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How to make iLearn Technology work for you

iLearn Technology is coming up on birthday number 4!!  It is hard to remember a time when I didn’t blog, the 4 year journey has been amazing!  I have grown as a teacher, a user of technology, and (I hope) as a blogger.  As I reflected on iLearn Technology, I couldn’t help but remember my first steps into the blogging world.  It was the summer of 2007 and I had been teaching in the computer lab for 2 years.  At the time, I spent my summers searching the web for resources I could use in my classroom.  When I stumbled on gems I wondered why no one had collected all of the great education resources in one place.  I kept a notebook of the sites I was finding and would jot down a few words (which I later realized were tags) to help me remember what the website looked like and did.  I would also write any thoughts that I had about how I could use the site with students.  Every once in a while I would stumble on a collection of education resources for the classroom, but I was disappointed by them.  Most were just lists of website links, there was no information that indicated what kind of site it was or how it could be used.  It frustrated me that I had to click on each and every link to find out if it was worthwhile for my classroom or not.  I was quickly becoming a website snob and when I came upon a website of link lists, I would quickly move on.  It was too time consuming to sort through 100 website urls for the chance that I might find something worth keeping. About this time, the iPhone had just emerged on the scene.  My husband bought one and promptly jail broke it so that he could stay on T-mobile network.  As he searched around the net for iPhone hacks and tips, he came across this little video from @ijustine.  Her AT&T phone bill unveiling. My husband sent me the video with a link to her blog and said “You should start a blog”.  I quickly shot back something snarky like: “oh yeah, what would I blog about my Nokia?”  Lucky for me, he ignored my snarky comment and told me to start an education blog where I reviewed all of the sites I was finding for my classroom.  I wasn’t sure how I could keep a blog going through the school year or how I would find enough material to keep it current, but it was July and I decided to give it a go.  You have to understand, when I started iLearn Technology, I had NO idea what blogging was really all about.  I didn’t really understand how it was different from a website (other than being updated more often) and I am pretty sure the term RSS was foreign to me.  I started it anyway thinking if nothing else, it would be a good place for me to keep track of what I was finding and would be more easily searchable than my spiral notebook.  I didn’t really expect that anyone would read my blog.  I didn’t really expect to get a following of any kind.  Thus began the journey of iLearn Technology. Looking back over the past 4 years, I am still baffled that I find time to post every day.  I am still dumbstruck that you all read my blog and come back for more.  I am still amazed that I continue to find resources that are worthy of posts (I decided when I started iLearn Technology, if it didn’t pass the test of my students enjoying it, there would not be a blog post about it).  Each year I get a little nostalgic in July and look through my old posts.  I remember what projects I have done with students, make note of the sites that my students still beg for, and look forward to new finds.  I also try to find something that I can improve on.  This year I decided that I needed to make the resources I post about easier to search.  In my sidebar, you will see a category list with several drop-down menus.  I have categorized all of my posts by grade, subject, and resource type.  The new category search lets you search within multiple categories at once.  You can choose a grade level, a subject, and a resource (or just choose one or two categories to search).  This should make it easier to find resources that fit your classroom needs.  My hope is that iLearn Technology can be your one stop shop for finding the very best student-tested resources for your classroom. I realize that not all of you have been with me from the beginning of this journey, I thank you for joining me when you did and for sticking with me as I continue to learn and grow!  Most of the tools I have posted about I still use every year.  They are outstanding resources! I don’t expect you to go back through each and every post on the off chance that you will find something that fits your needs, but hopefully the new multiple category search will encourage you to go through some previous posts that you may have missed to find just the right activities for the next school year.  As seems to be the case with technology, not all resources have stood the test of time.  Some sites have shut down, others are no longer free resources.  I am working on amending these posts accordingly but if you come across a site that is no more, leave me a comment and let me know about it.  I can offer some alternative resource suggestions and update the post to indicate the changes. Try out the multiple category search and let me know what you think! You don’t have to make a selection from every category, just choose the options that best fit what you are searching for.

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Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery for Kids

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Art, Evaluate, History, Knowledge (remember), Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 02-11-2010

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What it is: This is the last of the Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery sites, it is just as great as the others!  BM&AG for Kids is a fun site where students can learn more about Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, Victorians, World War 2, and the Art Gallery and Museum.  The site aims to give students a chronological understanding of these historical events, knowledge of the events, people, and changes in the past, organization and communication, and historical inquiry.  Each section has a collection of online related activities and printable activities.

Ancient Egypt- students can learn about ancient Egypt, explore a virtual Egyptian tomb, and explore real mummies.

Ancient Greece- students can learn about ancient Greece and design their own Greek pottery.

Roman Empire- students can learn about the Romans in Britain and dress a Roman soldier for battle.

Victorians- students can learn about the Victorians and explore a Victorian painting.

World War 2- students can learn about the war, assess a bomb damage report, and view pictures of Birmingham from World War 2.

Art Gallery- students can view paintings and learn about landscapes.

Museums- students can explore 6 museum activity zones where students can explore each museum.

How to integrate BM&AG for Kids into your curriculum: The BM&AG for Kids is a good site to incorporate into history lessons.  The site does an excellent job of helping students relate the different time periods above chronologically through an interactive timeline.  The online activities help students understand each time period, giving them activities that will help them make connections in their learning.  The BM&AG for Kids site is a good place to begin a study on a time period.  The site provides students with just enough information to whet their appetite for more.  Many of the activities offer basic information that could then be connected to primary sources.  For example, in the tomb exploration, students are asked to find items in a tomb.  In the activity, there is a basic explanation of each item.  A great extension would be to find primary sources and photographs of the actual items to share with students (or better yet, let them find the primary source!).  Students could then create their own “tomb” either online using online pictures and a creation platform like VoiceThread or Glogster, or an offline tomb with printed primary sources.

Tips: BM&AG for Kids was created for the Birmingham Museum and Art Collection.  They have several excellent websites that I will have reviewed.  To view all the Birmingham Museum sites, search “Museum” or “Birmingham Museum” in my search box above.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using BM&AG for Kids in your classroom!



Comments (4)

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Great series, Kelly!

What a great site! I can’t wait to go read more about the Birmingham Museum sites. I think I will share this with the new teacher group I am presenting for tomorrow! Thanks for finding and sharing so many great things!!

@Melissa- thank you!

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