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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.

Flake Pad: Create geometric, symmetrical shapes

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Art, Create, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Math, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 12-09-2011

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What it is:  Flake Pad is a very simple little website that lets students create geometric snowflakes using basic shapes and a grid.  To make their flake, students choose a shape and click a spot on the grid.  Students can add as many or as few shapes as they would like to their flake. When they are done the flake can be viewed off of the grid for a screen shot that can be included in other projects or it can be printed off.  I like Flake Pad because it gives students space to be creative and can be used to teach and practice symmetry.

How to integrate Flake Pad into the classroom:  Flake Pad is a great little site to help students understand symmetry.  Any time students click a space on the grid, the shape is added to multiple points on the grid.  Use Flake Pad on an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer where students can identify lines of symmetry on the flake that the whole class can see. With the pointer tool on Flake Pad, students can drag the shapes they have created to different points.  Have students in the audience describe what happens to the flake as the shapes are moved.  Do the lines of symmetry change?

Flake Pad can be used on classroom computers as a center activity.  Students can create their own flake, print the flake out and draw the various lines of symmetry with a ruler.

Use Flake Pad during a unit on weather.  Students can experiment with creating their own snow flake, print the flake out and use the print out to list characteristics of snow, or snow related vocabulary along any straight lines on their flake.

Tips: Flake Pad works from the Safari browser on an iPad….mostly. The line shape doesn’t work.  Students could still create their own flakes, print and add lines with a pencil…further practicing their understanding of symmetry!

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

The Bookshelf Muse: Emotion, Setting, Color/Shape/Texture, Symbolism Thesaurus

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Blogs, Create, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Websites | Posted on 15-04-2011

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The Bookshelf Muse

What it is: The Bookshelf Muse is a must add blog to any writing classroom toolbox.  On The Bookshelf Muse, students will find several thesauruses: emotion, setting, color/shape/texture, weather, and symbolism.  The emotion thesaurus offers alternatives for showing character emotion through physical action.  The Setting Thesaurus offers sensory descriptions that can help paint the picture of a setting.  The color/shape/texture thesaurus helps students include sensory information that helps convey images in specific ways.  They symbolism thesaurus helps students utilize symbolism to leave a lasting impression on their readers.  To use a thesaurus, scroll down and choose an emotion, setting, color/shape/texture, weather, or symbolism topic from the right side bar.  Suggestions will appear as a blog post.  Each thesaurus is regularly added to, there is something new each week!

How to integrate The Bookshelf Muse thesauruses into the classroom: The Bookshelf Muse thesauruses are a must add to a writer’s toolbox.  All writers experience periods of writers block.  The Bookshelf Muse thesauruses can help students break through that block.  Bookmark the thesaurus on classroom computers for quick access during writing as a writing/publishing center.  Students can access the center as needed to help fire up the creative writing process.  This blog will have your students thinking carefully about word choice and how different parts of speech color writing.

Before students begin using the emotion or setting thesaurus, visit the blog as a class using an interactive whiteboard.  Using the annotation feature, invite students to the board to highlight words based on the parts of speech.  This will help students identify vivid verbs, adjectives, and adverbs that add life to writing.

Consider creating a writer’s toolbox for your students using a tool like symbaloo or weblist.me.  Add writing tools like rhyming dictionaries, The Bookshelf Muse Thesauruses, writing prompt generators, a Flickr picture dictionary , Color in Motion, Tag Galaxy, Lightning Bug, What if Questions for Stories, The Story Starter Jr.PinBall-bounce ideas around, Poetry Idea Machine and other writing resources.  Create another Symbaloo page or weblist.me for web tools that students can use for writing (Little Bird Tales, Kerpoof, Figment, Picture a Story, pic lits, Story Bird, Zooburst, Myths and Legends, Glogster, Graphic Novel Creator, My Story Maker and Picture Book Maker).

Use the Bookshelf Muse thesauruses as a launching point to create a class thesaurus.  This can be done for setting, emotion, senses, weather, etc.  Make the thesaurus easily accessible by creating it as a blog or wiki.

Tips: The Bookshelf Muse has just started adding to a weather thesaurus, so far the only entry is blizzard but it should get your students thinking about how they can describe weather.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using The Bookshelf Muse Emotion thesauruses in your classroom!

Planet Foss: Investigating Science by Taking Pictures

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Middle/High School, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 09-02-2011

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What it is: Planet Foss is a science photo sharing website for students.  Students are enlisted to help capture science in the real world through pictures and share them with other students around the world.   Students choose a science course to investigate, see what photo challenges exist within the course, and then take a picture of science as it happens.  Each course comes with several challenges; the challenges are all based around themes that tie into the FOSS investigations.   When students have taken their photos, they can upload them, tag them, and record observations about the science they captured in their picture.  Students can also head over to Planet FOSS just to check out the photos taken by other students, they can search by the date that the picture was uploaded, by tag, keyword, or search by location using a Google map. Courses on Planet FOSS include Chemical Interactions, Diversity of Life, Earth History, Electronics, Forces and Motion, Human Brain and Senses, Planetary Science, Populations and Ecosystems, and Weather and Water.

How to integrate Planet FOSS into the classroom: Planet FOSS is an excellent way to involve students in science exploration and discovery in the real world.  The great thing about the site is that it helps students discover the science that it all around them.  Through the photo challenges and investigations, students learn to view the world through a new lens and begin to understand that life is science.  That isn’t a concept I understood until I was out of school (for me science usually meant filling out a worksheet or memorizing science vocabulary-sad).  Don’t have access to digital cameras at school? Students can still use Planet FOSS by exploring other student photos.  The photos are a great way to introduce science concepts and illustrate concepts in a way that is more authentic than the textbook offerings.  As students view others photos, they can leave feedback about the photo, observation, or comment on the similarities or difference to where they live using a set of virtual “stickers”.

Tips: To protect student privacy, Planet FOSS does not accept any photos that includes pictures of students. Planet FOSS has a great introductory video that will have even the novice computer user uploading photos in no time!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Planet FOSS in your classroom

Study Jams!

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Math, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Video Tutorials, Websites | Posted on 03-11-2010

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What it is: Scholastic Study Jams is a fantastic collection of over 200 learning resource collections. Study Jams are videos, slide shows, and step by step explanations for science and math that will have your students discovering everything from invertebrates to the water cycle and the rule of divisibility.  Each Jam includes a teaching video/step-by-step/slide show, key vocabulary, and a test yourself section where they can practice what they have just learned.  Each Jam also suggests related jams where students can expand their learning and dig deeper on a subject.  To be honest, this is more like the textbook of the future that I envisioned.  I love that each concept is introduced in the context of a story.  Students learn the concept from fun Study Jam characters and can pause and rewind the learning as needed.  In the test yourself section, students can check for understanding and receive immediate feedback on their learning.

How to integrate Study Jams into your curriculum: Study Jams is a truly incredible collection of learning opportunities for students.  Use Jams to introduce your students to a new concept, or reinforce learning.  In Math students can learn about numbers, multiplication and division, addition and subtraction, fractions, decimals and percents, algebra, geometry, measurement, data analysis, probability, and problem solving.  Each topic has several sub-topics for students to explore.  In science topics include: plants, animals, the human body, ecosystems, landforms, rocks and minerals, weather and climate, solar system, matter, force and motion, energy, light, and sound, and scientific inquiry.  Again, each science topic has several sub-topics.

Study Jams can be used with your whole class as an anticipatory set for learning using an interactive whiteboard or projector connected computer.  After viewing the step-by-step, video, or slide-show check for understanding by having your students complete the “test yourself” as a class.  This can be done with personal whiteboards where students write down their answer and hold it up, a raise of hands, or student response systems (clickers).  Use this as formative assessment to guide your lesson.  Study Jams can also be used as a center activity in the math or science classroom.  Students can visit the Study Jam as part of a larger group of related activities.  In a center, students can visit individually or in small groups and self direct their learning.  For those students who have already mastered the concept, they can view related Study Jams to extend their learning.

Study Jams is ideal for students in a 1 to 1 or lab setting.  Here students can explore at their own pace, pausing and rewinding as necessary.  They can also extend their learning based on their personal interests by choosing a related Study Jam.

Can’t find a Study Jam that fits what your students are learning? Ask students to create their own Study Jam video, slide show or step by step.  Students can use tools like Animoto, Voice Thread, or Domo Animate to create their own.  Students can create their own “test yourself” using a Google Form or survey tool.

Tips: I learned about Study Jams from someone in my blogging alliance (sorry I didn’t make note of who!) If you aren’t already following these amazing blogs, I highly recommend them (alliance #1, alliance #2).  I learn SO much every day from each one of them.  If I learned about Study Jams from your blog, leave me a comment so I can thank you here!

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


Science Storybooks

Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, video, Websites | Posted on 18-02-2010

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What it is: Science Storybooks is a great collection of online animated picture books that help teach science in a way that is fun and engaging.  There are a lot of animated books to choose from with topics such as applied sciences (electrons, light, etc.), the Universe Cycle (planets, constellations, etc.), Plate Tectonic Cycle (lavas, earthquakes, etc.), Rock Cycle (gems, dinosaurs, etc.), Water Cycle (clouds, weather, etc.), and the Life Cycle (organisms, human biology, plants, the natural environment).  The books don’t just tell about science, they take students on a science journey using story.  This makes the reading more accessible and student friendly than your typical science book.  There are also some very entertaining science songs.  I particularly enjoyed the Electricity song…but then I get a kick out of things like this (I think the kids will, too!).

How to integrate Science Storybooks into the classroom: These animated Science Storybooks are the perfect way to introduce your students to new science concepts.  They will give just enough information to leave your students wanting to explore some more.  The books can be read as a whole class using a projector or interactive whiteboard, or set up as a center on your classroom computers.

I have a group of fifth graders this year who are convinced that they are the cast of High School Musical, they are constantly breaking out in song (it is really something, they all join in and know the words to any song).  I have a feeling that my fifth graders would really get into the songs on Storybooks, singing along karaoke style.  If it helps them to learn new science concepts, I can’t think of anything better!

Science Storybooks may inspire your students to come up with their own science storybooks.  Students could create science storybooks as a slide show, in Animoto, Kerpoof, Shidonni, Storybird, and a host of other sites.  As part of the science fair projects, students could create a story to accompany the project that would explain the science involved.  And for my fifth grade musical cast, they just may want to come up with their own science song using Myna, Audacity, or Garageband.

Tips: There are some additional science lessons and worksheets for each topic of science, you can use these in conjunction with the stories as needed.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Science Storybooks 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

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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.

National Geographic Forces of Nature

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

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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.  National Geographic has a great collection called Forces of Nature. Here students can explore a natural forces lab where they learn about the extreme nature. Students can learn about tornadoes, volcanoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes.  Students learn what the force of nature is, what causes them, their characteristics, the damage that they do, how they are forecasted, and then have the opportunity to actually create the force of nature virtually.  Students can also view an interactive map that shows hot sites where the forces of nature occur, and read case studies of actual events.


How to integrate National Geographic Forces of Nature into the classroom: Set up a science or reading center where students can read and learn about each force of nature.  Allow students to interact with the activities to control their own tornadoes, volcanoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes.  Choose a “weather forecaster” for the class.  Using an interactive whiteboard or projector have the forecaster change the elements that lead to the force of nature.  Ask students at their seats predict what will happen with the force of nature.  Are conditions right for a tornado/hurricane/earthquake/eruption?  The forecaster will test out conditions to find out what happens.  Ask students to explain the occurrence and why their predictions were correct or incorrect.  If you don’t have access to an interactive whiteboard or projector, students could complete this activity in partners on the classroom computers.  This is an excellent visual aid for the science classroom, it is like an interactive text book.


Tips: National Geographic has a great Forces of Nature photo gallery (found below the interactive) where students can see high quality photos of tornadoes, hurricanes, volcanoes, and earthquakes.  The earthquake interactive is a timely addition to the classroom with the recent earthquake in Haiti.  This is a great way for kids to understand exactly how the earthquake occurred.

Leave a comment and share how you are using National Geographic Forces of Nature  in your classroom.

The Why Files

Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 11-06-2009

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What it is:  Colorado has had some extreme weather conditions in the past week.  With tornadoes, rain, rainbows, and hail, The Why Files seemed like a fitting site to highlight today.  The Why Files bring science to life virtually.  Students can make rainbows, control a tornado, play with lightning, and build a snowflake.  If only the real weather was this easy to control!  The Why Files begin each interactive with a brief “why” of how the weather occurrence works, students can read all about the occurrence and even get a link where they can learn more.  The fun starts when the students enter the interactive where they can control the weather.

How to integrate The Why Files into the classroom:  The Why Files are amazing interactives that will help your students to better understand the science behind weather.  This is a great site to use with an interactive whiteboard, invite students to take turns interacting with the weather.  Read the paragraph before the interactive as a class.  After the students have ‘controlled’ the weather, go back to the information page and follow the link to additional information.  Your students will want to know more after playing with the interactive!  The Why Files makes a great science center on classroom comupters while students are learning the science behind weather.  Students can visit the center in teams and take notes in an observation journal recording their experiences about controlling the weather. 

 

Tips:  Check out some of the other goodies on the site: “The Why Files produces a new story each week, alternating longer features with shorter shorties. We also post a series of interactive science animations, the ever-popular “Cool Science Images,” and a series of Teacher Activity Pages linked to the national science teaching standards. Eager to explain the science behind the news, our home page reprises older stories that become relevant to the headlines.”

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using The Why Files in your classroom.

Science

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive book, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 09-01-2008

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What it is: Macmillan-McGraw Hill Science is the online student addition of the textbooks. Students is grades kindergarten through six can click on the book that matches their grade level. Here students can watch video clips, play vocabulary games, take animated summary quizzes, read e-journals, and more.

How to integrate Macmillan-McGraw Hill Science into the classroom: Even if your school does not use the Macmillan-McGraw Hill Science textbooks, this site is a wonderful supplement to any science curriculum. The fun interactive environment is sure to be a hit with students. The vocabulary review games would be fun to play as a whole class with the projector (split students into teams) or individually. You might also offer this site to students for homework help or for test review at home.

Tips: Click on the OSE button at the bottom of the screen for the Online Student edition of the text box. Below the OSE button are login names and passwords for various grade levels.

P lease leave a comment and share how you are using Macmillan-McGraw Hill Science in your classroom.