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Branches of Power

What it is: Looking for another super awesome learning game for your classroom?  Filament Games does it again with Branches of Power.  In it, students can play all three branches of government, all working cooperatively toward the goal of building new laws.  As President, students will choose issues they think are important and rally people around them.  As Legislator, they will create bills around the values of the constituents.  As Justice, they will uphold the law or take out legislation that is unconstitutional.  The only way to navigate the game successfully is to cooperatively construct laws around the issues of the country.  (Our government probably has something to learn about the cooperatively part.) Students will find issues that the citizens care about.  By using the three branches of government, they can grow the issues into laws which appear as towers.  They win if they build all ten issues into towers before time runs out.  Students get the opportunity to play as all three branches, they have to stay on top of it, if they don’t, the branch may start making decisions on its own! How to integrate Branches of Power into the classroom: Branches of Power is a fantastic interactive game that puts students right in the thick of the government.  I love that the game doesn’t ask students to choose a branch of government to play, but expects them to learn, and play, all three roles.   There is nothing like experience to teach students about the different roles, struggles, and methodologies of each branch of government.  Branches of Power is an excellent game for the computer lab environment where each student has access to a computer and can play individually.  After play, discuss what worked well and what didn’t.  Were students able to complete all 10 towers?  Who got the furthest and what was the strategy that took them to that point?  If you don’t have access to a computer lab, the game can be navigated as a class using a projector-connected computer or an interactive whiteboard.  Discuss strategy during game play and give each student a chance to take part in the game.  This is an outstanding way to learn about the branches of government, what better way to learn than by doing? Tips: Below the game play screen, check out the Teacher Tools tab.  There are some great teacher files including a Powerpoint presentation that reinforces game concepts and a teacher’s guide to using the game in class. Please leave a comment and share how you are using Branches of Power in your classroom.

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International Childrens Digital Library

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Foreign Language, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 30-12-2008

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What it is:  The International Childrens Digital Library (also known as ICDL) is an online digital library for children of all ages.  The mission of ICDL is to “ excite and inspire the world’s children to become members of the global community – children who understand the value of tolerance and respect for diverse cultures, languages and ideas — by making the best in children’s literature available online.”  When students visit the ICDL website they are brought to a simple search area where they can choose different options for finding a book.  They can narrow down results by age (3-13), fiction or non-fiction, book length, award winners, language, picture or chapter books, subject matter, and even what colors that cover has in it.  When students choose a book they can read the book in its entirety online.  I learned about this site in the iTunes store, they have a free iPod Touch and iPhone application for downloading books from the ICDL in addition to their online content.  So neat!


How to integrate ICDL into the classroom:   The ICDL website reminds me a lot of LookyBook.  The search options are extremely user friendly and allow even the youngest readers to find a book they are sure to love.  Students can register for the library (free) and then leave an online review of the book.  I like the idea of digital libraries for students because it opens up a number of books to them that they may not otherwise have access to.  If a story is started during school, students can finish the story when they get home from any Internet connected computer.  The ICDL is nice for reading groups.  All students can be reading the same book from school and from home without setting aside a large budget for group sets.  The search is a wonderful way for students to discover what types of literature they enjoy.  Many of the books featured are from different cultures and languages, these would be perfect to bring into a foreign language classroom.  ICDL books provide a fun way for students to gain global awareness.  Books in other languages could also be used as a starting point for student created stories.  Students can do picture walks through the online books and then compose their own story to accompany the pictures.  ICDL is a great way to read with the whole class.  Connect your computer with a projector and students can read the story along with you, everyone will be able to see the pictures as you discuss the story!  


Tips:  One thing that I really appreciate about ICDL is the ability to view the books full screen and zoom in and out of the pages.  The site is easy to navigate and this feature makes it even more user friendly.  


Leave a comment and tell us how you are using ICDL  in your classroom.

Comments (1)

Thank you for your tireless blogging. I have been more inspired by your website than any other this year, and I visit a great deal of websites. I feel indebted to you and look forward to your new posts. You have contributed a great deal to the lives of my students and other teachers in our district as a result of what you regularly share. Please keep posting and thank you!

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