What it is:Mission U.S. is a brand new multimedia adventure game site (currently a preview site) that is set to officially launch September 21, 2010. The site will feature interactive adventure games that are set throughout U.S. history. The first game, Mission 1: For Crown or Colony, is available for play now. In For Crown or Colony, student play Nat Wheeler, a 14 year old printer’s apprentice in 1770 Boston. As students explore Boston 1770, they will encounter merchants, soldiers, sailors, poets, Patriots, and Loyalists. The game helps students virtually experience the rising tensions of 1770 and ultimately asks them to choose where their loyalties lie. The website is extremely classroom friendly, teachers can use the teacher tools to manage classrooms and track student progress. The teacher page is incredible, on it you will find everything from models of instruction, to a synopsis of each stage of the game, to additional tips and resources, and a downloadable version of the game. From the looks of the site there are more great adventures in history to come!
How to integrate Mission US into your curriculum:Mission U.S. looks like it is going to be an amazing collection of adventure games that drop your students right in the middle of American history. Students will really understand the history they are learning as they meet historical characters, learn about the conflicts of the day, and are asked to make decisions of loyalty. A textbook just can’t provide this kind of up-close-and-personal experience with history. Use the Mission U.S. game and resources to immerse your students in history. Student progress can be tracked making it easy to use in the classroom as a center or in a lab setting.
Tips: Students can even play the pennywhistle in the mini game, Pennywhistle hero.
Please leave a comment and share how you are using Mission US in your classroom!
What it is: There is a new trend in reading: book trailers. It seems that lately book trailers are popping up on all of the video sharing sites. Digital Book Talk is a collaborative effort from the University of Central Florida where Dr. Robert Kennedy and Dr. Glenda Gunter have completed research on what motivates reluctant and striving readers to select, read, and complete books. “The student productions of DBT (Digital Book Talk) focus use the technological skills taught in the undergraduate Digital Media and graduate Educational Technology curricula that teach teachers how to create dynamic digital games, trailers, and Web sites. Many of these skills include research and writing, Flash animation, visual storytelling, video recording and editing, audio recording, graphic design, website development, programming, and database creation.” On the Digital Book Talk site, you will find high quality book trailers that will whet your students appetite for a good book. Students can search for books by content level, and interests.
How to integrate Digital Book Talk into your curriculum: The Digital Book Talk site is an excellent place for students to start their search for a book that will hold their interest. Just like a movie trailer, the book trailers give students just enough information to leave them wanting more. The Digital Book Talks will help your reluctant readers understand the adventures that await them in a good book. Find a book trailer to introduce a novel that the whole class will be reading or set up classroom computers with a link to Digital Book Talk where students can be inspired to find their next read. After students read, they can create their own Digital Book Talks using video cameras or tools like Xtranormal, ZimmerTwins, or Kerpoof movie.
A few years ago I had my students create bookcasts. These were the same ideas as a book trailer but instead of being video, they were audio podcasts only. I created a wiki where the students uploaded their bookcasts as they finished them. The wiki was a place where students could recommend books to their peers, demonstrate their understanding of a book, and find the next book to read based on a classmates recommendation.
Tips: Be sure to check out the student work tab to see book trailers created by k-12 students around the country.
Please leave a comment and share how you are using Digital Book Talk: Book Trailers for k-12 in your classroom!
What it is:ArcGIS Explorer Online is a neat mapping experience powered by BING that lets you use, create, and share ArcGIS (Global Information System) maps online. The online software lets you read and write ArcGIS maps that can be used with the website, ArcGIS for the iPhone, and ArcGIS desktop version. Mark up maps with notes that have photos, text, and links embedded directly in the map. Measure distances on the map and include them as a layer of the map. Create a presentation in the map that guides viewers from one location on the map to another.
How to integrate ArcGIS Explorer Online into your curriculum:ArcGIS Explorer is an impressive online mapping tool. Use it to create guided tours for your students that can be played on classroom computers as an independent learning system or on the interactive whiteboard as a whole class map tour. Embed links to informational websites, pictures relating to learning, and text to help guide your students through their journey. Do one better by asking your students to create a map where they layer information, pictures, measurements, etc. on a map. Students could create and swap tours of their home town with pen pals/blogging buddies around the world. Create historical maps by adding notes with primary sources, pictures, links to additional learning (or blog posts that your students have written), and text that indicates the importance of the place. Create literary maps by making note of key locations in literature that students are reading. Students can add a note to the map with a quote from the book or a description of what happened there. When they are finished reading, students can create a presentation/tour of the literature by creating a slide out of each place in the book. An interactive literary tour of learning beats a traditional book report hands down! ArcGIS would be a really neat way to plot a Flat Stanley project in the elementary classroom!
Tips: ArcGIS requires the Microsoft Silverlight plugin to work. You can download Silverlight for free directly from the ArcGIS website.
Please leave a comment and share how you are using ArcGIS in your classroom!
What it is:Critical Past is a website I learned about today from Tom Boito’s great blog EDge 21 in his Catch of the Day. The resource is too good not to share again here! Critical Past is a collection of more than 57,000 historical videos and more than 7 million historical photos. All of the photos and videos are royalty free, archival stock footage. Most of the footage comes from U.S. Government Agency sources. All of the videos and photos can be viewed for free online and shared with others via url, Twitter, or Facebook. The videos and photos are also available to purchase for download.
How to integrate Critical Past into your curriculum:Critical Past is an incredible collection of historical videos and pictures. The site is easy to search either by decade and topic or keyword. The clips and photos on Critical Past will bring historical events alive for your students. Use photos or videos on Critical Past to help illustrate what students are learning in history. Ask students to be “eyewitnesses” of history and watch a video before they have context for it. Students can write or blog about what they think they are witnessing, afterward they can research the event more in-depth and write a follow-up reflection on what was actually happening in the clip.
Tips: Along the right side bar of Critical Past, you will find “related videos.” Students can watch a clip and the related videos and reflect on how the clips are related. Sometimes it is a similar time period, sometimes a related event, other times it is a related location.
Please leave a comment and share how you are using Critical Past in your classroom!
In the last year I started two edubloggers alliances (you can learn about them here and here). I have had wonderful teachers from around the world join me on this journey of blogging, commenting, and supporting fellow educational bloggers. As it stands, there are nearly 200 educators who have committed to reading, commenting, and encouraging other bloggers. I am still truly amazed at the results of this “crazy” idea I had. Many have asked me when I am going to start another alliance or when I will open it up for more to join. My answer, I have NO idea. You see, when I started the edublogger alliance, I committed to commenting on each and every post that members of the alliance posted. I did really well with this until the end of the school year hit. I am still commenting, but I can’t seem to get through the 400+ edublogger posts in my Google Reader. It made me re-think the reason I started the alliance in the first place.
My initial goal was to encourage others in their blogging. It can be hard for those new to blogging to break into the “club” and stick with it long enough to gain readers. My thought was, if we could encourage each other from the beginning of the blogging journey, more would stick with it. The problem? There are teachers who are new to blogging every day! I can’t keep up with it on my own and yet I still have a desire to help those who are new to blogging. My solution? Create an edublogger alliance social network on Wack Wall. I know what some of you are thinking: “is she out of her mind? I already belong to 15 social networks, subscribe to countless numbers of blogs, follow people on Twitter, how in the world am I going to keep track of one more thing?!” This isn’t my intent. For those of you who feel overwhelmed by the prospect of joining ANOTHER social network, don’t. It won’t hurt my feelings. I get it…I feel the same way every time a new social network pops up. It is too much, I can’t keep track of it all. But, I also know that there are thousands of educators out there who would like to try their hand at blogging but need a support system. You need someone to encourage you, answer your newbie (or not so newbie) blog questions, help you figure out how to blog with your students, help you navigate the blogging platform choices, etc. You need a place to be plugged in with others who are working through all of this themselves. Don’t misunderstand, the Edublogger Alliance is for everyone; of course I would love to have all of you join! I just don’t want you to feel an obligation to sign up for one more thing if you are already overwhelmed.
Let me be clear, I am by NO means an expert of any sort on blogging, I just know that I wish that I had someone to guide me in my blogging journey. I wish I had someone to ask questions, and sort through WordPress and blogging etiquette with. My hope is that this will be a place where blogging educators can come together, share what is working and what isn’t, ask questions, and get answers. I want it to be a place where those who have been blogging for a little while can help those who are just dipping their toes in. I want it to be a place of discussion and encouragement.
If this social network isn’t for you, if you are already stretched in a million directions, that is fine…I truly do understand. I will ask you to keep your ears open and offer it as a suggestion for those new to blogging, or those looking for a place to connect with other educators.
Below are a few screen shots of the new iLearn Technology Edublogger Alliance with some explanations about how it works and what you can expect to find there.
If you are interested in joining me on this journey, you can sign up here. Don’t forget to pass this on to all those teachers who are deciding to try blogging for the first time this year. They are going to need help!
What it is: I learned about Answer Garden from an interactive post on Suzanne Whitlow’s excellent blog, Suzanne’s Blog. Answer Garden is a “new minimalistic feedback tool.” It can be used as an online answer collection tool or embedded on a website or blog. An Answer Garden is created as easily as entering a question and clicking create, no registration needed. Embed the Answer Garden on any blog, website, or social network page using the embed code provided. You can also give students a direct link to the Answer Garden. Students can post answers to your questions by entering their own answers or by clicking on and submitting existing answers. All of the answers are represented in the form of a word cloud. 25 answers are visible per garden but as students submit the same answer, that word will grow bigger. Creating an Answer Garden is SO simple. Just type in your question or brainstorm statement and click create.
How to integrate Answer Garden into the classroom:Answer Garden is a fun way for students to brainstorm, plan, and work together. Pose open-ended thinking questions on your classroom blog or website for students to answers. Use Answer Garden to host a classroom poll. Create a geography Answer Garden that gives students a place that they can describe a state or country they are learning about. Use Answer Garden during reading as a place for students to reflect on different characters, plots, settings, and themes. In history, give students a date range, event, or historical figure and let them add words to the Answer Garden that describe. In the primary classroom, type in a phoneme combination and have students submit words that fit the phoneme rule. Create an answer garden to recognize VIP students in your classroom where each child can answer with a character quality that they appreciate about that student. The possibilities are endless! This tool is SO easy to use, try it out in the Answer Garden below.
What it is:Energyville is a game sponsored by Chevron. In the game, students have to provide enough power to meet the energy demands of a city with a 5.9 million person population. As they play, they must keep the city prosperous, secure, and clean. The energy decisions that students make for the city in 2015 are based on current lifestyles and the projected energy demands and costs for developed countries in North America, Europe, and Asia. The Energyville game environment is a lot like SimCity in the way that students build and maintain the city. Students begin by dragging energy sources to the city to bring it to life. Students can choose from biomass, coal, hydro, natural gas, nuclear, petroleum, solar, and wind. As they add energy sources to the city, they can observe the impacts on the economy, environment, and security of the city. The goal is to keep the impact low. There is a comparison chart where students can view the impact of the different energy sources on the environment, economy, and security to aid them in their decision-making. As students move their mouse over the different energy sources, they can read about that energy source in the Energy Advisor panel.
How to integrate Energyville into the classroom:Energyville is an excellent simulation game that helps students to experiment with energy sources. They are able to see the way that their decisions directly affect people and the environment. Students can see how some energy sources may have a low impact on the environment but are high in cost or impact security. This is a great way for students to weigh decisions and defend their choices. Set students up in a computer lab setting where each student has their own computer. Give students a set amount of time and see which students can get the highest score (lowest impact) on their city in that time. Afterward, discuss the best and worst energy sources, and have the highest score walk the class through their strategy. If you don’t have access to a lab, you can send students to Energyville in small groups as a center activity on the classroom computers. You could also play as a whole class with an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.
Tips: There are two levels of game play. In the first level, students make decisions to meet the city’s energy demands in 2015. In the second level, they must make additional decisions to prepare for the energy demands of 2030.
Please leave a comment and share how you are using Energyville in your classroom.