Featured Post

Learn Zillion: Learning without limits

What it is:  Today I learned about a resource called Learn Zillion in a Skype conversation with Sam Schillace, creator of Google Docs.  Learn Zillion has a tagline that resonates with me: Learning Without Limits.  This is why I love technology, it enables learning without limits.  One of the things I have dreamed about, is a world where the very best teachers around the world could be connected with the students that need them.  Learn Zillion does just that through asynchronous video lessons organized by the Common Core Standards.  Learn Zillion was started by E.L. Haynes public charter school who had a passion for sharing best practices across classrooms and to connect students with just the right lesson, at just the right time.  The site started small and grew along with the passion that every child should have access to incredible teachers and resources.  Learn Zillion is now a place where teachers can learn by “sitting in” on other teacher’s lessons, and students can get a playlist of lessons that meet their needs.  Pretty awesome! How to integrate Learn Zillion into the classroom: It has always bothered me that I only had access to the teachers I had access to.  Let me explain that a little: I had some really incredible teachers growing up; my first, third, and fifth grade teachers were beyond exceptional.  I think about them often and model my own teaching based on what they did.  I had an incredible creative writing teacher in high school.  I had an Algebra teacher who made me believe that I was a gifted math student (I’m average at best).  I also had years with so-so teachers, teachers who didn’t really inspire the best in me.  That is not to say that another student didn’t connect with them and remember them years later.  It always irked me that I didn’t get to pick ANY teacher in the world to be my teacher.  I knew that there were amazing teachers out there, why didn’t I get to learn from them?  Would my education have been different if I was matched up with the very best teachers in the world? Learn Zillion is the first step in this direction.  It may not be the rich experience you get from clicking with someone on a personal level AND learning from them, but does give students the ability to learn a concept in a new way from a teacher who may “click” with them educationally differently than you can.  Sometimes it is just a matter of being able to pause, rewind and repeat a concept at will that makes all the difference.  With class sizes that are growing out of control, the ability to work one on one with students is diminishing quickly.  Learn Zillion allows every child to enter their learning at the right level, it is available on demand (day or night), it utilized fantastic educators from around the world, and it helps teachers create custom playlists of learning for students.  Using this technology, students can get the extra support they need with foundational concepts. Learn Zillion would make a fantastic support center in the classroom.  Students can visit the center to find out where they are in their personal learning journey, watch videos and practice new skills and concepts.  Because the videos are based on Common Core Standards, your students will get extra support for the foundational skills that support additional learning. Learn Zillion is a nice resource in a “flipped” classroom where homework looks a lot more like preparation for practice that happens in the classroom.  Students can watch the preparation video at home and come to class prepared to practice and explore using the new knowledge.  The great thing about a flipped classroom is the ability to offer students support where and when they need it-in the practice and honing of skills. Tips: I’m impressed with the quality and organization of Learn Zillion.  Be sure to take some time to explore some lessons and dream up how you might use it with your students or even as a learning tool for yourself. Please leave a comment and share how you are using Learn Zillion in  your classroom!

Read More

Smithsonian Quests: Learning through discovery and collaboration

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Art, Character Education, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Foreign Language, Geography, Government, History, Inquiry, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Music, PE, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 07-05-2013

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

0

Screen Shot 2013-05-07 at 3.18.12 PM

What it is:
Smithsonian Quests encourage students to explore learning through discovery and collaboration.  As students learn, they can earn digital badges for their quests.  Students can explore their own interest through a series of online activities while incorporating knowledge and skill-building in the online quests.  The quests ask students to explore a topic of interest as part of a standards-based curriculum or as a student-driven after school activity.  By signing  up for Smithsonian Quests, you will receive an invitation to join a grade-level based group in the Smithsonian Quest Community.  Students from kindergarten through adult learners can join Smithsonian Quest and collect badges.

How to integrate Smithsonian Quests into the classroom: Smithsonian Quests is a great program that connects transdisciplinary learning with digital badges.  As your class works through the site, they will start to realize how they have been learning, exploring, connecting and acting.  Students can unlock a badge by completing a set of quests that go with it.  Some Quests are independent and others are collaborative.  Quests get reviewed by a group of “specially selected experts” before badges are awarded.  Badges include: oral historian, historical biographer, cool curator, cultural storyteller, portrait reader, community historian, symbols spotter, correspondent, dirt detective, art advocate, environ-scientist, culture keeper, eco-journalist, time traveler, H2O hero, conservation campaigner, invasions investigator and tree hugger.  Quests include things like listening to audio, taking pictures, recording, etc.  As you can see, there are quests for every interest!

When students sign up for quests, they get invited into a group (class group when the teacher sets up the account), can add friends, see the badges they have collected, and view friends who are online.  Students also get an online journal where they can reflect on learning or update their status with the kind of learning they are doing.

I like that these quests can be done collaboratively (a whole class goal to earn the digital badges by learning?) and that they are  largely discovery based learning.   The quests really challenge students to dig deeper in learning and often lead to additional questions.  Quests can also be completed individually by students.  Students can explore areas that are high-interest for them. These Smithsonian Quests would be a fantastic end of the year project where students are driving their own learning but working toward a known goal.  Spend the last week of school with a time for students to share their learning with others.

As we head into summer break in the United States, consider suggesting Smithsonian Quests to parents as a great summer-time learning opportunity.

Tips:  Register for free and have a look around to see all of the cool opportunities for your classroom!

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  Smithsonian Quests in your classroom.

Write a comment

*