Science of Everyday Life

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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 around them and make connections to what they are learning in school.  Lessons are inquiry based and encourage exploration in life science, physical science, earth science and technology/innovation.  Virtual labs are interactive flash-based labs where students can discover more about science like wind energy.  At the Innovation HQ portion of the site, students can travel through time and look at innovations that they use in their every day life and “meet” 3M scientists. On the Student page, students can see a young inventors hall of fame.

How to integrate Science of Everyday Life into the classroom:  The Science of Everyday Life is packed FULL of great videos, lesson ideas, virtual interactives and student activities.  I really appreciate that the approach to lessons is inquiry based!  The lessons include great resources and encourage students to ask questions and dig deeper.  The virtual investigations and labs are also really well done.

Content is separated out by grade level, quickly find exactly what best fits your classroom needs!

The travel through time feature is really neat for students to explore.  This could be done as a class using a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard or used as a center exploration or individual activity in a 1:1 or lab setting.  Split students into smaller teams or have them explore a specific time period independently.  The timeline gives some basic information, and would be a great launching point for further investigation.  Students could turn this into a larger project where they connect the innovation from history with innovations today.  What learning had to take place in the past, in order for the innovation that we have today?  This would make a great compare/contrast activity for students.

Because Discovery Education is involved, you can anticipate high quality videos and related resources.

Tips:  The resources and interactives on the Science of Everyday Life are largely Java and Flash based.  If you are running these resources off an iPad, you will want to use an app like Rover (which allows you to view Flash), Photon, iSwifter, etc.

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  Science of Everyday Life in your classroom.

NBC Learn: Science behind the news

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What it is:
NBC Learn has some fantastic free resources for teachers and students.  One of these freebies is called Science Behind the News.  In partnership with the National Science Foundation, NBC explores the science, technology and engineering found in current events.  Here, you will find a collection of videos that introduce students to the science found in the world around them and current events.  Students can learn about everything from quantum computing, to predictive policing, to crowdsourcing and weather phenomenon.  Each video is around 5 minutes long and are well produced.

How to integrate NBC Learn into the classroom:  I am a HUGE fan of embedded learning.  Learning that is in context just makes sense.  The learning is richer because students are able to make real connections to the foundational understandings that they already have.  In addition, this type of learning gives them an idea of how the learning that happens in the classroom is connected to life.  With Science Behind the News, students are able to see connections to the world right now.  These clips encourage students to be curious about the world around them, and to dig into the bigger “why” of how things work.  I like the thinking that is encouraged here.  It is really modelling curiosity beyond just passively listening to a news story.

These clips are a wonderful way to kick off a new science unit, as a resource during inquiry, or for students and classes just to explore.  Students can use these clips as a starting point for further research, a “spark” for more learning.  Each student could choose a different video to watch and then conduct some research to learn more.  Where else is the science used?  How has our thinking about a topic changed over time as we have learned more about it?  What math is involved?  Help your students to see that subjects don’t happen in isolation in real life.  Science is connected with social studies, math, literacy, history, sports, art, economics, discovery, etc.  Can they find the overlaps in learning?

Tips:  NBC Learn has other outstanding resources including: science in golf, science in hockey, science in football, chemistry now, fishing the dream, sinking the titanic, science of the winter Olympics, science of the summer Olympics, writers speak to kids and science in innovation.  Check them all out!

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  NBC Learn in your classroom.

Smithsonian Quests: Learning through discovery and collaboration

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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.

Atlantis Remixed: Inquiry based virtual world

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What it is: Atlantis Remixed is a great interactive virtual world that supports students and teachers in conducting rich, inquiry-based explorations during which students learn standards related content and develop pro-social attitudes regarding environmental and social issues.  More than just making learning fun, project Atlantis Remixed aims to help kids realize that they can make a real difference in the world.  Atlantis Remixed is really a combination of education, entertainment/gaming and social action.  The game environment has been designed to support students in social commitment and real-world action.  Atlantis Remixed was created for children ages 9-16 to engage in transformational play in both online and offline learning activities.  The storyline in the online activities inspires students toward social action.

Atlantis Remixed is a combination of a 3D multi-user virtual environment, learning quests and unit plans, a storyline (presented through an introductory video, novel and comic book), a global community of participants, and a narrative programming toolkit that kids can use to remix user-created stories.  The storyline helps bridge the virtual, fictional, world of Atlantis with the real-world.  Students can travel to virtual places to perform authentic activities (Quests), talk with other students from around the world, build virtual characters and professions, and demonstrate learning through multi-media portfolios.  The platform is transdisciplinary including math, science and literacy. Students are sent on virtual social missions that reflect global ideals such as social responsibility, compassionate wisdom, creative expression, diversity affirmation, environmental awareness, healthy communities, and personal agency.

How to integrate Atlantis Remixed into the classroom: Atlantis Remixed has full units ready to use. Each unit is aligned to standards, inquiry based and meets multiple domains of learning. A single water-quality unit puts students in role of scientists hired by a national park, to come to the forest to help explain fish decline in the area.  Students interact with virtual park rangers, loggers, fishermen and indigenous people and discover multiple perspectives.  After decisions have been made, students can log back in and see the impact of their decisions.  They can reflect on the consequences (and unintended consequences) of their decisions, and make changes as needed.

In addition to the virtual component, there is guided offline learning that can take place including discussions and in class activities.  Teachers can modify curriculum to fit their own classroom needs.

Units include: Taiga- a water quality unit, Virtual Mesa Verde- a social studies unit, Plague World- a persuasive writing unit, Ander City- a statistics unit, Spacenik- a planetary science unit, Biological Indicators Mission, Rights & Responsibility Mission, Two Cells-One World Mission, and Diversity Mission.  You can look at a snapshot of any of these missions to learn more about it.

Think about the added components you could layer on Atlantis Remixed Quests and missions.  Are your students practicing writing business letters?  Who could they write to in the virtual world or real world?  Are your students learning how to use a new tech tool?  What tie-in is there to the inquiry?  How can you integrate other learning and customize the Atlantis Remixed environment to best fit your needs?

Tips: On the Educators Page, you can choose to login to the 2D gateway without logging into the 3D world.

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  Atlantis Remixed in your classroom.

Soo Meta: Digital Storytelling Tool

What it is: Soo Meta is an awesome new site that lets students build mixed media stories.  Students can use this storytelling tool to collect, sort, edit and publish web content easily.

There are two options for login, with name/email/password or through Facebook.  For students who don’t have their own email accounts, you can have them login using a temporary inbox like Tempinbox (just type in a word or words followed by @tempinbox.com and you are in business!).

After students have logged in, they will be asked to enter a title for their new story.  Then, they can search for videos, pictures, sounds and text or copy and paste their links into a new story.  Videos can be trimmed and edited, pictures resized and text edited.

Soo Meta is incredibly simple to use.  Just search the web, choose content to remix and off you go!  You can also simply drag and drop content from your computers desktop to create something new.

When finished, just publish the story and you can share it via link on Facebook or Twitter or you can embed the story like I did above.  (I literally spent a grand total of 2 min creating this story!)

How to integrate Soo Meta into the classroom: Soo Meta is a fantastic online tool for digital storytelling. It makes the process incredibly easy and the possibilities are limited only to your student’s imagination.

With Soo Meta, students can compile research on any topic or subject and create their own digital “textbook” of the learning to share with other classmates or students around the world.  I love that Soo Meta combines the research component with the creation piece.  So often students want to skip right to creation…with Soo Meta the two are so interdependent, it would be impossible to do one without the other!

Teachers can use Soo Meta to create learning stories for their students.  Pull together various videos, pictures and articles and mash them up for your students.  Embed finished video stories on a classroom website or blog.

Older students can create interactive video stories for younger “buddy” students.  They can solidify their own learning of history, math, science, geography, etc. by putting together learning opportunities for younger students.

The storytelling aspect of Soo Meta is fantastic!  Students can do story re-tells, current event mashups, historical documentaries, political commentary, science discoveries, etc.

Tips: Don’t be discouraged if your students are too young to create their own Soo Meta stories, create your own mashups for them to enjoy!

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  Soo Meta in your classroom.

Mural.ly: Google Docs for Visual People

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What it is: Murally is a tool I learned about from my friends over at House of GeniusMurally’s tagline is: “Google Docs for visual people.”  Being highly visual, that description immediately resonates with me!  Murally reminds me a little bit of Wallwisher (now Padlet), it is a way for learners to come together to think, imagine and discuss their ideas.  With Murally, students can create murals and include any content they want in them.  Learners can drag and drop images, video, etc. from any website (or from their computer) onto their mural.   Learners can create presentations from within a mural they have already created.  The best part: this all happens with the ability to collaborate with others.  Murally makes it easy for students to collect, think, imagine, show and discuss learning.  Murals can be made public (shared live with a link) or private (only friends granted permission can access the mural).

*** email address, Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus account required for login.  You know what that means: 13 or older!

How to integrate Murally into the classroom: Murally is brilliant in the way that it enables learners to work and dream together.  My FAVORITE feature: you can drag and drop content from ANYWHERE!!! It works like the spring-loaded folders in Apple’s iOS.  LOVE this feature.  Honestly, this ability to clip content is a game changer.  It makes creating a mural incredibly easy.  Stinking brilliant!  

Murally is the tool that I wish existed when I was doing research projects in school.  Students can conduct and collect their research solo or invite friends to contribute to their research mural.  Students can add text, drag and drop links, pictures, video and other content.  After they have gone through the hunting/gathering phase of research, Murally makes it easy for students to go through and mindmap it all into some sort of order.  This tool is going to make me a better writer.  Visually being able to organize research and thoughts is HUGE.

Being inquiry based, I love the idea of beginning a mural for students with the driving inquiry alone on the board.  The learners job: be curious together.  Ask questions, explore, research, collect evidences collaboratively.  Capture all of that learning in one place.

Murally could be used for any mind-mapping appropriate project.  This is mind-mapping in the future.  Truly amazing!  The collaborative nature of Murally is fantastic.

Students could begin a Murally with a novel as the base.  As they read, they can include quotes, related thoughts, pictures, video clips, discussion, and related research.  I’m always amazed by the connections that our students make to other learning, a commercial they have seen, or a song.  Murally is a great way to visually collect all of this to share with others.

Murally would be an outstanding way to hypothesize about what will happen in a science experiment.  Students can then add in any research, class notes, discussion, etc.  After students have conducted the experiment they can include observations, photos, and final conclusions.

Use Murally with a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard for class notes.  As class discussions unfold, notes can be taken for the whole class and shared later.  Students can add to these later with additional learning, thoughts, and plans.

Because Murally can be used to show learning, consider creating map boards where students link what they know of Geography with the cultures, habitats, religions, politics of that area.

Murally would make the COOLEST “textbook” alternative.  Student created, mashup of all different tools, collaborative, discussion included, and organized in the way that makes sense to the learner.

This is one of those tools that has my mind spinning.  The possibilities overlap all subject areas and are endless.

Tips: The collaborative feature of Murally is so well thought out, see history and message collaborators quickly and easily.  Wonderful!

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

Padlet: now with the ability to download and print!

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What it is: Wallwisher has long been one of my go-to cool tools.  Recently, Wallwisher got a bit of a facelift as well as a new name: Padlet. Padlet is a fantastic little web application that provides a virtual bulletin board of sorts. Teachers can pose questions or ideas for students to answer or think about. Students are sent the unique wall URL and can leave virtual sticky notes answering the question. Students do not have to login to use Padlet, a simple double click allows them to add any thoughts they need to the wall. The platform is very simple to use but provides the opportunity for discussion and collaboration between students.  In addition to a brand new look, Padlet will now let you print or download your walls.  STINKING AWESOME!  Now you can take all of your Padlet walls and save them as an image, PDF, Excel or CSV format.  Just click the share/export button and you are in business!  Another fun new feature is the ability to keep up with what has been posted to your digital wall using email notifications.  You can sign up to get a daily update of all activity on the wall.

How to integrate Padlet into the classroom: Padlet can be used to create a flexible online space where students can create virtual posters, brainstorming boards, virtual project portfolios, and share learning with others.  Students can work together on the same Padlet space for group projects.

Padlet offers an exceptional opportunity for students to brainstorm, collaborate, and group ideas.  Students can use Padlet to brainstorm ideas for writing, explore lines of inquiry, collect research, for grouping ideas, and collaborating on group projects. Create a Padlet board for your students and ask them to group like ideas, sort, and expand on thoughts.  This could be done for any historical event, literature, science concept, and even phonics.  Students could practice spelling by typing out their spelling words along with a sentence or synonyms on sticky notes.  Then, they can group words by spelling pattern or common phoneme blends.  Create a Padlet of sticky notes with English words and sticky notes with a foreign language word on them.  Students can work together to group words with their meanings.   In math, create Padlet stickys with word problems on one color of sticky note and answers on another set of sticky notes.  Students can work to create groups of problems and their solutions.  Padlet can be used for whole class activities using an interactive whiteboard, the class can brainstorm together and collect ideas or use the grouping feature in an activity created by the teacher or students.

Students could even use Padlet to create “bucket lists.”  They could create a bucket list of books they would like to read, places they would like to travel, imaginary literary places they would like to travel, things they want to learn about, etc.

Padlet boards are SO versatile. If you need a way for students/teachers/parents to collaborate digitally, Padlet is the place.  Now that boards can be downloaded and printed…the possibilities for use are even greater!

Tips: See how others are using Padlet by visiting the new Padlet gallery.  You are sure to pick up some new great ideas for use!

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

This blog post brought to you in association with MyFactorySchweiz

Inklewriter: interactive story designer

What it is: Inklewriter is a great digital tool that lets students (and teachers if you are so inclined) write and publish interactive stories.  Inklewriter lets students create choose-your-own-adventure type stories, story lines can come with choices and then be linked back together.  Inklewriter makes this process easier by keeping track of which story paths have been finished and which still need work.  There is no set-up required, no programming language to learn and no diagrams.  Inklewriter is free to use and easy to share with the world when it is published.  When a story is finished, it can even be converted to Kindle format!

I found the Inklewriter format to be pretty intuitive and easy to use.  I think intermediate elementary and older will have no trouble using this tool for creative and informative writing.

How to integrate Inklewriter into the classroom: Inklewriter is a great digital tool for creative writing.  Students can explore multiple plot lines and what-if scenarios in their fictional writing.  I also like the idea of using Inklewriter to ask kids to explore the “what-ifs” in history.  What if we lost/won this war/battle?  What if the other guy (or girl) had been elected president?  What if the Berlin wall hadn’t come down?   These types of stories are fantastic opportunities for students to explore their curiosities and, in the process, learn more about the event they are exploring.  After all, you have to know something about how an event actually went in order to write alternate endings.

Inklewriter would be a fun way for students to come up with alternate endings to a novel they are reading.  Our students wrote a variety of endings for The Giver.  Each student wrote a different ending that picked up from the last chapter of the book.  Inklewriter would have been a great tool to use for all of these endings to be available in one place.  Students could copy/paste the last paragraph of the actual book and then offer their alternative endings as options.

In science, students could use Inklewriter as a tool to record their hypothesis. Students can write out the objective and steps in their experiment and make a new “alternate ending” for their various hypothesis.

In math, students could create story problems where they lead others down the path to discover the correct answer.

Tips: These interactive stories are MADE for your tablet devices…if you have some in your classroom, take advantage of them!

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

World Education Games: Registration Now Open!

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What it is:   Holy cow, I am SO excited!  Today registration is open for World Education Games!!  If your students have never participated with World Education Games (like World Math Day), this is the year.  They will thank you for including them in this fun world wide contest.  February 1st, that’s today, registration is open and the official warm-up training period for students begins.  On March 5h students can participate in World Literacy Day, March 6 is World Math Day, and March 7 is World Science Day.  March 22nd Global award presentations begin with the Official World Education Games Awards.  The World Education Games is an annual global online olympics to get students from age 4 to 18 excited about learning.  The fun comes in the friendly competition between countries as students compete to represent their country in the games.  There are 3 days of games focused on literacy, math and science.  The games are a great way to help students in speed, accuracy and general fluency in core computation, number and spelling skills.  World Science Day has been designed to encourage curiosity and excitement in science while helping them answer knowledge, application and reasoning questions.  Each game (a competition against other students from around the world) lasts just 1 minute.  Students can go head to head as often as they would like, but only the first 50 games are counted toward the competition point tally.  World Math Day was launched in 2007 and my students have taken part in this fun competition each year.  Since then, Literacy and Science day has been added to the games.  SO much fun!

How to integrate World Education Games into the classroom: World Education Games are such a fantastic way to encourage students to practice foundational skills.  In the past, I have hosted an “opening ceremonies” at my school and done it up like the Olympics with flags, songs, etc.  We go over what the World Education Games are and then make a big deal about the handing out of usernames/passwords (like lighting the torch) and then we kick off our training portion.  Students get excited about participating in this fun day and we get lots of “training” in before the big day.  On the actual day, we wear red, white and blue and play against kids from around the world.  This is great fun in a one-to-one setting or a computer lab where all students can participate simultaneously.  Don’t have that option?  Because the games are 1 minute long, students can play 5 games each on classroom computers in a rotation.

Since your students are competing against students from around the world, why not use the competition to practice using a map and identifying countries?  Since we have a one to one iPad program, we do this digitally with a Google Map.  Each time a student competed against a country, they would come up to the board and put a “pin” in the map.  Don’t have devices for each student? Use an interactive whiteboard or the paper map and actual pins on a class bulletin board, these options are just as fun!

Don’t forget closing ceremonies at the end of World Education Games.  Make up fun medals and give them out to top performers, hardest trainers, etc.  Think outside the box on these.  Not all kids are speedy in their fact recall…find a way to honor their participation and hard work…did they see huge improvement or growth? Honor those achievements!

The World Education Games are available for free on any internet-connected computer and as a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10 app.

Check out the Resource page for teacher and student guide, a world map, a poster, and for School-in-a-box information.

Tips: Schools participating in the World Education Games can also work toward giving other children the opportunity to start school.  World Education Games has partnered with UNICEF to make this happen.  During the games, host a fundraiser to purchase “School-in-a-Box” Each $236 donation is enough to send 80 kids to school!  What a great way to help kids understand what a privilege education is and model compassion and empathy for others.

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using World Education Games in your classroom.

Physics Central: Nikola Tesla and the Electric Fair

What it is: Physics Central is a fantastic website full of…you guessed it, physics! There are fantastic sections for students to explore science, activity books, experiments and activities.  Students can learn more about physics in action (physics as found in the world around us), meet physicists, and learn about physics research.  Physics Central will ignite a students curiosity in: sound, electricity and magnetism, force and motion, light and optics, material science, quantum mechanics, space and the universe, and thermodynamics and heat.  My favorite find on Physics Central so far (I’m sure there will be many more favorites the longer I explore) is the Nikola Tesla and the Electric Fair section.  Here, students will find a downloadable kit that includes a manual, comic book, and four related activities.

How to integrate Physics Central into the classroom: Physics has always been among my favorite sciences.  There is something about it that is fascinating to me. Physics Central is packed full of great resources to enrich your classroom.  The comics are a fun way to learn about famous scientists, inventors and events in science history.  The complementing activities bring the comics to life and invite students along on the journey of discovery.

Work with your students on a “PhysicsQuest” like Nikola Tesla and the Electric Fair and see what they come up with. Compare their results with the actual solutions (posted on the site).  Join the current PhysicsQuest with your students to help students recognize the fun and relevance of science.  You can register now for the Spectra: Turbulent Times quest.

Tips: Start a PhysicsQuest with your students, as an after school club, or as a home extension investigation.

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