Sunday, April 16, 2017

Clever Dragons ~ Online Learning for Boys



As a working, single-parent homeschool mom I am busy.  Busy, beyond busy! There are times when our day moves like a bullet train.  If we don't get as much done as I would like, my homeschool guilt surfaces.  We homeschoolers bear a heavy responsibility and we want to make sure we get it right.  When I had the opportunity to review Clever Dragons, an online curriculum that could potentially lend a helping hand, I jumped at the chance.


Clever Dragons 

My Right-Brain learner is computer savvy and uses YouTube to teach himself anything he wants to learn.  I had my fingers crossed that he would like Clever Dragons.  I loved all of the things I read about it so I really wanted him to like it.  It's an online, game-based learning environment created specifically for boys ages 7-12.  When he logged on and was immediately excited about creating his Mini Me (avatar) that was a definite plus.  He was pretty impressed that Nike was included in the gear he could purchase for his Mini Me, but disappointed that more African-American hairstyles, like Afros and Locs weren't included.



Learning Paths


The Learning Paths are the core educational areas.  The math section was the first area LionHeart visited.  The philosophy behind Clever Dragons is that drills and practice don't have to be boring.  Practice and repetition are always more fun in game format.  The more you play, the more you master.  There are no feelings of feeling of failure, just fun.  I watched LionHeart answer a question incorrectly and say to himself, "I'm going to keep trying so I can earn some coins." Core subject areas of Clever Dragons include Language Arts, Science, Geography & History, Music & Arts, and World Language studies. I especially love that keyboarding is included in the curriculum - a necessary skill. Parents can create unique learning paths based on the child's interests and strengths.  LionHeart loves dogs, so I will be sure to add the learning path on Dog breeds. Click here to read more about learning paths.

 Videos

LionHeart is a visual learner and the use of videos as a teaching tool are perfect for him. He has been skipping the videos and heading straight for the lessons. He likes to work this way.  It's almost as if he has to see the need for the learning video first.  He loves that the videos are short and the explanations are straight forward, but would like to see more animated graphics.  His favorite videos are the ones uploaded by users, probably because he creates NBA2K17 videos.  I'm sure he'll be uploading his own.



Games

This is what I love most of all about Clever Dragons ~ the learning through games.  My son is a Right-Brain, kinesthetic, visual learner.  Exploring, discovering and watching is how he learns best.  He is also an avid video game player so learning games are especially appealing to him.  Best of all he can earn coins by answering questions correctly.  Virtual currency is a powerful motivator.  Virtual currency can be used to build castles on Castle World, feed virtual pets and more.  In the process, users learn budgeting skills. Re-taking a quiz is not drudgery when you can earn more coins. Through games, LionHeart can learn the states, how to type, classical music and more.  I noticed that he was much more willing to explore core subjects and new concepts through games.  A homonym worksheet would be a struggle, but learning homonyms through a game is a way to earn coins.  It's all about the coins! He loves earning gold coins and gives me constant updates about how many coins and badges he has earned.  The pride is real!

The Clever Dragon Weekly

The writer in me really loves the newspaper feature of Clever Dragons.  Another core subject area ~ writing ~ is interwoven into the program in a fun way.  The newspaper is written by Clever Dragon users and moderated by staff.  Users will have the opportunity to practice different writing formats, including poetry, prose, recipes and more.  I plan to encourage LionHeart to write about his “cheat codes” for NBA2K17.  As an incentive for submitting writing, users get a free issue of the paper as well as special items for their Mini Me.  Deadlines are each Thursday.  I just love it.  Real world experience!





My World

LionHeart is a very creative child and he loves to use his creativity in the My World section.  He can create clothes, have a pet, decorate a home and connect with online friends.  What kid doesn't want to have his own house! In My World he can also practice pet care-taking skills because he actually has to feed the pet.  He can even design his own clothes and sell them to his online friends.  Wow! LionHeart is a budding entrepreneur and this feature will allow him to hone those skills. There is also a feature that allows you to indicate when your online friends are also your real life friends (pictured above with his twin homeschool buddies who also use Clever Dragons).  When you can't learn with friends in person, the next best thing is online.  The chat rooms are heavily moderated for safety concerns.  According to the website, Clever Dragons provides a "Facebook-like experience for kids, all in a safe, controlled setting."






For the Parents


If you need documentation for your homeschool portfolio area, the Parent Portal is your friend.  Opt for the premium subscription, which allows you to customize the learning experience by assigning specific lessons, requiring a specific lesson be complete before exploring other areas, and see a list of incorrect answers, which can be used for further learning.  The premium subscription also allows you to set goals with your child, track how much time is spent on specific tasks, and document the learning through custom reports.  You can also designate the grade level as you see fit or stretch across several grade levels, as I did.  Parents also receive weekly email reports.  I personally love this feature because it reminds me to utilize all the parent features.  Having the option of choosing specific assignments, educational videos, practice work, and learning assessments makes Clever Dragons much more than an educational game fill-in.  


The Founders

Dr. Johannes and Swenja Ziegler, parents of five, are the creators of Clever Dragons.  They, along with a team of team of educational experts including teachers, academics, and homeschooling parents, developed this program with boys in mind. 

2 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness I love your detailed description of Clever Dragons. It's fun when they find something they enjoy.

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  2. He does enjoy it and he can self-start while I get breakfast ready or work with my older son. Often waiting around would lead him off on a tangent.

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