An edublog about integrating technology into the classroom.
Smithsonian Virtual Museum
What it is: I learn about great websites for the classroom from a variety of sources, I heard about the Smithsonian Virtual Museum from my dad. This is the most amazing virtual look at a museum I have seen. Students can take a self guided tour through the whole museum. They can navigate room by room using their mouse to “walk” through the museum, or navigate by clicking on the room or exhibit they would like to visit on the museum map. Camera icons throughout the museum show students hotspots where students can get close to an object or exhibit panel. This is a truly amazing way for students to learn about natural history. Students can explore the ocean hall, ancient seas, dinosaurs, early life, fossils and plants, mammals, African cultures, ice age, western cultures, reptiles, insects, butterflies, plants, bones, geology, gems, minerals, and the hope diamond. As students explore the museum, the map will show which exhibits have been visited and which have yet to be visited. I am completely amazed by this site and could spend hours going through the exhibits myself, students will love it! THIS is what virtual field trips should be!
How to integrate Smithsonian Virtual Museum into the classroom: Not all schools have the luxury or the funds to take a field trip to the museum. Not all cities have great natural history museums like the Smithsonian. This virtual tour is the next best thing to taking an actual field trip. The museum can be viewed full screen which would be outstanding for an interactive whiteboard or projector. The museum and exhibits will be life size for students to explore. Allow students to guide the tour using the map and navigation tools. As you “walk” from exhibit to exhibit take the time to stop and discuss what students are seeing and how it relates to what they are learning in class. Students can also explore the Smithsonian individually on student computers.
It would be a neat assignment for a group of students to study the different exhibits in the museum. The groups could explore and research the exhibit and then give classmates a ‘tour’ of their exhibit acting as exhibit guide with an interactive whiteboard or projector.
This is an incredible FREE resource that every classroom should use. Even if you have access to a natural history museum for field trips, this site is still incredibly useful. Prepare for the field trip before hand by visiting the Smithsonian Virtual Museum or follow a field trip with the site. Compare and contrast your local natural history museum with the Smithsonian.
Tips: Make sure that you have all the appropriate plugins required for this site before using with students.
Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Smithsonian Virtual Museum in your classroom.
What it is: What makes technology SO great is the way that it can make life (and teaching) more productive and fun. Over the years, I have found so many ways that technology can make reading more rewarding for both kids who love to read, and kids who dread reading. Today, I created an “Extreme Speed Booking” website for @michellek107′s class at Anastasis. I created the site quickly using Weebly, an awesome WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) website editor. Drag and drop website building is where it is at! The idea behind the site is to introduce students to a variety of books and form classroom book groups. How does Extreme Speed Booking work? A whole lot like speed dating. :) Students spend a little time with each book and then rate them accordingly with “I want to read more”, “Interesting”, “Not for me”, or “I’ve already read”. Students can also make a note of how interested they are in reading the book (maybe a 1-10 scale)? This process introduces students to a variety of books, genres and authors. Students may come across titles and authors they wouldn’t otherwise find. It also helps teachers form classroom book groups that are of high-interest and investment to students because they had input.
For our purposes at Anastasis, I created the Weebly website with a link to the “look inside” on Amazon. Because all of our students have an iPad, this was the simplest way to get the book preview into the hands of the students. Don’t have technology? No problem! Just make sure that you have enough copies of books so that each student can sit with the physical book during the Extreme Speed Booking sessions. If you have classroom computers, you can do a blend of both.
Explain to your students that they will have 2 minutes with each book. During that time, they can choose to read the introduction or first chapter, read the book jacket, or flip through and look at chapter titles and pictures. The goal during this time is to discover whether this is a book that they would like to read. It is okay if it isn’t a book they would want to read…the goal is to find out which book they are most excited about. After the two minutes is up, sound a bell that signifies it is time to switch. Before they switch, students can quickly make a note of the Title and rate the book. Continue on until students have had 2 minutes with each book. Collect the notes students have made and formulate book groups based on interest in the book.
I’ve added a few extra pages to our Extreme Speed Booking website including places where students can explore other books that they may like to read (Shelfari and Book Wink). I’ve also added a form that book groups can fill out as they are reading. The form gets emailed directly to the teacher. Our students will probably be blogging quite a bit of reflection about their reading. I thought it might also be useful to have a place for groups to answer questions, make comments, or update their teacher with their progress as a group.
@michellek107 created a Google form for her students to fill out while they are speed booking. Great idea! She is so smart. This will make it easy to collect all of the responses in one place to form groups.
Suggestions for books:
Choose books from a variety of levels, make sure you have a few book options for each reading level in your classroom.
Choose a variety of authors and genres, this is a great way to expose students to authors and genres they don’t normally seek out on their own.
Set up classroom computers with some book trailer videos from a site like Book Wink…this is a great “introduction” to a book or genre and acts much like a movie trailer.
Choose a variety of books from ONE author. After students have completed reading in their smaller groups, they can come back together and do an author study as a whole class; each group contributing something a little different.
Choose a variety of books from ONE genre. Students can read books in the smaller groups but discuss common features of the genre as a class.
Choose a variety of books on a similar topic. Students can read books in the smaller groups and then discuss the different character perspectives, author approaches, etc. This would be really neat to do with historical fiction, Holocaust fiction, etc.
Use non-fiction books that reinforce topics and themes that you are using in other academic areas.
Use biographies of presidents, change makers, authors, etc. Students can learn about a specific person in the smaller reading group and share what they have learned with the larger group later.
Tips:Extreme Speed Booking is a lot of fun with tech, but equally doable without tech! If you have access to a 1-1 tech environment, or can reserve the computer lab for a round of speed booking, you can use my technique above. Weebly makes it very easy to do this!
If you haven’t already, check out Shelfari and create a virtual bookshelf of book recommendations for your class or school. You can see our Shelfari shelf for Anastasis below. If you teach 3rd-12th grade it is worth checking out Book Wink!