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Science of Everyday Life

What it is: Discovery Education and 3M have partnered to bring the science of everyday life into your classroom.  This fantastic collection of resources is for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade.  On the site you will find videos and interactives that help kids learn about the science...

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Smithsonian Quests: Learning through discovery and collaboration

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Art, Character Education, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Foreign Language, Geography, Government, History, Inquiry, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Music, PE, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 07-05-2013

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Screen Shot 2013-05-07 at 3.18.12 PM

What it is:
Smithsonian Quests encourage students to explore learning through discovery and collaboration.  As students learn, they can earn digital badges for their quests.  Students can explore their own interest through a series of online activities while incorporating knowledge and skill-building in the online quests.  The quests ask students to explore a topic of interest as part of a standards-based curriculum or as a student-driven after school activity.  By signing  up for Smithsonian Quests, you will receive an invitation to join a grade-level based group in the Smithsonian Quest Community.  Students from kindergarten through adult learners can join Smithsonian Quest and collect badges.

How to integrate Smithsonian Quests into the classroom: Smithsonian Quests is a great program that connects transdisciplinary learning with digital badges.  As your class works through the site, they will start to realize how they have been learning, exploring, connecting and acting.  Students can unlock a badge by completing a set of quests that go with it.  Some Quests are independent and others are collaborative.  Quests get reviewed by a group of “specially selected experts” before badges are awarded.  Badges include: oral historian, historical biographer, cool curator, cultural storyteller, portrait reader, community historian, symbols spotter, correspondent, dirt detective, art advocate, environ-scientist, culture keeper, eco-journalist, time traveler, H2O hero, conservation campaigner, invasions investigator and tree hugger.  Quests include things like listening to audio, taking pictures, recording, etc.  As you can see, there are quests for every interest!

When students sign up for quests, they get invited into a group (class group when the teacher sets up the account), can add friends, see the badges they have collected, and view friends who are online.  Students also get an online journal where they can reflect on learning or update their status with the kind of learning they are doing.

I like that these quests can be done collaboratively (a whole class goal to earn the digital badges by learning?) and that they are  largely discovery based learning.   The quests really challenge students to dig deeper in learning and often lead to additional questions.  Quests can also be completed individually by students.  Students can explore areas that are high-interest for them. These Smithsonian Quests would be a fantastic end of the year project where students are driving their own learning but working toward a known goal.  Spend the last week of school with a time for students to share their learning with others.

As we head into summer break in the United States, consider suggesting Smithsonian Quests to parents as a great summer-time learning opportunity.

Tips:  Register for free and have a look around to see all of the cool opportunities for your classroom!

I’ve been nominated for a Bammy Award for Educational Blogger.  I’d appreciate your vote to help spread the word about iLearn Technology.  Vote here.  Thank you for your continued support!!

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

Nanoogo: Online ePortfolio solution

Posted by admin | Posted in Create, Evaluate, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 31-08-2012

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What it is:  Nanoogo is a place for students to create and share.  Nanoogo has a digital canvas that lets student share their knowledge and ideas with classmates.  Parents can easily login to view and comment on student work.  As a teacher, you can create a custom channel where you can provide secure access to parents and students and moderate or suggest changes to content before it gets posted.  Nanoogo is currently FREE to all schools, they mention on their information page that this may not be the case forever…I vote to sign up while it is free!

When students view each other’s work, they can rate it with a “like, genius, inspiring, cool, helpful, cute, funny or beautiful” badge.

Student can take screen shots of websites for their canvas.  Here they can add a sentence about what they learned/did.

How to integrate Nanoogo into your curriculum: At Anastasis Academy, we have a digital learning environment with 1 to 1 iPads.  We are largely paperless which has been WONDERFUL!  We don’t do worksheets…ever.  Bliss!  Most of what we do is digital, project based, design thinking, or discussions.  One of the problems this creates is a lack of bread crumbs of evidences of learning.  When you aren’t sending home a constant stream of graded worksheets, quizzes and tests, how can parents follow along and see what learning has been done?  What are the evidences?  Nanoogo could be a great place for students to create and keep an eportfolio.  Students can take screen shots and pictures of the projects and websites they have worked on and add a short reflection sentence about what was learned.  Everything can be shared with parents and classmates through the Nanoogo website.  Parents, students and parents can comment on student work and give it badges.  For everything that students upload on Nanoogo, they earn GoPoints.  These are displayed on a leader board.  Instead of ranking students based on grades, they are ranked based on how much of their learning they share.  I like this distinction…I’m not sure I love that we are still ranking students at all.  I think it might be more useful for students to compete against themselves in the points instead of against others.

Tips: At Anastasis, we use Evernote for our ePortfolio.  You can learn more about that here:

Evernote as an ePortfolio in a 1-to-1 iPad setting

 

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Nanogoo in your classroom!