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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.

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How to Do Research Interactive Graphic

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 29-03-2012

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What it is:  The research process can be a hard one for kids to master.  As a student, I remember thinking that it was a long process of random steps that were supposed to somehow come together as a completed project. I was constantly convinced that I would forget one of those steps and the whole thing would come crashing down around me.  I’ve seen this same behavior in our students at Anastasis. We mention the word research, and we are met instantly with groans.  Kids don’t really dislike research though, they do it all the time voluntarily.  Kids want to know how to be masters at parkour and they immediately search YouTube and Google for videos, tips, blogs, etc. to learn all about it.  Kids hear someone talk about dub step and will go through videos and connect with others who know about dub step.  They didn’t believe me when I told them this is research.  The Kentucky virtual library has a great interactive that leads kids through the research process step-by-step and lets them dig deeper into the portions that they don’t understand.  It has a fun game board-like interface so that it isn’t intimidating for kids to go through.  Every step of the process is covered from initial planning, to searching for information, to taking notes, to using the information, reporting and evaluating.  I’m not a stickler for this process happening exactly as it is described, but I appreciate that the site gives students a starting point so they aren’t so overwhelmed with the “research beast.”

How to integrate How to do Research Interactive Graphic into the classroom: The How to do Research Interactive Graphic is a great site to keep bookmarked and available for easy access for students throughout the school year.  Any time they are faced with the daunting task of performing a research project, they can access the interactive graphic.  Whenever your students are working on research, set up your classroom computers as a “research station” where students can perform searches online and access this graphic.  The interactive graphic will keep your students moving when they are feeling overwhelmed and stumped and provide a great foundation for conducting research.
The graphic is also a great way to introduce students to the research process.  Using an interactive whiteboard, or projector-connected computer, you can lead students through the process, explaining specific areas of focus for the project or your classroom.  I like that this site doesn’t just focus on the research paper, but shows students that research can have a variety of outcomes.
Tips: Within the graphic, there are pages that you can print out for your students.  Check out the notes section for an example of this.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using How to do Research Interactive Graphic in  your classroom!

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