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What it is: Have you ever wondered what it would be like to sit down and talk to Albert Einstein, George Washington, or Susan B. Anthony?  Wonder no more, with Virsona, your students have the opportunity to do just that!   Virsona is an interesting tool that lets students create a virtual character of themselves (or a virtual literary character).  Students answer a variety of questions about themselves (or another character).  They can create automatically generated responses, greetings, and choose a personality for their virtual selves.  After they have created their virtual persona, they can share the link to their virtual self.  Anyone can ask their virtual self questions (via chat) and responses are automatically generated based on the answers that were given.  Virsona has some excellent built in historical, political, and literary characters that students can interact with..  Students can chat with a virtual George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, Henry Ford, Pocahontas, Babe Ruth, Susan B. Anthony, and more.  Students choose the persona to chat with, asking them questions about their stance on politics, entertainment, beliefs, and more.  It is very cool!  Try chatting with Abraham Lincoln here. How to integrate Virsona into the classroom: Virsona can be used to connect students to historical characters.  Students can “chat” with the historical character asking questions about their life, beliefs, politics, and more.   Put your students on assignment as news reporters.  Ask them to “sit down” with the historical character and interview them, taking notes about the answers they are given.  Students can then fact check the interview, using primary sources, text books, and encyclopedia articles.  Students can then write a newspaper article, a character sketch, or create a fake video interview using a tool like Xtranormal. Virsona is a tool that will connect your students to historical figures and learning in a way that wasn’t before possible.  I have yet to meet  a student who doesn’t love to chat.  Put those chatting skills to good use by having them chat with historical figures. If you teach in the elementary classroom, use Virsona as a whole class.  Have students brainstorm questions they would like to ask the historical figure.  As a class, chat with the VIP using an interactive whiteboard or projector. For students over 13, Virsona can be used as a way to create an in-depth character sketch on a historical or literary figure.  Students will have to really research the character in order to create a Virsona virtual persona.  Students can answer questions as the literary or historical figure would have.  As a culminating activity, students can visit each other’s Virsona’s to learn about other historical or literary figures. Can’t find a character that you want your students to chat with?  Why not create the character yourself?  In one of our fifth grade classrooms, we have an invisible ninja who can see everything the kids do.  The invisible ninja is an enigma that the students often want to know more about.  It would be fun to take these fictional characters and let students chat with them virtually.  Sometimes younger classrooms have “desk fairies” that leave treats randomly for clean desks.  Enter into a spirit of play with your students and create a virtual version of these classroom characters. Tips: To sign up to create a virtual character, student have to supply an email address, first and last name.  To create a virtual character, students must be 13 or older.  Students under 13 can still use Virsona to chat with pre-created characters without signing into the website. Please leave a comment and share how you are using Virsona in your classroom.

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Learning Box Base 10 Blocks: Virtual math manipulative

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Interactive Whiteboard, Math, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Websites | Posted on 07-09-2011

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What it is:  Today while I was doing a quick Google search for a place I could buy a set of base 10 blocks, I came across this AWESOME digital version by accident.  What a happy accident!  Learning Box has a virtual version of base 10 blocks that builds in a fun practice game.  Students are given a target number and drag base 10 blocks onto the paper to represent that number.  As students add blocks, a counter at the bottom of the page shows how many blocks are currently on the paper.  This is a great way for students to digitally practice place value, counting by hundreds, tens and ones.

The outcome of my shopping trip for base 10 blocks: the digital version is MUCH cheaper (read:free) than the physical version (not free).  While I understand the value of the physical blocks, the digital version is a fantastic alternative for classrooms without the budget for each student to have a set or for students to continue practice at home.

How to integrate Learning Box Base 10 into the classroom:  The Learning Box Base 10 blocks are a great example of a virtual manipulative.  They help students visually represent numbers and place value.  I like the way the slider and cups on the bottom of the page help track student progress as they drag blocks to the paper. When students get the target number, they don’t start with a blank slate, instead a new target number is given and students have to figure out which blocks to add or subtract. You can adjust the level of difficulty and place values practiced by clicking on the 1, 10, and 100 circle to the left of the paper.

Learning Box Base 10 would make a great center activity in the one or two computer classroom.  Students can use the digital manipulatives with the built in game or to help them represent real-world problems.

Start a whole-class game with the Learning Box Base 10 blocks using a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard.  Students can take turns at the board solving the problem and “phone a friend” if they need some additional support.

Tips: This Learning Box activity is flash based…I’m hoping that someone comes out with an app of manipulatives for the iPad (hint, hint).

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Learning Box Base 10 Blocks in  your classroom!

Comments (8)

[...] Read this article: Learning Box Base 10 Blocks: Virtual math manipulative [...]

Kelly, I LOVE the Learning Box base 10 blocks and have used them with my first and second grade classes when they were learning about place value and doing addition with regrouping. I found that site and others with similar virtual base 10 blocks on http://www.internet4classrooms.com in the math skillbuilders for second grade. The kids have a great time using these and they work great for differentiation.

[...] iLearn Technology » Blog Archive » Learning Box Base 10 Blocks: Virtual math manipulative [...]

[...] iLearn Technology » Blog Archive » Learning Box Base 10 Blocks: Virtual math manipulative [...]

[...] the home page to entice me.  As I entered this blog I was greeted by a screen shot of digital base ten blocks… “I must read more” is my only thought!  Kelly Tenkely is the creater of the iLearn [...]

I have used electronic base 10 blocks in my third grade classroom for a couple of years now. I was amazed at how much better they grasped place value, as well as constructing and deconstructing large numbers with this tool. The kids were so excited to be able to use the smartboard and the electronic base 10 blocks to make numbers. I think the hand on component of this technology really reinforces the concept and increases students’ understanding and retention of place value. Thanks for sharing!

Love that your kids responded so well to the virtual! I’m always hesitant to go JUST virtual because I know some kids really love holding the blocks in their hands…they are so darn expensive that this is a great alternative!

Fantastic! Thanks for sharing these Debra.

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