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Geography

Mindsnacks–Learning in Bite-sized Pieces

Mindsnacks is a series of education apps on topics like geography, vocabulary, languages, and SAT. With colorful graphics and cute characters, it’s a cross between flashcards and multiple choice with lots of visual thrown in. Though these are game-based learning, there’s no plot as you might find simulated games. Think Number Munchers rather than Minecraft. Each app includes personalized learning, an enhanced review mode, and additional challenges to keep students motivated.

To start, download the app and log in. If you have several Mindsnacks apps, you can log into a central profile and track your progress on all of them. Here are three of my favorites:

mindsnacksU.S. Geography

Fee

Mindsnacks’ U.S. Geography includes eight games for beginner and intermediate students with over 40 hours of interactive content, more than 600 hand-drawn graphics, and 1,000-plus questions on borders, shapes, landmarks, history, state culture, flags, mottos, capitals, and major cities. Initially, only four of the eight games are available; users unlock others by successfully navigating a virtual road trip across the country. A tutorial is provided for each state so kids can review basic information prior to beginning play. To keep learning interactive, the app includes features such as a dart players use to mark the spot on the map where a certain U.S. landform or landmark exists. Post-quiz reports show how close users are to mastering each state’s information and what skills they developed during the game.

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Categories: Geography, Language arts, Reviews, Word study/Vocabulary | Tags: | Leave a comment

7 Great Websites to Teach Habitats

habitatWhether you teach habitats in second grade or Middle School, understanding how animals survive in their corner of the world is critical to a well-rounded perspective on life on planet Earth. Animals evolve or disappear based on their ability to adapt to the environment.

Here are eight resources to encourage discovery of the amazing and varied worlds that surround Earth’s animals:

Build a Habitat 

This interactive, colorful site gamifies the process of creating a habitat that suits the selected animal. After reading brief instructions (including the definition of habitat), students select the animal, the habitat, the vegetation, and the precipitation level. Then, the site calculates how compatible their choices are to the animal’s survival. For example, if the student places a beaver in the desert in a downpour, the compatibility thermometer will be low.

This game is part of the popular Switch Zoo  site where students can mix-and-match body parts to create their own favorite animal. It is available on computers, Chromebooks, and in a limited edition as an app.

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Categories: Geography, Science | Tags: | Leave a comment

10 Great Tips for Teaching Geography with Tech

compassHere are the top geography tips according to Ask a Tech Teacher readers:

  1. 14 Ways to use Scribble Maps
  2. Lesson Plans: Where Did I Come From?
  3. 149 Websites for K-8 Geography/Geology
  4. Google Street View
  5. Sponge Activities for Geography
  6. A Virtual Tour of America–Via Biplane
  7. The Power of Symbols–What does the word ‘Turkey’ mean?
  8. Wonders of Google Earth
  9. 20 Websites to Learn Everything About Landforms
  10. Breathing Earth

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Categories: Geography, Tech tips | Leave a comment

14 Ways to use Scribble Maps

scribble maps logoMap skills borrow concepts from many different disciplines, including Math, Art, Language and of course Geography. Map skills should be basic to student education early in their journey and then used often to measure distances, calculate routes, preview field trip locations, explore historic sites, and more.

For many of you, I’m not saying anything you don’t already know — but have you tried to personalize a map? Draw a spotlight exactly where you want students to look, or sketch the route to a field trip? With most maps, it’s difficult, time-consuming, and non-intuitive, but Scribble Maps make all of these chores possible and more by letting you first, select the map best suited to your purpose (for example, a topographic one for a hike — under ESRI-Topography), and second, write directly onto the maps with a freehand drawing tool or by typing, add placemarks, draw shapes, calculate distance and area, and add image overlays. You can even add video and audio files. Maps can be saved as images, PDFs, or native files, and shared via email, blogs, a direct link, or embedded into online locations. It’s intuitive, easily learned by doing for students who hate reading directions, and is compatible with desktops, laptops, Chromebooks, iPads, and Android tablets. Because it uses Google Maps as its foundation, it will instantly feel familiar. Plus, it requires no log-in, so no email address for students.

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Categories: Geography, Reviews | Tags: , | Leave a comment

23 Great Websites and Apps for Earth Day

earth dayApril 22nd is Earth Day. Celebrate it with your students by letting them visit these websites:

  1. Breathing earth– the environment
  2. Breathing Earth YouTube Video–of CO2 use, population changes, and more
  3. Conservation Game
  4. Earth Day—NASA Ocean Currents
  5. Earth Day Printables
  6. Eco-friendly house
  7. Ecotourism Simulation–for grades 4 and above
  8. EekoWorld
  9. Electrocity
  10. Footprint calculator
  11. History of Earth Day–lots of reading
  12. Home of the Future
  13. My Garbology
  14. NASA City

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Categories: Geography, Websites | Tags: , | 2 Comments

The Power of Symbols–What does the word ‘Turkey’ mean?

Last year, I did a poll on the meaning of the word ‘turkey’. This was to demonstrate how powerful symbols are to your students and do so with an authentic use of technology to support discussion on math, language standards, and the holidays. As a summation to your discussion with students on symbols, idiomatic expressions, geography, farms, or another topic, post this on your Smartscreen. The poll includes lots of definitions for the word ‘turkey’. Have each student come up some time during the day (or class) and make their choice.

[polldaddy poll=7398424]

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Categories: 1st, Geography, Holidays, Kindergarten, Lesson plans, Math, Word study/Vocabulary | Tags: | 1 Comment

21 Great Websites and Apps for Earth Day

earth dayApril 22nd is Earth Day. Celebrate it with your students by letting them visit these websites:

  1. Breathing Earth
  2. Breathing Earth YouTube Video–of CO2 use, population changes, and more
  3. Conservation Game
  4. Earth day collection
  5. Earth Day—NASA Ocean Currents
  6. Eco-friendly house
  7. Eeko World
  8. Ecotourism Simulation–for grades 4 and above
  9. Electrocity
  10. Footprint calculator
  11. Home of the Future
  12. My Garbology
  13. NASA City

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Categories: Geography, Websites | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Lesson Plans: Where Did I Come From?

Students find their country of origin on Google Earth and grab a screen shot of it. Save to their computer. Import it into a drawing program like KidPix and add the country flag and student name. Students learn about importing data from one program to another with this project.

[caption id="attachment_5431" align="aligncenter" width="564"]lesson plan Use Google Earth in Second Grade[/caption]

–from 55 Technology Projects for the Digital Classroom.

More articles on geography and Google Earth:

149 Websites for K-8 Geography/Geology

Tech Tip #65: Google Street View

Monday Freebies #40: Wonders of Google Earth

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Categories: 2nd, 3rd Grade, Geography, Google earth, Kidpix, Lesson plans | Leave a comment

The Power of Symbols–What does ‘Turkey’ mean?

Here’s an authentic use of technology to support discussion on math, language standards, and the holidays. As a summation to your discussion with students on symbols, idiomatic expressions, geography, farms, or another topic, post this on your Smartscreen. The poll includes lots of definitions for the word ‘turkey’–from objective to idiomatic. Have each student come up some time during the day (or class) and make their choice.

[polldaddy poll=7398424]

Did your students come up with other definitions I didn’t list?

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Categories: 1st, Geography, Holidays, Kindergarten, Math, Word study/Vocabulary | Leave a comment

9 Field Trips Free to Students

Kids love field trips. They’re out of the classroom, get to travel by bus with lots of kids and not enough adults. What’s not to like?

A few items come to mind: Cost, staffing, potential for disaster. And that’s just off the top of my head. There’s a way to provide the field trip experience with few of the risks, no cost, and a fraction of the time away from what is likely an overstuffed education day:

Virtual Field Trips, via the internet.

There are so many options  for real-time webcams, conversations with experts (via Skype and Google Hangout), and the opportunity to visit locations that are otherwise inaccessible that classes have embraced this new approach to seeing the world. This enthusiasm has encouraged a cottage industry that often is far from the exciting, realistic experience teachers want for their students. When I search the internet, it seems any site with a camcorder and multimedia resources calls itself a ‘virtual field trip’. Truthfully, many of them are a waste of time. Sure, I like the pictures and the movies, but I don’t feel like I’m there, immersed in history or geography, with a life-changing experience that will live in my memory for decades to come.

Intellectually, I know there are good ones out there. Finally, after wearing through my favorite virtual shoes, I have a list to recommend. These next nine virtual field trips cover topics from geology to history to the human experience. See what you think:

360 Cities

What’s not to love about a website that starts:

Welcome to Earth! It’s a planet having an iron core, with two-thirds of its surface covered by water. Earth orbits a local star called the Sun, the light of which generates the food supply for all the millions of species of life on earth. The dominant species on Earth is the human being, and you’re one of the six billion of them! Humans have iron in their blood, and their bodies are composed of two-thirds water, just like the planet they live on.

Enjoy your stay, and try to stay calm.

360 Cities contains the Internet’s largest collection of uploaded panoramic images. Let’s pause here for a moment. Panos–those wide pictures that cover up to 180 degrees left and right. Right?

360 Cities does panos differently. Let me show you. Here’s one from my iPad:

Here’s one on 360 Cities:

http://www.360cities.net/image/tunis-coliseum-upper-level-tunisia
Coliseum. 1st floor in Tunisia

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Categories: Geography, Science, Teacher resources | Tags: | 2 Comments