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Investigating the First Thanksgiving

What it is: Investigating the First Thanksgiving is a fun interactive where kids are the historians.  Students explore all the clues to learn about the first thanksgiving (really a harvest festival).  This site provides great primary source material for kids to sort through.  First they explore a section called Fact vs. Myth where they match pictures and descriptions.  Each section includes an expert video that talks students through the section and explains a little about the first Thanksgiving.  In the next section, students explore the Wampanoag people and learn about their different celebrations and traditions throughout the year.  Then, students visit an English Colonist village and learn more about life for the pilgrims.  Students can then learn about the events that happened prior to 1621 and what led up to the harvest celebration.  The timeline in this section clearly shows what events were happening from the colonists point of view and what events were happening from the Wampanoag point of view. Finally, students can share what they have learned on a virtual informational poster where they can type the text of the poster.  Students can print their completed poster at the end. How to integrate Investigating the First Thanksgiving into the classroom: Investigating the first Thanksgiving is an outstanding activity that involves students and makes them the historian.  Use this site to teach students the history of Thanksgiving but also how history changes.  This site does a great job of teaching students the difference between “the past” and “history”.  It makes the distinction that the past is always true but history (the way we interpret the past) can change based on additional information and resources.  You can go through the Investigating the First Thanksgiving interactive as a class on the interactive whiteboard, inviting student “historians” to come up and help guide the class through the activities.  Or as a center or individually on classroom or lab computers.  Finish the posters together as a class, filling in information, or each students can complete the final project.  If you do complete as a class, give a copy of the final to each student. Tips: There is a great teacher guide that accompanies this site and offers great ideas for using the interactive in the classroom. Leave a comment and share how you are using Investigating the First Thanksgiving  in your classroom.

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Google Sky

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive Whiteboard, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 10-07-2008

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What it is:
Google comes out with some really incredible tools and Google Sky is definitely one of them. Think Google Earth for the Sky and you will get a pretty accurate picture of what Google Sky entails. Students can get up close and personal with the Solar System, Constellations, the Hubble Telescope Showcase, Backyard Astronomy, Chandra X-Ray Showcase, GALEX Ultraviolet Showcase, and the Spitzer Infared Showcase. Google Sky also provides students with podcasts about the Earth and Sky. How cool is that? Like Google Earth, students can “zoom in” to a location and pan around. They can also view the sky in different views which include infared, microwave, and historical. Unlike Google Earth, Google Sky can be viewed right from your web browser without a download which makes it very handy for the classroom.

How to integrate Google Sky into the classroom: I think you would be hard pressed to find a school who didn’t have space units woven through curriculum at nearly every grade level. Google Sky is the perfect way to bring that curriculum to life for your students. You can take a virtual field trip to space right from your web browser! The different views and options in Google Sky make it appropriate for kindergarten through college age groups. Your students will enjoy exploring the solar system and learning about galixies with this up close and personal look. This site is perfect for use with an interactive whiteboard or projector for whole class instruction, but would be equally enjoyable on individual student computers where they can explore the universe at their own pace. When students zoom in on an object, they can “hover” over the object with their mouse for some stats. So neat!

Tips: As a side note this would be a great site to couple with the Discovery Series “When We Left Earth.” If you haven’t had a chance to catch the series, they are wonderful!

Leave a comment and share how you are using Google Sky in your classroom.

Comments (1)

I used Google Sky in my third grade classroom last week, and it was amazing! I just had to do a quick lesson on constellations. I read a little book to intro what constellations are, and then we darkened the room and fired up Google Sky on the front screen, using my laptop and projector. The kids learned so much and loved it! We just were wrapping up the solar system, so we poked around a bit on that portion as well. The students were much more engaged than they were with just the book. At the end, each student received a black piece of paper, and used a white crayon to create their own constellation in the night sky. Thanks for telling me about Google Sky!

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