Featured Post

Exploratree

What it is: Exploratree is a free web resource where teachers and students can download, use and create interactive thinking guides (graphic organizers). Thinking guides can be used to support independent or group research projects, students can think and plan easily. Thinking guides can be used collaboratively and shared for group projects. Exploratree has several ready-made thinking guides. Students and teachers can add to these guides or create their own from scratch to meet a specific classroom need. Ready made thinking guides include: tracking an enquiry, futures wheel, lotus blossom, from a different angle, thinking boxes, plus- minus- interesting, scamper, thinking actively in a social context, reverse planning, is/is not, complete reversal, compass rose, facts or opinions, making meanings, compare and contrast, knowing trees, digging up roots, traffic lights, examine existing and new ideas, using the essence, question things, a day in the life, and possible/probable/ preferable futures. How to integrate Exploratree into the classroom: Exploratree is a wonderful replacement for traditional paper/pencil graphic organizers. They are easy to use, navigate and include some amazing features that just aren’t possible with paper graphic organizers. As a teacher, you can set up the sequence that you want the thinking guide to be revealed, so that you can stage the thinking activity. Each portion of the organizer is revealed as students are working. Students can fill out the thinking guides online as they complete a project or teachers can create a thinking guide that fits a classroom activity and print them out for student use. Students can submit thinking guides so that they can be edited and reviewed by peers or a teacher with comments. Think about using Exploratree for ALL subjects. Students can use thinking guides to explore the scientific process, for KWL type charts, to predict what will happen in literature they are reading, to plan a story or report, to explore a historical figure, to organize thoughts before a writing assignment, in social studies as a current event organizer, to think about choices and possible outcomes, to show mathematical processes, to explore a topic using different senses or points of view, sort facts and opinions, and a day in the life of a notable figure just to name a few. Tips: Exploratree is in its Beta form so they are open to input and suggestions from educators. If you don’t see a feature you could use in your classroom…go ahead and suggest it!

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

*