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Science Storybooks

What it is: Science Storybooks is a great collection of online animated picture books that help teach science in a way that is fun and engaging.  There are a lot of animated books to choose from with topics such as applied sciences (electrons, light, etc.), the Universe Cycle (planets, constellations, etc.), Plate Tectonic Cycle (lavas, earthquakes, etc.), Rock Cycle (gems, dinosaurs, etc.), Water Cycle (clouds, weather, etc.), and the Life Cycle (organisms, human biology, plants, the natural environment).  The books don’t just tell about science, they take students on a science journey using story.  This makes the reading more accessible and student friendly than your typical science book.  There are also some very entertaining science songs.  I particularly enjoyed the Electricity song…but then I get a kick out of things like this (I think the kids will, too!). How to integrate Science Storybooks into the classroom: These animated Science Storybooks are the perfect way to introduce your students to new science concepts.  They will give just enough information to leave your students wanting to explore some more.  The books can be read as a whole class using a projector or interactive whiteboard, or set up as a center on your classroom computers. I have a group of fifth graders this year who are convinced that they are the cast of High School Musical, they are constantly breaking out in song (it is really something, they all join in and know the words to any song).  I have a feeling that my fifth graders would really get into the songs on Storybooks, singing along karaoke style.  If it helps them to learn new science concepts, I can’t think of anything better! Science Storybooks may inspire your students to come up with their own science storybooks.  Students could create science storybooks as a slide show, in Animoto, Kerpoof, Shidonni, Storybird, and a host of other sites.  As part of the science fair projects, students could create a story to accompany the project that would explain the science involved.  And for my fifth grade musical cast, they just may want to come up with their own science song using Myna, Audacity, or Garageband. Tips: There are some additional science lessons and worksheets for each topic of science, you can use these in conjunction with the stories as needed. Please leave a comment and share how you are using Science Storybooks in your classroom.

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Wordsmyth- outstanding illustrated e-dictionary

Posted by admin | Posted in Foreign Language, Inquiry, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Websites | Posted on 16-11-2013

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iLearn Technology: Wordsmyth- illustrated e-dictionary

What it is: Wordsmyth is a fantastic online dictionary for kids.  WILD is Wordsmyth’s Illustrated Learner’s Dictionary.  It is a truly well done young reader’s dictionary for k-3 readers or ELL students.  WILD is a simple-to-use visual dictionary that includes definitions for 1500 words, developmentally appropriate sentences for each word and for each meaning of the word, integrated visual environments that help kids really explore language, audio for each word, and fun activities that promote literacy.  Wordsmyth has a dictionary for intermediate elementary and middle school students called Word Explorer Children’s Dictionary.  The Word Explorer includes a related-words feature where students can see concept maps, easy-to-read and understand definition, word histories, Language Notes, and thousands of images and animations to help students build literacy. Finally, Wordsmyth has a comprehensive dictionary suite with easy to read entries and definitions, illustrations, synonyms/similar words/antonyms under each definition, audio pronunciation and thousands more images.  Wordsmyth has different options for use.  There is a free subscription available to everyone that will allow students to freely access all 3 dictionary suites, advanced search options, puzzles, words of the day, look up history, customized pronunciation and dictionary formats, and a glossary maker.  MOST of the site is totally free to use with the free registration!  For $9.95/year, you can also purchase an individual subscription that gives some additional features such as the ability to customize the dictionary and gain access to premium features.

An educational subscription allows access to ALL tools including teacher tools.  Best of all, it is FREE for schools for the 2013-2014 school year.  Worth taking advantage of this option!

How to integrate Wordsmyth into your classroom: I’m seriously impressed with the Wordsmyth dictionaries.  They are truly an impressive option for a digital dictionary in the classroom.  The downfall of this site: the illustrated dictionary (WILD) is flash-based.  This means that it is not easily accessible on iDevices in the classroom.  It also means that it takes a bit to load each page if your Internet connection isn’t great.  

What I appreciate about this dictionary, is the accessibility for emerging readers, non-readers, or ELL/ESL students.  The dictionary is really easy to use, the definitions are easy to understand, and the accompanying audio and images are fantastic!

If you have a dedicated writing space in your classroom, make sure to include Wordsmyth in it.  Bookmark it on classroom computers, send it home to parents, include it on your classroom blog/website, etc.  This is a wonderful place for kids to be empowered during their writing and literacy time.

If you are lucky enough to have a 1:1 device setting, this site is worth making a web clip for to make it easily accessible to everyone.

Right now our students are inquiring into how we express ourselves.  Our intermediate students are looking at different mediums and methods that people use for self-expression.  Part of that exploration has led them into a study of words.  Wordsmyth is a great way for them to explore in a place that is developmentally appropriate and helps them see the way that language is connected and can be used for expression.

Wordsmyth has words separated by topic.  As you begin a new unit, give students the opportunity to explore the vocabulary on the front end.  You can do this as a class using a projector or interactive whiteboard or individually on classroom/personal devices.  As you go through a class book or unit together, create a custom glossary that students can refer to.

Tips: Be sure to sign up for the free educational group subscription for the 2013-2014 school year.  With the subscription you get unlimited making/using/saving/sharing activities, customize the dictionary, access premium dictionary features, and access to the teacher tools.

What do you think of Wordsmyth?  How do you plan to use it in your classroom?

Comments (1)

I have a class of students with language impairments. The collections tab is a great tool for them because it allows them to make connections between the word categories. I plan to have them use that to include words in their personal dictionary so they can find them easier. Their spelling is often very phonetic so using a regular dictionary doesn’t help because their sounds are so off. I also plan on sharing with our ESL teacher. Thanks so much for sharing!

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