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Virtual Dinosaur Dig

What it is: The Smithsonian site is full of amazing activities and interactives.   A few weeks ago I stumbled on their Virtual Dinosaur Dig interactive and immediately sent it on to our second grade teachers who are teaching a dinosaur unit.  During the Virtual Dinosaur Dig, students act as paleontologists who find a virtual fossil, learn how vertebrate paleontologists excavate the specimen, learn about the anatomy of the specimen and where it lived, view an illustration of what the specimen may have looked like, transport the speciman to a museum, and reconstruct the speciman (a stegosaurus) at the museum.  Each step of the interactive gives students information about the tools used to excavate, and why the tool is used.  Students get to virtually use each tool to excavate, transport, and reconstruct the dinosaur. How to integrate Virtual Dinosaur Dig into the classroom: This Virtual Dig makes students virtual paleontologists.  The activity is perfect for a interactive whiteboard or projector.  Choose a student team of paleontologists who will help with the excavation.  Each student can use one of the tools and explain their portion of the excavation to the class.  While these students are at the board demonstrating the excavation, students at their seats can fill in their official “Paleontologist Field Guide” to record the steps and tools used in the excavation (I created the field guide for our second grade teachers and will post the pdf version below).  The Virtual Dinosaur Dig could also be used as a center activity for teams of paleontologists to visit on classroom computers or in a computer lab setting.  Students can fill out their Field Guides as they work.  After the virtual dig, set up a hands on dig.  Students can “excavate” chocolate chips out of a chocolate chip cookie by carefully digging with toothpicks. Tips: I created this Paleontologist Field Guide journal to accompany the Virtual Dig.  Included in the pdf is an answer guide. Print these pages back to back to create a book that is folded down the center.  dino dig field guide The field guide asks students to match the tool picture with its name and order the sequence of events during the excavation. Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Virtual Dinosaur Dig in your classroom.

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Here is Today: a web app to put time in perspective

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Character Education, Evaluate, History, Inquiry, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 10-07-2013

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Here is today iLearn Technology

Here is today iLearn Technology

Here is today iLearn Technology

What it is:  Here is today is an interesting little web app that helps students visualize time in a new way.  Students start out by seeing a square and a title that says “here is today” with the current date.  When students click “okay” at the bottom, they are taken to a visual of the next step in.  Students can see where the day is falling within the month, the year, the century, the millennium, the epoch, the period, the era, the eon, the earth, life, oxidation, fish, insects, reptiles, mammals, birds, humans, and the universe.  Each stage of the graphic has an arrow pointing out how today (whatever day that happens to be) compares in the grander scheme of things.  Pretty cool!

How to integrate Here is Today into the classroom:  Here is Today is an outstanding way to help students understand where they are in place in time.  They can see where they are and then compare it to the larger history of the world and universe.  Obviously, this is a natural fit into a history or biology class.  Here is Today would also make a great object lesson in math and be great for studying comparison and scale.  It would also make for a great philosophical discussion as we realize just how minute the moment we are living in really is.

Here is Today is a great site for students to explore and inquire about independently.  What questions arise as they explore the site?  After students have investigated and come up with their own lines of inquiry, gather back as a classroom community and discuss those lines of inquiry and the thinking that led to them.  If you happen to follow the IB Primary Years Program, this fits in great to “Where are we in place and time” inquiry.

Here is Today would also be a useful visual on an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer where a class can observe and explore together during discussion.  The way that the site compares time is seriously smart.

Here is Today could launch an interesting creative writing assignment.  Invite each student to explore the site and to choose a view.  The story should be written based on the point of view and time that they chose.  This could be a new way to explore setting, time and theme.

Tips:  Here is Today reminds me a little bit of the Scale of Life site that I wrote about here.  Using these sites together could be pretty epic.  Talk about a great sense of our place in the universe!

Are you using Here is Today in your classroom?  Share your experience in the comments below!

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