Monday, June 23, 2014

19 Educational Games About U.S. Civics

iCivics is an excellent source of educational games that offer lessons in civics. Since its launch a few years ago, iCivics has steadily grown to the point that it now contains nineteen educational games for students. All of the games require students to take on a decision making role. To succeed in the games students have to apply their understanding of the rules and functions local, state, or Federal government. Some games require an understanding of the U.S. court system and or the Constitution.

A few of the iCivics games that I have tried and enjoyed are Law Craft, We The Jury, and Do I Have a Right?  Law Craft helps students understand how a bill becomes law by making them Representatives of a state of their choice. As Representatives students have to propose a bill that serves their constituents then see that bill all the way through to becoming a law.

In We The Jury students choose to be one of six jurors at a trial. Students then hear the facts of the case, hear closing arguments from the plaintiff and the defendant, and then go off to deliberate in the jury room. Students can deliberate for up to five days before handing down the verdict. During deliberations students examine evidence, listen to the opinions of other jurors, and try to reach a unanimous decision. Throughout the process students are reminded of the roles of jurors and to stick to only the evidence and arguments permitted by the judge.

Do I Have a Right? is a game in which students decide if a client has a right to sue under Constitutional Law. Students play the role of the head of a law firm specializing in Constitutional Law. To succeed in the game students have to review the claims of the potential clients and match them to a lawyer who specializes in the appropriate aspect of Constitutional Law. This game is also available as an iPad app called Pocket Law Firm.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Students Take Command of a Space Station on Moonbase Alpha

Moonbase Alpha is an online game developed by NASA to be played on the Steam online gaming platform. Moonbase Alpha is a game in which players assume the role of an astronaut working to repair equipment in order to restore oxygen delivery to a settlement on the moon. The game can be played by up to six players at a time who communicate using voice over communication.

See the trailer for Moonbase Alpha in the video below.

To play Moonbase Alpha you do need to install the Steam gaming platform on your computer.

Applications for Education
The right games in the right context can be great educational tools. One of the aspects that could make Moonbase Alpha a good learning tool is NASA's attention to presenting moon's surface in a truly accurate lunar moonscape. Moonbase Alpha could also be a good game to help students develop problem solving skills in a fun environment.

Find Primary Sources from All Over the World on the World Digital Library

Last week in Iowa I shared some good resources for teaching with technology and primary sources. One of my favorite resources that I shared is the World Digital Library.

The World Digital Library hosts more than 10,000 primary documents and images from collections around the world. Sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the mission of the World Digital Library is to promote the study and understanding of cultures. The WDL can be searched by date, era, country, continent, topic, and type of resource. In my search of the WDL I noticed that roughly half of the resources are historical maps and images. The WDL aims to be accessible to as many people as possible by providing search tools and content descriptions in seven languages. The WDL can also be searched by clicking through the map on the homepage.

Applications for Education
The World Digital Library can be a great resource for anyone that teaches history and or cultural studies. The wealth of image based resources along with the document based resources makes the WDL appropriate for use with most age groups. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Thinglink Edu - Your Students Can Use Thinglink Without Email Addresses, Here's How

Thinglink was a big hit in the workshop that I facilitated yesterday in Bettendorf, Iowa. Thinglink can be used to turn any static image into an interactive, multimedia image. Yesterday, we used PicMonkey and PicCollage to create collages about what a good learning environment looks like to us. After creating those collages we saved them as PNG files and uploaded them to Thinglink where we added videos, audio files, and links to articles to enhance our collages and make them interactive.

Thinglink can be used by students who are under the age of 13 and or do not have email addresses. To enable your students who are under 13 and or do not have email addresses you should register as a teacher on Thinglink Edu. As registered teacher on Thinglink Edu you can create and manage student accounts. In the screenshots in the slides below will walk you through the process of creating Thinglink accounts for your students.

The Week in Review - A Fun Week in Iowa

Good morning from Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport where I have a layover on my way home from a great week of presenting in Iowa. It is a privilege to get to speak to and work with so many teachers every year. I wouldn't have those opportunities without all of you who have supported me and my blog over the years by Tweeting, Pinning, and otherwise sharing my work with your friends and colleagues. Thank you.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Use This Extension To See Your To-do List Every Time You Open a New Tab
2. Zaption - Video Based Quizzes and More
3. I Tweeted a Google Document and a Neat Thing Happened
4. QR Codes & Augmented Reality - When and Where To Use Each
5. Free Course - Copyright for Educators & Librarians
6. Create Multimedia History Presentations With Digital Artifacts
7. Kaizena Adds Support for Giving Audio Feedback on Google Presentations

Three seats are left at the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp. Seats are still available for my online course Getting Ready for GAFE (start dates in July and August). 

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
IXL offers a huge assortment of mathematics lesson activities.
Typing Club offers free typing lessons for students.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
MasteryConnect provides a network for teachers to share and discover Common Core assessments. is a provider of free educational games for K-5.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is offers professional development workshops in Boston and Chicago.
StoryBoard That is a great tool for creating comics and more.

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