I knew the minute I met Abbas Manjee that Kiddom was something magical for teachers.
First off, this guy had passion. It was more than an undirected, general passion. It was an educated passion, an articulate passion, that was perfectly aligned with my teacher-heart: making high-quality content accessible to teachers and students. How could I have known by the inviting smile of this former high school math teacher, that Kiddom would prove to be one of the most transformative pieces of technology out there? You can call it instinct, but I call it simple luck.
Abbas is Kiddom’s Chief Academic Officer. I met Abbas when I was invited to do an Ignite Talk hosted by EdSurge in Oakland. After I slayed my Ignite talk, I got to mingle with the educators and education technology folks. Abbas was one of the first people I connected with because the Kiddom team looked like they were buzzing with teachers excited about what they do. So, I meandered his way with a coffee cup and curiosity.
The first thing I asked was if Kiddom was free.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand that there are beautiful programs out there that change lives and are worth every penny they might cost. However, in Jenna-land, things need to be free. I was shocked that his answer was, (And, despite its success, it remains free.)
All right, touché Mr. Manjee, touché. As he described his experience teaching over-age high school students in New York City, I found myself relating the story of hours spent researching materials and activities that would meet the standards and connect with my students. We both agreed the time was well spent, but that finding it was so much time.
I asked him, “Wouldn’t it be great if someone just put it all in one place?”
“That’s what we’re trying to do at Kiddom. I love comic books, so I think of Kiddom as Batman’s utility belt for teachers. Kiddom gives easy access to the tools you need when they need them. But when they don’t need them, they stay out of your way. It’s not clunky.”
He walked me through the basics, but I was not prepared. To be honest, Kiddom does a lot and they have a lofty goal, so it’s hard to succinctly describe the scope of its capabilities, but essentially, Kiddom helps teachers plan, assess, and analyze student learning via a variety of user-friendly interconnected tools.
Library – Free Resources, Quizzes, and More
Kiddom’s platform connects directly to a library packed with videos, quizzes, activities and more. They do all of the heavy lifting so you can focus on student progress and commit less time to scouring the internet for something useful, and more time building a real individual picture of what your students look like, their strengths, and where they need support.
You might ask where all of this vetted content comes from. The answer may surprise you. Kiddom’s library offers materials from places like Khan Academy, CommonLit, CK-12, PBS Learning Media, Newsela, and much more. This gives you a plethora of resources from the best sites with a search engine that allows you filter according to standards and content.
Planner – A Digital Curriculum Tool
Planner is your best friend. You don’t need to scour the internet for resources and activities. You make curriculum once, and then click and drag assignments directly into your class’s timeline. Or, you can drag and assign it directly to an individual student’s timeline! No headaches, no fingers tired from over-typing. You get vetted content and can create student learning pathways using click and drag tools and lessons. Each lesson you assign provides vital feedback and data that you can use to tailor resources and instruction to meet the needs of your students in an interactive and engaging way that also has massive credibility.
The planner can be used like Pinterest, which means that you can save ideas that you like, but may not want to use now. You can also organize your assignments into categories based on topics or standards. You can even create more than one course. Which means that once you organize your lessons into a curriculum that you can share them across all of your classes.
Oh, and did I mention Kiddom’s planner is integrated with Google Drive? That means you can access and assign students any Google Drive attachment, right from Kiddom! You get all the perks of Google Classroom right from this nifty feature.
Gradebook and Reports – Beautiful and Meaningful
More like EMPOWERbook. This tool functions like a grade book on hyper drive because it has a variety of beautiful, full colored reports that you can use to analyze student growth and which steps to take next.
Kiddom’s reports are unique because you not only get overall class mastery reports but with a single click you can instantly convert those whole class reports into individual reports. This means that you get to spend your time analyzing and taking action on your student data, instead of grading to just get the data!
Collaboration and Sharing – Co-Teachers Rejoice!
I am a huge proponent of #BetterTogether. I am only as good as the people I collaborate with. The problem that arises with using a full platform is that it is challenging to share class and individual progress with administrators, coaches, TOSAs, and other people you might work with. Well, Kiddom has created a collaboration tool that will make it clear to anyone, no matter what their stake, where your class is in their academic journey.
Not only can you collaborate on Kiddom, you can decide what level to invite your collaborative partner into your Kiddom account. If you grant “view only” access, collaborators will not be able to edit or modify your lessons. This would be super useful to share with the people who support you in meeting your students’ needs. “View only” will grant someone access to view without the ability to change your content. This is great when you are working with a coach or TOSA. This is even beneficial for principals because all it takes is a glance to see what you’re doing in your classroom.
However, sometimes we work in teams. Sometimes teachers of different content subjects get together to build cross-curricular units. Sometimes you co-teach, or team-teach. Don’t worry, Kiddom’s got you covered, too. You can grant a collaborator “edit” permission collaborators can make changes, as well as have access to class or individual reports. If I were still in the classroom I would collaborate with my RSP teacher, my ELD teacher, and my PE teacher so they all had access to create their own assignments, or so they have a better picture of how they can support each of my students.
Student Dashboard – And It Works on iPads and iPhones
One of the most powerful things we can encourage our students to do is “own” their learning. Research tells us that students who feel an ownership will approach classroom tasks very differently from a student who is passive. Kiddom is built for student engagement. Students have access to their very own dashboard where they can track their overall progress, progress on individual skills, and respond to teachers’ comments. Oh and their iOS app works well for students who are glued to their phones.
Parent engagement is one of the most challenging parts of our already challenging job. I have some sway with my students. I’ve built a relationship with them, but it proves a challenge when it comes time to build those same relationships with their parents.
We don’t spend as much time with parents as we do with students. In fact, most of what our parents know about us is what their children tell them. With full-time jobs and full-time parenting, we need to make it as clear as possible, as quickly as possible, where students are and how we are celebrating their successes and supporting their needs. Kiddom has parent-communication tools built in so that your parents know the exact location of their child’s academic and social emotional growth (did I mention they have a social emotional component?). Yeah. That’s real.
The Bottom Line
I’m not the only one singing the praises of Kiddom. Ann Leghorn, a high school teacher says, “Kiddom has made me stop and say ‘Am I just letting this student repeat what they already know or am I really challenging them?’” Ann speaks to the importance of giving our lessons meaning.
Differentiation makes the content more accessible across ability levels. Although it’s key, it’s also very hard. Mrs. Oldenburg, a Special Education teacher in a Self-Contained Special Education Classroom. “Kiddom provides differentiation tools that allow me to reach all my students on their level!
If you haven’t tried Kiddom yet, they offer free and live digital demos! Or, if you’d rather learn it for yourself, check out these introductory videos. It might seem overwhelming, but if you reach out to the Kiddom team, they’ll support you. They even have a live chat feature in their app where you can ask them questions at any time. Oh, and if you already use Kiddom, take a second and send them some love. I’ve got a tweet below you can copy and paste, or throw them a digital high-five.