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iCivics- teaching students civics through games

What it is:  iCivics is a great way for students to learn about civics in the United States.  The site features 16 educational video games that help students understand our government.  In addition to the great games, iCivics has great standards-aligned civics curriculum available for free to teachers! Games include topics like: Citizenship and Participation, the Constitution and Bill of Rights, Budgeting, Foreign Policy and National Defense, Separation of Powers, the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch, and the Judicial Branch.  The games are fantastic, and put students right in the middle of the action and story. Activate- Students campaign for an issue of their choice. Cast Your Vote- Students choose the questions in a debate, rate the candidates responses, and cast a vote. Immigration Nation- Students help newcomers along their path to citizenship. Responsibility Launcher- Students help others with civic common sense. Argument Wars- Students argue a real Supreme Court case using persuasive abilities. Do I Have a Right- Student run their own law firm that specializes in constitutional law. Counties Work- Students make decisions about community programs and services. People’s Pie- Student control the budget of the federal government. Crisis of Nations- Student work to solve international problems. Branches of Power- Students control all three branches of government. Executive Command- Student get to be president. Win the White House- Students get to manage their own presidential campaign including raising funds and polling voters. Supreme Decision- Students help cast the deciding vote. Court Quest- Student help others navigate the US court system. Students can join iCivics for free.  When they do, they can take part in the Impact Competition where they play games, earn points, spend points on a iCivics real life project of their choice. As a teacher, you can sign up for an iCivics account where you can add classes and students. How to integrate iCivics into the classroom: iCivics is a great way to help students better understand the US government.  The games are engaging, relatively quick to play (one class period), and teach everything that students need to know to play the game.  Students with little or no understanding of the topic will be introduced to everything they need to know within the game. The games are a great way to learn about civics because they put students right in the middle of the action, the games remind me a little of the SIMS games that I played as a kid.  Students will enjoy being the decision maker in the game-this isn’t a power point presentation disguised as a game (you know you have seen those!). iCivics is best played on individual computers in a one-to-one or lab setting.  If you don’t have access to a lab where your students can play, students could play as a whole class using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  Make sure that every students gets a chance to participate and weigh in on decisions that are made. Tips: The lesson plans in the teacher section are truly well done.  These are worth using in your classroom!  Games are now available in the app store as well! Please leave a comment and share how you are using iCivics in  your classroom!

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Moon Zoo: Contributing to science with lunar mapping

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 03-05-2011

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What it is: The Endeavour Shuttle launch has been delayed but don’t let that keep your students from exploring space, there are some incredible interactive sites that will make your students feel like they get to suit up as astronauts.  Moon Zoo gives students the chance to study the lunar surface while contributing to real science.  Students can get an up close and personal view of the moon viewing images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.  Moon Zoo’s mission is to provide detailed crater counts for as much of the moon’s surface as possible.  Your students can take part in actually helping to count and map out craters and features of the lunar surface.  Students can identify craters with boulders around the rim to help map the regolith across the surface of the moon.  To take part in Moon Zoo, students are shown an image of the lunar surface, the first task is identifying craters in the surface.  Students can click on the “Crater” button and click the center of each crater they see.  Next, students adjust the ellipse to stretch and move their marks so that they are the same size as the crater.  Students search for boulders around the craters, if there are any boulders students can note that by selecting “blocky crater” and marking the most appropriate description.  When finished, students can submit their work to the Moon Zoo database.

How to integrate Moon Zoo into the classroom: I love that Moon Zoo actually lets your students take part in science.  They are contributing to actual lunar research in real and meaningful ways while learning about the moon.  Moon Zoo would be a great activity to complete as a whole class in the elementary classroom.  Tell your students that they are going to be astronauts and complete a “launch” to the moon.  If you have time, students can create official astronaut badges to wear for the big launch.  Using a projector-connected computer or an interactive whiteboard, launch one of the shuttles here.  When you “land” on the moon, let students explore the surface together by hunting for craters in Moon Zoo.  Help students mark craters, look for boulders and map the lunar surface.  Each student should have a chance to make a discovery.  While students wait for their turn, they can track the crater/boulder count on a table to create a graph.  Categories can be small, medium, and large craters found and number of boulders.

Older students can sign up for their own Moon Zoo account, each studying and identifying craters on their own images.  Older students can dig into the science behind mapping craters and learn about how craters can be used to date the moon.

Want to involve your students in more contributing science?  Check out Galaxy Zoo (the hunt for supernovas), Galaxy Zoo Hubble, Planet Hunters, or the Milky Way Project.  This is such a neat way for students to contribute to the scientific community while learning more about space and the universe.

Tips: Registration for Moon Zoo does require an email address.  If your students don’t have an email address of their own, they can use a mailinator or tempinbox address.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using  Moon Zoo in your classroom!

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