Quote of the Month

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

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

To Know, To Have Knowledge

Curiosity is a powerful word.  Wanting to know the what, who, why, when and where has been responsible for some amazing discoveries, inventions and understanding of otherwise unknowns.  It's mind-boggling to pause and wonder how different our world would be if not fueled by curiosity.

The American Association of School Librarians Best Websites for Teaching & Learning 2013 under the heading 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 selected a website which is a project of the Directorate for Education and Human Resources Programs of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a part of Thinkfinity.  This website, Science NetLinks, is free to use, designed specifically for the K-12 educational community  and contains:

teaching tools, interactives, podcasts, and hands-on activities.

Across the top of the home page, a tool bar offers the following choices:

  • Books for the Science Classroom
  • Creating Classroom Rules
  • Spotlight on the Brain and
  • Curve Balls.
Moving left to right Books for the Science Classroom is a resource put together by Science Books & Films, a reviewing journal for the AAAS.  Only science trade books which have received a highly recommended rating are included.  This tool links to those reviews.  A blue launch tool button will take you to a new window so you may conduct a keyword search.

Beneath the launch tool button a drop-down box provides an explanation of other possible uses for the items listed in this resource.  In addition, it includes links to possible lessons using trade books.  Every time you access this page three different lessons will appear.  The possibilities are numerous.

Creating Classroom Rules is exactly what it says.  It is a very comprehensive lesson for setting the stage for learning.  It is divided into sections titled what you need, materials, purpose, context, planning ahead, motivation, development, assessment, extensions and related resources.

Spotlight on the Brain is part of a larger feature of the site.  Every day a sixty second podcast, Science Update, highlights news in science, technology or medicine.  This tool will take you to all those podcasts which, in some manner, have to do with the brain.  A transcript and the podcast are listed as choices.  As you can see below, more tie-ins to this tool are provided for educators.

The final option on the top toolbar, Curve Balls, is a sample of an individual Science Update page.  Following the podcast (1) and transcript (2) are several additional paragraphs for further discussion followed by possible questions to use.  As in the previous pages this contains a drop-down menu For Educators section.

Not having visited this website over a long period of time I am not sure if the items on this top tool bar change or if they are examples permanently in place to give users an overview of the site.  Moving down the page there are more options.  These are lessons, tools, collections, afterschool and science news tabs plus a search box for lessons and tools K-12.  

When you select lessons or tools an advanced but user friendly search screen appears as pictured below.  Beneath this are the most popular lessons and the most recent lessons used.  (On the tools page the most popular tools are listed as well as an explanation of what tools are: hands-on activities, interactives, teaching aids or websites.) Under grades, themes and content you can click any number of the boxes you desire to refine or enlarge your search. 

For this search I choose fifth grade astronomy lessons (1).  On the left-hand side I can filter the results (2) by type and intended audience.  The resources are listed by title with appropriate grade levels for use (3).

The Collections lists about twenty special groupings per page (1).  An explanation of what constitutes a collection is given on the right-hand side (2).  Each collection list is broken down by the specific item such as lessons, tools, science updates, videos, and other resources.

Offering many hands-on science activities the Afterschool page is a more casual approach.  When you choose a specific title, there will be an option for educators and for students.  The educator option gives you materials, background, activity instructions, and related activities.  The student option gives you an activity sheet and online resources.

The final tab on the far right, Science News, is similar to the home page.  Predominantly shown are three major boxes featuring a rotation of resources, a Science Update and Today in Science. You can select the Science Updates box to see all of them.  If you choose Today in Science there is a calendar where any date in the year can be viewed.

Each time a lesson, tool, collection or after school title is selected on the right a small black box appears titled ______Details.  Here you will see grades, themes, and type.  Added to these might be project 2061 benchmarks or state standards.  If you desire by clicking on grades, themes or type, you are taken back to the advanced search box page. 

Science NetLinks is an impressive website.  As I explored hour after hour, I found myself continually fascinated by the information presented as well as the value it would provide to students, staff and parents in any school district.  Navigation of the site was extremely easy giving users multiple means to access to the variety of sources.  I can't imagine a science educator not using this site to enhance classroom instruction.

No comments:

Post a Comment