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Volunteer Spot

What it is: Volunteer Spot could be just what you need to coordinate classroom helpers and volunteers.  No more messy sign up clipboards, endless reply-all emails, reminder phone calls, phone tag, and weeks of scheduling to get parents actively involved in your classroom.   Coordinating volunteers is easy, just schedule activities, invite volunteers, volunteers sign up with a simple click, and send reminders.  You can easily schedule one day events like field trips, or multi-day sign up options for extended volunteer opportunities.  You can specify if your need is a supply that needs to be brought or donated, or the need for a helper. Did I mention this is a completely FREE service? How to integrate Volunteer Spot into the classroom: Volunteer Spot is an excellent time saver for your classroom or school events.  It makes communication with potential volunteers simple and keeps you from back and forth communication that can zap your time.  Setting up activities and volunteer events is simple and intuitive.  It is much like setting up and sending an Evite.  Volunteer Spot will even give you a unique URL that you can display on your classroom or school website.  Inviting parents and community members into the classroom can be extremely enriching.  It gives your students a sense of the importance of education when others are involved.  Using Volunteer Spot makes it painless to coordinate volunteers in your classroom, no more excuses! Tips: Be sure to tell your homeroom parents, coaches, and office staff about Volunteer Spot. It has the potential to make their lives easier and makes you look good in the process! Leave a comment and share how you are using Volunteer Spot 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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