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Diipo and Edmodo: A Social Network for Classrooms

What it is: If you’re like me, you can think of hundreds of ways that social networks could be used positively in the classroom. The problem: most of us can’t access said networks in our classrooms-blocked by over zealous filtering! Not to worry, there are some great classroom alternatives including Diipo and Edmodo. Diipo is a social network created specially for education.  I learned about this particular tool from @nottil, a high school student in Virginia (thanks @nottil!).  Diipo makes it easy to communicate with your students, connect with other educators, and other classes.  The interface is similar in feel to a Facebook or Twitter making it easy for students and teachers to pick up and start using right away.  We are talking LOW learning curve here. Diipo has dashboards and apps that keep students up-to-date, help them get questions answered, and let them collaborate on blogs and group projects.  Workpages keep students organized from project to project.  Direct messaging features let students start a private conversation with classmates and teachers.  Online project notebooks let students work together and share the information they collect in one, centralized location.  An educator community lets teachers share best practices, educational content, brainstorm for collaborative projects, and pen pal programs between classes.  A class roster makes it easy for teachers and students to communicate with each other. A built in microblogging platform lets students start a conversation, ask questions, and actively participate in class discussions.  Students can build blogs directly in Diipo to share thoughts, reflect on learning, and write collaboratively.  Teachers and students can upload and share documents, links, and resources with classmates or the entire class.  Every conversation and post is archived and searchable making it easy to catch up or find something later.  Students can also tag messages, content, and workpages to make it easier to organize and find content.  The Diipo platform is wonderfully all-inclusive!  Diipo is intended for students 13 years and older. Edmodo is a social networking platform for classrooms that has been around longer.  Edmodo is a free, secure social network for teachers, students, and schools.  It provides classrooms with a safe way to connect and collaborate by offering them place to exchange ideas, share content, and access homework, grades and school notices.  Edmodo is accessible in any browser and from any mobile device.  Like Diipo, Edmodo allows teachers to post messages, discuss classroom topics, assign and grade classwork, share resources and materials, and network and exchange ideas with peers. Edmodo does not have an age limit, students under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian read the terms of service prior to use. To learn more about how Edmodo came to be, take a min to watch the video below:   While Diipo is in beta, Edmodo has stood the test of time and is used in classrooms around the world. How to integrate Diipo and Edmodo into the classroom: Social networking is a wonderful way to support your students in their learning.  It is also a way for students to take charge and support their own learning by collaborating with classmates.  Use Diipo or Edmodo to organize your class, support students, connect students in a collaborative study group, and to share materials with your students.  This is a great one-stop-shop for classroom communication and resources.  Upload lessons and handouts, websites and links used in class, videos, and any other materials students may find useful to Diipo or Edmodo.   Use the Diipo blogging platform to encourage your students to write for an audience, reflect on learning, continue class discussion, and write collaboratively. Both Diipo and Edmodo promote anytime, anyplace learning-reinforcing once again that learning happens outside of the four walls of the classroom. Using social networks in the classroom provides you with the opportunity to model proper use of social networking, digital citizenship, and teach Internet safety in an authentic environment. Tips: Edmodo has excellent support and training, be sure to sign up for their free webinars! Please leave a comment and share how you are using Diipo and Edmodo 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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