Friday, September 19, 2014

Expedition Insects - A New Interactive Book from the Smithsonian

Expedition Insects is a neat interactive book from the Smithsonian Science Education Center. The new book was written to helps students in third through fifth grade learn about insects from all over the world. The book is full of pictures and videos to complement the text. Throughout the book students can click or tap on underlined words to quickly access their definitions.

Expedition Insects was created for the iBooks platform. It is interactive if you read it on a Mac or on an iPad. A non-interactive version of the book is available to read too.

Applications for Education
By reading and watching the content in Expedition Insects elementary school students can learn about how the insects survive in their respective environments. Students can also learn about the role that insects play in ecosystems.

How to Create Trading Cards for Historical and Fictional People, Places, and Events

The Trading Card Creator is one of my favorite tools offered by Read Write Think. The Trading Card Creator allows students to create trading cards about people, places, and events both real and fictional. It is available as a browser-based tool, as an iPad app, and as an Android app. In the video below I demonstrate how to use the browser-based version of the Trading Card Creator.

(yes, that is one of my dogs shaking his collar that you hear in the background).

Applications for Education
Some of the ways that the Trading Card Creator could be used by students is to create a set of trading cards about characters in a novel, to create a set of cards about people of historical significance, or to create cards about places that they're studying in their geography lessons.

Jeopardy Rocks - Another Tool for Creating Review Games

Jeopardy Rocks is a new tool for creating Jeopardy-style review games. To create your game click "build now" on the Jeopardy Rocks homepage, choose a URL for your game board, and enter your email address. To create your questions just click on a square and enter your questions and answers. You can go back and edit your game board whenever you like by entering your board's URL and entering your email address again. When it is time to play your game in your classroom you can have up to six teams represented on the game board.

Applications for Education
Like nearly all Jeopardy-style review games, Jeopardy Rocks is a simple tool that you can use to quickly create a review game to use with your students.

A couple of similar tools that you might want to explore are eQuizShow and FlipQuiz. Both of those tools offer galleries of public review games that you can use in your classroom.

ReadWorks Offers New Common Core-aligned Science Articles for High School Students

ReadWorks is a great non-profit service that offers hundreds of lesson plans and more than two thousand reading non-fiction and fiction passages aligned to Common Core standards. Recently, ReadWorks added a new batch of science passages with accompanying question sets to use in high school classrooms.

Vocabulary lists and lessons are one of my favorite aspects of ReadWorks. When you select a passage and a lesson in ReadWorks you can find a list of key vocabulary words to go with the passage. Click on a word in one of the vocabulary lists to find its definition and a list of sample uses of the word. At the bottom of the vocabulary list you will find PDF of practice exercises to give to students.

With a free ReadWorks account you can search for lessons and reading passages by grade and skill. In your account you can create digital binders of the lesson plans and reading passages that you want to use. Learn more about ReadWorks in the video below.

How ReadWorks Works from ReadWorks on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Gooru Leaves Beta and Adds New Features

Gooru is a nice service for creating and sharing collections of educational videos, images, and texts. The service recently dropped the "beta" label and added some new features for teachers.

Gooru's Class Reports tool for teachers has been updated to give teachers more ways to monitor their students' progress as they work through collections of resources and quizzes. Teachers can now choose between three reports options. Scored Questions will reveal students' responses on multiple choice and true/ false items. Open-Ended Questions will show students' written responses and provide a place for teachers to give students direct feedback. Collection Breakdown shows teachers the time spent on a collection and class averages.

Gooru has added new collections of content created by partner organizations and schools. Two of the collections that I like are the National Geographic resources and the Next Gen Personal Finance resources.

Applications for Education
If you haven't seen Gooru before its biggest appeal is in the ease with which you can 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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