you think of Sumdog, especially if you've had any problems - we'll do our best to help.
And well done to the students at Hillsborough Primary for answering so many questions!
Free for teachers: Sumdog challenges
Sumdog's challenges let you set targets for your students. For example, you could ask them to answer a set number of questions, or to keep playing Sumdog's games until they get a set number correct.
You can specify which topics you want the students to cover. If you've got a free teacher login, you can choose any of the multiplication topics; if you've got a full subscription, you can choose from any of the 100 topics. You can also choose which games they can use, and set a time limit for the challenge.
As your students play, Sumdog's teacher dashboard shows you a leaderboard, from which you'll see who has taken part and how well each student is doing.
A new game: Tower Climber
Up to four players compete to reach the top of a skyscraper, by answering mathematics questions. Each time you get one right, you climb up by one floor - but if you get one wrong, you'll lose your grip and slip back.
Some new free teacher tools
If you've got a free teacher login, you can now access the three tabs at the top of the page: school, classes and students.
- The School tab lets you edit your school details, and invite other teachers to join the account. They'll create their own logins.
- The Classes tab lets you group your students together. It'll also show you how details of their recent activity, and let you set competitions for them.
- The Students tab lets you create free student logins, either by typing or by uploading a spreadsheet, and view or print their login details.
If you've not got a teacher login, why not sign up? It's free to set your school up, and you'll then be able to create free logins for all your students without needing to provide any e-mail addresses.
Sumdog's looking for partners
Partner schools get a free subscription to Sumdog's reporting tools. In return, all we ask is that you commit to use Sumdog in your lessons, and pass us any feedback you have.
We'd also need permission to mention the partnership, and selected comments, on our website, so other schools can see how real teachers use Sumdog, and what they think of it.
If you're a teacher who is interested in being a partner, please contact us, and tell us about yourself. Please be aware, though, that we've got a limited number of places, and we already have partner schools in some regions.
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