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Shidonni

What it is:  Shidonni is a really intriguing new web application for kids.  Shidonni is an imaginary world that kids create.  It provides a virtual universe where kids can create their own imaginary world, play, and share games and interact with each other in a safe environment online.  Kids can create their own animals or characters online and make them interactive.  Their characters actually move and interact with the kids (no programming required!).  They can create a world for their character, feed their character, and play games using their character.  Watch the video on the Shidonni website for a good idea of how the program works.     How to integrate Shidonni into the classroom:  Shidonni is an amazing way for kids to express themselves creatively.  They will LOVE the interaction that this site provides.  I am really in awe of this site and its capabilities.  The site is simple enough for kindergarten students to use but will keep even 5th grade students intrigued.  For classroom use the site is a great way to let younger students practice interaction with the computer and mouse manipulation.  It is also a great introduction to drawing programs.  Students can use Shidonni as a place to start digital storytelling.  They can use the site to illustrate stories that they are creating in writing class.  Shidonni can also be used to create “living” dioramas for the classroom.  This is a great place for students to learn by trial and error.  I like to introduce programs like this and then let students teach themselves how to use new technology through exploration.     Tips:  Shidonni requires that you download a plugin for your Internet browser.  Be sure to do this on all computers before you roll it out for the first time in class.     Leave a comment and share how you are using Shidonni in your classroom.

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TimeMaps- History of World 3500BC to 2005AD in interactive maps

Posted by admin | Posted in Evaluate, Geography, History, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 05-04-2012

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What it is:  TimeMaps is a fantastic site I learned about from an email I received today.  TimeMaps lets students look at every nation, empire and civilization as one story through maps. This is the history of the world from 3500BC to 2005AD!  There are pinpoints on the Atlas that let students drill down into specific areas, nations and civilizations.  Students get a story about what is happening in this portion of the world, as well as opportunities to explore even further.  Below the map, students can change the date on an interactive timeline.

I really like TimeMap as a way to explore history.  As I have mentioned in the past, history was not my subject in school.  I made good grades, but was never interested by it.  It wasn’t until I was adult, that I began to appreciate history.   In school, history was always just presented as a collection of facts.  I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around how they were all related or why I should take up valuable brain space memorizing them.  As an adult, I came to realize that history is really all about stories.  I love stories!  TimeMap’s brilliance is in the way it unfolds the stories in history with the visual of the map.  Not only are students getting a good understanding of how civilizations shaped the world, they are also learning geography.

How to integrate Time Maps into the classroom: The best way for students to interact with this site is to just give them the freedom to explore.  I know for most, this isn’t always an option.  There are certain time periods and portions of the world that you are responsible teaching in your grade level.  For those that fall into that category, let students go to those specific places within TimeMap. 
If you have an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer, you can explore as a whole class, reading the stories together.  The nice thing about this option, is that you can pull in other videos, music and resources for the whole class to experience.  How great would it be to combine this site with History for Music Lovers on YouTube?  TimeMap will give students context for other exploration.
TimeMap can be set up on classroom computers for students to visit as a supplement to the other work they are doing.  It can act as a research center for students to visit as they are working and learning.
If you teach World History, students could use TimeMap as a place to gather information.  Each student could select a different civilization from one time period or explore the same place and the change throughout time.  Students can create trading cards, videos, comics, non-fiction, a song, etc. to present their findings to the class.  It would be fun to have a movie premier night or a read-in comic day to view all of the students projects.
Tips: I’m really impressed by the comprehensiveness of this site.  The only thing that would make it better are images and video embedded with the map!

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

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