Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Inquiring Minds Want To Know

Last Saturday as my train was rambling down the tracks toward Chicago so I could attend the American Library Association Annual Conference & Exhibition, the selection committee of the American Association of School Librarians Best Websites for Teaching and Learning was announcing their 2013 choices.  As Heather Moorefield, new chair of the committee and Education Librarian at Virginia Tech and John Schumacher, teacher librarian, 2011 Library Journal Movers & Shakers, and 2014 Newbery Medal Committee member were tweeting each site, I was giving them favorites as fast as I could.  Fortunately Mr. Schu posted a link to the winners as well a link to the 2013 Best Apps for Teaching and Learning on his blog.

Of the twenty-five websites on the 2013 list, ten have been previously featured on this blog, smore, easel.ly, inklewriter, my Histro, BiblioNasium, padlet (formerly Wallwisher), edcanvas, WorkFlowy, Marqueed and Wonderopolis.  One of the new additions falling under the category, Content Resources, Standards for the 21st-Century Learner 2.1.4 Use technology and other information tools to analyze and organize information, 2.4.4 Develop directions for future investigations and 3.1.2 Participate and collaborate as members of a social and intellectual network of learners is Seriously Amazing

 Free to use, the opening page states:

Questions come live at the Smithsonian

Beneath that statement are the words:  Curious? Let's begin.  Since I'm definitely wondering what this site can provide, I selected the down arrow.

The screen shifts downward featuring a question in a large font with a quirky character on the right. That same person is highlighted along the top of the page in a row of six faces.  When you mouse over the question, a hand appears indicating a hyperlink.  Clicking on the question reveals the answer.  You can share this answer on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest or via a URL link.

If you choose to Discover More, a window slides over the answer with links to other websites or videos. If you click through the six faces along the top, different questions will raise up on the screen along with the mentor.  Each of the people represent a different area of exploration.  From left to right they are:

  • The Wild represents the diversity of the animal kingdom
  • The Green reflects the wonder of the natural landscape
  • The New is where technology and creativity collide
  • The Masterpiece embodies artistic expression
  • The Storyteller is about America, its people and the tales they tell and
  • The Discoverer explores our world and our universe.

Beneath the large focus screen are a series of questions posted in a scrapbook-type array from all of the six categories.  They can be arranged by:
  • Most Recent
  • Art
  • Culture
  • History
  • Science and
  • Most Popular

I decided to organize the questions by Most Popular.  After they shifted around, the next screen showcased a question about Dr. Seuss.  When the hyperlink is chosen, the following screen gives the answer with the opportunity for additional information.  When I clicked on Meet Ann--she drinks blood I was taken to another Smithsonian web page, Like the Lorax?  Meet Ann.  A picture of the original pamphlet made by Dr. Seuss and Munro Leaf (The Story of Ferdinand) appears on the page.  Within that article, there are even more links for increasing your knowledge about this particular topic.

Seriously you could get lost in the fun of discovery at this website for hours.  One question or answer could lead to another.  This site is the perfect opportunity not only for gaining a sense of understanding about a particular topic but for honing students' research skills; building on their abilities to access only what they need.  This could be a site used every single day having a student be the research assistant, searching out a question and the answer, then reporting back to the class.

I can easily understand why Seriously Amazing was selected by the committee.  It's student friendly, easy to navigate, invites exploration and provides an endless source of information about a variety of topics.  The more you know...

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