What it is: ARKive is an incredible website that I learned about from a tweet on Twitter (forgive me I was in the middle of class and didn’t keep track of who- thank you whoever you are!) ARKive tag line is “images of life on Earth”, but ARKive is so much more than just a collection of images, it has thousands of videos, images and facts about the world’s species. This is the digital version of Noah’s Ark! This is the most impressive animal and life website I have seen! I truly can’t say enough about this site, students of all ages will enjoy this one (I’m talking k-12 here!) ARKive has an education section of the site that is a free multi-media educational resources complete with downloadable, ready to use audio/visual modules on a wide range of science, geography, citizenship, and environmental based topics. ARKive also has some great games for students to play that are directly related to the lessons they learn while on the ARKive site. Games range from building a habitat to word searches and digital fridge poetry.
How to integrate ARKive into the classroom: ARKive’s ready made educational resources make it simple to integrate into your science, geography, or general classes. The resources are ready made PowerPoint presentations (which incidentally also open nicely in Keynote which we use). The resources bring learning to life with images, videos, facts, and some interactive pieces. This is what textbooks should be! ARKive’s ready made resources can be downloaded on classroom computers for use by small learning groups as a center, downloaded to a lab of computers for individual student exploration, or used with a projector and an interactive whiteboard for whole class learning and exploration. The ARKive site itself is a wonderful place for students to explore and learn more about animal species and life on Earth. This would be a great place for students to collect information, images, and video to create their own presentations. The games provided on the ARKive site are fun for students and teach them as they play. For example, students who are studying habitat can play the Design a Habitat game and gain an additional opportunity to interact with the concepts they are learning. Older students can dig into the facts provided on ARKive and learn about animal classification and species of the world. ARKive images could be used in the language arts classroom as a story starter or creative writing prompt.
Tips: This is truly an incredible site, I encourage you to take a look at it and use it with your class! (Click on the education link at the bottom of the site for the Resources and Games.)
Leave a comment and tell us how you are using ARKive in your classroom.
What it is: Pinky Dinky Doo is a site I was destined to review, I saw the show advertising the website while channel surfing one day, and on the very same day, Kevin Jarrett Tweeted about it. Needless to say, I checked it out and was immediately hooked. This is a great website for pre-k through first grade students. The site is based on a PBS show of the same name. The website has fun activities for kids to take part in including word games, story podcasts, videos, and a place for students to create their own story podcast. Pinky Dinky Doo loves making up stories and teaches students that every story has a beginning, middle, and end. The stories are often full of metaphores and similes and often have a great message for kids too. Every story also has one giant fancy word like “collaborate” or “gracious” teaching students rich vocabulary as well. I love the way that this site expands student vocabulary!
How to integrate Pinky Dinky Doo into the classroom: Put your students listening skills to work, listen as a class to a podcast story and discuss parts of a story together afterward. Every story has a distinct beginning, middle, and end. Students can draw and visualize the story while they listen to it. The podcast stories would also make an excellent listening center in the classroom. Pinky Dinky Doo is a great way to teach students new vocabulary, each story has a ‘fancy word’ that will expand your student vocabulary. It would be fun to use the ‘fancy word’ from the story as the classroom word of the day. See how many times your students can use the ‘fancy word’ correctly during the day. I love the section where students can create their own story podcasts. Set up a story station in the one or two computer classroom where partners can create a story and listen to a classmates story. Students in a computer lab setting could create story podcasts of their own and play the word games independently. The site is easy enough for students to work independently.
Tips: Check out the grownups section on Pinky Dinky Doo for some great offline activities. They even have directions for creating a Fancy Word box of your own and directions for playing the circle story game.
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What it is: Vista Zoo is a website where students can create incredible virtual tours of the world by combining pictures, video, audio, and objects in 3-D. The tours are uploaded and placed on a map. Tours can then be embeded into any website. Students can also sign up for their own Vista Zoo portal that they can customize and save their projects. Vista Zoo is also available on the iPhone and iPod touch (if you are so lucky to have a lab of them!)
How to integrate Vista Zoo into the classroom: Vista Zoo would be a neat way for students to display geography learning. Students could collect images in history or current images to embed in their maps to learn about a subject. Teachers can also create virtual tours for students to take individually or as a class with a projector or interactive whiteboard. This is a great way to teach geography and history, your visual students will love it! The ability to add audio and video makes these virtual field trips around the world pretty amazing. If your class has a pen pal class in another country, it would be fun for each group of students to create a virtual tour of their town for the pen pals to view.
Tips: Use Creative Commons images from Flickr or open stock images from a site like stock.xchng for images to embed.
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What it is: Audible Kids was a really exciting find for me today because I am writing an article for the upcoming issue of iLearn magazine about iPods in education. Audible Kids is a website that engages kids in storytelling through audiobooks. Kids can download books, read and post reviews for each book, and share their favorites with others. Kids can discover books searching by keyword, age group, category, award winners, and more. Students can listen to samples of the stories before they download them with a handy in-browser play feature. While Audible Kids is not a totally free site, they do have some excellent audiobooks that are free to download. Roscoe Orman (of Sesame Street) is one of the cheif storytellers on Audible Kids. Enhanced Audible Kids audiobooks have pictures with the story, perfect for the iPod Touch or a computer center. For free downloads click here. Other books range in price from about $0.99 to $20.00.
How to integrate Audible Kids into the classroom: Because free products for the classroom excited me the most, I will focus on how you can use the free downloads in your classroom. Use Audible Kids downloads for an iPod listening center, or classroom computer listening center. Students can register for free Audible Kids accounts and discuss the stories in an online environment with their own classmates as well as children around the world. Use the stories as a place for students to discover rich storytelling. Encourage them to listen for voice, emphasis, tone, rhythm as the story is read to them. Students who learn to listen for these and are exposed to excellent storytellers, will become more expressive readers themselves. Students could listen to the audiobooks and use a computer drawing program (or just paper and crayon) to draw their own pictures to go along with the story. This is a great way for kids to learn visualization reading strategies. If you want to take it a step further, pictures could be gathered into iPhoto or a slideshow accompanied by the audio. Students will be the illustrator for the audiobooks!
Tips: If you are in a Mac environment, download Skitch. Your sudents can draw their pictures on the computer as they listen and they can easily be uploaded to the Skitch website or into iPhoto, Keynote, or Garage Band to create their own illustrated audiobook. So neat! Audible Kids has the option of giving the gift of audiobooks. If this is something you are serious about making a part of your classroom, consider asking parents to donate audiobooks to your classroom library.
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What it is: World Math Day is March 4, 2009! If you participated in World Math Day last year with the World Math Day website, you know how motivating and fun it was. If not, this is your year to join in the fun! Students play against other students in countries around the world in real time mental arithmetic games. Each game lasts for 60 seconds. Students can play as many games as they want to. When you sign up your class, you will choose the level of difficulty based on age and ability. World Math Day is best for students who are 5 to 18 years old (k-12!). There are even prizes awarded including student prizes, and school prizes for highest achievers. Registration for World Math Day is open (and free), your students can start practicing right now!
How to integrate World Math Day into the classroom: World Math Day was one of the highlights of math class last year. The students who participated had a great time competing against other students from around the world. I have never seen students so excited to practice math facts and many asked, “can we do this at home too?” How often do you get students asking for more math practice at home?! Get your students excited about competing on March 4 and start practicing now. If you have one or two computers in the classroom you can set up a training center. Reserve a computer lab during math class to practice as a class. You can also split your class into teams of 3 to complete the 60 second games using a projector or interactive whiteboard. You will not believe how motivating this site is for students!
Tips: This is an amazing development, World Math Day 2009 is available on the iPhone and iPod Touch!!! Woot, woot! Students can join in the fun of the practice period and work on their skills against other students before the big day.
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What it is: Movavi is a free, online video converter. What I love about Movavi is its ease of use, there is no software to install and the site doesn’t have ads. Enter a URL of a video or upload a file, choose your preferred output format, and enter your email address. That is it! Movavi does the rest for you, you will get an email with a link to download the video. Simple!
How to integrate Movavi into the classroom: Movavi is great for those schools where YouTube and other video websites are blocked. You can download the video for your class and view the downloaded version without worrying about it being blocked. It is also great for those times when bandwidth is an issue. Download the video and you won’t have to worry about a choppy video during peak Internet use times of the day. After a video is downloaded, it can be viewed on a machine that isn’t Internet connected. Embed the downloaded videos into PowerPoint or Keynote presentations. You can even convert 5 videos at a time and have them merged into one video as part of the conversion process.
Tips: Make sure you know which video formats play best on your computer before converting video.
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What it is: Lit2Go is a FREE online collection of stories and poems in Mp3 (audiobook) format from Florida’s Educational Technology Clearinghouse. With Lit2Go teachers and students can download files to an iPod or Mp3 player, listen to the Mp3 files on the computer, view the text on a webpage and read along with the audio, and print out the stories and poems to create a customized book. Lit2Go can be searched by author, tiltle, or searched via the database (by authro, keywords, title, or reading level). Each reading passage can be downloaded as a PDF and printed for use as a read-along or supplemental reading material for your classroom. Many of the selections can be downloaded directly to your iTuens library making it a simple transfer to one or many iPods.
How to integrate Lit2Go into the classroom: Lit2Go is a fabulous resource for all readers, but is especially valuable for struggling readers. Set up a Lit2Go listening center in your classroom. You can either download the audio to a Mp3 player or let the students listen from the computer. Each audio file has a PDF text version that can be downloaded and printed out as a read along. If students are listening from the computer they can also view the text online. Lit2Go would be a great help for a reading buddy program. Send your struggling readers home with a Mp3 player loaded with level appropriate stories or poems and the PDF print out. Students can practice reading anywhere, even if a parent or sibling isn’t available to read with them. Reading levels range from .10 to 53. You are sure to find something for every student! This is an easy way to help differentiate instruction.
Tips: Search Lit2Go in the iTunes store or visit the Lit2Go website to get started.
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What it is: The International Childrens Digital Library (also known as ICDL) is an online digital library for children of all ages. The mission of ICDL is to “ excite and inspire the world’s children to become members of the global community – children who understand the value of tolerance and respect for diverse cultures, languages and ideas — by making the best in children’s literature available online.” When students visit the ICDL website they are brought to a simple search area where they can choose different options for finding a book. They can narrow down results by age (3-13), fiction or non-fiction, book length, award winners, language, picture or chapter books, subject matter, and even what colors that cover has in it. When students choose a book they can read the book in its entirety online. I learned about this site in the iTunes store, they have a free iPod Touch and iPhone application for downloading books from the ICDL in addition to their online content. So neat!
How to integrate ICDL into the classroom: The ICDL website reminds me a lot of LookyBook. The search options are extremely user friendly and allow even the youngest readers to find a book they are sure to love. Students can register for the library (free) and then leave an online review of the book. I like the idea of digital libraries for students because it opens up a number of books to them that they may not otherwise have access to. If a story is started during school, students can finish the story when they get home from any Internet connected computer. The ICDL is nice for reading groups. All students can be reading the same book from school and from home without setting aside a large budget for group sets. The search is a wonderful way for students to discover what types of literature they enjoy. Many of the books featured are from different cultures and languages, these would be perfect to bring into a foreign language classroom. ICDL books provide a fun way for students to gain global awareness. Books in other languages could also be used as a starting point for student created stories. Students can do picture walks through the online books and then compose their own story to accompany the pictures. ICDL is a great way to read with the whole class. Connect your computer with a projector and students can read the story along with you, everyone will be able to see the pictures as you discuss the story!
Tips: One thing that I really appreciate about ICDL is the ability to view the books full screen and zoom in and out of the pages. The site is easy to navigate and this feature makes it even more user friendly.
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What it is: The iPod Touch has opened up a whole world of portable education to schools. Several of the Applications in the iTunes Application store are free! App Shopper is a website that makes it simple to find free education applications for the iPod Touch (or iPhone). Select your category, free, and enjoy browsing through great, free applications for your students!
How to integrate App Shopper into the classroom: Use App shopper to easily find free applications for your classroom iPod Touch(es). I like the way that App Shopper shows an icon of the program and gives a description of the application. Applications can be downloaded right from App Shopper or from iTunes…these are free to use, who doesn’t appreciate free classroom tools?!
Tips: The second edition of the iLearn Ezine is coming soon with a great section on iPods in education and a review of the best free education apps.
Leave a comment and tell us how you are using App Shopper in your classroom.