Featured Post

History Buff: Primary source newspapers, historic panoramas, audio

What it is: I’ll admit it, when it comes to websites, I’m a judge-a-book-by-it’s-cover kind of gal.  If the website isn’t user-friendly and visually appealing it is an almost guaranteed skip for me.  History Buff is one of those forgettable websites. It isn’t overly visually appealing,...

Read More

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

0

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.

E is for Explore: discovery, science, math, art, literacy, social studies and more!

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Art, Blogs, Create, Evaluate, Fun & Games, Inquiry, inspiration, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 07-01-2013

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

3

E is for Explore!

 

Happy New Year!!  I have to say, I wasn’t heart broken to see 2012 go and welcome a year of new beginnings.  2012 felt…hard. And uninspired.  I think that is what happens when you see a dream realized and then comes the part where you are in the middle of it, making it work and doing the HARD work.  2012 wasn’t a year I felt particularly creative. I miss that, it is part of my essence.  I’ve been so incredibly busy, just working to keep everything going, that I had nothing left over.  I’m hoping that 2013 is a different story. Step 1: the first post of 2013.  Here is to creativity and passion!

What it is: I discovered a new blog that I am absolutely loving!  It is hard to beat a place where exploration is not only welcome, but encouraged.  E is for Explore is that place.  Here you will find new learning activities and a fantastic collection of ideas from other sources.  There is a handy-dandy index that helps you find just what you need quickly and easily.  I’ve been working on collecting resources for this inquiry unit and E is for Explore has been an absolute treasure trove.  Topics include discovery/exploration, science/engineering, mathematics, art, literacy, social studies and seasons/holidays.

How to integrate E is for Explore into the classroom:  E is for Explore is a great tool for unit, center, and inquiry planning.  I am really enjoying the huge bank of hands-on activities and projects all designed to encourage exploration in learning. The wide range of activities will keep sparking curiosity in a variety of disciplines.

As I plan out inquiry units and gather resources, I am always on the lookout for activities that will encourage students to explore and spark new curiosities.  E for Explore made this process infinitely easier, bringing me an easy-to-search collection of activities, with great instructions, all in one place.  Many of the activities are manageable enough for a center activity within the classroom…great for differentiation and individualization!

I shared E is for Explore with some of our students, they had a great time looking through the science experiments and learning about how to make mini robots and floam.  This would be SO much better than a small tic-tac-toe board for students to choose an activity from.  Students can explore the entire site and choose an exploration that is of interest to them and complete it accordingly.

Tips: My hope is that iLearn Technology does for you what E if for Explore did for me.  Did you know that you can search by keyword (at the top of my website) or through a multi-category search (in the sidebar on the right)?  Choose as many variables as you want and see what you can find!  I categorize every post by keywords, Bloom’s Taxonomy level, Grade Level, Resource Type, and Subject Area.  After 7 years of free resources, I’ve amassed quite a collection of awesome, free classroom tools.  Go ahead, give it a try and see what new fun finds you come across!

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  E is for Explore in your classroom.

Kids Interactive-Whales

Posted by admin | Posted in Geography, History, Interactive Whiteboard, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 25-01-2010

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

11

Picture 1

What it is: The stories in our 3rd grade reading curriculum are all about whales this week.  I found this great interactive about Whales put together by the Australian Government Department of the Environment for the students to explore.  In the Kids Interactive-Whales, students board the Discovery where they can explore 5 different rooms including the science lab, the research center, the office, the library, and the bridge.  Each room has an “expert” that will help the students as they explore the room.  As students explore each room, they can take notes by saving text to a clipboard.  In the research center, students learn about whale migration, the effects of whale hunting, watch video footage of whales, take an up close view of whale pictures, learn about whale sounds, and even report a whale sighting.  On the bridge, students will learn about the rules for viewing whales from land, listen to sounds that different whales make, learn about sonar, steer the boat, learn about the whales that live in Australian waters, learn the rules about watching whales from a boat, and learn the best time to go whale watching.  In the underwater library, students will use the database to look up facts about whales (they can take notes on their clipboard), use a dictionary to look up unfamiliar terms, learn about the history of whaling, see how whale populations have suffered, and see pictures of whales that can be used in a research project.  In the office, students can watch whales through a portal, read about Australian whale preservation, read a brochure, and view a timeline of how whaling activities have changed throughout the years.  The science lab is the last room on the Discovery.  Here, students can learn about what whales eat, take a closer look at the anatomy of whales, play a game to practice identifying whales, find out how whales are important to the ecosystem, learn about the difference between whales and dolphins, learn about the research that scientists do, and take a closer look at whale statistics.


How to integrate Kids Interactive- Whales into the classroom: Our 3rd grade students study whales every year in both reading and science.  This is an excellent interactive to send kids through to help them build background knowledge about whales for future reading or study.  This is also a great place for students to begin a research project about whales.  Students can save notes to a virtual clipboard as they learn and explore each room.  The clipboard can be printed out and used as research notes.  The interactive is packed full of good information and activities.  Set up your room so that as students file into the room, they feel like they are boarding the Discovery ship.  Choose students to act as tour guides for each of the 5 rooms.  Using a projector or interactive whiteboard, have the tour guides lead the class through each room.  Students who are at their seats can take notes about whales and ask the tour guides questions.  If you have access to a computer lab setting, students can explore the site individually.  Create a guide of things to search for as they complete their tour, make it a scavenger hunt for information. 


Tips: As an extension activity, encourage students to learn about whaling practices and preservation in their own country.


Leave a comment and share how you are using Kids Interactive-Whales  in your classroom.

Discovery’s Make a Quake

Posted by admin | Posted in History, Interactive Whiteboard, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Websites | Posted on 21-01-2010

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

2

Picture 3

What it is: Our fifth graders are going to be reading stories about extreme nature next week.  To build background knowledge about extreme nature, I was on a hunt for some sites that would teach them about different natural occurrences and include an interactive where they could explore the occurrence first hand.  Discovery has an nice interactive on earthquakes called Make a Quake.  Students are able to create their own earthquake in a virtual simulator.  Students enter a simulator that lets them choose the kind of ground that their building is built on, the preventative measures that have been put in place, and the magnitude of the earthquake.  Then they begin the quake to test out different scenarios.


How to integrate Discovery’s Make a Quake into the classroom: This is a great site to help students understand how different factors determine the impact of an earthquake.  Allow students to explore this interactive individually on classroom computers or in a computer lab setting.  Encourage them to take notes about what combination causes the most damage and which combination causes the least damage.  You could also complete this simulation as a class using an interactive whiteboard or a projector.  Invite students up to adjust the different factors (ground, prevention, magnitude).  Ask students to make predictions about what will happen to their building. Begin the quake to test their hypothesis.


Tips: Students can learn more about past earthquakes by learning more about 1906: The Great Quake Cover-Up and view a photo gallery of earthquake destruction.


Leave a comment and share how you are using Discovery’s Make a Quake  in your classroom.

Wiglington & Wenks Virtual World

Posted by admin | Posted in Character Education, Fun & Games, Geography, History, inspiration, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Internet Safety, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Virtual Field Trips, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 13-01-2010

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

19

free virtual worlds

What it is: I absolutely love when I learn about a new site, especially those that I immediately know will be a winner with students.  You know the sites that have incredible graphics, are easy to use, and involve kids in the story (instead of just drill and practice).  Wiglington & Wenks is one such site.  One of the creators of the site @aldricchang alerted me to the new site today via Twitter.

Students are dropped into the middle of a story where they become world travelers to places around the real-world, meeting historical characters, playing brain games, building culture inspired houses, exploring secret locations, and solving ancient mysteries.  There are 100 educational real-world and imaginary places for students to visit from the past, present, and the future.  Wiglington and Wenks was originally a children story book series written by Johan Bittleston.  It has exploded into an online world where students can learn and explore.

free virtual worlds-2

Wiglington and Wenks is so much more than your standard virtual world, it has a rich story line with well developed characters, plot, mystery, and quests.  Students are dropped into the story and invited to participate, learning through exploration, problem solving, and critical thinking.  The world highlights famous real-world landmarks, historical figures, inventions, culture, nature, and wildlife.  Students are motivated to learn more about each as they complete a series of quests.

The story behind the virtual world is about two water rats from England, Wiglington and Wenks, who are in search of a legacy left by Wiglington’s great explorer ancestor.  A series of magic maps guide them as they travel through time and space.  Through a series of events, a time portal was accidentally created that transported famous figures from the past to the future.  All of the historical figures seem to have forgotten who they are.  Students embark on a quest to help Wilington and Wenks find the famous missing characters and recover their lost memories.

Wilglington and Wenks are the main characters of the story.  They are the heroes. There are a host of other characters that further enchant students as they solve the mysteries of this virtual world.

Carto is the map creator who created the magic maps that keep track of geography, cultural evolution, and climate change over time.  Fragments of the map piece together to form a complete real-world map.

Sir Ordy Nace is the curator of the maps at the British Museum.

Filo rat is the head of the Traveling Academy in the town.  He is an inventor, code breaker, and skilled strategist- a genius in every way.  He loves a challenging game of sudoku or master mind.

Scuttle Butt is a search engine.  Ask him a question and he provides a useful list with the most relevant information at the top.  He is Filo Rat’s assistant. (This is an awesome way for students to familiarize themselves for using search engines to solve problems!)

Chacophonous is a crab who also happens to be a conductor.  He is reportedly connected by an ancestor to Beethoven.  He introduces students to classical music.

Walpole the whale makes cross-ocean transportation possible.  He has a terrible sense of direction so students have to give him directions and help guide him.

Every story needs a villain and the Count is the villain of this story.  He is known for using his knowledge of the magic maps for the destruction of the environment along with his side kick Warrior Wolf.

[Picture+11

Historical figures include Thomas Edison, Alexandar Graham Bell, Cleopatra, Confusious, Copernicus, Damo, Emperor Quin, Galileo Galilei, Issac Newton John, Marco Polo, John Rolfe, Nostra Damus, Pocahontas, Wilber Wright, Orville Wright, Vlad Dracula, and many more.

free virtual worlds-1

How to integrate Wiglington & Wenks Virtual World into the classroom: The rich storyline alone makes this site one to bring into your classroom.  Students can do character studies, learn about plot, mystery, and suspense.  Use this site to teach your students about environmental issues such as global warming, forest preservation, protection of marine life, and endangered animals.  This is an immersive learning environment where your students will learn by doing.  As students travel the virtual world, they will learn geography, cultural differences, history, and inventions.  Students are encouraged to think creatively to solve the issues facing the world today.  Wiglington & Wenks would be a great site to introduce to students at the beginning of the year that is used throughout the year for learning.  Make it your goal to solve the mysteries of the magic maps before the end of the year.  Throughout the year students can visit the virtual world, learn about historical figures, famous inventions, and geography.  Hang up a world map in your classroom and keep track of the places that have been visited.  Encourage students to create character cards as they learn about new historical figures, and story characters.  Each student can have their own account but keep track of progress as a class.  Create PSA posters for the classroom as students learn about environmental issues.  Explore more about the inventors and inventions that students come across in the virtual world.  Have students keep a journal of discoveries (on or offline) as they discover new clues.  Have students write newspaper articles about the happenings of the virtual world and it’s characters.   This site can be tied into your curriculum for the year in a variety of ways.

I love the way this site encourages discovery of knowledge, teamwork, and critical thinking. This site will have your students excited about learning the whole year through.  Fridays would make a great day of discovery each week and give students something to look forward to.  Create a single class account and explore Wilington and Wenks as a class each week (or a little each day) using an interactive whiteboard or projector.  Give each student the opportunity to be the navigator of the world.  The other students can take observation notes in a journal about what they see and learn.  If you have classroom computers, cycle your students through the virtual world as a center activity.  In this model each student can have an account.  If you have access to a 1 to 1 environment (one computer for each child) or a computer lab setting on a regular basis, students can each have their own account and solve the mystery individually.  Form small groups where students can discuss their findings and give each other tips and tricks. (Hint: these groups will form whether or not you create them…it is that engaging!)

Wiglington and Wenks is the way that learning should be!



Tips: Read the Wiglington & Wenks books (Amazon link) as a class…the tie into the virtual world will have your students eager to read these books to learn more!

Your students will catch on to the virtual world environment quickly and know more about the characters, games, etc. than you could ever hope to learn.  There is a great guide that will clue you into everything the world offers so that you can keep up with your students. Check it out here.

Leave a comment and share how you are using Wiglington & Wenks Virtual World in your classroom.

500x250

Take a Video Tour of Planet Earth

Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, Geography, inspiration, Interactive Whiteboard, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Virtual Field Trips, web tools, Websites | Posted on 14-10-2009

Tags: , , , , , , ,

1

Picture 1

What it is: Take a Video Tour of Planet Earth with the combination of Discovery channel “Planet Earth” and Google Earth.  Witness animal behaviors, dive into the deepest cave on the planet, and come eye to eye with a 30-ton humpback whale in this interactive tour.  Explore the earth through Discovery channel’s Planet Earth series embedded in Google Earth.  Just zoom into a location in the Planet Earth tour and view video clips from the popular 11 part series.  The tour is free to download and plays directly in Google Earth.

How to integrate Video Tour of Planet Earth into the classroom: Geography lessons come to life in Google Earth.  The Video Tour of Planet Earth infuses even more life into your classroom with an up-close look at the incredible animals and vegetation around the world. This tour is an excellent resource for teaching students about habitats, ecosystems, geography, animals, animal kingdoms, and more.  Your students will be able to virtually ‘fly’ to locations all over the world and get a real life look at each stop.  This is an outstanding resource to view on the big screen with a projector or an interactive whiteboard.  Allow your students to take turns acting as tour guide at each stop.  Students can preview the video, do some additional research and present their findings as the class visits their stop along the tour.  Set up the tour on classroom computers for a fun geography or science center.  Use a stop on the video tour as a writing prompt for journaling.

Tips: Google Earth is a free download, if you don’t already have it, this is a MUST have for every classroom.

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Take a Video Tour of Planet Earth in your classroom.