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BBC Build a Catapult: the science and math behind the catapult

What it is: Any time students can dig in and discover learning for themselves, I consider it a success.  Recently I ran across the BBC’s DIY build a catapult.  The site lets students explore the history behind the catapult, learn how to build one step by step and then discover principles of velocity, acceleration, force, distance and math.  With the popularity of games like Angry Birds, I think a lesson in the science and math behind the catapult is in order.  I like the step-by-step nature of this site and the way that kids are guided through a series of directions. How to integrate BBC Build a Catapult into the classroom: Begin with a time of inquiry where students can inquire into how catapults work, what they can launch, what they have been used for in the past and the science and math behind the catapult.  This site will help answer a lot of their questions and even prompt some additional questions.  Students can follow the step-by-step directions for constructing their own catapult.  Give students the opportunity to test their catapults, using the science and math concepts behind the catapult to predict where object will land based on angles and mass.  The science section of the site does a fantastic job of illustrating vertical velocity, horizontal velocity, the circumference of a circle, acceleration, force and mass.  These can be hard to understand concepts on paper (or in textbooks) but when students can see the concept illustrated and apply it, they will begin to build a framework of understanding. After students understand the concepts of building a catapult, ask them to try building a catapult out of different types of supplies, do some energy sources work better than others?  Ask students to think about objects in our modern-day lives that use the principles or science used in a catapult. Students can access this site from classroom computers as a learning/building center or go through the steps as a class using a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard. I really appreciated the step-by-step directions for students to follow.  This is such a necessary life skill, and one that I don’t see practiced enough.  If students know how to read, understand and follow directions, the whole world opens for them and Google becomes useful! Tips: At the bottom of the site are printable versions of the directions for building a catapult. Please leave a comment and share how you are using  BBC DIY Catapult in your classroom!

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Snap! Digital Reading Program: 128 leveled readers

Posted by admin | Posted in Download, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 08-08-2013

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Snap! Digital Reader Library iLearn Technology

What it is: Snap! Digital Reading Program is a set of interactive leveled books that can be printed, viewed on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire, interactive whiteboards or classroom computer.  All of the books in the program have been developed to help teachers meet requirements in the Common Core Standards in vocabulary and comprehension through the use of direct instruction, close reading, modeling, guided and independent practice, and text-dependent questioning.  Each leveled reader has a digital interactive version that includes fluency exercises, comprehension and multiple-choice type assessments.  As your students read, you can track what they are reading, view the digital assessments and performance reports.  These reports include information about CLOZE scores, multiple choice scores, and fluency.  You can also see information about the  last book they read (word counts, difficulty, words read correctly, etc.).  Snap! Digital Reading Program also includes lesson plans associated with each book.  While the program isn’t a free one, a year-long subscription to all materials (interactive ebooks for student, printable PDF versions of the books/lessons/other materials, and the data analytics for all of your students is just $89.  Pretty reasonable for access for every student in your class!

How to use the Snap! Digital Reading Program in your classroom: I’ve mentioned this before, but it is worth repeating: when you have a limited classroom library (due to space, as a new teacher, budget, etc.) ebooks are such a great way to instantly expand that library exponentially!  Snap! helps you do that and more.  Not only are you able to offer your students additional access to reading material, they have the added benefit of getting interactive books that give you data so that you can better guide students in choosing books that will help them fall in love with reading.  The readers can also be used for reading interventions, guided reading, shared reading and tutoring.  The leveled readers are for students in grades k-8, so even if you have a super advanced second grade student, you can continually challenge them.

Snap! Digital Reader Library iLearn Technology

The flexibility of this program is fantastic!  I’ve long been a fan of Learning A-Z for their printable books, but they are limited to a printout.  With Snap! you have the option of printing out books, but students can also access them from home device, on the iPad, Kindle Fire, Android, interactive whiteboard, or classroom computers.  The eBook version of the reader includes audio, photo slideshows, glossary terms, videos, fun facts, interactive maps and animations.  The PDF version includes lesson plans, alphabet book, word books, assessment materials and individual student record books.  Regardless of how much technology you have available in your classroom, the Snap! program works.

In a one to one setting you get the best of all worlds.  Every student in your class instantly has access to 128 quality interactive books and activities.  Did I mention $89?! That is a great deal!  You also have the ability for offline pdf books that can be sent home for extra practice.  When I taught second grade, my students loved having a print copy of the ebooks that they read in class.  It was always a treat to have those printed to color and share at home.

In a one or two device classroom, you can set up a reading center for students to cycle through.  Students can visit the center once or twice a week to read.

Model reading strategies for the whole class using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  Students can practice reading along and be introduced to new vocabulary.

Tips: The iPad version is not called “Snap!” Digital Reader.  The app you will download to access the interactive ebook library is Mobl21 HD.

Snap! Digital Reader Library iLearn TechnologyPrice of app: Free* ($89 yearly subscription required!)

Device: iPad with iOS 5.0 or later, Kindle Fire, Android, computer

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