Saturday, December 20, 2014

Science4Us is a mission-driven project designed to address an ongoing weakness in elementary science education. For interested educators and parents, there are great free elementary science resources to give you a sense of the interactive part of the curriculum. There are also great materials for teacher PD and several hundred lessons for hands-on real world exercises in the curriculum for early elementary school students.

Science4Us was developed to address the need for a curriculum to deliver an investigative educational experience for early educational experience.

The development of Science4Us was started in 2010 with the goal of creating a science curriculum based on the 5E Instructional Model which could realistically be implemented in all schools across the country.

 The goal was to use technology and best practices to provide support for teachers and educational activities for students without the prohibitive costs for out-of-class teacher training and extensive kits. A
fter three years, countless trials, millions of dollars, Science4Us, a K-2nd digitally-delivered science curriculum, was introduced at NSTA in San Antonio in April 2013.

 In 2013, the Dept of Education, IES provided an SBIR Grant for game-based learning to support the refinement of the educational model of Science4Us.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Symbaloo Webmix on early science education, free

For those of you who don't know about Symbaloo, I have some fun news.  Bookmarking, or social bookmarking, has gotten really fun and simple.

Symbaloo is simply a way to save links and to share them. A collection of links in Symbalooland (I made up that word) is known as a webmix. Here's one made up of free science educational resources such as online exercises, interactive lessons, and science songs. It's aimed at kindergarten, first grade, and second grade. Enjoy. Download it!

Here's three more webmixes that I'd recommend:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Literacy Learning Gifts to Teacher and Students

What's new you ask? Try this, all the Fry Word Lists are now available to use with 35 different interactive learning activities.  True!

As background, sight words  or high frequency words are the words that fluent readers must recognize instantly and with little effort. These words appear most frequently in reading and writing in the English language. 
  • Dr. Fry's research findings:
    • 25 words make up  one-third of all published text.
    • 100 words comprise 50% of all of the words found in publications.
    • 300 words make up 65% of all written material.

The Fry list is one of many lists of sight words.  The other popular well known list are the Dolch words.

It is said that the Dolch word lists inspired Dr Suess to try to write an entire book of high interest but using all the simple Dolch word list. The result is the Cat in the Hat.  True or urban academic legend?

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Learning, Games, Simulations, and Such

A decade or so ago, it was a novel idea to suggest that learning could happen through playing electronic games and simulations.  

Of course, teachers have created competitive situations for years and made all sorts of fun games for students.  But the entry of digital technology really changed the stakes.

Some games such as SimCity and Civilizations introduced the idea of how powerful these tools could be. But it doesn't seem like the discussion has greatly advanced. 

There seems to be a general confusion between simulations and games.  Simulations are technology based models or simulations of reality. Often they give the students control over some variables.  What is or isn't a simulator is an endlessly interesting question.

Take the PHeT simulations and the ExploreLearning Gizmos for instance. They are both great tools for students to explore how math and science works. Not games, simulations.

Is a music synthesizer a simulator? What about the Digital Frog and other digital tools intended to supplement or replace actual dissections?

Games are games. They have scores, competition or competitive play, immediate feedback, and often dramatic touches to enhance interest. Try playing PacMan with the sound-off and you'll see the importance of pucca pucca.

VocabularySpellingCity claims to be a game-based learning site. Their focus is on using elements of popular games and casual games as a way to motivate students to focus on their vocabulary and spelling words and the letters involved.  Their most popular games:
Word Search, Unscramble, Parts of Speech, Hangman (HangMouse), Crossword Puzzle, Handwriting Printables, Word-O-Rama Game Show Aim-2-Spell , Test and Teach , Coackroach Spelling , Letterfall and Word Find.

Game elements include: high score tables, immediate feedback on mistakes or successes, sound effects, and clever animations.