Kids Across Teachers Down Piloted in New Jersey School District

This year's first issue of the New Jersey Education Association's NJEA Review featured an article highlighting the benefits of the Kids Across Teachers Down (KATD) collaborative learning program. An offshoot of the nationally syndicated Kids Across Parents Down (KAPD) crossword which fosters literacy and brings families together with trademark across clues for kids and down clues for parents, KATD aims to engage students by positioning teachers and students as a team to solve a puzzle containing curriculum-centric clues. The activity is offered to teachers of students K-6 for independent class solving, class vs. class challenges or school vs. school tournaments.

The article, authored by Lynne Berman of "Kidsville News!," a monthly children's newspaper which offers Kids Across Parents Down, chronicled the experience of students and teachers in KATD's pilot demonstration at in Evesham Township. According to the article, teachers observed the literacy value of KAPD and its power to compel parental involvement. In the classroom, teachers use the themed crosswords for both group and individual activities. Further, the publication noted that KATD puzzles integrate with the KAPD classroom content to leverage adult/child cooperation in the learning process. The article also noted that crosswords naturally build test-taking competency, conditioning students to strategically skip and return to challenging questions. While the classroom puzzles are available in print-and-solve format, many schools are looking to interactive whiteboards such as the ActivBoard and SmartBoard to invigorate the group solving experience. The activity, which takes less than 30 minutes from setup to solve (depending on grade level), not only focuses on subject matter, but also builds social skills, teamwork and leadership. In addition to helping students connect and recall prior knowledge while working together, one fifth-grade teacher commented that students solved some of the more challenging teacher clues, which bolstered their sense of confidence.

The program is expected to roll out nationwide in Fall 2013.

Kids Across Parents Down is a leading creator of fun, educational and innovative products, specializing in collaborative activities for kids and adults. The company is best known for its #1 nationally syndicated family crossword puzzle in the nation. Having launched in 2003 through Tribune Media Services, the crossword features across clues for kids and down clues for parents. Having been picked up by newspapers ranging from "The Washington Post" to the "Los Angeles Times" to the "Anchorage Daily News" to national publications, such as "Nick Jr. Family Magazine" and "Kidsville News!," the unique activity has also spawned a popular book series and is employed by restaurants such as McDonald's and Cracker Barrel in their kids' menus and other content to engage families. The KAPD iPad app is due to be released this spring.

Comprising nearly 200,000 members, including teachers, retired educators and other professionals, NJEA is the state's affiliate of the National Education Association. New Jersey ranks among the top two states in Education Week's "Chance for Success Index," which measures a state's ability to give its children the greatest chance for success and shows that it is doing more in preparing young people for the challenges they will face as adults.

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