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What it is: Wiglington and Wenks is a rich virtual world for kids that I wrote about a few weeks ago here.   This virtual world brings together literature, history, and geography into one amazing learning experience for kids.  Wiglington and Wenks is a place for students to explore, think, discover, and grow.  I can’t say enough about this virtual world as a learning space, I wish every textbook company on the planet would move toward this type of model of presenting content and learning!  While Wiglington and Wenks is free for everyone, they do offer memberships that give students access to extra features, special areas, and extra privileges.  Wiglington and Wenks has provided 10 one month memberships for iLearn Technology readers! If you would like a free membership for your class or as a give-away to one of your students or children please leave a comment below.  In your comment, tell us your favorite feature of Wiglington and Wenks.  I will choose 10 winners randomly and send an email with instructions for redeeming your free membership. How to integrate Wiglington and Wenks into the classroom: Wiglington and Wenks is based on a story book.  Read these stories with your students or include them in your classroom library for reading.  In this virtual world, students have the opportunity to travel to and explore real places.  Students can learn about the Amazon, Madagascar, Singapore, the Grand Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef, the Great Pyramid, Chchen Itza, the Bermuda Triangle, the Great Wall of China, Big Ben, and more.  As students travel through the worlds, they are presented with various quests and meet with famous historical figures.  Right now students can interact with Gandhi, Charles Darwin, Genghis Khan, Beethoven, Buffalo Bill, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, Neptune, and Chief Joseph.  Many new characters are being released including Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Cleopatra, Issac Newton John, Albert Einstein, Pocahontas, and Wilber and Orville Wright.   Send your students on quests to learn more about each of these characters and places.  Find more ideas for using Wiglington and Wenks in your classroom on my original post here. Tips: Make sure that you use a valid email address in your comment so that I can contact you! Leave a comment and share how you are using Wiglington and Wenks  in your classroom.

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An inquiry into sharing the planet: embodied energy awesomeness

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Apply, Character Education, Create, Evaluate, Geography, Government, Inquiry, inspiration, Interactive book, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Science, Teacher Resources, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 18-03-2013

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You may think that when I’m not posting here regularly, it is because I’ve run out of cool new technology to share…or maybe I’m just being lazy…or tired of blogging.  While I’ve had moments of the latter two, it really boils down to the 24 hours I have in a day.  Sometimes I choose sleep!

This week, I’ve been pulling together our last inquiry block of the year at Anastasis.  I can’t believe that we are down to counting weeks before we say goodbye for the summer.

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Our last inquiry block is an inquiry into sharing the planet.  For our 6th through 8th graders the focus is: “People can choose to take specific actions to help conserve Earth’s resources.”  Each time I put together an inquiry guide for teachers, I am sure to offer plenty of more detailed questions that they can use to help guide the inquiry.  Below are some of the questions I included.

  • What can people do to help conserve Earth’s resources?
  • What are other countries doing to help/hurt conservation?
  • How does United States demand impact Earth’s resources?
  • What country has the most impact on Earth’s resources/the least? Why do you think this is?
  • Is conservation a political issue?
  • What is ecological overshoot?
  • What is embodied energy?

I love helping teachers craft the opportunities for students to be curious, to dig into learning.  During this planning, I found the following resources that are too good not to share!

What it is: Embodied Energy free ebook download.  Created by a design firm, this ebook does a nice job explaining embodied energy.

How to use the Embodied Energy ebook in the classroom:  This ebook is a well designed book that will introduce students to the energy that we don’t see in the objects around us.  This pdf can be projected for a whole class, downloaded on individual student devices or, if you must, printed out.  Use this ebook along with the Sustainability by Design TED talk playlist to spark student interest into embodied energy and how it can impact the decisions we make every day.

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These introductory activities led me to the Energy Trumps project.  This is a design project by the Agency of Design that looked at using design to help people better understand, and take-in-to-account, the way that we build, design and consume.  I absolutely love the idea of students working together as a class to study a variety of materials.  Each student could create one (or several) of their own embodied energy trading  cards to help others understand the environmental impacts of materials.  Students can research key environmental properties of materials including embodied energy, embodied carbon, embodied water, recycled content, extraction intensity and years of reserves.  These can be used to compare materials at a glance.  (If you purchase the cards created by Agency of Design, you get the added bonus of an augmented reality feature that brings the material properties to life to explore in 3D.  Students can test out the different amounts of material they can get for one megajoule of energy.)

Take this a step further and ask students how they can use that information to help design a more sustainable future.  How can they hack every day objects?  How can they change the way that society builds, consumes, etc.?

How can the idea of embodied energy be communicated to a larger audience so that more of the picture is taken into account by the average consumer?

Any time I create a new inquiry block, I work to remember that we are in the business of apprenticing change makers.  These students matter and WILL change the world.  I love reminding students that age does not have to act as a restriction for world change.

Felix Finkbeiner is a student in Germany (similar in age to these Anastasis students) who is changing the world in HUGE ways.  Felix’s Plant for the Planet initiative has started a movement of planting trees…millions of them!  Read the an article about Felix here.

Felix has also addressed the United Nations with a speech to open the International Year of Forests which can be viewed here. 

Students can use this embodied energy calculator to explore their own curiosities.

The Happy Planet Index is a fantastic way to discover the extent to which 151 countries across the globe live happy and sustainable lives based on their efficiency, how many long and happy lives each produces per unit of environmental input.  Data can be viewed in map or table format.


I love the potential that a new inquiry block holds.  We offer guidance and some starting places to spark interest, but where students find passion is always exciting to watch unfold.  We truly are in the midst of genius in our students!

The other reason to love inquiry? The brilliant way that it allows room for transdisciplinary exploration, and touches each level of Bloom’s Taxonomy.  I mean really, how can you beat learning that looks like life?

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