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YouTube saves the day: Busting Conspiracy Theories

As  you may remember, I am currently working to bring a school from zero technology integration to full technology integration in a one to one laptop setting.  I am working alongside a WONDERFUL teacher who is eager to learn with her students.  The school initially asked me if I would just teach this group of middle school students technology as a separate subject.  I explained why I would rather work alongside the teacher so that both students and teacher could learn technology together and we could integrate it into the learning that was already happening in the classroom.  They agreed and I am now working with the teacher to weave technology into the learning that is already happening in the classroom.  On Fridays, I model how to use technology within the learning they are doing.  Today the learning focus was astronomy.  I had the students start out in Capzles where they are building an interactive timeline of the astronomy events that they are learning. Each time they learn about a new discovery, historical figure, or space mission, they add images, reflections, and information to their timeline.  I have to say, the Capzles interface is turning out to be the perfect place for them to collect all of their learning and creations in one place! Throughout the week, students are keeping a night sky observation journal on Capzles.  Not only are they studying about historical figures who made astronomical discoveries, they are adding their own discoveries to the timeline.  Capzles lets students add blog posts right within the timeline.  Students are taking pictures, and writing about their observations, reflections, and questions as a nightly blog post.  In addition to adding their pictures to Capzles, students will also be uploading their photos to Planet FOSS where they have the opportunity to view other students night sky observations and add their own. Today I taught the students how to add a YouTube video to their timeline.  I have to admit, this isn’t the one-step process I would hope for (either the ability to use the YouTube embed code or just copy/paste the link to embed).  Students first searched for videos about the moon using NeoK12.  Then they click on the YouTube link within the video so that they can view the video in YouTube. In front of the YouTube URL the students typed “kick” so that they could download the video to their computers.  From here, they can upload the video to their Capzles.  You can view my step-by-step instructions for that process here. Even though it isn’t a simple one-step process, it still isn’t difficult and it gave students the opportunity to practice downloading and uploading files- bonus tech skills that are built-in is always a good thing! After students learned how to embed video, we headed over to the site We Choose the Moon.  If you haven’t seen this site, it is a MUST. It has been around for a few years and is absolutely incredible.  It drops students right into the Apollo 11 mission and gives them the chance to “re-live” that experience.  The students were totally engaged and excited to look through the pictures, video, comment on the fashion of the day, how much technology has changed, etc.  The dialogue as they explored and completed the interactive was incredible.  This interactive let students travel back in time and made them feel as if they were witnessing history first hand. Incredible.  Reading a text-account just can’t do an event like this justice.  During the interactive one of the students casually mentioned that he didn’t believe that we had ever really been to the moon, he thought it was a conspiracy theory and started pulling up websites supporting his claim.  This led to a lively class debate. I remembered seeing a Myth Busters episode where they busted those moon landing conspiracy theories.  I pulled up the YouTube video on my iPad for students and we watched as the Myth Busters busted each one of the conspiracies that the boy had found online support for.  It was an AWESOME learning experience for all of the students as they learned about perspective, atmosphere, vacuums, and light. You know what I love about technology?  It spurs and enables learning experiences.  Without technology in that classroom today, the conspiracy theory student might have mentioned the theories he had heard. Kids would have chuckled and rolled their eyes and that would have been the end of it.  Because we had access to technology, the conspiracy theorist was immediately able to pull up evidence to support his claim.  He even had some students who were initially rolling their eyes believing that the theories might be true.  Other students immediately jumped in to support the opposing view, that Americans had indeed landed on the moon.  This is authentic learning at its best.  Students practiced searching, taking a position, forming a persuasive argument, debating, and going through the scientific process of hypothesis, experimentation, and conclusion.  None of this was in our learning plans for the day… it was SO much better than anything I could have planned. We were able to immediately pull up a Myth Busters episode on YouTube (yet another example of why filtering policies need to be re-thought!).  The class ended with students making plans to re-create some of the Myth Buster experiments so that they could see the outcomes first hand. Today reminded me of why I am passionate about technology in education. It also reminded me of why I love learning. Best quote of the day from a student: “This is cool, I thought we would just learn about technology, I didn’t know we were actually going to get to use it.” What a novel thought, using technology as a tool to learn.

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Dragon Box: a game for students to learn algebra…secretly

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Download, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Software | Posted on 22-04-2013

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      Dragon Box


What it is: Dragon Box has got to be the most brilliant game for teaching a new concept I have seen in a LONG time.  I am SO impressed with this app, I can’t say enough about it!  This is a math game that teaches algebra without you really realizing that it is a math game teaching you algebra.  It feels more like a logic card game than anything else.  There are 200 puzzles that secretly teach kids to solve equations.  They unlock each level by figuring out how to balance an equation (you have to isolate the dragon on one side of the board in order for him to emerge). After each level, he grows a little until he is full-grown.  Students learn concepts such as elimination, fractions and isolating variables throughout the game.  This is the best math app I’ve seen. It is NOT a drill/skill type app. It is actually teaching students to think like mathematicians instead of just asking them to solve a bunch of problems.

How to integrate Dragon Box+ into the classroom: I cannot say enough about this app.  The way that it gets kids thinking is completely fantastic.  Students learn algebra and how to think like mathematicians without even realizing it.  The game gives minimal direction, and invites students to explore and try new things to isolate the dragon.  The best way to use this app in this classroom: just let students start playing with it!  I love that this app could be played by students as young as six years old successfully, but also used by high school students where they would get those “aha” moments of understanding how algebra works that they may have missed along the way.

Put your students in teams, or let them explore Dragon Box independently.  Dragon Box allows for multiple logins, so you could even use it as a classroom center rotation.

Because you can download Dragon Box on multiple device types, you could even use this on a classroom computer connected to an interactive whiteboard or a projector and take turns playing as a class.  There are plenty of levels for every child to participate multiple times.

Price: $5.99

Devices: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPod Touch (3rd-5th generation) and iPad. Requires iOS4.0 or later

Tips:  Dragon Box is also available on the Mac App Store, Google Play, PC shop, Amazon Appstore for Android, and Windows Store.  Even if you don’t have iDevices, your students can play with Dragon Box!

I’ve been nominated for a Bammy Award for Educational Blogger.  I’d appreciate your vote to help spread the word about iLearn Technology.  Vote here.  Thank you for your continued support!!

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

Comments (4)

[...] Dragon Box is an app recently blogged about by iLearn Technology. The video above explains the app. Essentially it is an app that teaches students algebra with them barely knowing it…that’s the best kind of learning, right? There are a variety of levels that build upon prior knowledge.  The concepts learned in this game are extremely valuable for students in their math knowledge development. [...]

[...] Dragon box [...]

thanks for nice post. If you are interested, dragon box 12+ out, with signs, parenthesis, factoring etc… in an unconventional but efficient way.

[...] Box is an app that I discovered through iLearn Technology. This app allows students to play a game that teaches them algebra…without them realize that [...]

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