I stumbled across KBears when I was in the middle of hunting down some not-so-intimidating sites for geography research for my younger students. I have not investigated all of KBears, but I was immediately attracted to the geography portion as a potential resource for my 1st and 2nd grade Gifted and Talented students. The site is very “cute”, making it attractive to the primary kids. It is also fairly easy to navigate. There is still some big vocabulary, but it is not overwhelming. With printable maps, world music, and geography games, this is a great site to add to my teacher toolbox!
Last year, a friend of mine told me about Google’s 20% Policy, and I immediately thought of its applications for the classroom. It was among many of my ideas that I had for the new school year that just didn’t come to fruition. And now, I find that a teacher named AJ Juliani had the same inspiration – but is actually following through with it. You can read all about Google’s Policy, and how Mr. Juliani is applying it with his students here on the “Education is My Life” blog. Be sure to read the comments that follow, as well. It makes for an interesting discussion!
Next week, November 13-19, is Geography Awareness Week. I think we can all agree that we could stand to brush up on our geography skills. This site, produced by National Geographic, has some great activities for doing that. You can print out a booklet of “missions”, or go to the online version. The wording in the booklet is fun, and the missions are very creative. For example, one mission is titled, “Alien Invasion”, in which the student is tasked to “Photograph evidence of where a non-native plant or animal has invaded a local ecosystem. Produce a ‘spotter’s guide’ to these invasive species.” Many of the missions would make great activities any time of the year, so don’t feel restricted to squeezing all of your geography education into one week!
I came across this classroom idea while I was playing with Pinterest. Ms. Noble has a great method for reviewing concepts and challenging minds that she thoroughly explains on her website. Although I would probably modify some of the activities, and add some more higher order thinking skills, this shows a lot of potential for motivating students and making sure that learning time is maximized.
Today’s post comes from the same people who provide “Boolify”, which I highlighted yesterday. In Comparison Search, the researcher gets the added benefit of searching for web sites that may have different points of view on the same topic. It allows you to type in a keyword or phrase, such as “genetic engineering”, and to then choose the positive and negative search terms you would like to use, such as “advantages” and “disadvantages”. The search results are then given in two columns, respective to your search terms. As I mentioned yesterday, these searches are not “safe searches”, so teachers in primary grades probably should not let their students loose on this tool. However, it can be quite valuable in trying to teach a lesson on the objectivity, or lack of it, on many websites.
Considering that the first part of its name is “Boo”, Boolify should probably have been yesterday’s Halloween post. It is still a timely site, however. Boolify is a simple tool for teaching students how to do web searches using basic Boolean Search Operators. There is the tool, itself, on the home page, as well as a few other resources under the “Lessons” link. The search results come from Bing, so this is not a “safe search” tool. However, it would be good to use for demonstration purposes with younger students. Older students may enjoy the simplicity of the tool, as well. This might be a good tool to use with Kentucky Virtual Library’s “How to do Research” site.
Museum Box is an intriguing resource for a different type of student product. The site describes itself this way, “it allows you to build up an argument or description of an event, person or historical period by placing items in a virtual box. You can display anything from a text file to a movie. You can also view the museum boxes submitted by other people and comment on the contents.” Unfortunately, the site does not work with iOS, but if you have internet access, and your students are doing research, this is a unique way for them to collect their supporting materials in one place.