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Typing Practice

What it is: This blogging alliance has been expanding my knowledge of great tools for the classroom faster than I can keep up with!  Recently, I found two more excellent ways for students to practice typing from @2sparkley‘s blog.  The first is reminiscent of the popular Rock Band, called UpBeat.  Students can choose a song and level of difficulty.  They must type the letters as they appear to keep the song going smoothly.  This had my students absolutely SILENT while they practiced typing.  They were so involved and having a great time trying to keep up.  The way the game is set up, really challenges kids to touch type.  They can’t very easily keep up without touch typing!  Students stopped by my lab the morning after I introduced the site to tell me how many combos they were able to get.  The second typing site is called Typing Chef. In this game students try to type words as they float past on bubbles.  The goal is to type the word on the bubble before it pops. It gets increasingly harder as more bubbles float up and speed up. How to integrate UpBeat and Typing Chef into the classroom: Typing can be a subject that elicits groans.  Adding these games in the mix as additional opportunities for practice is sure to make students happy to practice.  I try to keep typing to a minimal in my classroom.  With only 35 minutes once a week with students, I don’t want to spend all of our time practicing typing. I have the kids do the majority of typing practice at home.  Once a year (sometimes twice) I hold a big typing Olympics competition.  Students can earn a free break dress code day (we have uniforms), this is great incentive…like gold to them!  The fastest boy and girl touch typist in each class get the break dress code certificate.  I make a huge deal about how athletes who participate in the Olympics have to train hard.  Practice doesn’t always make perfect but we are aiming for practice makes permanant (good habits).  I created the following website for my students to use in their training www.typing.weebly.com.  Upbeat and Typing Chef have both been added to the games page of my Typing website. Tips: UpBeat is a Mini-clip game. This site is often blocked at schools, make sure it is unblocked at your school before you plan on using it in class. Please leave a comment and share how you are using UpBeat and Typing Chef 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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