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Lightning Bug

What it is: Lightning Bug is a fantastic resource for the writing classroom.  The tag-line of Lightning Bug is, “Your writing partner, helping you write a story from beginning to THE END”.  That is exactly what it does.  For each stage of the writing process, students have access to excellent guides and resources to aid the process.  Students can get help finding a story idea, developing the idea, and finishing the story.  Students can even have a look at what kind of writer they might be based on their personalities.  Lightning Bug has a great collection of writing resources.  Students can explore author blogs, search for character names, get some exercises in creativity, get help with grammar and spelling, and even get help for publishing their written work.  The teacher resources are equally helpful for teaching writing. How to integrate Lightening Bug into the classroom: Lightning Bug is a great resource to have going on your classroom computers as a writing/publishing center.  Students can visit the site to get help with every stage of writing.  This is an excellent site to send home and alert parents to, it would be enormously helpful for at-home writing projects.  If you have access to a computer lab or 1 to 1 setting, allow your students to walk through this website as they work on any piece of writing.  The site is organized really well and easy to navigate independently.  Be sure to take a look at the teacher resources. A few of the recommendations for the writing process include worksheets such as mind maps.  Instead of using a worksheet for students to map their ideas, consider using online tools that will let students organize their thoughts and collaborate with others as they write.  Try using online mind mapping tools such as Creza’s Mindomo or  Comapping.  Students can use tools such as Zoho, Google Docs, or Kerpoof to collaborate as they write. Tips: Many of the ideas and resources found on Lightning Bug are useful for digital storytelling. Please leave a comment and share how you are using Lightning Bug 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)

Hi-
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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