Quote of the Month

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

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Stewards of the Earth

Another of the six websites selected by the American Association of School Librarians for their Top 25 Best Websites for Teaching and Learning under the heading of Content Resources is ARKive.  The Standards for the 21st-Century Learner addressed under this category are:  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.  Since its inception in 2003 ARKive has continued to be guided by this mission statement:

Promoting the Conservation of the World's Threatened Species Through the Power of Wildlife Imagery

They proceed to elaborate further in several paragraphs but the gist of this site is:

gathering together the very best films and photographs of the world's species into one centralised digital library, to create a unique audio-visual record of life on Earth, prioritising those species at most risk of extinction.

My first impression is the site is so full of wonderful resources you could get lost there and not come out for hours.  I will go through everything I believe will be most valuable to get educators using it the quickest.  

Arranged in a block formation the home page offers:
  1. an introductory video by Sir David Attenborough
  2. a central featured specie
  3. the latest from the ARKive blog (up-to-date news)
  4. endangered specie (new species highlighted)
  5. education resources
  6. Arctic
  7. climate change
  8. jewels of UAE
I am not sure if the last three might be changed from time to time.  If you go along the top of the page, a task bar offers:
  1. explore ARKive
  2. about us
  3. get involved
  4. blog
  5. contact

Instead of clicking on the education resources box I elected to click the Explore ARKive tab.  A menu appears across most of the screen offering searches by species groups, random species, eco-regions, topics, geography, conservation status, going to Google Earth, fun stuff, games, survival app and education resources by age.  In this list are some of the same items listed in the blocks on the home page.  Either way you get to the same spot.

Under specie groups I choose Mammals.  At the next screen on the left the original list is shown while itemizing the most popular ones first on the right.  You have the option of showing all the mammals.  For each mammal a picture is shown with the common name followed by the scientific name, the beginning of an introduction with a more about choice, and icons for the number of images and videos.  In the case of the tiger there are 157 images and 31 videos.

You can click on the mammal's picture, either of the icons or the more about link.  If you click on the picture you are taken to the home page for this mammal; the description information.  Above this are other items between which you may toggle; facts, status, range, habitat, biology, threats, conservation, find out more, glossary, references (bibliography) or view them all.  

In addition on this left side you can print this information or change between two different text background colors.  This page can be shared with your Google+ connections, tweeted about on Twitter or liked on Facebook. On the right side you can view all the images in a slideshow, embed an HTML code of the central image in a blog or website, send an email with the link to the image listed, add this image to your personal ARKive scrapbook (registration is required), view all images or videos, Flickr images or share this on numerous social networks.

Choosing one of the eco-regions you are taken to a page with similar items of information as previously noted.  The region is described in the center but toggling through tabs will bring up the biodiversity, range, threats, conservation, find out more, glossary and references.  On the left you can view a slideshow of the images, email a link of the image or get the HTML embed code.  
Links to species found in a particular region are on the right side.

If you click on one of the continents in the geography section it takes you to a list of the areas within that continent.  Upon selecting one of them, a specie page appears.  The search options are amazing.  You can change the list from specie to photos to videos to blog posts or all.  But on the left the search can be more refined by keyword searching or searching by a specific group, range, conservation status, topics, taxonomy or last updated.  

When you choose conservation status the page presentation and options are identical to the geography pages.  When you click on the Google Earth link you are taken to a page for downloading the Google Earth Plugin.  This is used to explore the ARKive threatened marine species.  

When you select fun stuff blocks provide links to outdoor activities, the Survival app (free), animal masks, origami animals, games, E-cards, ARKive top 10s and scrapbooks.  The app is available for Apple or Android.  Through this game children and adults will learn more about endangered species.

The education resources pages offer a variety of tools for teachers.  There are five different age groupings.  Within each specific focus area there might be teachers' notes, a classroom presentation, a handout, a handout answer sheet, an activity pack or other supporting materials.

Under ages 7-11 I choose Butterflies and Blooms.   The teachers' notes contains how long the lesson will take, the learning outcomes, what materials you will need, a summary, preparation guidelines, how to run the session, discussion questions and extension activities.  The classroom presentation is a nine slide Powerpoint.   The specie study sheet and summer bloom wheel template work together matching three butterflies with their habitats.  

For each age level the United States standards are listed.

ARKive is a stunning, information-rich resource of benefit to anyone regardless of their knowledge level about a particular specie.  Navigation is flawless.  For educators it's a goldmine not to be missed in our efforts inform; to create understanding in order to protect our planet.

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