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Mind 360

  What it is:  Mind 360 is a website version of the Nintendo DS game Brain Age.  The games on Mind 360 are aimed toward sharpening memory, increasing focus, build logical reasoning skills, increase alertness and awareness, boost productivity, and exercise the mind.  Each player gets a virtual personal brain trainer that helps build up brain function.  Students (or teachers) can play games and increase mental fitness by strengthening key cognitive functions including memory, attention, executive functions, thinking and reasoning, and visual perception.  Mind 360 has teamed up cognitive psychologists with game designers to boost mental health while having fun.  The brain training programs are tailored to the individual user.  Students also have the option to play against other students while building their mental strength.   The games are split up into the skill that it is building.  There are memory, attention, logic and reasoning, virtual perception, and exectutive function games.  In the training section, students can choose a student fitness program to help boost grades by “enhancing those cognitive skills required for overall better learning including attention, memory, thinking & reasoning, and more.”  The virtual personal coach will guide students through the program with constant personal feedback.  What I like about the Mind 360 website is the break down that each game and skill comes with.  Each game shows which cognitive skill it is improving, how to improve brain health, scientific studies, FAQ’s, and a glossary.  For teachers, this makes it simple to quickly find a game that meets your individual learners needs. How to integrate Mind 360 into the classroom: Mind 360 would be an excellent way to start each day.  Many of the games take 3-5 minutes to complete (not including all the levels) making it ideal for a brain boosting start to the school day.  In the computer lab setting Mind 360 is a great site to bookmark for students to work on as they finish work.  Many times my students will ask to play on Addicting Games, Mini Clip, YouTube, etc.  This is a great game site that students will enjoy but is serving the greater purpose of increased learning.  Mind 360 is also a great site to bookmark on classroom computers.  Students can take turns visiting Mind 360 throughout the week so that each student gets to exercise their brain at least once a week.  These games are  a lot of fun and when students start keeping track of their progress, they will want to continue play using their account at home.  I am of the opinion that if students are going to play games, they should be games that increase learning in some way!     Tips:  Mind 360 is currently in Beta, right now you can register and play the games for free but it looks like they may eventually charge for some of their games or features.  Mind 360 says that it is appropriate for high school and college students, however I think most of the games are appropriate for even primary grades.  For primary students, I would create a few classroom accounts for students to play on so they don’t each have to sign up for accounts.  Be sure to sign up for your own account, this is a great way to keep your brain in shape too!   Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Mind 360  in your classroom.

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Mural.ly: Google Docs for Visual People

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Geography, Government, History, Inquiry, inspiration, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Science, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, Technology, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 03-04-2013

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Screen Shot 2013-04-03 at 10.05.09 PM

What it is: Murally is a tool I learned about from my friends over at House of GeniusMurally’s tagline is: “Google Docs for visual people.”  Being highly visual, that description immediately resonates with me!  Murally reminds me a little bit of Wallwisher (now Padlet), it is a way for learners to come together to think, imagine and discuss their ideas.  With Murally, students can create murals and include any content they want in them.  Learners can drag and drop images, video, etc. from any website (or from their computer) onto their mural.   Learners can create presentations from within a mural they have already created.  The best part: this all happens with the ability to collaborate with others.  Murally makes it easy for students to collect, think, imagine, show and discuss learning.  Murals can be made public (shared live with a link) or private (only friends granted permission can access the mural).

*** email address, Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus account required for login.  You know what that means: 13 or older!

How to integrate Murally into the classroom: Murally is brilliant in the way that it enables learners to work and dream together.  My FAVORITE feature: you can drag and drop content from ANYWHERE!!! It works like the spring-loaded folders in Apple’s iOS.  LOVE this feature.  Honestly, this ability to clip content is a game changer.  It makes creating a mural incredibly easy.  Stinking brilliant!  

Murally is the tool that I wish existed when I was doing research projects in school.  Students can conduct and collect their research solo or invite friends to contribute to their research mural.  Students can add text, drag and drop links, pictures, video and other content.  After they have gone through the hunting/gathering phase of research, Murally makes it easy for students to go through and mindmap it all into some sort of order.  This tool is going to make me a better writer.  Visually being able to organize research and thoughts is HUGE.

Being inquiry based, I love the idea of beginning a mural for students with the driving inquiry alone on the board.  The learners job: be curious together.  Ask questions, explore, research, collect evidences collaboratively.  Capture all of that learning in one place.

Murally could be used for any mind-mapping appropriate project.  This is mind-mapping in the future.  Truly amazing!  The collaborative nature of Murally is fantastic.

Students could begin a Murally with a novel as the base.  As they read, they can include quotes, related thoughts, pictures, video clips, discussion, and related research.  I’m always amazed by the connections that our students make to other learning, a commercial they have seen, or a song.  Murally is a great way to visually collect all of this to share with others.

Murally would be an outstanding way to hypothesize about what will happen in a science experiment.  Students can then add in any research, class notes, discussion, etc.  After students have conducted the experiment they can include observations, photos, and final conclusions.

Use Murally with a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard for class notes.  As class discussions unfold, notes can be taken for the whole class and shared later.  Students can add to these later with additional learning, thoughts, and plans.

Because Murally can be used to show learning, consider creating map boards where students link what they know of Geography with the cultures, habitats, religions, politics of that area.

Murally would make the COOLEST “textbook” alternative.  Student created, mashup of all different tools, collaborative, discussion included, and organized in the way that makes sense to the learner.

This is one of those tools that has my mind spinning.  The possibilities overlap all subject areas and are endless.

Tips: The collaborative feature of Murally is so well thought out, see history and message collaborators quickly and easily.  Wonderful!

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

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