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Scholastic Listen & Read

  What it is: The Scholastic website is full of truly amazing resources.  Today I ran across one that I hadn’t used before called Scholastic Listen & Read, I heard about it on Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day.  Scholastics Listen and Read is for students in first and second grade.   The site does exactly what it’s name implies, it lets students listen to non-fiction stories and read along.  There are 11 non-fiction stories for first grade social studies including The Path of the President, What Does the President Do, and a Celebration of Earth Day.  There are 15 non-fiction stories focused on animals and food for first grade students.  Second grade students have access to 10 non-fiction stories focused on social studies including Constitution Day and Welcome to a Pilgrim Village.  There are also 11 short non-fiction stories for second grade students focused on animals and food.  Social Studies is a hard subject to teach first and second grade students from a text book because the vocabulary and reading can be especially challenging.  Scholastic Listen and Read solves this problem wonderfully with short, easy to read non-fiction stories that are read aloud to your students.  As an added bonus, each story includes the Scholastic Word Wizard.  This tool floats right on top of the web page.  At any point, students can click on a word in the story and the Scholastic Word Wizard will give them an easy to read definition of the word.  Students can also type a word into the Word Wizard to look it up.     How to integrate Scholastic Listen & Read into the classroom:  Scholastic Listen & Read is ideal for any classroom or computer setting.  The non-fiction stories could be read together as a class with a projector and speaker setup, individually in a computer lab setting, or in small groups as a center in the one or two computer classroom.  The stories are easy to understand and the ability to look up words right from the story makes it a great place for students to learn key social studies and animals and food concepts.     Tips:  Scholastic Listen & Read is a great place for ESL and ELL kids to go for English practice and vocabulary!   Leave a comment and share how you are using Scholastic Listen & Read 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!

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

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