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JASON Science: Eco Defenders

What it is: Eco Defenders is another excellent Filament Games simulation/interactive.  In this game, students design “alien” invasive species and set it loose on an imaginary ecosystem.  Students must use their knowledge of ecosystems, adaptations, and competition to design a simulation of an invasive species.  Students find out that when an invading species occupies the same ecological niche as native species, they can cause problems for the ecosystem.  The game allows for a lot of customization and decisions for students as they choose one of three ecosystems and then design their own alien.  As students go through the simulation, JASON host researcher, Russell Cuhel, will ask questions about how invasive species invade an ecosystem giving students the chance to be the expert.  Before students play the game, ask them to click on the “Learn More” link where they will receive a tutorial for the game and some background information about invasive species.  Students can learn about different kinds of invasive species that exist in our world. How to integrate Eco Defenders into the classroom: In the Eco Defenders game/simulation, your students will: design their own invasive creature, watch their creature as it interacts in the ecosystem and competes over resources with native creatures, and analyze the interactions among the organisms in the ecosystem.  Students will select a creature to target in the ecosystem they have chosen and then design a species that will compete in the same ecological niche.  Students will design and then run a simulation to test their invader.  Afterward, they will discuss what happened with the virtual host scientist, go over the results, and analyze the data.  The great thing about this game/simulation is that no two students will have the exact same results.  Eco Defenders is best in a computer lab setting where each student can play individually.  After students have experimented and run through the simulation, come together as a class and discuss what students observed.  What made their invader successful?  What would they change for the next time?  As students learn more about ecosystems, eco niches, and invaders throughout the unit, have them run through the simulation again and see if they come up with different results.  If you can’t manage access to a 1 to 1 computer setting, play the game as a class using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  The class should discuss each decision, weighing the pros and cons, before making a move.  As the students work through the simulation, talk about what they are observing and what tweaks might change the outcome of their simulation. Tips: JASON Science is worth a look.  The tag-line of JASON Science is “Education through Exploration”.  I couldn’t agree more! Please leave a comment and share how you are using Eco Defenders in your classroom.

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Archive Pinterest Boards with Evernote Web Clipper

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, collaboration, Download, Grade Level, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, web tools, Web2.0 | Posted on 17-08-2014

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At Anastasis Academy, we don’t have boxed curriculum. This can be both incredibly freeing, and terrifying. If you don’t have curriculum that tells you what to do, what do you DO?! We engage students in inquiry. Inquiry gives students parameters of learning, but allows them to discover and explore within those parameters. Teaching students to properly manage their freedom.

Each 5 weeks, our students engage a new line of inquiry. We follow the PYP inquiry questions (Who we are, Where we are in place and time, How we organize ourselves, How the world works, Sharing the planet). These questions give us good parameters to work within. Each 5 weeks, I send our teachers resources for the inquiry block. Within these big inquiry questions, I provide our primary, intermediate, and Jr. High with different key concept lines of inquiry to explore. These are aligned to the social studies, science, language, and math standards for that age group. Every year I change-up the key concept lines of inquiry just a bit (keeps things interesting and fresh for all of us!).

I create Pinterest boards for our teachers that have a variety of resources for each inquiry block. These resources include ideas, videos, lessons, books, apps, etc. that are related to the inquiry block. They are not prescriptive, but rather offer a launching point for teachers. Then, I create QR code posters that look like this:

Inquiry poster QR code

These get posted all over the school so that teachers and students always have access to the resources (note: we are a 1:1 iPad school).

This has worked REALLY well for sharing resources, as I notice students connect with a line of questioning/inquiry, I can add resources during the inquiry block that the students can use. This creates a whole community that is discovering and learning together. The curriculum is fluid, it is constantly growing and adapting. Teachers often send me links and ideas through Pinterest (I don’t add teachers as collaborators for the boards-even though I could- because I don’t want them to feel obligated to spend their free time the way that I do). Students have begun to send ideas through Pinterest as well…way cool!!

Here is the problem, each year I create 18 inquiry boards. I use the same Pinterest account for personal use as I do for education (you never know when a non-education idea will spark the perfect education idea). As I was getting ready to create boards for this school year, I realized how MANY boards I was going to have to sort through to find this years boards. It is starting to get ridiculous! I needed a good way to archive boards. Enter Evernote. We already use Evernote as a school for ePortfolios, archiving boards using Evernote is the perfect solution!

I used the Firefox web browser to do this, I’m sure this plugin exists for all major web browsers. First, go to “Tools” in your Firefox menu bar and choose “Add Ons.” In the search bar, type “Evernote web clipper” and download the Evernote Web Clipper add-on. After you restart Firefox, this will put the Evernote Web Clipper button in your Firefox tools.

Evernote web clipper

Navigate to the Pinterest board that you want to save. Select all by going to “Edit” in the menu bar, and choose “Select All.” You could also just navigate to the board you want to archive and hold down the command key and letter “a.” Then click on the Evernote Web Clipper button in your address bar. Add any tags that you want to be associated with the board and a note to yourself about the board.

Pinterest board

 

Evernote web clipper Inquiry

That is it! The board is saved to Evernote with all of the images, and the web link is live as well! Verify that the board saved to Evernote correctly and then delete the board. Now you have room for a new year’s worth of boards.

This is a seriously great way to archive any boards that you need to save but don’t need in your Pinterest list right now. I’ve just archived all of last year’s inquiry boards and am ready to pin another year! This is also a great way to create a back-up of your boards or to save and send entire boards to colleagues.

If you just need to save the images from a pinterest board, use that-boy-I-love, (@jtenkely)‘s awesome creation, Pinswiper. This tool will save just the images from a Pinterest board as jpgs on your desktop. Great if you need images that you saved for classroom presentations, writing prompts, etc.

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