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Math Pickle: Put your students in a pickle encouraging genuine problem

  What it is:  Math Pickle is a FABULOUS site for mathematics inspiration that I learned about from @davidwees Reform Symposium session.  Math Pickle features mathematics videos for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade.  The videos feature real students engaging in inspiring math problems and puzzles.  The videos often speak to unsolved math problems throughout history that students work to solve.  In the unsolved problem, students must use developmental level appropriate math to work out the problem.  Math Pickle is the brain child of Dr. Gordon Hamilton who wants to abolish elementary mathematics as a subject and push the idea that problem solving is at the very heart of mathematics. The videos featured on Math Pickle do just that, put your students in a math “pickle”.  If you think about the purpose of mathematics, this makes perfect sense.  What we really want is students who are great problem solvers and can use mathematics to help solve those problems. How to integrate Math Pickle into the classroom: Math Pickle is the most excellent mathematics inspiration I have come across.  It approaches mathematics from the standpoint of a problem solver instead of from the standpoint of a rules follower.  Already that shift in thinking makes my brain happy.  Brilliant.  Math Pickle has problems and videos for every grade kindergarten through twelfth. Use these videos to pump some inspiration into the way you approach and teach math or show them to your students and encourage them to continue solving the problems.  Don’t forget to film your students working through their own math pickles! The Inspired page of Math Pickle is a must see.  Students can take a look at what mathematicians do in real life.  They can also learn about the source of Math Pickle problems. Tips: Be sure to check out Muse, news and reviews for additional ideas, puzzles and reviews of math products, puzzles and games for the classroom. Please leave a comment and share how you are using Math Pickle in  your classroom!

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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

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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.

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