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Web Adventures: Explore Science

What it is:  Web Adventures-Explore Science is a site by Rice University.  Web Adventures lets students explore science-one game at a time.  Each adventure has a section dedicated to students and a section dedicated to teachers who are using the adventures in the classroom.  In the Cool Science Careers section, students can experience what it means to take on science as a career.  They can go through Profession Pathfinder to see which science careers best match their personality based on their answers to career interest questions.  Students can select from five different science career fields to virtually try out activities that are typical for the career.  With Zoom In, students can learn about different science jobs and read interviews with real scientists.  In the CSI: Experience, students learn all about what it takes to be a forensic scientist.  There are four cases that students can work to solve.  As they solve the crimes, they will learn about forensic biology, ballistics, toxicology, medical examination, fingerprint analysis, digital forensics, fire investigation, and facial reconstruction.  In the MedMyst section, students will use the scientific method and scientific process to investigate infectious disease outbreaks.  Students can work with the N-Squad forensic scientists to solve an alcohol related crime.  Throughout the game, students learn what alcohol does to the digestive, circulatory and nervous systems.  In the Reconstructors series of games, students can learn about the health effects of drug abuse while learning neuroscience. These games are really entertaining while giving students information and understanding of science in body systems, drugs, environmental science, forensic science, infectious diseases, science careers, and the scientific method. How to integrate Web Adventures: Explore Science into the classroom: This is a fun find.  Web Adventures Explore Science, helps students explore science in a new way.  I like that the focus of the site isn’t just to deliver information.  The mission is really to engage students in science and reveal how science is used in a variety of careers to solve problems.  The games drop students into the middle of a mystery, their job is to help solve crimes, discover answers and connect the dots. This is a fun site for middle and high school students to explore.  It can be used to introduce a new scientific discipline or topic, to help students dig deeper in the learning and skills they are getting in science class, or to help them discover what it means to be a scientist.  The games are best in a computer lab or 1 to 1 environment where students have access to a computer for an extended amount of time.  They aren’t really short enough to be a center on classroom computers.  A whole class could explore and solve together using a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard.  While not ideal, it would allow them to pick up the benefits of the adventures. At Anastasis, we started “crave” classes.  These are classes that we offer every Wednesday afternoon.  Students are given a catalog of classes at the beginning of a 5 week block.  They get to choose which class they would like to enroll in for the 5 week period based on what they are “craving.”  Our teachers choose an area of passion to teach.  @bestmscott is currently holding a forensic science class for her crave.  The kids are LOVING it!  After learning about some forensic science, they set out to solve some mysteries.  I have a feeling they would geek out over the CSI adventure on Web Adventures Explore Science.  Today the kids were creating their very own mysteries that needed forensic science to be solved.  I was teaching my own class so I didn’t get to see how the whole lesson fleshed out.  What I do know: kids were taking my finger print, asking me to pop balloons covertly, and creating a list of suspects.  Their classmates will have the job of using the forensic clues to solve the mystery.  SO stinking cool.  Our students are the best.  Our teachers are out of this world.  I have to brag on them! Tips: Web Adventures has a new iPad app called NeuroKnowledge that quizzes students on scientific understanding.  The app is free in the app store. Please leave a comment and share how you are using Web Adventures: Explore Science in  your classroom!

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Podcast Summit

Posted by admin | Posted in Language Arts, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Spelling, Teacher Resources | Posted on 20-02-2008

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As promised I want to share some of the incredible uses of podcasting in the classroom that I heard at the Colorado Podcast Summit yesterday. One of the keynote speakers was ISTE Primary Teacher of the Year Carol Greig. Her Keynote entitled “Podcasting for the Struggling Reader” was truly inspiring. Carol teaches kindergarten in the Eugene School District in Oregon, here she started a podcasting program for her struggling readers called Reading Buddies. The Reading Buddies program uses several iPod shuffles that are loaded with reading lessons (created and recorded by Carol) that go home with the students. Carol said something that I think rings true with educators everywhere, “No one can teach my students as well as I can.” Reading Buddies allowed Carol to go home with her students every night using the iPod. The goal of the Reading Buddies program was to help struggling readers reach the benchmark. Carol loaded the iPods with reading lessons based on the individual child’s needs, this provided guided learning at home with and extended student learning. In the Reading Buddies packs Carol included vocabulary picture cards which she created, fluency cards, a book or two and the iPod Shuffle. A sample lesson might sound something like this: “Take out the green picture card. What picture do you see first? That’s right, a cat! Cat starts with the letter C. Cat, Cat. What is the next picture?” Carol pauses after a question so that the students have time to think and respond. The Reading Buddies program helps kids with vocabulary, fluency, alphabetic principal, rhyming, phoneme segmentation, and literature. The iPod “buddies” have been a huge success with 99% of students reaching the reading benchmark by the end of the year. Carol started getting calls from parents requesting that their student be a part of the Reading Buddy program, parents and other educators in the district started offering help to create the recordings for the Reading Buddies. At the end of the first year a parent called to thank her for the wonderful program and things it had done for her son, but she also benefited. After her son went to bed, the mother would listen to the reading buddy and follow along, she learned English by listening to her kindergarten son’s Reading Buddy! There are some good rules that were set up for the students who have reading buddies, each child was told that only the child who was given the Reading Buddy was allowed to use it, if a Buddy was lost or broken the students family was responsible for replacing it. It is a privelege that can be taken away if the Buddies were not cared for. They have never had to take a Buddy away or replace one that was lost or broken by a student. The future of the Reading Buddies program includes expansion to other grades, older students could have their anthologies or science text recorded on the Shuffle. The Reading Buddies program won the presidential award for reading and technology…it is easy to see why!

The new iPod Nano would be great to use as a reading buddy because students could have audio and visual presented. The Shuffles are nice because they are so affordable (the 1G just dropped to $49 yesterday!) I am hoping to get a Reading Buddy Program up and running at my school. I will keep you posted with any success stories or lessons learned!

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[…] and help students develop a love for story.  Books Should Be Free is a great way to start a Reading Buddies program at your school with some MP3 players or iPods that can go home with students loaded up with […]

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