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Inquiry, magic, and blended learning: Anastasis Academy

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Apply, collaboration, Create, education reform, Evaluate, inspiration, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 01-03-2014

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It’s hard to describe to people all of the magic that happens at Anastasis on a daily basis. It really does feel like something special, a magical quality of falling down the rabbit hole into another world where school is fun and challenging and wonderful. The learning that happens here is very organic, it lacks a formulaic approach. So when people ask us how they can do what we do, it isn’t a simple answer.

Anastasis learners are in a continual state of growth, discovery, and creativity. We are just wrapping up an Inquiry unit about “How the World Works.” As a school, we are preschool through eighth grade. All of our students engage the same big guided inquiry for a 5 week block. Although the driving inquiry is the same for all students, I break down the unit into some key concept lines of inquiry by age level. We have a primary, intermediate, and jr. high key concepts that provide entry points into learning at a developmental appropriate level. Our primary kids looked at How the World Works from the inquiry prompting that: people have daily habits and use time to help guide their day, week, month, and year. This gave them the opportunity to explore calendars, time, seasons, patterns in growth of crops, school habits, moon phases, sun, etc. Our intermediate students looked at How the World Works from the inquiry prompting that: predictable patterns help us explore objects in the sky and their connection to our life on Earth. This allowed our students to explore movement of the solar system, moon phases, constellations, galaxies, history of humans understanding of patterns in the universe, technologies that help us understand patterns, how the patterns in space impact life on earth, how animals and plants rely on patterns. Our Jr. High students explored How the World Works from the prompting that: Food comes from many places and goes through many changes on its journey to us. They discovered more about where produce comes from, what GMOs are, what the role of the FDA is, what chemical additives food has, farm to table, organic vs. non-organic, responsibilities of humans in food production and consumption, how food production has changed over time, practices for mass production of meat, what happens when our food resources have been exhausted?

The nice thing about having ALL students in the same big guided inquiry during a block, is the incredible overlaps in learning that occur between classes. This provides truly amazing opportunities for our students to learn from and with each other. We take advantage of that overlap as often as possible!

For each inquiry block I give teachers an inquiry guide with the driving inquiry question, the key concept, and the individual lines of inquiry that could be explored. This is a launching spot. I also provide resources for students and teachers on a Pinterest board. This board gets added to throughout the inquiry block as I know which lines of inquiry students are exploring (they often come up with great lines of inquiry that I haven’t considered). This becomes our “curriculum.” It is always evolving and growing based on the needs of students. Teachers send me requests for books, videos, apps, and hands on materials that they need throughout the block (I LOVE Amazon Prime!). The Pinterest boards are shared with students via QR codes that are hanging throughout the school. At any point in time, they can use their iPad to snap a picture and instantly they have access to a library of materials and ideas that they can explore related to the inquiry block. If you are interested in what this look like, you can check out the boards here:

This is the point that the magic I mentioned above starts to happen. Our teaching staff is awesome. They are some of the most creative, innovative, forward-thinking people I know. Even better: they provide the space for kids to be curious and expertly help them navigate that curiosity for new learning. This block offers such a rich picture of what learning looks like at Anastasis that I just have to share it. Notice that EVERY level of Bloom’s Taxonomy is addressed in this process, every subject woven into their learning naturally.

The students in Team Weissman began this block with a field trip to a local observatory. This was a really neat trip that I had the privilege of attending with them. Our students got a private tour of the observatory, complete with a history lesson of Colorado’s landscape when the observatory was built, the changes it’s gone through, the building history, and the science. The kids LOVED exploring each part of the building and learning about all of the little “secrets” around the observatory and why it was built the way that it was. They got to go into the basement to see how the base of the telescope is actually free-standing and not attached to the building. They got to open the ceiling. They got to explore each separate part of the telescope and ask questions and learn from an expert. The observatory expert’s passion was contagious. The spark for inquiry was lit in those moments. When the students were back at school, they each chose a line of inquiry that they wanted to know more about. They chose to learn about moon phases, galaxies, planets, constellations, Fibonacci, fractals, waves, plant life, etc. Each student snapped a picture of the QR code for this block to begin digging through resources. This was a great spring-board for discovery. As students dug into discovery, they chose different projects and ideas of how they could share their learning with others. This led to the building of a planetarium that the whole school could tour through to learn more about the universe, green house design, art work to teach about the relationship of plants/fractals/Fibonacci, a telescope, a black hole demonstration, a planetary model, a genius art demonstration of moon phases for the planetarium, and a model of different types of waves.

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Prototype Lab-Anastasis Academy

Anastasis Academy- Planetarium

Planetarium tours: Anastasis Academy

Pattern study: Anastasis Academy

Student Created Greenhouse: Anastasis Academy

Prototype Lab: Anastasis Academy

 

There was a lot of research that happened in this unit. One student showed me how she was using multiple devices to compare sources as she did her research…brilliant!

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Throughout the 5 weeks I heard exclamations of excitement, pride in what students had created, excitement as they saw what other students in the class were doing. Completely fantastic, magical moments of learning! This week, the students invited every other class in the school to be a part of their learning. They gave each class a tour of the universe in the planetarium and each presented their findings over the last 5 weeks. They also walked them through how patterns in the universe are mimicked here on earth in their greenhouse (made with pvc and shower curtains!).

Inside the planetarium: Planets

Inside the planetarium: Black Holes

Anastasis is a 1:1 BYOD school. Each of our students has an iPad (the only supply on their supply list) in addition, sometimes they bring a phone or iPod as well. You know what? As awesome as the technology is, it fades into the background. It really is just another tool for learning that we use at Anastasis. It helps tremendously with research, connecting with experts all over the world, typing out and recording ideas. What I love about this last unit is that none of the students chose to show their learning through technology. Each of them chose something tangible to demonstrate learning. The use of technology was brilliant. Truly hybrid learning! The students who worked on the planetarium used an app called Sky Guide to figure out exactly where in the sky each constellation and galaxy was so that their planetarium would be a true picture of what it would be like to look up into the night sky. After building the planetarium, the kids decided which way they would align it in the classroom. Then, using the Sky Guide app, they would get in, find out where the constellation was in relation to where they were standing. They poked holes in the plastic in the shape of the constellation and labeled it with a piece of tape. A brilliant coming together of technology and creativity!

I wish I could bottle up the excitement that the whole school had as they watched the planetarium being built. The amazing anticipation of getting to see the finished product. The sneak peeks they tried to take. This was a school community learning and exploring together.

As Team Weissman worked on this, students in Team Baldwin each chose a pattern that they wanted to learn something more about. They connected to experts, researched, and came up with really incredible questions. The outcome of this was also student created projects to show others what they had learned. These kids also held an expo day to let others in the school see their learning. They got to be the expert. Students explored everything from patterns in the circulatory system, to service animals, to electricity, to dub step, to patterns in baking, the moon, coding, and plant growth. When I asked the kids what they liked best about their projects, the common answer was: getting to talk to my expert. Connecting students with an adult expert (usually using technology) was so meaningful and lasting. They were proud to share with others what they were now an expert in.

Patterns in baking: Anastasis Academy

Electricity study: Anastasis Academy

 

The Jr. High was so impacted by what they learned about where our food comes from, that they created a conference for Anastasis students and parents. They had sessions, round table discussion, asked parent experts to come in and share, and invited a keynote speaker. They also invited other classes in on their learning by asking them to share learning they’ve done throughout the year at their expo. The round table discussion among the students was hands down my favorite part of the day. Hearing these kids challenge each other’s opinions about GMO’s, Monsanto, being a localvore, food production, health, etc. was incredible. They were well researched, thoughtful and considerate of different opinions. They referred back to field trips they had to Growhaus and a local meat market. They started out in the community with experiential learning, used technology to learn more, and finished by inviting community to learn with them.

Hydroponics: Anastasis Academy

Primary students shared their greenhouse:

Anastasis Jr. High Round Table discussion

 

This is what learning looks like. It is hard work, there is challenge. There is also beauty and excitement and pride.

National Center for Atmospheric Research

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Evaluate, Geography, Inquiry, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 17-12-2012

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What it is: Today Anastasis students were lucky enough to visit the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.  It was a truly fantastic experience (if you ever find yourself in Colorado, it is worth a visit! Open free everyday!).  The center has some fantastic interactive exhibits, much like what you find at Exploratorium in California.  In addition to the physical location, the National Center for Atmospheric Research has some wonderful online games, activities and resources for the classroom.

In the Interactives and Simulations for weather, climate and atmospheric science section you will find:

  • A virtual laboratory for creating a weather balloon.
  • A simple virtual climate model.
  • The build a tree dendrochronology activity where students can explore past climates.
  • Compare IPCC scenarios interactive where students forecast carbon dioxide levels.
  • The climate sensitivity calculator.
  • The Earth’s Energy balance virtual lab.
  • Compare solar eclipse photos activity.
  • Solar eclipse memory
  • Sun-earth connections memory
  •  Clouds memory
  • Atmospheric chemistry memory
 In the classroom activities section, you will find:
  • Paleoclimates and Pollen where students can study pollen.
  • Model a moving glacier where students make a model of a glacier and create an experiment to study movement.
  • Glaciers then and now where students study pictures of glaciers taken in the 1900′s and compare them to pictures of the glaciers today.
  • The systems game where students observe a system.
  • Looking into surface Albedo where students inquire into how color affects the way that the sun interacts with Earth’s surface.
  • Feeling the heat where students investigate which parts of their school yard have a higher temperature.
  • CO2 How much do you spew where students analyze energy consumption.
  • The nitrogen cycle game where students play the role of nitrogen atoms traveling through the nitrogen cycle.
  • The water cycle 0-18 and ice cores where students look at proxy data to determine past climate.
In addition to the fantastic activities on the site, students can learn more about the sun and space weather, weather, atmosphere and climate on the NCAR website.

How to integrate the National Center for Atmospheric Research into the classroom: If you are studying weather, climate or atmospheric research with your students this is a must stop site.  It is FULL of great activities, virtual labs and easy-to read and understand information.  Really, take a few minutes to dig in.  Today, when we visited we got to explore some of these virtual labs and games first hand.  Our students watched a short video introducing them to NCAR and what scientists do there.  Next we entered into a classroom where the fun began!

Today we learned about the North and South Poles.  The fine people at NCAR had made globe paddles that had the north pole on one side and the south pole on the other (glued to giant tongue depressors).  They gave the students different facts about the north and south pole and students had to hold up their paddles with the correct answers.  Next, students learned about how polar bears were equipped for the COLD temperatures.  There were tubs of ice water on the table.  Students were asked to place their hands inside the ice water.  We timed how long they lasted in the cold water.  Next, students put their hands in a “blubber” paw and tried the experiment again.  The hand inside the layer of blubber could stay in the cold for a long time with no discomfort.  These blubber paws were actually made with 2 ziplock baggies with Crisco in between the layers and duct-tape at the top of the baggies so that they were sealed together around openings where the two baggies came together.  This left a Crisco pocket that formed the paw.  Students also learned about penguins and how they find their mate in hundreds and hundreds of penguins.  Penguins have particular sounds that help alert their mate.  The penguins can distinguish between the particular sounds that each penguin makes to find their mate.  Students simulated this by each taking a film canister with an object/objects in it.  The students had to shake their canister and find their match using the sound alone.  They had a ball with this!  They also practiced transferring a styrofoam egg from one pair of feet to another without using their hands the way that the penguin does.  Our students also did the glacier matching project (listed above) where they worked in teams to match the original pictures to the new pictures.  Some of these were really challenging as the second picture had NO glacier to be seen!  The kids learned that every glacier in the world is shrinking with the exception of two glaciers in Norway.  Fascinating!

Our classroom today…can’t beat the view!

 

Touching clouds!

 

Our students got to follow the activities above with an exploration of weather, climate, and atmosphere science exhibits.  You could easily recreate the activities above and follow up with virtual simulations, videos and games.  These could be set up as centers for students to explore (the virtual centers on classroom computers).  There is SO much here that exploration of all that the NCAR site has to offer could take days.  The simulations and games would also be appropriate on an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer where students can explore and interact as a whole class.  Allow students to take turns playing scientist.

Tips: While we were at NCAR, our guide, Tim, told us that NCAR was originally established in the 1960s to learn how to control the weather.  This brought up a great discussion about what could happen if humans could control the weather, and what unintended consequences might come along with that.  This would make for a great creative writing exercise or comic strip.  Our students came up with some insightful thoughts on this topic!

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

Money Island: a financial literacy virtual world

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Character Education, Math, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 08-02-2012

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What it is: Money Island is a neat site I found today while searching for some fun tie ins for our economic inquiry block at Anastasis.  This enchanting virtual world teaches students about money and how the economy works while they go on quests to destinations like the Eiffel Tower and Atlantis.  Students learn and practice the real-life principles of financial responsibility.  Students build knowledge and skills in three major areas including: saving and spending, earning and investing, and using credit wisely.  In addition to these major areas, students learn how to spend, grow and give money; the difference between wants, needs and taxes; different types of income; gain an understanding of interest; how to use credit wisely; and how to build wealth.
The site includes detailed lesson plans and activity suggestions for the classroom, as well as a specialized area within money island where teachers and parents can see what students are learning and track progress.
Money Island was created in partnership with the Young Americans Bank.  This bank was designed specifically for children under the age of 21!  Our students will be taking a field trip to the Young Americans Bank in Denver to continue their learning during this block.  If you are in the Denver area, it is a great field trip!
How to integrate Money Island into the classroom: Kids are not exposed to enough opportunities to learn and practice financial literacy.  Case in point: the national debt crisis, housing loan disaster, and credit card stats. It baffles me that we don’t spend more time in the classroom helping kids learn about money and finances!  Every teacher should take this on in some capacity, we can’t assume that someone else will teach it.  Kids need to learn about how the economy works prior to being neck deep in financial decisions on a daily basis.  Money Island is a fun introduction to all of this!
Students begin their journey in Money Island with a mission to help character Stone Broke.  Students choose a virtual side-kick who will guide them through Money Island and help them make important decisions.  Students are directed through a series of quests to help Stone Broke while learning about money and how to make sound financial decisions.
Money Island is a virtual world so it takes a bit of time to get all the way through it.  When students login, they are given a special key so they can pick up right where they left off in the game.  This is a great site for a one to one classroom environment or computer lab setting where each student has their own computer.  The site could also be used as a center activity on classroom computers with students rotating through the center throughout the week.  Because students can save their progress, they can play from both school and from home.
Money Island makes a fantastic tie-in to a money or economics unit for kids.
***Hint: Click “Join” to join.  For some reason the “Play” button is a little bit temperamental.  It worked for me the first time I played with it but not the second…not sure what that is all about!
Tips:   There is a new game featured on Money Island…Episode 2 helps students learn how to “win” at the credit game.  There are also fun mini games and comics on the site for kids to interact with and explore!

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

Little Bird Tales

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Character Education, collaboration, Create, Foreign Language, Interactive book, Language Arts, Math, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Web2.0 | Posted on 25-02-2011

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What it is: I am late on this post, but it is too good to skip a mention!  Little Bird Tales is a new way to digital story tell with primary students.  With Little Bird Tales, students can upload their own artwork, record their voice, add text and email their finished creations to family and friends. Sign up on Little Bird Tales requires an email address for verification purposes.  This can be a parent or teacher email address (the site is geared for 3 to 14-year-old children so a student address is not necessary).  Little Bird Tales includes a built-in art pad where students can create pictures online.  They also have the option to upload photographs and images they have created offline.  Each page give students a place to add a picture, text and voice recording.  Finished books can be saved and accessed online or sent via email.

How to integrate Little Bird Tales into the classroom: Little Bird Tales is a brilliant option for digital storytelling in the primary classroom.  I love that it includes both online and offline student creations, as well as student voice recordings.  Students can use Little Bird Tales for creative writing and imaginative stories, as a way to reflect on learning, or as a keepsake for parents.  Students can take pictures of science experiments and create a digital science journal detailing the experiment with text and student voice reflections included.

Use Little Bird Tales to create whole class stories where each student contributes a page.  This type of book can be made over a few weeks using classroom computers as a writing center.  This would be a fun way to create an A to Z type book of learning, reflections by students after a unit, a 100 day book, fact vs. opinion book, an interactive glossary, a class book of poems, a phonics book, or a class book about a field trip that students took.  The finished product can be shared with parents and families easily through an email. For a back to school night activity, take a picture of each student to add to a class book and record students sharing what their favorite part of the school day is.  This same idea could be used in preparation for parent-teacher conferences. Students can upload pictures of their best school work, record thoughts about why they are proud of the work they did, and add reflections in the text field.  These can be shared as a starting point for conferences, at the end of the conference, parents have a keepsake.

Because of the voice recording capabilities, Little Bird Tales, would be a great way for students to practice a foreign language.  They can illustrate a word or phrase accompanied by the audio.  Classes could work together to create a “living” digital glossary.

Do you have a planned absence coming?  Why not create a digital story that your substitute can share with students?  Upload pictures that support learning, text, and your voice.

Tips: If you have parent email addresses in Google, Yahoo, or Outlook, they can be directly imported into Little Bird Tales as contacts.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Little Bird Tales in your classroom!

Photovisi- Make a free online photo collage

Posted by admin | Posted in Create, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, web tools, Websites | Posted on 10-11-2010

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What it is: Photovisi is an online photo collage creation tool.  Students can use saved photos or a webcam to add pictures to their collage.  The finished result can be downloaded and printed out.  Photovisi is exceptionally easy to use and requires absolutely NO sign in or registration!  This makes it the ideal online tool in my book. Students can get right in and quickly create a photo collage, add text, and download it.  There are several collage templates to choose from, and each template is highly customizable.

How to integrate Photovisi into your curriculum: Photvisi is a great online creation tool.  It doesn’t require any sign up or registration making it ideal for using in any classroom.  Students can make collages to document learning, a science experiment, field trip, or special project.  Students can upload pictures from their computer to add to the Photovisi.  Students can add text labels and titles to document learning.  Collages can be used for getting to know you activities. Students can create a collage of pictures that represent themselves and their interests.  Use text to create an auto bio poem over the collage of pictures.  Students could also create collages as a place to visually document their learning.  Students could create “time capsule” collages that represent a period in history.  Students can add pictures, key dates, people, and places to their time capsule collage.  Collages are a great way to visually group items, younger students could create their own class alphabet display.  Each student could create a collage of a different letter, all finished collages could be printed to create a class created bulletin board.  The same could be done for phonics or word study.  In math class, collages could be used to create a visual representation of shapes found in buildings or nature, angles, or scale.  In art, students could create a collage of artists, a style of art, or of their own art.

Photovisi would be ideal in a computer lab setting where each student has their own computer.  Photovisi could also be set up as a creative center on classroom computers.  Students can rotate through the center for a specific project, or visit any time as a creative center.

You can see an example of a Photovisi collage above, I created this World War 2 collage in honor of Veteran’s Day.

Tips: Photovisi does have Google Adwords on the site.  These are not obtrusive at all and are all related to photos and collage creation.  You may want to teach younger students how to spot these advertisements so that they don’t inadvertently click on them.

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

Juxio: Online Visual Creation Tool

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Art, Create, Fun & Games, History, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 25-10-2010

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What it is: Juxio is a new visual way to create and communicate.  The web application lets students take their own images (or images from Flickr, FaceBook, or Picasa) and add them to an image stream or panel.  Text descriptions can be added to the stream to describe the images.  Streams are where text and images get placed.  Streams expand in width as elements are added.  A Jux (Juxio creation) can be expanded vertically by adding additional streams.  This is useful for organizing content into categories or for comparison.  Each stream can have its own header to add meaning or depth to a Jux creation.  Events are used to visually segment streams.  For example, students might have an animal stream of pictures that is segmented into the events “mammals” and “reptiles”.  After students create a Jux, they can save it as a PDF file, print it, or share it online via email, Facebook, Twitter, or url.

How to integrate Juxio into your curriculum: Juxio is a fantastic online tool to use for online visual creation.  Students can mash-up text and photos to create their own Jux that can be used to organize information or display understanding.  Use Juxio for animal classification, vocabulary, historical time lines, changes over time, to tell a linear story, or display any information in an organized fashion.  Take pictures of a science experiment for students to turn into a Jux, they can start at the beginning of the experiment adding captions to each picture.  Text boxes can be added for students to type in their hypothesis at the beginning of the experiment and to add a concluding statement at the end.  Take pictures of a school field trip and create a Juxio to tell the story of what happened on the field trip.  A Jux can be created individually by students in a computer lab setting, or by a whole class using an interactive whiteboard.  Class Juxio’s can be created to display new learning, each student contributing to one Jux.  The finished product can be printed and saved in the classroom with the URL sent home so students can access the learning from anywhere.  Use Juxio in place of a traditional Friday newsletter.  Take pictures of students throughout the week, add captions explaining what learning happened during the week and add a stream for upcoming events and reminders.  Anytime you add student pictures to a newsletter, the chance that a parent takes the time to read it goes way up!

Tips: Juxio requires an email address for sign up.  In addition, students must be 13 or older to obtain their own account.  If you teach younger students, create a class account where you are the owner.  Students can create a Jux using the class account and save it with their name in the title.

Juxio offers the option to purchase the finished Jux as a poster.  Prices are very reasonable and can be used for customized classroom decoration.  Cool!

If your school has access to an iPod Touch or iPad lab, Juxio can be downloaded directly to the device as an application.

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



5 Best Virtual Field Trips

Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, Geography, History, Interactive Whiteboard, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 11-10-2009

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Cross posted at:

5 BEST Virtual Field Trips

Kelly Tenkely | TheApple.com

Field trips can be amazing learning experiences.   They provide students with the opportunity to actively participate in education, offering learning possibilities that aren’t readily available in the classroom.  Unfortunately, it isn’t always practical or possible to take students on field trips.  Tight budgets, location, transportation, time, and resource restrictions can keep your students school-bound.  Virtual field trips can fill this void.  Virtual field trips have come a long way from the page of links they used to be.  Now students can explore the world with simulations that are so realistic, they will believe they have left the classroom.  Below are five of the best virtual field trips on the web:

Virtual Field Trip #1:
Smithsonian Museum

Not all cities have access to an incredible natural history museum like the Smithsonian.  This virtual tour is the next best thing to taking an actual field trip to the Smithsonian.

The Smithsonian Virtual Museum is truly remarkable.  Students can ‘step’ into the exhibits and take a tour through the entire museum in a 360 degree environment.  The virtual museum is made up of panoramic pictures of the actual exhibits inside the Smithsonian.  Using their mouse, students “walk” through the museum room by room. They can zoom in, look left and right, look up and down, and walk forward or backward.  Camera icons throughout the museum show students hot spots where they can get close to an exhibit panel.  As students explore the museum, they will see: the ocean hall, ancient seas, dinosaurs, early life, fossils, plants, mammals, African cultures, the Ice Age, Western cultures, reptiles, insects, butterflies, bones, geology, gems, and minerals.

Students can explore the various exhibits on individual computers in a computer lab setting or life size with an interactive whiteboard or a projector.  Split your students into groups and assign them an exhibit to explore and take notes on.  After students have explored and become the ‘expert’ on their exhibit, project the Virtual Smithsonian Museum on an interactive whiteboard/screen.  Explore the museum as a class. As you enter an exhibit, invite the group who explored the exhibit to act as tour guides.

Even if you have access to a natural history museum for field trips, the Smithsonian Virtual Museum is still incredibly useful.  Prepare for a field trip to your local history museum by visiting the virtual museum.  After the field trip, students can compare and contrast what they saw at the local museum with the Smithsonian.

Virtual Field Trip #2:
UPM Forest Life

A field trip to a forest is a wonderful way to learn about tree species, ecosystems, habitats, and animals.   The UPM Forest Life virtual field trip will have your students believing that they are actually in a forest smelling pine trees.

UPM Forest Life aims to teach about forest sustainability.  It does this by inviting students to take a virtual hike through a forest.  The forest is made up of panoramic pictures of an actual forest.  Students can zoom in, look up and down, left and right, and ‘walk’ through the forest with their mouse.  Students start their field trip with a virtual tour guide.  As students ‘hike’ through the forest, they will click on hot spots that reveal videos of forest life, pictures with information, and sounds.  Throughout the forest are opportunities for learning about forest planning, harvesting, regeneration, re-spacing, thinning, transport, recreation, training, berry picking, bird watching, hunting, fishing, natural forests, valuable habitats, deadwood, forest structure, water, native tree species, and the various animals that call a forest home.   This virtual field trip is impressive on individual computers and amazing when viewed as a whole class on an interactive whiteboard or with a projector.  Allow students to take turns acting as forest rangers. They can click on various videos, pictures, and information embedded in the forest.  Students can record their observations of the forest, trees, animals, and sounds they experience in an observation journal.

Virtual Field Trip #3:
Moon in Google Earth

The moon is no longer off limits for field trips!  Students can visit the moon virtually using Moon view in Google Earth.  Google Earth makes for excellent virtual trips around the world; in Google Earth 5.0 you can also take your students to the moon.

Moon in Google Earth makes it possible for students to take tours of Apollo missions to the moon, from takeoff to landing – all narrated by Apollo astronauts.  Students can explore 3-D models of landed spacecraft, zoom into 360-degree photos of astronaut footprints on the moon, watch rare TV footage of the Apollo missions, and, of course, explore the surface of the moon.   Take your virtual field trip to the moon as a class with an interactive whiteboard/projector, or send students on their own mission to the moon using student computers.  Assign groups of students to an Apollo mission to explore.  When the ‘astronauts’ return to earth, they can tell other students about their mission to the moon or write a newspaper article about their journey.

Virtual Field Trip #4:
Planet in Action

Real field trips don’t allow for adventures like a helicopter ride above the Grand Canyon, an expedition to Mount St. Helens, or a helicopter tour of Manhattan or Disneyland Paris.  Planet in Action makes all of these possible with the help of Google Earth.

Planet in Action is an outstanding way to bring learning to life.  Students can take a guided tour of the Grand Canyon, Mount St. Helens, Manhattan, or Disneyland Paris or take control and explore on their own.  These journeys are incredibly lifelike on an interactive whiteboard/projector.  Take your whole class on a virtual helicopter ride above famous landmarks that they are learning about in class.  First, watch the recorded tour and discuss the different landmarks as you see them.  Then ‘hire’ a student helicopter ‘pilot’ who can navigate a trip for the class.  On individual computers, students can create postcards of their virtual field trip or create their own virtual tour that can be saved and shared with others or with Planet in Action.  As students fly above the landmarks, a Google Map will show them exactly where they are in the virtual tour.

Virtual Field Trip #5:
AR Sights

Most students probably won’t have the ability to travel to the pyramids or the Eiffel Tower for a field trip.

Augmented Reality makes it possible to see these landmarks, and more, using Google Earth in 3-D.

Augmented Reality requires a webcam, browser add-on, and a printout provided by the AR Sights website.

After a simple graphic is printed out, it is held up to a webcam.  Students will see a landmark spring to life right before their eyes on the computer screen.  As the printout is tilted, twisted, and moved the landmark moves accordingly.  Students can view the famous landmark in 360-degrees, 3-D, and up close.  It is truly incredible!

AR Sights makes it possible to view Google Earth right in a web browser and then zoom into places of interest, looking at them in 3-D with Augmented Reality.  Students can ‘fly’ around Google Earth, when they find a place of interest, they will hold the printout up to the camera and explore the landmark.  This is an amazing visual method for learning about geography and famous landmarks.  If you only have access to one webcam, use it with a computer connected to a projector or interactive whiteboard for whole class exploration.

Geography, budget, and time are no longer field trip restrictions.  With virtual field trips, students can explore the universe using a computer.  These simulations are so realistic that your students will believe they have traveled the universe, actively participating in their learning.



Planet in Action

Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, Geography, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Virtual Field Trips, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 25-06-2009

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What it is:    I just learned about this site from @jdornberg on Twitter; even though I have a long list of sites waiting for a post, I had to write one on Planet in Action right now.  This is an incredible site that uses Google Earth as a basis for interactive journeys around the earth.  Students can take a virtual helicopter ride above the Grand Canyon, explore Mount St. Helen, sail a virtual ship in Port of Rotterdam, take a helicopter tour of Manhattan, or Disneyland Paris.  As students explore, they can grab a snapshot and create their own virtual post card.

 

How to integrate Planet in Action into the classroom:   Virtual field trips just got a lot more realistic thanks to Planet in Action!  Planet in Action will take students on a tour of the different virtual places or students can take control and explore on their own.  This is an amazing site to use when studying famous landmarks or places.  Use this site with an interactive whiteboard or a projector-connected-computer.  Take your whole class on a virtual field trip to places that they are studying in class.  This is an outstanding way to bring some life to lessons.  Watch the recorded tour and discuss different landmarks as you see them.  Then ‘hire’ a helicopter ‘pilot’ who can navigate the trip for the class.  Allow students to play tour guide and explore.  Create postcards and virtual tours that can be saved and re-played.  In the computer lab setting, each student can create a virtual tour that can be shared with classmates (complete with a postcard greeting!).  In addition to the virtual tour, students can navigate by using a Google Map to see exactly where they are in the virtual tour.  In the Port of Rotterdam instead of flying using a virtual helicopter, students will actually sail a ship.  Students can choose their ship, blow the whistle, and navigate from port to port seeing actual images from Google Earth.  Your students will want to spend hours learning and exploring here!  Integrate Planet in Action into other learning opportunities, after exploring the world virtually, students could create a brochure for the place they visisted, write a postcard, or even create a short travel video.

Tips:  This site takes a few minutest to load, be patient, it is well worth it!

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

Gullah Net

Posted by admin | Posted in Character Education, Fun & Games, History, Interactive book, Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 08-05-2009

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What it is:  Gullah Net is a site that was designed to introduce students to the Gullah culture and language.”Located on the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia are communities of people who are the descendants of enslaved Africans. They have a unique culture that is directly linked to West Africa. In South Carolina, this group of African-Americans and the language they speak are referred to as Gullah (Gul-luh). In Georgia, they are called Geechee (Gee-chee). Native Islanders is another term that refers to the Gullah and Geechee people.  Many historians believe that the word “Gullah” comes from Angola, a West African country from which many of the slaves came. Another idea is that “Gullah” is from the Gola, a tribe found near the border of Liberia and Sierra Leone, West Africa. Although the exact origin of the word is not known, most historians agree that the Gullah people and their language have African roots.”

In addition to a history of Gullah, students can listen to and read along folktale stories read by Auntie Pearlie Sue.  These are fun little stories with a great message. Gullah music introduces students to the evolution of African music in America.  The site is set to have a Gullah cooking section soon.

How to integrate Gullah Net into the classroom:  Gullah Net is an excellent place for students to learn about other cultures within the United States.  The read along folktales are excellent and would be a good place for students to practice reading skills.  Gullah music would be a nice tie in for Black History month (in fact the entire site would be great for this).  Gullah Net has some great teacher resources and lessons to use in your classroom.  My favorite section on Gullah Net is Gullah Tales, these are colorful, fun stories that will keep your students engaged in reading!

 

Tips:  Gullah Net has field trip resources for those of you in South Carolina.

 

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

Picasa

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Blogs, Fun & Games, History, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Software, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 07-01-2009

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What it is:  Picasa is a free download from Google that helps you organize, edit, share, and create using photos.  The edit feature allows you to fix red-eye, crop, and fix any blemishes or scratches.  Picasa lets students create turning photos into movies, collages, and slideshows.  Picasa also makes it easy to upload albums to the web to share.  Picasa has been around for a while as a Google tool but the big news this week is the release of the beta version of Picasa for Macs.  The neat thing about the Mac Picasa release is its integration with iPhoto.  The features are pretty neat and definitely worth a look for either platform but with the announcement of iPhoto ’09 yesterday, they aren’t as impressive.  HOWEVER, Picasa is completely free while iPhoto ’09 is not.

 

How to integrate Picasa into the classroom:  Picasa  is a great way to organize photos you are taking of your classroom in action.  Create a web album, parents always like to see the great things their kids are learning.  Students can use Picasa to organize images they find online or pictures they take on a field trip.  These pictures can then be used to create a movie, collage, or slideshow directly in the Picasa software.  Students could create a class story in pictures, create a movie out of it and share it with other grades.  Students can also collect historical images, scientific images, etc and easily create a movie or slideshow displaying their knowledge.  

 

Tips:  Picasa is available for Macs in beta version and Windows and Linux based in alpha.  

 

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