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Middle Spot

  What it is:   Middle Spot is a spectacular new search engine for teachers, librarians, and students performing research.  Middle Spot lets you see your results, you can pan and zoom individual website results.  Workpads allow you to save and annotate results and sort by collections.  Workpads can also be shared with others (colleagues, students, or professional learning communities).  What I love about Middle Spot is the blending of the traditional search results (listed along the left side of the screen) with the snapshot results where you can see the results.  When your cursor scrolls over a screen shot, the related traditional result and information is highlighted on the left making it very quick and easy to find exactly the results you are looking for.  Middle Spot allows you to search the web or search images, very handy!   How to integrate Middle Spot into the classroom:   Middle Spot is a great place for students to do research because of the ability to organize their finds and ideas right in the search engine with workpads.  If students are working on group projects, they can share their findings and workpads with others in their group.  Middle Spot is also ideal for teachers, collect your search results in one place based on topic or curriculum objectives and share with colleagues.  Create your own “webquest” with Middle Spot by creating and sharing a workspace with your students.  Make workpads for whole class lessons with an interactive whiteboard or projector to save yourself from typing in each url for the activity individually.   Tips:   Middle Spot is truly my new favorite search engine.  Your students will love the ability to take notes about websites and cite their sources as they go in the workpads.  It really is well designed for the classroom setting!   Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Middle Spot in your classroom. window.google_render_ad();

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Playfic: create, play and remix text-based games

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, History, Interactive book, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 08-01-2013

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What it is: Playfic is a site that let’s users create, play and remix online text-based games.  I may have lost some of you already…but don’t leave yet! A text-based game is a genre of game that uses no graphics or sound, but instead, uses text to tell a story in an interactive world.  Think of a choose your own adventure tech-style.  Students can create a story that others can interact with by directing the story using words and phrases.  As an example, the story might be about a forest, describing what you can see East, West, North and South.  The player would type in a direction “East”, hit the return key, and the story progresses.  You can try out a sample text-based game here.

How to integrate Playfic into the classroom: Playfic has all kinds of good stuff for classrooms.  To create a story, students must first learn a little bit of coding.  Tutorials are included on the Playfic site, and are easy enough to get your students up and running in no time.  There is even a link to an Inform 7 (coding language) recipe book that will have your students dreaming up new scenarios and actively researching how to make them come to life.  Students can create games for each other while strengthening their writing and grammar skills.  This is wonderful for fictitious writing, but could also be used for students to explore “what ifs” in history and science.  Students can take a moment in time and dream up what might have been different about the world if the event hadn’t happened the way that it had.  As they are researching and learning about the actual event, they will also be analyzing why the event is important and critically thinking about it’s impact on the world we live in.  Similarly, students could explore a science experiment, hypothesizing what will happen and the different outcomes that might occur.

Teachers could create these choose your own adventure stories for students for new learning or review of a topic.  Wouldn’t it be cool to have a story using sight word vocabulary that prompted practice with the sight words?

I know a handful of students who really struggle with writing…it is PAINFUL.  These students are brilliant. They have great ideas to share. One of the students I have in mind came up to me today and said, “over break I taught myself Lua (programming language).”  Students like these will be all over this type of writing.  What a cool way to engage them and excite them about the writing process in a new way.

One of the things that I really like about Playfic is that it takes a lot of planning, organizing, and thought to create this type of story.  For some students the planning/organizing portion of writing is a real struggle.  This site would be so useful in teaching students the importance of those steps.  I also love that it will have them researching and looking up solutions for how to make their ideas come to life.  Just like we do every day in the “real world.”

Tips: The Inform 7 Recipe book can be found here. 

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Playfic in your classroom.

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