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Smithsonian Quests: Learning through discovery and collaboration

What it is: Smithsonian Quests encourage students to explore learning through discovery and collaboration.  As students learn, they can earn digital badges for their quests.  Students can explore their own interest through a series of online activities while incorporating knowledge and skill-building in the online quests.  The quests ask students to explore a topic of interest as part of a standards-based curriculum or as a student-driven after school activity.  By signing  up for Smithsonian Quests, you will receive an invitation to join a grade-level based group in the Smithsonian Quest Community.  Students from kindergarten through adult learners can join Smithsonian Quest and collect badges. How to integrate Smithsonian Quests into the classroom: Smithsonian Quests is a great program that connects transdisciplinary learning with digital badges.  As your class works through the site, they will start to realize how they have been learning, exploring, connecting and acting.  Students can unlock a badge by completing a set of quests that go with it.  Some Quests are independent and others are collaborative.  Quests get reviewed by a group of “specially selected experts” before badges are awarded.  Badges include: oral historian, historical biographer, cool curator, cultural storyteller, portrait reader, community historian, symbols spotter, correspondent, dirt detective, art advocate, environ-scientist, culture keeper, eco-journalist, time traveler, H2O hero, conservation campaigner, invasions investigator and tree hugger.  Quests include things like listening to audio, taking pictures, recording, etc.  As you can see, there are quests for every interest! When students sign up for quests, they get invited into a group (class group when the teacher sets up the account), can add friends, see the badges they have collected, and view friends who are online.  Students also get an online journal where they can reflect on learning or update their status with the kind of learning they are doing. I like that these quests can be done collaboratively (a whole class goal to earn the digital badges by learning?) and that they are  largely discovery based learning.   The quests really challenge students to dig deeper in learning and often lead to additional questions.  Quests can also be completed individually by students.  Students can explore areas that are high-interest for them. These Smithsonian Quests would be a fantastic end of the year project where students are driving their own learning but working toward a known goal.  Spend the last week of school with a time for students to share their learning with others. As we head into summer break in the United States, consider suggesting Smithsonian Quests to parents as a great summer-time learning opportunity. Tips:  Register for free and have a look around to see all of the cool opportunities for your classroom! I’ve been nominated for a Bammy Award for Educational Blogger.  I’d appreciate your vote to help spread the word about iLearn Technology.  Vote here.  Thank you for your continued support!! Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Smithsonian Quests in your classroom.

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Sign Up Genius

Posted by admin | Posted in Classroom Management, collaboration, Grade Level, Teacher Resources, web tools, Websites | Posted on 04-12-2012

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What it is: Sign Up Genius is an easy-to-use site that makes it a snap to organize all of your classroom helpers and volunteers, parent teacher conferences, fundraisers, etc.  Quickly build custom sign up forms, invite the group, people sign up online and Sign Up Genius automatically sends email reminders.  Sign Up Genius has professionally designed graphical templates, tools for bulk email, email reminders for those who have signed up, email privacy settings, and even the ability to view statistics for sign up pages.  Sign Up Genius also has great Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest making sharing SO easy!

How to integrate Sign Up Genius into the classroom: Sign Up Genius is your one stop shop for organizing groups.  Use this handy tool to create Sign Ups for classroom volunteers, parent teacher conferences, fundraisers, class snacks, classroom parties, office hours, student presentations, special room use, etc.  Sign Up Genius could also be really useful for creating sign ups for coordinating online projects with other classes around the world.  My favorite feature: email or text reminders get automatically sent out so there is no need to keep track of everyone’s schedules…it is hard enough keeping track of your own anyway!

For older students, Sign Up Genius could be a useful tool for allowing them to sign up for class project/presentations, meeting hours with you, or coordinating their own clubs or group projects.

Tips: There are all kinds of great themes built in-all customizable to fit your needs!

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Sign Up Genius in your classroom.

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