Refraction

image credit: http://games.cs.washington.edu/Refraction/

I first learned about the web game, “Refraction“, from Julie Greller’s post on “A Media Specialist’s Guide to the Internet”.  Since my 5th grade daughter happens to be knee-deep in fractions right now, I was intrigued by Julie’s description of the game, which involves guiding lasers to power spaceships.  I followed her link to the game to check it out for myself.

Big mistake.

I really didn’t need another internet addiction, but “Refraction” has all of the elements that make it worthy of adding to your Favorites list.  First of all, your mission is to help the poor, lonely spaceships of animals drifting along with no fuel.  So, that should appeal to everyone’s heroic inclinations.  Secondly, the game slowly introduces challenges that keep it from becoming boring, but also make you do some mental gymnastics.  More and more spaceships need fuel, and some need a quarter of your laser beam or a third or a half.  Math and logic are definitely necessary skills in order to succeed in this game!

A Thanksgiving Timeline Via Google Earth

Laura Moore, one of our NEISD technology specialists, created this awesome Google Earth tour that incorporates 7 different placemarks with online activities related to Thanksgiving.  If you are not a teacher in our district, you will need to create a slightly different set of directions for accessing the .kmz file for your students, but the file is included on Laura’s blog post, along with several other Thanksgiving links.

This tour took a lot of work to create, and I think that it is a rich, multi-layered resource that students will thoroughly enjoy.  Thanks, Laura!

iCivics Update

image from: icivics.org

I have posted about iCivics.org a couple of times on my blog- once about the website, spearheaded by Sandra Day O’Connor, and once about the awesome free app, Pocket Law Firm.  As today is Election Day, I thought it would be appropriate to once again mention the value of iCivics.org.  According to the site, “In 2009, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor founded iCivics to reverse Americans’ declining civic knowledge and participation. Securing our democracy, she realized, requires teaching the next generation to understand and respect our system of governance.”  Since my first post on this topic, over a year ago, iCivics has gained even more features.  It has become a robust resource with 16 games, 15 curriculum units, and a multitude of service projects.  Now, teachers can create their own accounts to which they can add classes, allowing them to track assignments and student progress.  Students can earn points for playing games, and “spend” their points on community projects that they favor.

Although the curriculum units are geared toward students in grades 6-12, some of the games, like “Cast Your Vote“, could probably be played by advanced 4th or 5th graders.

And, if you are a U.S. citizen, don’t forget to cast your own vote today! 😉

Mensa for Kids Lesson Plans

 

I have posted about the Mensa for Kids website before, but did not emphasize the fact that there is a section of the site that provides lesson plans for gifted children.  The Lesson Plans section offers at least one enrichment lesson for each grade level from Kindergarten to 10th grade.  It also has a unit on “The Power of Invention” that could be adapted to several different levels.  Including such topics as Fibonacci, Hurricanes, and using Music Lyrics to teach, this is a great resource for teachers who are looking for ways to extend learning for gifted kids.

2013 Guinness Book of World Records

Since gift-giving season is right around the corner, I thought I would use my Fun Friday posts to share some excellent gift ideas for engaging your kids.  The newest edition of the Guinness Book of World Records (currently $19.11 on Amazon.com) has been released, and it has a special feature that families with iDevices might appreciate.  By pairing a free augmented reality app from Guinness with the book, readers can experience portions of the book in 3D.  There is also a free bonus e-book app to go along with the printed version.  Below is a video showing some highlights, or you can go to the following link: http://youtu.be/EWf_xxVbj5c

Thinking Tools

image from: Thinking Tools

This large set of fillable forms from The Learning Curve is a treasure chest of interactive graphic organizers that encourage creative and critical thinking skills.  According to the site, “This collection of thinking strategies and tools have been created and inspired from Mick Walsh’s experiences using the Thinking Curriculum, CoRT Thinking, Tribes Program and Visible Thinking from Harvard University.”  Included on this list are pages for Six Thinking Hats and P.M.I.  However, there are many other intriguing ones that I have never seen anywhere else, such as Time Machine and Truth Traffic Lights.  For some new ideas on how to engage your students in deep thinking, I highly recommend Thinking Tools.

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