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Digital Book Talk: Book Trailers for K-12

What it is: There is a new trend in reading: book trailers.  It seems that lately book trailers are popping up on all of the video sharing sites.  Digital Book Talk is a collaborative effort from the University of Central Florida where Dr. Robert Kennedy and Dr. Glenda Gunter have completed research on what motivates reluctant and striving readers to select, read, and complete books.  “The student productions of DBT (Digital Book Talk) focus use the technological skills taught in the undergraduate Digital Media and graduate Educational Technology curricula that teach teachers how to create dynamic digital games, trailers, and Web sites. Many of these skills include research and writing, Flash animation, visual storytelling, video recording and editing, audio recording, graphic design, website development, programming, and database creation.”  On the Digital Book Talk site, you will find high quality book trailers that will whet your students appetite for a good book.  Students can search for books by content level, and interests. How to integrate Digital Book Talk into your curriculum: The Digital Book Talk site is an excellent place for students to start their search for a book that will hold their interest.  Just like a movie trailer, the book trailers give students just enough information to leave them wanting more.  The Digital Book Talks will help your reluctant readers understand the adventures that await them in a good book.  Find a book trailer to introduce a novel that the whole class will be reading or set up classroom computers with a link to Digital Book Talk where students can be inspired to find their next read.  After students read, they can create their own Digital Book Talks using video cameras or tools like Xtranormal, ZimmerTwins, or Kerpoof movie. A few years ago I had my students create bookcasts.  These were the same ideas as a book trailer but instead of being video, they were audio podcasts only.  I created a wiki where the students uploaded their bookcasts as they finished them.   The wiki was a place where students could recommend books to their peers, demonstrate their understanding of a book, and find the next book to read based on a classmates recommendation. Tips: Be sure to check out the student work tab to see book trailers created by k-12 students around the country. Please leave a comment and share how you are using Digital Book Talk: Book Trailers for k-12 in your classroom!

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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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