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Alien Adventures: Museum tour

What it is: Alien Adventures is another site from Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery.  The premise of the site is that an alien king has sent two aliens, Borg and Zunk, on a mission to find out about Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery.  Students join the aliens to discover information and...

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Timelapse: 3 decades of photo imagery of the world

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Evaluate, History, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Understand (describe, explain), video, Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 20-01-2014

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Timelapse: a satellite veiw of the earth (iLearn Technology)

What it is:  Timelapse is an incredible visual satellite timeline powered by Google.  Timelapse is about as close as you can get to a time machine, if that time machine hovered above the earth and gave you a bird’s eye view of development and change. Students can choose from some highlighted Timelapse views including: Las Vegas, Dubai, Shanghai, Oil Sands, Mendenhall Glacier, Wyoming Coal, Columbia Glacier, and Lake Urmia.  Alternatively, students can use the search box to view a satellite timelapse of any place in the world. Students can change the speed of the timelapse, pause the satellite imagery, and zoom in or zoom out.  The imagery begins in 1984 and goes through 2012.

How to use Timelapse in your classroom: Timelapse would be a fantastic way to begin an inquiry unit. The site itself sparks lots of questions.  Depending on the location, students may inquire into climate change, history, development, expansion, human impact on land, satellites, etc. Timelapse could also be used in science classes and history classes. This is a great tool for students to use to analyze and evaluate visual data.

Timelapse would be a neat way to explore history of the world from a completely different perspective.  Students could use Timelapse as a creative writing prompt to imagine the world from a new perspective. What changes when you aren’t down in the midst of life on earth? Do problems appear different? Does success get measured differently?

Tips: Below the Timelapse map, students can read about how satellites are used to capture the imagery they are exploring. Well worth the read!  It is also separated into “Chapters” that each tell a larger story about the featured Timelapses.

 

Degree Story Teacher Contest

The Very Best Use of a Weekend: #RSCON4

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, education reform, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Reform Symposium Conference, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, video, Video Tutorials, Virtual Field Trips | Posted on 10-10-2013

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I am SO excited for this weekend.  It is the Reform Symposium Conference!!!  Seriously, I feel a little bit giddy.  Like a child on Christmas morning.  As an adult, RSCON is one of the things that can bring back the same feelings of anticipation and eagerness.  So much learning is about to happen this weekend!  Best of all, it is INSPIRED learning.  What could be better than surrounding yourself with a weekend packed full of inspiration, learning, hope, edu-friends and encouragement? Nothing, that’s what.

In case you’ve been out of the loop in the world of social media lately, this is BIG!  You will not want to miss this FREE worldwide virtual conference.  It doesn’t matter where in the world you are, what you are wearing, how disastrous (or epic) your week was, because RSCON4 is available to everyone.  Please look at the schedule (conveniently made available in your preferred timezone) and plan to join us for as much of the conference as you can.  I’m overjoyed that I get to be a part of this incredible conference again.  Although I’ve been the very WORST organizer, I’m truly so honored to be a part of something so important.

I’ll be presenting on Sunday with @michellek107 and @nancybabbitt, we will share a little bit of the “secret” sauce that makes Anastasis so awesome. Drop in and join the conversation.  Better yet: drop in to several sessions and join the conversation! Looking forward to learning with all of you!

 

Reform Symposium Free Virtual Conference

Atlantis Remixed: Inquiry based virtual world

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Character Education, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Geography, Interactive book, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Virtual Field Trips, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 15-04-2013

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Screen Shot 2013-04-15 at 6.25.17 PM

What it is: Atlantis Remixed is a great interactive virtual world that supports students and teachers in conducting rich, inquiry-based explorations during which students learn standards related content and develop pro-social attitudes regarding environmental and social issues.  More than just making learning fun, project Atlantis Remixed aims to help kids realize that they can make a real difference in the world.  Atlantis Remixed is really a combination of education, entertainment/gaming and social action.  The game environment has been designed to support students in social commitment and real-world action.  Atlantis Remixed was created for children ages 9-16 to engage in transformational play in both online and offline learning activities.  The storyline in the online activities inspires students toward social action.

Atlantis Remixed is a combination of a 3D multi-user virtual environment, learning quests and unit plans, a storyline (presented through an introductory video, novel and comic book), a global community of participants, and a narrative programming toolkit that kids can use to remix user-created stories.  The storyline helps bridge the virtual, fictional, world of Atlantis with the real-world.  Students can travel to virtual places to perform authentic activities (Quests), talk with other students from around the world, build virtual characters and professions, and demonstrate learning through multi-media portfolios.  The platform is transdisciplinary including math, science and literacy. Students are sent on virtual social missions that reflect global ideals such as social responsibility, compassionate wisdom, creative expression, diversity affirmation, environmental awareness, healthy communities, and personal agency.

How to integrate Atlantis Remixed into the classroom: Atlantis Remixed has full units ready to use. Each unit is aligned to standards, inquiry based and meets multiple domains of learning. A single water-quality unit puts students in role of scientists hired by a national park, to come to the forest to help explain fish decline in the area.  Students interact with virtual park rangers, loggers, fishermen and indigenous people and discover multiple perspectives.  After decisions have been made, students can log back in and see the impact of their decisions.  They can reflect on the consequences (and unintended consequences) of their decisions, and make changes as needed.

In addition to the virtual component, there is guided offline learning that can take place including discussions and in class activities.  Teachers can modify curriculum to fit their own classroom needs.

Units include: Taiga- a water quality unit, Virtual Mesa Verde- a social studies unit, Plague World- a persuasive writing unit, Ander City- a statistics unit, Spacenik- a planetary science unit, Biological Indicators Mission, Rights & Responsibility Mission, Two Cells-One World Mission, and Diversity Mission.  You can look at a snapshot of any of these missions to learn more about it.

Think about the added components you could layer on Atlantis Remixed Quests and missions.  Are your students practicing writing business letters?  Who could they write to in the virtual world or real world?  Are your students learning how to use a new tech tool?  What tie-in is there to the inquiry?  How can you integrate other learning and customize the Atlantis Remixed environment to best fit your needs?

Tips: On the Educators Page, you can choose to login to the 2D gateway without logging into the 3D world.

I’ve been nominated for a Bammy Award for Educational Blogger.  I’d appreciate your vote to help spread the word about iLearn Technology.  Vote here.  Thank you for your continued support!!

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Atlantis Remixed in your classroom.

National Center for Atmospheric Research

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Evaluate, Geography, Inquiry, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 17-12-2012

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What it is: Today Anastasis students were lucky enough to visit the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.  It was a truly fantastic experience (if you ever find yourself in Colorado, it is worth a visit! Open free everyday!).  The center has some fantastic interactive exhibits, much like what you find at Exploratorium in California.  In addition to the physical location, the National Center for Atmospheric Research has some wonderful online games, activities and resources for the classroom.

In the Interactives and Simulations for weather, climate and atmospheric science section you will find:

  • A virtual laboratory for creating a weather balloon.
  • A simple virtual climate model.
  • The build a tree dendrochronology activity where students can explore past climates.
  • Compare IPCC scenarios interactive where students forecast carbon dioxide levels.
  • The climate sensitivity calculator.
  • The Earth’s Energy balance virtual lab.
  • Compare solar eclipse photos activity.
  • Solar eclipse memory
  • Sun-earth connections memory
  •  Clouds memory
  • Atmospheric chemistry memory
 In the classroom activities section, you will find:
  • Paleoclimates and Pollen where students can study pollen.
  • Model a moving glacier where students make a model of a glacier and create an experiment to study movement.
  • Glaciers then and now where students study pictures of glaciers taken in the 1900′s and compare them to pictures of the glaciers today.
  • The systems game where students observe a system.
  • Looking into surface Albedo where students inquire into how color affects the way that the sun interacts with Earth’s surface.
  • Feeling the heat where students investigate which parts of their school yard have a higher temperature.
  • CO2 How much do you spew where students analyze energy consumption.
  • The nitrogen cycle game where students play the role of nitrogen atoms traveling through the nitrogen cycle.
  • The water cycle 0-18 and ice cores where students look at proxy data to determine past climate.
In addition to the fantastic activities on the site, students can learn more about the sun and space weather, weather, atmosphere and climate on the NCAR website.

How to integrate the National Center for Atmospheric Research into the classroom: If you are studying weather, climate or atmospheric research with your students this is a must stop site.  It is FULL of great activities, virtual labs and easy-to read and understand information.  Really, take a few minutes to dig in.  Today, when we visited we got to explore some of these virtual labs and games first hand.  Our students watched a short video introducing them to NCAR and what scientists do there.  Next we entered into a classroom where the fun began!

Today we learned about the North and South Poles.  The fine people at NCAR had made globe paddles that had the north pole on one side and the south pole on the other (glued to giant tongue depressors).  They gave the students different facts about the north and south pole and students had to hold up their paddles with the correct answers.  Next, students learned about how polar bears were equipped for the COLD temperatures.  There were tubs of ice water on the table.  Students were asked to place their hands inside the ice water.  We timed how long they lasted in the cold water.  Next, students put their hands in a “blubber” paw and tried the experiment again.  The hand inside the layer of blubber could stay in the cold for a long time with no discomfort.  These blubber paws were actually made with 2 ziplock baggies with Crisco in between the layers and duct-tape at the top of the baggies so that they were sealed together around openings where the two baggies came together.  This left a Crisco pocket that formed the paw.  Students also learned about penguins and how they find their mate in hundreds and hundreds of penguins.  Penguins have particular sounds that help alert their mate.  The penguins can distinguish between the particular sounds that each penguin makes to find their mate.  Students simulated this by each taking a film canister with an object/objects in it.  The students had to shake their canister and find their match using the sound alone.  They had a ball with this!  They also practiced transferring a styrofoam egg from one pair of feet to another without using their hands the way that the penguin does.  Our students also did the glacier matching project (listed above) where they worked in teams to match the original pictures to the new pictures.  Some of these were really challenging as the second picture had NO glacier to be seen!  The kids learned that every glacier in the world is shrinking with the exception of two glaciers in Norway.  Fascinating!

Our classroom today…can’t beat the view!

 

Touching clouds!

 

Our students got to follow the activities above with an exploration of weather, climate, and atmosphere science exhibits.  You could easily recreate the activities above and follow up with virtual simulations, videos and games.  These could be set up as centers for students to explore (the virtual centers on classroom computers).  There is SO much here that exploration of all that the NCAR site has to offer could take days.  The simulations and games would also be appropriate on an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer where students can explore and interact as a whole class.  Allow students to take turns playing scientist.

Tips: While we were at NCAR, our guide, Tim, told us that NCAR was originally established in the 1960s to learn how to control the weather.  This brought up a great discussion about what could happen if humans could control the weather, and what unintended consequences might come along with that.  This would make for a great creative writing exercise or comic strip.  Our students came up with some insightful thoughts on this topic!

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  NCAR in your classroom.

myHistro: timeline/story/map/picture mashups created by you!

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Art, Create, Evaluate, Geography, Government, History, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Middle/High School, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Virtual Field Trips, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 23-10-2012

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What it is:  myHistro is a really great site (and app!) that lets students combine maps and timelines seamlessly into one great presentation of information and understanding.  myHistro is more than just data collection, it is a way to share stories.  With myHistro, students can create a rich timeline/map mashup complete with additional text, pictures and video.  The result is truly incredible!  It is easy to get started, just create an event and associate it with a time and place.  Events can be gathered together and turned into stories.  Stories, in turn, can be used together to create a collection.  Stories can be viewed in multiple ways, by events on a timeline, in chronological order with a page flip feature like an album, or as a story summary of chronological events.  Create as many events as you would like and add as many photos as you like, all for free!  The finished product can even be downloaded into Google Earth format for offline storage. Completed Histros can be embedded in other blogs and websites for maximum usability.

How to integrate myHistro into the classroom: myHistro has SO many uses!  At Anastasis, we just completed an inquiry unit on who we are.  myHistro was a perfect tie in for students exploring family histories, heritage and tradition.  Students could add pictures, and stories along with the interactive map of where events were taking place and a timeline where they could see it all unfold chronologically.  This is like a family tree on steroids. Pretty outstanding.  Even better? It ties directly into Geni (blogged about here).  

myHistro isn’t just for family trees.  It could be used for students mapping out history chronologically, mapping out a fictional story, creating a story map for their own writing, mapping how ideas and invention spread, looking at explorers, migration, etc.  As I said, the options are endless!

myHistro is collaborative, students can create projects together and even invite parents to join in the learning.  Pretty cool!

As a teacher, you can ditch the text book and help students really visualize that history in new ways.  A completed myHistro can be embedded in your class blog or website for students to access without having to visit multiple sites or login.

There are a number of fabulous myHistro stories that you can borrow to share with your students.  They can view these to learn more about events in history, or they can go on a fact checking mission to double check the validity of the stories created by others.  Definitely worth doing!

Tips: myHistro also happens to be an app.  Find it in the iTunes store.  This can be your first download on your new iPad mini ;)

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  myHistro in your classroom.

Help me personalize education for EVERY child!  Donate (even just your coffee money!)  and spread the word about the Learning Genome Project.

Google World Wonders Project

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Evaluate, Geography, History, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 04-06-2012

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What it is:  Google has a way-cool new project called the World Wonders Project.  Thanks to Google, you can now wander the Earth with your students virtually to discover some of the most famous sites on earth.  The site makes a great addition to the history and geography classroom and opens your classroom to the wider world.  Not only are wonders of the modern world available, students can also explore wonders of the ancient world.  Using the street-view technology from Google maps, Google has made wonders of the world available to all of us at any time.  Themes include archaeological sites, architecture, cities and towns, historic sites, monuments and memorials, palaces and castles, parks and gardens, places of worship, regions and landscapes, and wonders of nature. When you explore a site, you get Google’s street view of the site, information about the site, YouTube videos related to the site and Getty images of the site.  The result is a truly rich experience that will make your students feel like they have jet-setted around the world.

How to integrate Google World Wonders Project into the classroom: Google World Wonders Project is a fantastic way to help make your students more globally aware.  The World Wonders Project lets students really explore and discover the world from the comfort of their classroom.  Aside from actually getting to visit these places in person with your students, this is the next best thing!  Understanding the world and features of the world that we live in is the first step in becoming more globally minded.  Seeing different architecture and landmarks from around the world helps students to better understand the cultures and people who call those places home.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, Google World Wonders Project is worth a hundred times more.  Students can envision geography and history because they have a picture (that they can interact with), video, a story and a slideshow of Getty images.  History comes to life when students can “put themselves” in the shoes of those who lived it.  Geography is so much more tangible when it isn’t just a label on a map.

Building up global citizens is crucial.  Below are three steps that can’t be skipped if students are truly to be globally minded:

Step 1: Encourage students to be global minded

Educational globe trotting is impossible without this important step.  Students have to understand the overlaps in humanity. They have to be willing and open to learn not only about their own cultures, but also the perspectives, values, traditions and cultures of others.
Being global minded means that students know how to show empathy and compassion for others. It means that they know how to respect others ideas.  Building global mindedness can feel like a chicken and egg scenario. Connecting your students with others globally is a great way to build global mindedness.Global mindedness truly begins in your classroom.  Build a culture of caring, compassion, empathy and respect and it is easier to transfer to the wider world.  Reflect often with students about feelings and attitudes.  When students recognized the shared humanity in their own classroom, it is easier to understand that shared humanity in light of a larger world.

Step 2: Encourage students to be inquirers

Students who are inquirers are curious, they are willing and open to discover new learning.  Kids are naturally curious, unfortunately in school we tend to “undo” this natural curiosity.  We allow students only one line of inquiry (the one they have been given). We keep kids from asking additional questions (we don’t have time for that).  We teach kids that there is one right answer (the one the teacher has).  Without an inquisitive nature, being global minded becomes just another assignment to do.  Deep connections with others aren’t made.

Step 3: Teach students to communicate effectively

It baffles me that this isn’t a larger focus in our schools.  Communication makes everything else we do in life possible.  Students have to learn how to represent their ideas and learning clearly with confidence.  They must learn how to work with others, pausing long enough to hear the ideas of others.
There are two extremes that I often see in communication: 1. The student doesn’t believe that their ideas are worthy of words.  They are shy or afraid of how they will be received.  2.  The student finally gets the floor and doesn’t want to give it up.  They want to talk and will go around and around with their ideas without letting anyone else get a word in edgewise.  There is a balance here.

Google World Wonders is one way to help students understand other cultures, ideas and times.  It can be explored by students individually on classroom or computer lab computers, or explored as a class using a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard.  If you teach young students, make this an experience.  Set up your classroom like an airplane. Take tickets, have students “pack”, serve an inflight meal, watch an inflight video about the place being visited, create a Flight Day.  When you land in your destination, students can explore the Google World Wonder assigned.

Google has some great teacher guides and educational packages to use with the World Wonders project.  Check them out on the Education page!

Tips: I am leading a session in Adams 12 tomorrow about Global education.  You can see the website I created with links I am sharing here.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Google World Wonders Project in  your classroom!

Money Island: a financial literacy virtual world

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Character Education, Math, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 08-02-2012

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What it is: Money Island is a neat site I found today while searching for some fun tie ins for our economic inquiry block at Anastasis.  This enchanting virtual world teaches students about money and how the economy works while they go on quests to destinations like the Eiffel Tower and Atlantis.  Students learn and practice the real-life principles of financial responsibility.  Students build knowledge and skills in three major areas including: saving and spending, earning and investing, and using credit wisely.  In addition to these major areas, students learn how to spend, grow and give money; the difference between wants, needs and taxes; different types of income; gain an understanding of interest; how to use credit wisely; and how to build wealth.
The site includes detailed lesson plans and activity suggestions for the classroom, as well as a specialized area within money island where teachers and parents can see what students are learning and track progress.
Money Island was created in partnership with the Young Americans Bank.  This bank was designed specifically for children under the age of 21!  Our students will be taking a field trip to the Young Americans Bank in Denver to continue their learning during this block.  If you are in the Denver area, it is a great field trip!
How to integrate Money Island into the classroom: Kids are not exposed to enough opportunities to learn and practice financial literacy.  Case in point: the national debt crisis, housing loan disaster, and credit card stats. It baffles me that we don’t spend more time in the classroom helping kids learn about money and finances!  Every teacher should take this on in some capacity, we can’t assume that someone else will teach it.  Kids need to learn about how the economy works prior to being neck deep in financial decisions on a daily basis.  Money Island is a fun introduction to all of this!
Students begin their journey in Money Island with a mission to help character Stone Broke.  Students choose a virtual side-kick who will guide them through Money Island and help them make important decisions.  Students are directed through a series of quests to help Stone Broke while learning about money and how to make sound financial decisions.
Money Island is a virtual world so it takes a bit of time to get all the way through it.  When students login, they are given a special key so they can pick up right where they left off in the game.  This is a great site for a one to one classroom environment or computer lab setting where each student has their own computer.  The site could also be used as a center activity on classroom computers with students rotating through the center throughout the week.  Because students can save their progress, they can play from both school and from home.
Money Island makes a fantastic tie-in to a money or economics unit for kids.
***Hint: Click “Join” to join.  For some reason the “Play” button is a little bit temperamental.  It worked for me the first time I played with it but not the second…not sure what that is all about!
Tips:   There is a new game featured on Money Island…Episode 2 helps students learn how to “win” at the credit game.  There are also fun mini games and comics on the site for kids to interact with and explore!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Money Island in  your classroom!

Oddizzi: where the world comes to life

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Create, Foreign Language, Geography, History, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Virtual Field Trips, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 17-10-2011

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What it is:  I love those serendipitous moments in life where the stars seem to align and everything that comes your way is tailor made to meet your needs.  This resource filled those needs for me this week!  At Anastasis, our primary students are working on an inquiry unit about how transportation has changed over time and how transportation is used in different locations in the world.  What should appear in my inbox than a little note from the people over at Oddizzi inviting me to take a look at their content.  Serendipitous I tell you.  Oddizzi is a paid-for service but they have sample content on their site to give you a taste of what you can expect.  That sample content is free and has made my day.  It may make yours too, you should head over and have a look!  Oddizzi brings the world to life in a way I have seen few other resources pull off.  Students have access to their very own interactive map where they can view places, physical features, global features, places of interest, my story and class pals.  Students can click on each feature on the map to learn more in popup bubble.  The content below the map is rich including student-friendly text, videos, “secret” facts, images and more.  Oddizzi is a great way to teach about geography, global issues, math, citizenship and multicultural topics.  One feature that I have found to be really useful is the “Sneak-a-Peak” option which condenses a page of content down to one page of easy to read sentences.  Perfect for differentiating for your different reading levels while maintaining a topic thread for the whole class.  Odd and Izzi are fun characters that lead students through the site revealing hidden secrets as they go.

How to integrate Oddizzi into the classroom:  Oddizzi is a fantastic way for students to explore geography and culture.  Use Oddizzi sample content to introduce a lesson or unit, as a place for students to gather research, or as a center activity on classroom computers.  In the Sample Content you will find information on Egypt, transportation in India, Rivers and Games (flags from around the world and a game about Egypt).

Oddizzi is a great place to spur interest in geography and encourages students to learn more.  We will use the Transport in India content to help students think about questions they can ask about how transportation is used in other countries.

Geography is a subject that is often overlooked in schools in the United States.  Oddizzi helps bridge the gap between geography and other disciplines such as reading, writing, communicating, math, social studies, history, etc.  No excuses!

Use Oddizzi as a starting point for students to gather facts, information and gain a general understanding of geography and culture.  Students can use that information to create a poem about the country or location.  At Anastasis, @leadingwlove did an incredible project with students where they each chose a country they wanted to learn more about.  After learning about the country, they wrote a poem.  Each made a large thumbprint on an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper and inside the thumbprint left a negative space of the outline of the country.  They wrote their poems on the lines of the fingerprint.  The result was incredible!  Students learned a lot, practiced writing poetry and created a masterpiece to boot!  Since our students are in a one-to-one iPad environment, they took this a step further and took pictures of their finished products and added special photo effects to make a one-of-a-kind digital masterpiece for their e-portfolios.  SO awesome!  You can see the beginning of one of these poems below…

Tips: In the subscription version of Oddizzi, you can connect with other classes around the globe in a secure learning environment.  This allows your students to send online postcards to other students around the world so that they can learn first hand what life is like around the globe.  Neat! A curriculum zone offers teachers resources for integrating Oddizzi across multiple disciplines for transdiciplinary learning.  In addition, the subscription version has “Over to you” where students can contribute content to the site.  If you are interested in testing out these additional features, request a free trial of Oddizzi for your class here.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Oddizzi in  your classroom!

NASA Eyes on the Solar System: 3D interactive solar system

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Create, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 28-09-2011

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What it is:   It is no secret that I am a big fan of NASA…I may, in fact, be a space nerd.  It is all so fascinating, mysterious and beautiful.  Whenever I do a space unit with students, I find that I have many kindred spirits.  Space seems to have that effect on all kids. Recently I learned about a new 3D interactive solar system that NASA has introduced thanks to @rmbyrne and his ever-full-of-useful-ideas-blog, Free Technology for TeachersEyes on the Solar System is a 3D environment students can explore that has actual NASA mission data included inside.  Students can ride along with the Juno mission to Jupiter.  The Juno mission seeks to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter and our solar system.  In the Explore Juno mission, students will learn more about the science, the spacecraft, and the mission with a 3D interactive.  Students can also explore the solar system on their own.

How to integrate Eyes on the Solar System into the classroom:  Eyes on the Solar System is a super awesome way for students to explore our solar system.  Students can choose to join the Juno mission or explore the universe on their own.  This is a GREAT site to share with the whole class on a big screen (projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard).

With young students, explore the universe together on an interactive whiteboard or projector.  Have students prepare for their space mission and do a launch count down as a class.  Students can take turns being mission astronauts by interacting with the 3D solar system.  Other astronauts can take “official” mission notes and observations at their seats as they wait for their turn as mission first in command.

Eyes on the Solar System makes a great center activity on classroom computers.  During a center rotation, students can each explore a planet or feature of our solar system and then report back to Mission Control (the rest of the class) with their findings.  Assign (or let students each choose) a different feature to study.  When the students come back together as a group, the whole solar system will be represented.  I have had students create “baseball cards” of everything from composers to planets.  Eyes on the Solar System would be a great place for students to start their exploration and research to gather “stats” about a planet.  Students can take a screen shot (on a Mac command+shift +4) of their planet for the front of the card and add the stats to the back of the card using a word processing or publishing program.  Print out a class set of each card and let students trade and collect all of the planets (and special features) of the solar system.

Turn student exploration of the solar system into a creative writing project.  Students can go through the Juno Mission to Jupiter and write a fictional story from Juno’s point of view.  Do you have hesitant writers? What about having students create a graphic novel or comic book about Juno’s adventures through the solar system?

Tips: Be sure to check back to Eyes on the Solar System periodically, new features, tours and news are being added.  “Just like the universe, ‘Eyes on the Solar System’ is expanding.” :)

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Eyes on the Solar System in  your classroom!



The Secret Annex

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Character Education, Evaluate, Government, History, inspiration, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Understand (describe, explain), video, Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 09-05-2011

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What it is: The Secret Annex lets students travel back in time to Anne Frank’s hiding place.  Students can explore Anne’s house in a super cool 3D interactive environment.  The Secret Annex gives students an authentic feel for the place where Anne wrote her diary while listening to stories of everyone who lived in the hiding place.  In addition to the 3D hiding place, students can review historical archive material about the war and view unique TV broadcasts where memories are shared.

How to integrate The Secret Annex into the classroom: The Secret Annex is about the closest students can come to traveling through time and experiencing the hiding place.  The site is incredible in its attention to detail.  Each room can be explored with narration describing the room.  The Secret Annex is an excellent addition to any classroom studying World War II, reading the Diary of Anne Frank or studying Nazi Germany.

Explore the Secret Annex as a class using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer for a virtual field trip.  After exploring as a class, allow students to dig deeper into the site learning about all of the guests of the hiding place on classroom computers or in a computer lab setting.

If you are reading the Diary of Anne Frank as a class, use the Secret Annex as a support tool and visual aid so students can picture where Anne composed her diary.  The site does a fantastic job of capturing the feelings of fear, hope, anxiety and relief.

Ask students to imagine that they were hiding in the hideaway.  Use The Secret Annex as a writing prompt for students to explore the feelings, attitudes and observations in diary or journal form.

Tips: Be sure to visit the “This Site” page where you will find more historical information about Anne Frank, a timeline of Anne’s life, student guides to help students who are learning about World War II and teaching materials from the Anne Frank House.

Thank you to Ryan for sending me to this site, I truly have the best readers!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using  The Secret Annex in your classroom!