What it is: Today I was searching for websites and games that would enhance and enrich the Treasures curriculum. MacMillan Mcgraw Hill’s reading curriculum is lacking (in my opinion) in the activities that it uses to help students learn grammar, vocabulary, spelling, etc. Most of the suggested activities are not those that require any deep thinking (or in some cases any thinking at all) and usually involve some sort of copying out of the dictionary or filling out a worksheet type undertaking. These don’t impress me at all. So, last year I went through all of the Treasures curriculum, pulled out all of the essential learning and skills that needed to be gained. I have since been on the hunt for engaging activities and games that will help students learn, practice, and create with the essential learning at the core. Therein lies the rub. As I scour the Internet for games and activities what I usually come up with is more worksheets. The problem is, they aren’t labeled worksheet. They are labeled “game” or “interactive”. They aren’t really games or interactive (any child would tell you that!), they are multiple choice online worksheets. I refuse to subject students to them. Today I made the following comment on Twitter: “Dear educational game makers, an online multiple choice quiz is not a game, it is a worksheet. Please stop pretending it’s a game. Thank you.” I was delighted to get the following message back from Filament Games: “Dear @ktenkely. We know, and in fact couldn’t agree more. And thank YOU.”
I had to explore just who this Filament Games was. From their Twitter bio: “Filament Games is a game production studio dedicated to creating next generation learning games that combine best practices in commercial game development.” I am delighted to say, they make incredible educational games that in no way resemble a worksheet! Bravo!
Landform Detectives is just one of the offerings from Filament Games (I’ll explore the others in separate posts). In Landform Detectives, “a violent volcanic explosion immediately and forever alters the landscape. Elsewhere, raindrops gradually pick patterns out of the rock over the course of thousands of years. Can you recreate some of Earth’s most amazing geological features by uncovering the natural processes that shaped them?” Now that is what I am talking about! An engaging game that asks students to use what they know about natural disasters, weather, and the creation of landforms to discover and recreate how they were formed.
How to integrate Landform Detectives into the classroom: Your students will travel the world to unlock the secrets of the Earth’s strangest and most awe-inspiring landforms as they play Landform Detectives. Students will gain a new appreciation for mountains, valleys, and rivers as they solve the mystery of how they got to be that way and think about how long it takes for those processes to happen. Your students will transform into geologists as they discover the suspects like ice, water, wind, and sand in the story of our Earth. As your students travel the globe, they will encounter animated simulations, virtual scientist (Dr. Bob) who can give them more information, and an opportunity to recreate the formation of the landform. This is an incredible way for students to “see” first hand just how landforms are created. The site would be best in a computer lab 1 to 1 setting where each student can explore and discover at their own pace. If you don’t have access to a computer lab, you could also use a projector connected computer or interactive whiteboard to travel the globe together. If this is the case, allow students to take turns leading and guiding the exploration. Hypothesize together about how the landforms came to be and how you might recreate them. Then put those hypotheses to the test and try them out. Discuss the outcome, did it look like the students expected? Why or why not?
This really is an incredible way to learn about the Earth sciences. There is just no way that a static text-book can compare to the rich game and media experience that Landform Detectives offers.
Tips: Students can watch a briefing from scientists who share their understanding of weathering and erosion to monitor changes in soils that are used to grow plants for food and fuel.
Please leave a comment and share how you are using Landform Detectives in your classroom.