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Here is Today: a web app to put time in perspective

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Character Education, Evaluate, History, Inquiry, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 10-07-2013

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Here is today iLearn Technology

Here is today iLearn Technology

Here is today iLearn Technology

What it is:  Here is today is an interesting little web app that helps students visualize time in a new way.  Students start out by seeing a square and a title that says “here is today” with the current date.  When students click “okay” at the bottom, they are taken to a visual of the next step in.  Students can see where the day is falling within the month, the year, the century, the millennium, the epoch, the period, the era, the eon, the earth, life, oxidation, fish, insects, reptiles, mammals, birds, humans, and the universe.  Each stage of the graphic has an arrow pointing out how today (whatever day that happens to be) compares in the grander scheme of things.  Pretty cool!

How to integrate Here is Today into the classroom:  Here is Today is an outstanding way to help students understand where they are in place in time.  They can see where they are and then compare it to the larger history of the world and universe.  Obviously, this is a natural fit into a history or biology class.  Here is Today would also make a great object lesson in math and be great for studying comparison and scale.  It would also make for a great philosophical discussion as we realize just how minute the moment we are living in really is.

Here is Today is a great site for students to explore and inquire about independently.  What questions arise as they explore the site?  After students have investigated and come up with their own lines of inquiry, gather back as a classroom community and discuss those lines of inquiry and the thinking that led to them.  If you happen to follow the IB Primary Years Program, this fits in great to “Where are we in place and time” inquiry.

Here is Today would also be a useful visual on an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer where a class can observe and explore together during discussion.  The way that the site compares time is seriously smart.

Here is Today could launch an interesting creative writing assignment.  Invite each student to explore the site and to choose a view.  The story should be written based on the point of view and time that they chose.  This could be a new way to explore setting, time and theme.

Tips:  Here is Today reminds me a little bit of the Scale of Life site that I wrote about here.  Using these sites together could be pretty epic.  Talk about a great sense of our place in the universe!

Are you using Here is Today in your classroom?  Share your experience in the comments below!

Science Animation Gallery

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 10-02-2011

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What it is: Sumanas, Inc has created a complete animation gallery for science.  Each animation comes with a written summary description, a narrated animation, a step-through tutorial (understanding the concept through a series of steps), and a quiz.  There are a variety of main topics, each with several related animation modules.  In the gallery you will find General Biology, Molecular Biology, General Biotechnology, Microbiology, Biopsychology/Neuroscience, Ecology, Astronomy, Statistics, Chemistry, and Environmental Science.  There is also a Science in Focus section for animations that explain science topics that are in the news (stem cells, malaria, gene therapy, ulcers, antibiotic resistance, and anthrax).  These are great for current event science conversations and understandings.

How to integrate Science Animation Gallery into the classroom: The Science Animation Gallery takes what can be difficult to understand concepts, and animates them in a way that breaks down the concept into manageable parts. Many of the science concepts are more appropriate for middle and high school students, but some sections, like Astronomy, include animations that are useful for elementary students (moon phases).

Students can use the animations to explore science concepts that they are interested in learning more about, or to further delve into a topic just touched on in curriculum.  Many of the animations would make a great launching point for science experiments and inquiry units.

Use the animations to introduce a whole class to a new concept or topic using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  At the end of the animation, you can instantly check for learning using the quiz at the end (it would work well with a student response system, voters). Use the feedback from the quiz to guide the learning and next steps for students.  Students could also visit the gallery as a science discovery center in the one or two computer classroom.  I really like the different options offered by the animations, students can listen to a narrated version of the animation or navigate through the animation at their own pace using the step-by-step.  The narrated animation is brilliant, science has so many unfamiliar vocabulary words and terms that struggling readers can often get bogged down in just sorting out the words. With the narrated animation, the focus is on the concept being taught and the vocabulary is learned more naturally without stifling the learning.

Encourage your students to watch for science in the news.  The news has been full of it lately! Use those current event topics and dig in a little deeper with the Science in Focus animations. So often students hear about stem cells or gene therapy and don’t really know what they are referring to (adults either for that matter!) take the opportunity to teach students about the science concepts fueling those news stories. There are some additional links and resources related to each animation in the Science in Focus section.

Tips: Some of the animations are available for download and can be played on an iDevice or in iTunes.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Science Animation Gallery in your classroom

Fold it: Solve Problems for Science and Change the World

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Download, Evaluate, Middle/High School, Science, Teacher Resources, TED Talk Tuesdays, Understand (describe, explain) | Posted on 14-01-2011

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What it is: Fold it is a puzzle game based on science that helps change the world.  Download the Fold It game and puzzles for free and contribute to the understanding of protein folding and amino acids. By playing this game, students take part in actually contributing to science.  The implications of the Fold It game are huge, playing this game helps scientists better understand protein structure prediction and protein design.  This means that by playing a little puzzle game, your students are contributing to better understanding of the role proteins play in diseases such as HIV, cancer, and Alzheimers, and even bio fuel technology.  Scientists collect data from the game to find out if humans pattern recognition abilities and puzzle solving abilities make them more efficient than computers at pattern folding tasks.  If it turns out that humans are more efficient, human strategies can be applied to computers to make the process even faster.

How to integrate Fold It into the classroom: If your students are currently learning about cells, proteins, amino acid, and biological make up, Fold It is an incredible way for them to really understand all of these working parts, while contributing to science.  The puzzle and pattern nature of this game should appeal to a wide range of students…who doesn’t enjoy a good exercise in pattern recognition and problem solving?  On the about page, your students can read the background “briefing” about the game and the science that they are contributing to by playing the game. There is also a Fold It wiki with great links for more in-depth learning and understanding.   Not only will your students be learning important science concepts (I’m talking the building blocks of life here!), they will also be actually contributing to science by playing.  How cool is that?!  There is a large collection of puzzles with new puzzles being released and completed puzzles expiring. Don’t know anything about biology? No problem, you can play the game without understanding the biology concepts behind it (although for me, knowing the background of what I am looking at makes it that much cooler!).  Check out the blog where you can read the results of how the game play has affected real science.

Tips: The idea of building games to impact the real world is incredible to me, the first time I had considered this was when I watched this TED talk by Jane McGonigal.  If you haven’t seen it yet it is worth a watch!  You can read my original post about this TED talk here.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Fold It in your classroom.

NBC Olympics: Science of the Olympics

Posted by admin | Posted in Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, video, Video Tutorials, Websites | Posted on 11-02-2010

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What it is: The winter Olympics start tomorrow and students around the world will be watching and rooting on their favorite Olympian, sport, or country.  The Olympics offers some fun new learning opportunities to the classroom.  Olympic Science is one such opportunity.  NBC has several Olympic science videos in which students can learn about physics, motion, energy, biology, chemistry and math.  Videos include Slapshot Physics, Aerial Physics, Figure Skating, Snowboarding, Alpine Skiing, Skates, Mathletes, Bobsled, Motion Inside the Body, Short Track, Modern Skis, Suit Up, Curling, Ski Jumping, Safety Gear, and The Internal Athlete.  These videos walk students through the actual science that is taking place in the winter games.

How to integrate NBC Olympics- Olympic Science into the classroom: My students are always shocked to learn that there is a lot of math and science in athletics.  These videos show students exactly how closely science and math are entwined in everyday life.  Olympic Science videos are for students who are forever asking the question “how am I going to use this?” (and shouldn’t they all be asking this!).  In the bottom right hand corner of the Olympic Science site you will find more science data.  These are quick facts about the science in the sport.   I really enjoy using video in the classroom, students can watch, rewind, pause, and re-think the concepts they are seeing.  Combine the Olympic Science site with a Wallwisher where students describe the science in the sport, or create a Wordle with new science vocabulary that students learned.

Tips: The Science of the Olympic Games was produced by NBCLearn, part of NBC News that brings news, events, and issues into the classroom.  There is a great video collection that includes Word Roots (an animated series that explores the roots of English words), Common Errors in English Usage (animated videos that uncover common errors in English grammar and usage), and Mini Documentaries (hundreds of 2-6 minute documentaries on American history, economics, culture, and political cartoons).

Please leave a comment and share how you are using NBC Olympics-Olympic Science in your classroom.

HippoCampus

Posted by admin | Posted in Geography, History, Interactive book, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Open Source, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Video Tutorials, web tools, Websites | Posted on 22-10-2009

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What it is: HippoCampus is a website with incredible vision.  The goal is to provide high-quality multimedia content on general subjects to high school and college students free of charge.  Subjects on HippoCampus include algebra, American government, biology, calculus, environmental science, physics, psychology, religions, statistics, and US history.  Each of the subject has a large library of multimedia content from students to learn from.  HippoCampus was designed as part of the Open Education Resources, a worldwide effort to make education available equitably to everyone.  Each lesson includes multimedia lessons, the text of the lesson, and related resources.  I believe the HippoCampus model will be the textbook of the future.  Students are able to learn at their own pace, pausing, reviewing, and receiving instruction on demand.

How to integrate Hippo Campus into the classroom: HippoCampus has an incredible library of content for teaching and learning.  Use the multimedia lessons in place of traditional textbooks or as a supplement to your current curriculum. Teachers can build their own HippoCampus homepage where students can access specific lessons targeted for them.  You can even create custom announcements to be displayed to students.   Although HippoCampus was designed with high school and college students in mind, many of the multimedia presentations could be used to teach middle school students as well.

Tips: HippoCampus uses Adobe Flash and QuickTime.  Make sure that you have each on your computers before using HippoCampus.

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

Kids Biology

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive book, Science, Secondary Elementary, Websites | Posted on 10-12-2007

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What it is: Kids Biology is a website designed to be kid friendly and informative. Here, students can learn about an assortment of animals (broken down by classes, what they eat, and where they live). Each animal has an about the animal section and a picture of the animal. Kids Biology also features kid friendly information on the origin of life, what are living things, needs of living things, cells, tissues, organs, systems, classification, five kingdoms, viruses, genetics, and Earth’s biomes. Each topic contains easy to read and understand information about the topic. Kids Biology has games that help students study what they have learned about each topic through word searches, hangman, and biology memory.

How to integrate Kids Biology into the classroom: Kids Biology would offer a nice break from traditional textbooks and worksheets. Give students time to explore the site on their own to introduce or review a new science unit. Read the online textbook as a class followed by a game using a projector. Split your kids into teams to play the game as a class. Kids Biology is also a nice resource for students researching an animal because of the kid friendly reading and wealth of information.

Tips: Save Kids Biology the bookmark bar for easy access in the classroom.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Kids Biology in your classroom.