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Take a Video Tour of Planet Earth

What it is: Take a Video Tour of Planet Earth with the combination of Discovery channel “Planet Earth” and Google Earth.  Witness animal behaviors, dive into the deepest cave on the planet, and come eye to eye with a 30-ton humpback whale in this interactive tour.  Explore the earth through Discovery channel’s Planet Earth series embedded in Google Earth.  Just zoom into a location in the Planet Earth tour and view video clips from the popular 11 part series.  The tour is free to download and plays directly in Google Earth. How to integrate Video Tour of Planet Earth into the classroom: Geography lessons come to life in Google Earth.  The Video Tour of Planet Earth infuses even more life into your classroom with an up-close look at the incredible animals and vegetation around the world. This tour is an excellent resource for teaching students about habitats, ecosystems, geography, animals, animal kingdoms, and more.  Your students will be able to virtually ‘fly’ to locations all over the world and get a real life look at each stop.  This is an outstanding resource to view on the big screen with a projector or an interactive whiteboard.  Allow your students to take turns acting as tour guide at each stop.  Students can preview the video, do some additional research and present their findings as the class visits their stop along the tour.  Set up the tour on classroom computers for a fun geography or science center.  Use a stop on the video tour as a writing prompt for journaling. Tips: Google Earth is a free download, if you don’t already have it, this is a MUST have for every classroom. Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Take a Video Tour of Planet Earth in your classroom.

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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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