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Eco Kids: Build a Food Chain

What it is: Eco Kids is a website with a great collection of ecologically focused games and activities.  Students can complete interactives on wildlife, climate change, energy, the North, water, waste, land use, and more.  I was hunting down a good interactive for students to learn and practice the food chain.  Build a Food Chain has students order the elements of a food chain.  Along the way, students learn why each animal within a food chain is so important.  In addition to learning the basics of a food chain, students will learn about bioaccumulation.   How to integrate Eco Kids: Build a Food Chain into the classroom: Build a Food Chain is a fun way for students to learn about and practice building a food chain in an interactive environment.  First students are led through the process of a food chain.  The interactive helps students to understand the job of each animal or element in the chain.  Students can then put their understanding to the test by putting together a food chain of their own and testing it.  Students receive immediate feedback on the chain.  If the food chain is broken or won’t work, students are given an additional clue and opportunity to try again.   Build a Food Chain could be used as a whole class with a projector connected computer or interactive whiteboard.  Choose students to be guides at the board as they navigate through the parts of a food chain.  Then, call up a student to put the first element or animal of the food chain in place and pass on play to another student until a working food chain has been constructed.  Build a Food Chain can also be used as an independent learning activity on classroom computers as a center or in a lab setting.  Because the site provides students with feedback as they construct the food chain, students can navigate the activity easily on their own. Tips: Before you begin the game, you will notice a box labeled “More About This Topic”, here you will find additional resources, printables, and games that are related to food chains. Please leave a comment and share how you are using Eco Kids: Build a Food Chain in your classroom.

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Popcorn Maker: Mashup video with images, articles, text, maps, etc.

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Create, Evaluate, Geography, History, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 23-01-2013

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What it is: Popcorn Maker is a super cool site that I learned about from Michael Zimmer’s blog, The Pursuit of Technology Integration Happiness.  Popcorn Maker is an online video mashup tool that makes it easy to integrate several different forms of online media into a video.  A clip from YouTube can be enhanced with article clips, images, text, audio, maps, other live feeds and social media content. Add some “bling” to any video clip…interactive is better! Videos can be mashed without logging in.  Creating a user profile let’s you save and share the finished project.

How to integrate Popcorn Maker into the classroom: Popcorn Maker is a great way to enhance videos.  Teachers can use Popcorn Maker to mashup media for students to engage with.  This could be adding a map to an historical video so that students can better visualize where an event is taking place, adding a wikipedia article to expand on an idea that a video touches on, adding a live social media feed with student comments as a “backchannel” video, etc.  This type of use is great for expanding on Kahn academy type instructional videos (which can be a bit boring/dry), educational videos, etc.  Wouldn’t it be great to have a real-life example pop up during a Kahn academy instructional video?  Students can connect number sense and computation.  (What a novel concept!)  For young students, create a video with embedded directions (audio or text) and next steps for learning.  This would make for a great learning center for completing a science experiment, multi-step directions, or next steps of learning.

Students can use Popcorn Maker to enhance videos that they have created, to further expand on an idea, to help explain a researched topic to the rest of the class, or to share reflections on a video with others.  Because students can add text, it is easy for them to add their “blogged” reflections directly in a video to be shared with others.  So often our students start their research with a video search.  Ask them to create a mashup of all of their research using Popcorn Maker.  This will help them to dig beyond the video for other relevant content that adds to their understanding.

In the “flipped” classroom, Popcorn Maker takes the videos to the next level.  Popcorn Maker could be a great way to help apprentice students in the art of learning.  Students can see the way that connections are made among different media types and are led through how to think and expand on an interesting topic.  After students have viewed a few mashups, ask them to create their own.  This could be really helpful in discovering misunderstandings in learning, gaps in the way research is being completed, or difficulties in making connections.

Tips: The tutorial on the first page is really useful. I recommend it before beginning a project!

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

Comments (2)

We used this briefly for a mobile journalism course and I found it to be great in regards to layout, easy accessibility and immediacy of outcome. This is a great journalistic tool

I think the Popcorn Maker is a very smart invention! I remember when I was younger and I would get so tired of just listening to my teacher talk, but now teachers can really make a lecture interesting! It can also increase your knowledge about something by explaining it in different ways! Assigning it to be used by students can also improve the knowledge of things because they have to research all different types of resources and combine them. I’m very glad that I read this article and I may even start using the Popcorn Maker when I become a teacher!

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