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Extreme Planet Makeover: make a planet

What it is: NASA has some really fantastic resources and activities for use in the classroom.  This week I am creating a customized integrated technology plan for a local elementary/middle school.  One of the subjects we are integrating tech into is astronomy.  NASA was, of course, my first stop for finding some resources we could use.  While I was there I came across Extreme Planet Makeover where students can try their hand at making their very own planet.  In this fun interactive, students can control the look and habitability of their own world.  Students use the controls available to adjust the planetary attributes.  They can change things like size, distance from star, star type, planet age, and even start their planet based on different presets.  As students are adjusting their extreme planet, they will start to understand the differences between earth and the other planets in our solar system.  When students are finished, they can download a picture of their custom world. How to integrate Extreme Planet Makeover into the classroom: Extreme Planet Makeover is a neat simulation where students can design a custom planet.  As they create their own custom planet, they will begin to notice what makes a planet habitable or not, and the unique features that must be in place for life.  Extreme Planet Makeover can be used with the whole class using a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard.  Invite each student to make an adjustment to the planet. With each adjustment, students can describe the ways that the planet has changed.  The finished class planet can be used as the base for a creative writing prompt. Set up Extreme Planet Makeover as a center activity where students can create a planet and download to save. The finished planets can be shared on a class photo stream, website, or blog where students can compare and contrast the features of each planet. In a one to one or computer lab setting, students can each create a planet that they use for a compare/contrast to an actual planet in the solar system and as a creative writing prompt.  Who lives on this planet? What galaxy is their planet in? How do you get there? Tips: One of the features I really appreciate about the Extreme Planet Makeover is the explanations that pop up over each planet attribute.  Students learn about how atmosphere, size, different stars, the distance from the star, and the age effect a planet. Please leave a comment and share how you are using Extreme Planet Makeover 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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