I recently revisited Learn Zillion, a platform that I thought had potential for teacher use a few years back, but found at the time that it wasn't really student friendly. They have made positive changes and you can now assign lessons via Google Classroom. (Students still need to be associated with your class). This time I tried to look at it through an OER lens and found it to be very well organized and easy to navigate. For example, teachers in Georgia have created their own ELA curriculum and have it all organized- and freely shared for use. Check out these Guidebooks "English Language Arts Guidebook Units Classroom-ready daily ELA lessons developed in partnership with the Louisiana Department of Education. Units include daily lessons, assessments, texts, blank and completed handouts, and student writing examples." Note- the materials on the web site are free, but they use a lot of trade books. Here's an example of material for Because of Winn Dixie. They also have a robust math section. Check it out here. Teachers at HES who would like to try this out with students and need student accounts made up, just let me know.
NEXT.cc is a resource that is new to me. Here's part of the intro blurb from the site.
"NEXT.cc is an eco web that develops ethical imagination and environmental stewardship. NEXT.cc introduces what design is, what design does, and why design is important. It offers activities across nine scales – nano, pattern, object, space, architecture, neighborhood, urban, region, and world. NEXT.cc’s journeys introduce activities online, in the classroom, in the community and globally. ." It's a great site to pull together a lot of resources and show the connections between the disciplines. For example, I clicked on the "journey "Animals" and it brought me here. Looking for a new way to teach a topic, check it out.
Another New Tool from Brain Pop!
Math in Google Docs?
Texthelp, our friends who make Read and Write for Google Chrome- now have a new chrome extension for math. Alice Keeler wrote a great post about it today- entitled: And All Math Teachers Screamed with Excitement! ( all in caps!) "EquatIO, by Texthelp, is now available in the Chrome Webstore. EquatIO is a Chrome extension that will allow you and your students to create math equations in Google Apps…. and other places." Read more about it on Alice's blog, or check out what Texthelp has to say or read the press release here.
Brain Pop has a new movie maker! I liked the way you could pull images from the movies before to help show learning, tell your story with the materials, but this is even better. Here's a quick tutorial from Joli Boucher. We have the premium version for HES, in case you're worried about the access level. See me if you do not know how to access Brain Pop at the elementary school. You can read more about it on BrainPop Educators - and go thru the step by step tutorial or print out a guide if you'd like. They have resources on using Brain Pop's Make a Movie tool with ELL students and more, complete with curriculum connections and rubrics. Check it out!
Pixar in a Box
"Pixar in a Box is a behind-the-scenes look at how Pixar artists do their jobs. You will be able to animate bouncing balls, build a swarm of robots, and make virtual fireworks explode. The subjects you learn in school — math, science, computer science, and humanities — are used every day to create amazing movies at Pixar. This collaboration between Pixar Animation Studios and Khan Academy is sponsored by Disney."
Using the Khan Academy interface, which many of our students are already familiar with and have accounts on, Pixar in a Box goes through lessons step by step. Teaching storytelling? Teaching animation? Writing? Science? It's all available in an easy to digest format. Try it!
CoSpaces is a relatively new platform. Using a 3D modeling system- online or Android or iOS app, students can make simulations, tell stories, model cell structures and much more. It is 3D/AR type system, which on first look will kind of remind you of Second Life (another one of my least favorites). I am not a big AR fan, but for many kids this a brilliant way to show what they know or to explore new content. It is a bit of a bandwidth hog, as you may imagine, but it was easy to use. I showed this to some 5th and 6th graders this fall, just for fun and they had no problem using it with little instruction.
So, if I compare this with SketchUp- it is far easier to use, is online and free (altho there is a premium version) and is collaborative and dynamic. You can use this on an ipad, on a phone and on the web and it updates almost automatically as you make changes. Oh... and it now lets you use Blockly to program your space. Very cool! Take a quick look at the videos below, and then head over to check out the platform online. They have some great examples of student work you can check out. This first video below is a bit on the long side (10 Min)- but it's a good, fair review of the system.