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Do You Want to Form an Alliance With Me? (Take 2)

In March, I posed the following question: Do You Want to Form an Alliance With Me?  I asked educators around the world to join me in an exercise of blogging, commenting, and encouraging other blogging educators.  The response was amazing.  74 educators signed up to be a part of the alliance.  We committed to commenting on each other’s posts, following each other on Twitter, and encouraging one another in teaching and learning.  In the past two months I have grown immeasurably as a result of the alliance.  I have been introduced to exceptional resources, forward thinking teachers, new friendships, an incredible support system, and had the opportunity to peek inside of classrooms around the world.  I believe that those involved in the alliance have been equally inspired.  I asked the members of the current alliance to weigh in with their impressions of the alliance.  We compiled the answers on the following Wallwisher (click to enlarge). I have had many requests for an expansion of the Educator Blogging Alliance, today I am opening the alliance to other interested educators.  Before you fill out the form to join, I would ask that you read my original post about the alliance here. Here is a snip from the original post: “The Alliance… After reading the alliance article an idea began to take shape.  What if we, educational bloggers, were to form an alliance.  No need for the secrecy.  This alliance would be a group of educational bloggers who are committed to working together for the mutual benefit of all the members in the alliance.  We all have something valuable to add to the conversation of education and learning.  Each of us has a unique voice, outlook, approach, skills, strengths, and focuses. The goal of the alliance is two fold: 1. To encourage educators in their blogging endeavors whether they be new, established, or otherwise.  There are so many valuable additions to the conversation that are being overlooked. 2. To create a united network of educators working toward the larger goal of being heard by those not in education.  It is time for the general public to see us for the highly qualified professionals that we are. How the Alliance could work… 1. Commenting on each others blogs– in the Problogger article, those in the alliance committed to commenting on each others blogs at least once every week day.  The comments should stimulate interesting discussions, and encourage those involved that someone, is indeed, reading their blog. 2. Linking to One Another- This could be linking to related posts on another educational bloggers website, adding them to your blog roll, or naturally as a result of subscribing to one another’s blogs. 3. Social Bookmarking and Tweeting- This is my personal favorite suggestion, Twitter has done wonders for iLearn Technology as my PLN passes on my posts to others.  Promoting  posts on Twitter, Digg, Delicious, and StumbleUpon increases awareness of what educators around the world are doing that works.  It also connects those new to educational blogging. 4. Guest Posts- Guest posting could be an opt-in option for the alliance.  I know that it isn’t always possible to find time to write a blog post for your blog, let alone polish it enough for someone else’s blog. 5.  Thank You Page Promotions- When someone signs up to receive your RSS feed, they are generally taken to a page thanking them for subscribing.  This Thank You Page could also be used to promote other education blogs.  For example: “If you like iLearn Technology, you should also be sure to check out blog A, B, C, and D.” I hope you will join us in this undertaking, I believe that when educators work together, we become an unstoppable force for change.   I am putting a time limit on the enrollment so that we can get a good group together that is committed to supporting and encouraging one another.  If you would like to join us, please do so before May 21, 2010.  I will organize the group and have us up and running by May 28, 2010.  So, do you want to form an alliance with me? If you are in, please fill out the following form (inactive after May 21st).

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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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