Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Get Outside With These Educational Apps

This coming Friday typically marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season here in the U.S. While many retailers open early and offer discounted items, my favorite retailer REI is staying closed and encouraging people to go outside and play. And I'm going to do just that. If you're looking for a way to conduct an educational activity outdoors this weekend or in the future, take a look at the following two apps.

iNaturalist is a community website for sharing pictures and observations of plants and animals. To enable easy sharing of observations, iNaturalist offers a free Android app and a free iOS app. Using the apps you can take a picture, geo-locate it, write your observations, and upload to the iNaturalist community. If your observation is incomplete, for example if you're not sure of a scientific name, you can ask the community to add comments to improve the recording of your observation. If you don't want to join the iNaturalist community, you can simply explore members' observations through the iNaturalist Google Map.

Project Noah is designed to get your students outside and recording observations of nature. Project Noah is a globally collaborative project to which anyone can contribute. On Project Noah you can share pictures and stories of the plants and the animals that you observe in your neighborhood. Project Noah has a section titled Missions in which you can find projects that you can contribute to. The Missions ask people to make contributions of images and observations about a specific animal, plant, or region. Check out the squirrel mission to get started.

The National Archives Mobile Apps Offer a Daily Glimpse at U.S. History

National Archives Today's Document feed is a good place to find primary source documents to spark discussion in your classroom. Everyday Today's Document features a new image or document from the archives. The documents are usually accompanied by some additional research links and lesson plan resources.

The same content found in the browser-based version of the Today's Document feed can be viewed in the Android and iOS Today's Document apps. With the mobile app you can select any day of the year to find out what significant things happened in US History on that day. You can also select “random” to have a random document or image appear. The mobile app provides the same background information that you can find online.

Applications for Education
The National Archives Today's Document feed is one that I've followed since the days of Google Reader. I've used the items in the feed as the basis for quick "this day in history lessons." I've also bookmarked many of the documents and pictures in the feed to include as part of larger lessons in U.S. history. For example, years ago I bookmarked a letter from Upton Sinclair to Theodore Roosevelt and used it in a lesson about labor conditions at the beginning of the 20th Century.

Gooru - Thousands of Resources for Online Lessons

Gooru is a free service for locating and organizing collections of educational resources to use in math, science, social studies, and language arts lessons. I've been following the service since its launch a few years ago. Over the years new features have been steadily added to Gooru.

The latest features added to Gooru include new ways to add content to classes in your Gooru account. You can now add content to your courses from either all of your saved resources or from a specific collection within your saved resources. Click here to learn more about how to add content to a course.

You can watch overviews of the Gooru website and iPad apps in the playlist embedded below.

Applications for Education
Gooru makes it easy to create collections of videos, images, and interactive websites to use as part of a flipped lesson. Being able to add quiz questions for students to answer as they go through one of the units you've created is the feature of Gooru that I like best. By having students answer as they go through the collection I can get a sense of what I need to spend more or less time covering in my classroom.

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