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Freerice.com for Teachers

written by: Bright Hub Education Writer • edited by: Trent Lorcher • updated: 2/14/2012

Freerice.com, a non-profit website run by the World Food Programme, balances two admirable goals: free education for all, and an end to world hunger. With a recently launched Spanish version, Freerice.com is now available to more students and teachers than ever.

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    Interface

    At first glance, Freerice.com's overwhelmingly green interface is a little jarring. The background wallpaper is a photo of green plants--rice, one assumes--and the website's foreground is a neutral olive drab. But the green scheme gets progressively easier on the eyes with each visit, letting you and your students focus on the real goal: Learning something about math, geography, art, chemistry, English or other languages. (The English version of the site currently offers vocabulary practice in German, Spanish, French and Italian.) For every multiple-choice question your students answer correctly, the World Food Programme donates 10 grains of rice to those in need. With no penalty for wrong answers, the grains of rice add up quickly, especially if you put your students to work in groups.

    The website's setup is simple and easy to navigate for its primary functions; you see an English-language question to answer as soon as you hit the homepage. A series of pulldown menus along the top of the page let you switch between topics and languages, and access the website's other features.

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    Progression

    Freerice.com is built on an intelligent model that starts with the most basic questions, so even beginning students in a particular topic can learn and contribute. For every three questions you get right you bump up a level (with 10 being the highest), and each wrong answer knocks you down a level. The program also remembers which questions you got wrong and shuffles them into the rotation more frequently, so you have a chance to learn and correct your mistakes.

    If you have advanced students or know your own ability level, you can change your level with an option in the bottom right of the answer screen, as soon as you answer your first question. Most of the questions are geared toward middle school and high school learners, but you can set the English and math subjects to accommodate some elementary grades. The geography topics--identifying countries on the map, and identifying world capitals--are also appropriate any grade level that tackles geography.

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    Subjects

    As of June 2011, the English-language version of Freerice.com offers the following subjects:

    • Math - multiplication tables
    • Math - pre-algebra
    • Geography - identify countries by their shape and location on a map
    • Geography - identify world capitals
    • Art - match artists to their famous paintings
    • English - grammar
    • English - vocabulary
    • Chemistry - basic chemical symbols
    • Chemistry - full list of chemical symbols
    • Language learning - German, Spanish, French or Italian

    The Spanish-language version of the site, launched in June 2011, offers a smaller selection of subjects that will hopefully be expanded soon, all administered in Spanish:

    • Chemistry - basic chemical symbols
    • Chemistry - full list of chemical symbols
    • Spanish - vocabulary
    • Art - match artists to their famous paintings
    • Geography - identify countries by their shape and location on a map
    • Geography - identify world capitals
    In October 2011, Freerice.com announced the addition of French- and Italian-language versions of Freerice. You'll find similar subjects to those in the English and Spanish versions, as well as more challenging French and Italian vocabulary sections.
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    Other Features

    Although Freerice.com isn't a social networking site by any means, it does offer a few interesting features. You can join themed groups to see your tally of donated rice added to their cumulative total. The website also displays individual and group rankings for total grains of rice donated, although each student must create a login--or you can make a login for the entire class--to enable these features. Seeing an impressive total of rice donated after a week, month or semester of regular Freerice.com reviews is a great way to help your students understand the value of education and helping others.
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    Final Verdict

    Freerice.com isn't a substitute for lesson plans, in part because you can't customize the subject matter for the unit or chapter you just covered in class, and you can't add your own question-and-answer sets. But it's a great way to keep students involved with the topic of your or their choice, facilitating general reviews and, for language learners in particular, expanding knowledge of grammar and vocabulary. Whether you use Freerice.com to keep students that finish their work early engaged, as a classroom competition, as a general review or just for extra credit, there's no downside to bringing this program into your classroom. You can even involve aural learners by having students work in groups, reading the question and possible choices, then deciding the correct answer, out loud.

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