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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Research Made Easy

Okay, not easy, but much clearer! Kentucky Virtual Library's Research Rocket offers a student-friendly, step-by-step introduction to the research process.

While the screen shot to the right gives you a basic idea of the steps involved, what it doesn't show you is that each individual step provides its own easy to understand tutorial (see below).

For media center specialists or teachers introducing students to the research process, this is both a great introduction and a great stand-alone resource to which students can refer when going through the motions of information collection and organization.

(The picture to the left is the page a student would access if she clicked on the "Scan First" square of Step 4 on the map. As she reads over the information provided, she can also roll the mouse over the graphics, which provides additional visual cues).

And of course, there's always the option of using individual components of the whole process (such as the Scan/Survey module here) as reading comprehension skill builders in the elementary classroom.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Famous Failures

From the excellent Learning in Maine blog, a look at Famous Failures. Not bad company to keep!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Class Tools

Just this morning I had an excellent experience using an exciting interactive site called Class Tools which allows you to create games, activities, and diagrams in Flash (without knowing a thing about Flash!).

While covering an eighth grade social studies class, I informed students that they would be creating review games for an upcoming test. They were less than enthusiastic (and those of you who are familiar with the typical enthusiasm level of eighth graders will know that causing them to be even less excited was something of a real feat).

Hoping to rescue the moment, I asked if some of them would like to create a game online. Even this was met with grudging acceptance, but they agreed, perhaps considering it at least a momentary reprieve from creating another stale board game with markers and construction paper).

Well, in about twenty minutes time, I had some very excited eighth graders on my hands. Not only were they pleased with what they produced, but one exclaimed, "Wow, I actually know this stuff now that I had to type it in to create the game."

While I can't show you what they created, I'll show you one of the sample files from those posted on the site:

Click here for full screen version

As you can see, a Dustbin game requires you to sort words into their appropriate categories; this morning, for example, the students created a Dustbin about the Middle and Southern Colonies.

Another pair of students created an arcade game, which is playable in five formats (again, this links you to a sample at the site). I'd recommend you try several levels of the game option called Word Shoot.

In addition to the games functions, the site features several clever and adaptable utilities for creating other study aids. Teaching suggestions are provided for each, just in case you find yourself wondering, "Cool, but what can I actually do with this?"

Class Tools is well worth a look! Just one word of warning: be sure to save the game you've created before you play it! We learned that lesson the hard way.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


You've probably seen this before, but it's new to me! While some math teachers might think it's gimmicky, I think a great exercise for students when confronted with any gimmick is to figure out how it works. And, does it always work?