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Edublogger Alliance Wack Wall

In the last year I started two edubloggers alliances (you can learn about them here and here).   I have had wonderful teachers from around the world join me on this journey of blogging, commenting, and supporting fellow educational bloggers.  As it stands, there are nearly 200 educators who have committed to reading, commenting, and encouraging other bloggers.  I am still truly amazed at the results of this “crazy” idea I had.   Many have asked me when I am going to start another alliance or when I will open it up for more to join.  My answer, I have NO idea.  You see, when I started the edublogger alliance, I committed to commenting on each and every post that members of the alliance posted.  I did really well with this until the end of the school year hit.  I am still commenting, but I can’t seem to get through the 400+ edublogger posts in my Google Reader.  It made me re-think the reason I started the alliance in the first place. My initial goal was to encourage others in their blogging.  It can be hard for those new to blogging to break into the “club” and stick with it long enough to gain readers.  My thought was, if we could encourage each other from the beginning of the blogging journey, more would stick with it.  The problem?  There are teachers who are new to blogging every day!  I can’t keep up with it on my own and yet I still have a desire to help those who are new to blogging.  My solution?  Create an edublogger alliance social network on Wack Wall.  I know what some of you are thinking: “is she out of her mind?  I already belong to 15 social networks, subscribe to countless numbers of blogs, follow people on Twitter, how in the world am I going to keep track of one more thing?!”  This isn’t my intent.  For those of you who feel overwhelmed by the prospect of joining ANOTHER social network, don’t.  It won’t hurt my feelings.  I get it…I feel the same way every time a new social network pops up.  It is too much, I can’t keep track of it all.  But, I also know that there are thousands of educators out there who would like to try their hand at blogging but need a support system.  You need someone to encourage you, answer your newbie (or not so newbie) blog questions, help you figure out how to blog with your students, help you navigate the blogging platform choices, etc.   You need a place to be plugged in with others who are working through all of this themselves.  Don’t misunderstand, the Edublogger Alliance is for everyone; of course I would love to have all of you join!  I just don’t want you to feel an obligation to sign up for one more thing if you are already overwhelmed. Let me be clear, I am by NO means an expert of any sort on blogging, I just know that I wish that I had someone to guide me in my blogging journey.  I wish I had someone to ask questions, and sort through WordPress and blogging etiquette with.   My hope is that this will be a place where blogging educators can come together, share what is working and what isn’t, ask questions, and get answers.  I want it to be a place where those who have been blogging for a little while can help those who are just dipping their toes in.  I want it to be a place of discussion and encouragement. If this social network isn’t for you, if you are already stretched in a million directions, that is fine…I truly do understand.   I will ask you to keep your ears open and offer it as a suggestion for those new to blogging, or those looking for a place to connect with other educators. Below are a few screen shots of the new iLearn Technology Edublogger Alliance with some explanations about how it works and what you can expect to find there. The dashboard is your On the blog tab you can write, share, or read a blog post. Add the link to your blog on the link tab. Join a group to find others using your same blog platform, or to share blogging tips, tricks, and ideas. Start or add to a discussion on the forum page. If you are interested in joining me on this journey, you can sign up here.  Don’t forget to pass this on to all those teachers who are deciding to try blogging for the first time this year.  They are going to need help!

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NASA’s Be a Martian

Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, Geography, History, Interactive Whiteboard, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 22-02-2010

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What it is: I have always been intrigued by space exploration.  NASA’s Be a Martian feeds this intrigue by giving an up close view of Mars exploration.  Here students can virtually explore and learn about the human-robotic partnership that makes virtual exploration possible.  Students can become citizens (this requires them to create an account) or explore with an “Anonymous Tourist Visa”, which is how I explored.  Students can send virtual postcard messages to the Spirit Rover in her new home.  After composing their own message, students are taken to a virtual Mars where postcards with messages rain down.  Students can click on a postcard to read what others around the world have written.  In the map room, students can watch a video detailing the history of mapping and learn how NASA scientists map today.  Students can become virtual map makers by matching up map image fragments, and counting craters.  In Two Moons Theater, students can watch videos starring NASA scientists, explorers, and Mars.    Students can ask and vote on questions that they would like to see answered in the Polling Place.  In Tourist Mars Atlas, students can explore the surface of Mars and learn that there is more to Mars than a giant expanse of tan.   

How to integrate NASA’s Be a Martian into the classroom: Feed your students curiosity about space exploration and Mars with this great interactive environment.  Students have the opportunity to learn about the work that NASA scientists do, practice their observation skills in map making, and learn some great history about space exploration, and map making.  I really like that NASA has included a place for students to ask and vote on questions that they would like answered.  What a neat way to help students understand that we don’t have all the answers and that scientists ask questions, explore, and experiment to learn more.  I think that younger students (primary elementary) would really enjoy the crater counting activity.  Do this activity as a class using an interactive whiteboard/projector or individually as a center.  This will help students to look for detail and practice counting together.  Older students will enjoy trying their hand at mapping Mars and learning more about the history.  Have students learn about the Spirit Rover and her job on Mars before sending a message.  Some of the postcards include location information, it might be fun to track the locations of the postcards in Google Earth with placemarkers.  Then, explore Mars using Google Earth or Google Space.  The Google tools complement this site nicely.

Tips: There is an impressive contest section on NASA’s Be a Martian site, the deadline for entries is April 16, 2010.  The contest challenges us to come up with videos about Mars, interactive software or games, or write an efficient image processing application.  NASA is including us all in the exploration of Mars.  These challenges would be outstanding for older students to take part in…talk about authentic learning!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using NASA’s Be a Martian in your classroom.

Comments (5)

What an excellent way of teaching and learning about space. Way cool!

This looks like a great site to use in the classroom or at home for kids who enjoy space. In my child’s school, they have a “Project Fair” each year and this would be a great idea to help with a project dealing with space.

Authentic learning indeed! It’s wonderful when entities like NASA encourage kids to become involved. AND acknowledge that we certainly don’t have all the answers.

This looks like so much fun. I’m so annoyed that these tools are available to these kids and I was stuck with poorly copied images from an out of date textbook. Great find and share.

I know, I am always bummed that I didn’t get to learn with these tools when I was a kid. That is probably why I geek out about them so much now…gives me a chance to learn like a kid!

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