Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Have you seen Zigazoo?


Have you seen the new app, Zigazoo? Zak Ringelstein, co-founder of Zigazoo describes it as a "Tik-Tok for kids."  I discovered this app early this summer. I discovered it right about the time I was getting disheartened with all of the tech tools that went against so much of what I know about children and their learning.  When I saw Zigazoo, I was so happy to see something that is so grounded in what we know about children and their learning.  This app is brilliant--it shows all that technology can be for kids. It invites playfulness, and creativity and joy.  You can read more herehere, and here

Zigazoo is a Video Sharing App that gives kids of all ages (mostly preschool and elementary although it seems fun for adults too!) a daily challenge.  The challenge could be anything from "What's the Weather?" to "Can you make a treasure map?" to "Can you make a hopscotch design?" to "Can you read to a stuffed animal?"  to "What math problems can you make with 5 things around home?" And kids respond with a video.  Every single day, a new question for kids to answer.

I love that the questions are interesting to so many ages. I also love how open-ended they are and how many different ways kids can respond. Kids can work on these alone or with families. They can spend 2 minutes or 200 minutes.  Everyone can approach things in a way that makes sense for them.  For families looking for fun things to do, this seems perfect. 

There are also huge education benefits. The topics cover pretty much everything from music to science to literacy. The app builds oral language skills as kids work to think through and explain.  It invites creativity and confidence. Kids in charge and sharing their own brilliance every single day.  And it highlights the power of technology. Zigazoo has created a safe online environment for kids to use technology to share learning and to learn from the ideas of others.  So many lessons about digital literacy and being a digital citizen in one fabulous app.

Zigazoo has grown incredibly since I discovered it.  They have projects organized in a few different ways and they are adding more exciting components. I see so many possibilities for families and classrooms and it is a piece of pure joy during this pandemic. It seems like the perfect invitation to use this time at home well and to create fun!

With remote learning (or not), I see huge possibilities for Zigazoo in the classroom.  Remember when I started the Solve It Your Way site? I have always believed that when we throw out a question for kids, they have the chance to show their brilliance in ways we could never imagine. I see Zigazoo as an app that does this--invites kids of all ages to show and celebrate their brilliance, to share their thinking and to find joy in learning. 

Zigazoo has also worked on safety and moderation and you can read more about this on their safety page.  

I had a chance to talk with Zak Ringelstein, Zigazoo's developer last week and I asked him a few questions. 

What is your hope for families and classrooms?

During such a challenging time, our first hope is that Zigazoo's projects and video creation tools simply make life a little less stressful by removing some of the planning burden. Our other hope is that families and classrooms can find joy in the learning process together by doing Zigazoo projects that engage them in the stuff that matters. Life is already stressful enough and we feel like students should be exploring and creating and dreaming and growing in their self-confidence with peers instead of doing meaningless busywork quietly over a video call. Zigazoo is built in the philosophy of project-based learning, where children have ownership over their own learning and aren't just regurgitating facts.

Which have been the fan favorites of daily challenge?

Students like hands-on activities in all subjects, but I have really enjoyed watching students fall in love with science! They've loved exploding ziplock bags with chemical reactions and making slime in their kitchen and doing "sink-or-float" challenges and making raisins dance in seltzer water. Of course, students also like to sing and dance and do yoga and find ways to express their emotions through social-emotional learning activities.

What features other than the Daily Challenge are on the app or coming soon?

Starting next week, teachers can create their own private communities where they can assign Zigazoo projects to students. In early September, we have invited museums, zoos, puppet acts, children's musicians, authors, and more to create their own channels on Zigazoo! Teachers will be able to use their media to jumpstart projects with their students.

We know that our students know how to use technology for entertainment. And, as I've said for years, I think it is our responsibility, as schools and families, to help our students see the power of digital tools for learning. Zigazoo is definitely a learning app that is also VERY entertaining. Zigazoo is a free app with so many possibilities for families and classrooms. Check it out!

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