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Branches of Power

What it is: Looking for another super awesome learning game for your classroom?  Filament Games does it again with Branches of Power.  In it, students can play all three branches of government, all working cooperatively toward the goal of building new laws.  As President, students will choose issues they think are important and rally people around them.  As Legislator, they will create bills around the values of the constituents.  As Justice, they will uphold the law or take out legislation that is unconstitutional.  The only way to navigate the game successfully is to cooperatively construct laws around the issues of the country.  (Our government probably has something to learn about the cooperatively part.) Students will find issues that the citizens care about.  By using the three branches of government, they can grow the issues into laws which appear as towers.  They win if they build all ten issues into towers before time runs out.  Students get the opportunity to play as all three branches, they have to stay on top of it, if they don’t, the branch may start making decisions on its own! How to integrate Branches of Power into the classroom: Branches of Power is a fantastic interactive game that puts students right in the thick of the government.  I love that the game doesn’t ask students to choose a branch of government to play, but expects them to learn, and play, all three roles.   There is nothing like experience to teach students about the different roles, struggles, and methodologies of each branch of government.  Branches of Power is an excellent game for the computer lab environment where each student has access to a computer and can play individually.  After play, discuss what worked well and what didn’t.  Were students able to complete all 10 towers?  Who got the furthest and what was the strategy that took them to that point?  If you don’t have access to a computer lab, the game can be navigated as a class using a projector-connected computer or an interactive whiteboard.  Discuss strategy during game play and give each student a chance to take part in the game.  This is an outstanding way to learn about the branches of government, what better way to learn than by doing? Tips: Below the game play screen, check out the Teacher Tools tab.  There are some great teacher files including a Powerpoint presentation that reinforces game concepts and a teacher’s guide to using the game in class. Please leave a comment and share how you are using Branches of Power in your classroom.

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Photo Booth/ Seenly

Posted by admin | Posted in Character Education, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Open Source, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 25-10-2007

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What it is: If you are lucky enough to have a newer Mac in your classroom, you are familiar with Photo Booth. Photo Booth is reminiscent of its name sake, it allows students to take pictures with the built-in iSight camera. If you have a pre-Photo Booth Mac or a PC you can now use a free Browser application called Seenly. Seenly lets students take pictures of themselves (even applying different effects like sepia tone or x-ray). Seenly can be used on older Mac’s or PC’s. The only requirement is a web cam. These are coming way down in price, $15-$25.

How to integrate Photo Booth or Seenly into the classroom: Photo Booth and Seenly can be used for a multitude of projects throughout the school year. My favorite project for using Photo Booth/Seenly is for character education development. I create a “How are you feeling today?” grid in Pages or Word and save as a template. Students take pictures of themselves displaying the different emotions and drag and drop onto the template. When they are finished we print them out and create a class book of emotions. This is a wonderful way to teach students empathy. Photo Booth/Seenly can also be used at the beginning of the year for a getting-to-know you project. Create a bulletin board with student pictures. Students could use Photo Booth/Seenly to star in their own stories. Teachers, take pictures of students throughout the year as you podcast students reading. The photos with the podcasts make an excellent end of the year gift for students and parents as they can see and hear students growth throughout the year. Create a classroom “dictionary” where students create definitions for themselves along with their pictures. When teaching action verbs, have students take pictures of themselves actually doing an action verb. You will find a hundred and one uses that you never expected when you bring a web cam into the classroom and pair it with Photo Booth/Seenly!

Tips: See the image below for an example of the “How are you feeling today?” templates I created in Pages. One template was created for kindergarten through second grades and the second template was created for third through fifth grades.

Comments (2)

What a great idea! You said it best. Photo Booth does have a 101 uses and then some. I really like the idea of using it for character education. Also, seeing the maturation of a reader doesn’t get any better than capturing it over the course of a year. Good stuff!

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