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Summer Activities for Students with Learning Disabilities

As summer is fast approaching, many students are thinking about fun in the sun, family vacations, and summer camp.   Students may consider it a time to stop learning, but research has proven that if students do not spend any time in educational activities then their learning loss can retract by, at minimum, 2 months.  This means that a student leaving the 2nd grade and entering the 3rd grade will still be on a 2nd grade level.  This is especially important for students with learning disabilities.  This loss can put the student even further behind their classmates.

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There are many fun ways that fun time, family vacations, and summer camp can be intertwined with learning.

Learning at the Beach

A trip to the local beach can be filled with learning opportunities for a child.  Children love to play in the sand and romp through the waves of the ocean.  While playing with children at the beach, they can learn about what sand is made up of, the importance of the ocean to the environment, and the math behind building the perfect sand castle.

The summer is also peak turtle nesting season.  If you are fortunate to live in a sea turtle nesting area, you can go on a nest hunt.  The nests will be marked off in the sand with information to learn about protecting the nests.  Children can then learn about the different sea turtle species, their nesting habits, and hatchlings.

Websites for Learning at the Beach

  1. Enchanted Learning Beach Activities – great activities and crafts for younger children to do while at the beach or about the beach
  2. Frugal Activities at the Beach – list of great low-cost ideas for hands-on projects while at the beach
  3. EPA – great website for parents/teachers to learn about the beach to then teach their children/students

Historical Family Vacation

If you are going away this summer, it is easy to tie in history by visiting some of the famous landmarks around the United States.  I recently went on a school trip to Charleston and Savannah where students learned about American history by visiting various historical attractions.  The students enjoyed having their ‘history book come to life.’ Many cities around the country offer educational tours of the museums, landmarks, and attractions that include the historical importance.

Websites for Historical Family Vacations

  1. TripAdvisor History & Culture Trips in the United States – top vacation options including information on places to visit in the top 16 cities for history and culture
  2. Learning Vacations for Kids –  includes tips for parents traveling with kids to encourage learning while on vacation

Summer Camps

Many local summer camps offer fun hands-on learning and activities for the summer.   Many camps also make accommodations for students with special needs.  Traditional camps are typically provided through school districts, museums, and city recreation centers.  Also look for other options at local nature centers, parks, or research other options in the local newspaper or online.  Camps are a great way for students to learn, be active, and participate in activities with children their age away from the formal school setting.  While your children will be learning things that can tie into academic curriculum, they will also be learning social skills.

Websites for Finding the Perfect Summer Camp

  1. Choose a Camp – Choose and compare camps based on location, activity, or even special needs
  2. Computer Summer Camp – Use www.internaldrive.com for information on camps all around the U.S. geared toward technology and computing
  3. Choosing a Camp – great website that provides information about the different types of camps for kids and their strengths and weaknesses

Article by Laura Ketcham

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The Impact of Common Core Standards on Special Education

Last summer the federal government moved away from the educational standards provided in No Child Left Behind into a new set of standards called Common Core Standards.  Common Core Standards, commonly referred to as CCS, provide a basis for standards at each grade level for reading, language arts, and math that are to be followed by all states.  Previously, each state was able to determine the standards, how they would be implemented in the classroom, and how they would be assessed at the end of the year to provide the data to the state and federal government to show academic progress.  The rigor and standards for each grade level were not consistent across the states.  No Child Left Behind left room for much interpretation including as to how special needs students fit into the academic puzzle.  An additional document released with the standards addresses the needs for special education students and adaptations.

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CCS’s Impact on Special Education

The Council for Exceptional Children has an informative article about how the change to CCS will impact the special education classroom.   The CCS will be the same across the grade levels for special needs students as it is for the general education classrooms.  The goal is to hold all students to high expectations of learning gains based on college and career readiness.  However, for special needs students there are specific adaptations, accommodations, and assistive technology provided for students to be able to attain those high standards.  The documentation provides information that struggling students should be provided with interventions and that the standards should be read in a broad manner that allows for adaptations to help students with special needs to achieve mastery of the standards at the highest level possible.  The broad interpretation opens the way for changes that can be determined at the state and local level.

This change in standards with increased levels of mastery for special needs students will come with some growing pains.  Special education teachers, along with general education teachers who teach special needs students in the general education setting, will need to be provided professional development opportunities to learn about scaffolding ideas, helping struggling students meet high standards, and how to meet the needs of special education students in the general education classroom.   The states, districts, schools, and teachers are challenged to find the means that works best in their environment to teach the students to gain mastery in those standards that are outlined.

Reading & Language Arts Standards

The Reading and Language Arts Standards provided in the CCS are not solely for the language arts and reading teachers.  The standards promote literacy across all classes.  There are specific standards for reading in history, science, technology, health, and mathematics.  Each grade level is broken down into various higher level categories like reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language standards.  Then, it is broken down into grade-specific standards that help to achieve the goal of college and career readiness.

Math Standards

The CCS Math Standards focus on the students being able to understand math rather than just solve equations.  Ideas like understanding the problem, reasoning, and modeling are integrated into the standards.  The math standards do not directly address the accommodations for students who are struggling or special needs students except for the fact that they should be provided access to the high-level of standards with accommodations or assistive technology as needed.  The standards are broken down into clusters and domains to outline the various mathematical concepts that the students should learn at each grade level.

Article By Laura Ketcham

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The 2011 Basketball Draft Lottery & Neurofibromatosis

Living in South Florida, basketball has been a hot topic this year.  The formation of the ‘dream team’ including Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh has definitely created a stir.  While many eyes are still on the finals and who will win the championship, this week the basketball Draft Lottery was conducted.   The Cleveland Cavaliers, who lost Lebron James as their star player this year, definitely came out on top in the draft.  They now have the first and fourth selections in the 2011 draft this summer that can allow them to pick 2 top players to help rebuild their team.

basketball

The interesting point, which connects this post to education and special needs students  is that the individual who made the pick which allows the team to select the first player in the draft was the Cleveland Cavaliers  owner’s son , and good luck charm, Nick Gilbert.  Nick is 14 years old and became a celebrity overnight.  He was dressed to impress and has had many complements on his throw-back glasses and bow tie.  The unique thing about Nick is that he has a genetic disorder called Neurofibromatosis.  His popularity from this event will hopefully raise awareness about the disorder in hopes for a possible cure.

Neurofibromatosis

Neurofibromatosis, or NF, is a genetic disorder that caused the growth of tumors on nerve tissue.    The tumors can cause various problems with the skin, skeletal system, and other neurological problems.  The severity of the disorder can vary.  NF is also commonly linked with other learning disabilities, epilepsy and leukemia.  There is no cure for NF.  Therapy is done to reduce the number of tumors and surgery can remove the tumors, however more tumors will grow back.  If the tumors are cancerous, then chemotherapy is administered.  The Neurofibromatosis Association is hopeful that there will be a cure within the next 5-10 years.

Nick has had brain surgery and chemotherapy to help him to manage with the tumors and secondary complications related to NF.  Nick has also lost vision in one of his eyes.  Despite his health issues, he is a very optimistic and energetic boy.

Nick is also the ambassador for the Children’s Tumor Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports research and awareness of NF.  With his exposure on the Draft Lottery, I hope that Nick will be a great ambassador to encourage others to support the research of NF through various fundraising activities.  May is NF Awareness Month and May 17th is also World NF Awareness Day.  In conjunction with these events, during the Draft Lottery, Nick tweeted, offered special prizes, and encouraged participates to text in a donation to help support the Children’s Tumor Foundation matching all of the funds raised.

NF & School

NF can be very difficult for children in the classroom, especially if the tumors are large and in places that other students can notice like the face, neck, and arms.  Some of the most well-known cases of NF are stories that have been aired on television involving teenagers who have tumors on their faces and then undergo surgery to remove the tumor.

Students with NF can struggle mastering material, have difficulty with penmanship, and language delays among social concerns and issues.  Like with most disabilities, early intervention, building a good relationship between the teacher and the child and family, and understanding how the disorder will affect the child’s education are very important.

Links for Learning about & Teaching Students with NF

  1. Children’s Tumor Foundation
  2. Preparing Teachers to teach a student with NF
  3. Brochure including helpful facts and figures about NF

Article By Laura Ketcham

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Space Exploration Lesson Ideas

There are many different space-based teachable moments that will happen in 2011.  Space events for this year so far include a solar eclipse, meteor shower, the super moon, and four planets can be seen with the naked eye.  Still to come this year are a lunar eclipse, meteor showers, and  the last shuttle launch in the United State by Endeavor.  These teachable moments can capture students’ attention to learn about science topics based on real life.  Teachers can find the dates and time period for these events in a Space.com’s article about the space watching season.

space

There are some great online resources to learn about space, the moon, the sun, the planets, and the United States involvement in the space program.

Space.com

Space.com is an article and video based website that covers and reports on the top space, space travel, and sky watching happenings.  This is a great website for middle and high school students to use for research projects based on space.  Topics range from how to clean up space junk, the shuttle launch rescheduled for May 16th, photos of space, photos of earth from space to videos about various space science events.

I found the article about the launch on May 16th to be informative and interesting.  I can see middle school students reading and responding to this article in a journal entry, which would combine science and writing.  I loved that  the article touched on why the shuttle did not launch on the 29th, the experiments that will be happening on this last trip, the importance of the crew, and what will happen to the shuttle after it returns.

NASA

NASA has a very extensive website about space exploration with videos, articles, and mission information.  There is a specific section for teachers and another section for students.

The teacher section provides resources for teachers to use to create lessons, units, and projects for students to learn about space exploration in conjunction with the NASA website.   There are resources to learn about the different events that will happen this year in space like the super moon, the solar eclipse, and the planets aligning in the sky this month.

The student section includes videos, pictures, articles, games, and experiments based on grade level.  I especially enjoyed the interactive story about the shuttle.  This online interactive book includes historical facts about the shuttle, the missions, how it works, how it launches, bios on astronauts, and a comments section for students to read and post comments about the activity.  This is a great resource to explore further to incorporate in your classroom lessons on space.

Other Great Websites about Space:

  1. National Geographic  – Space
  2. Hubble – Pictures of Space
  3. Kids Astronomy
  4. About.com Space Tour

Article By Laura Ketcham

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Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month

May is Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month.  Many activities and events will be held to raise money for research to find a cure for cystic fibrosis.  Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that causes the lungs to fail, which typically leads to an early death.  Research, early diagnosis, and medications have greatly increased the life span of individuals with cystic fibrosis to the average age of 35.   Children with cystic fibrosis may have difficulty gaining weight, will eat a specialized diet to lessen digestive complications, and may be taking medicines to keep mucus build up in the lungs down.  Children with cystic fibrosis can attend school, play sports, and do the typical things that any child would do.

walking

Living with Cystic Fibrosis at School

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation provides a great resource for teachers to learn how the disease will affect a child’s education at school.  The handbook provides a brief introduction to what cystic fibrosis is and then covers how it may affect the student and how this will impact their education.  Keeping your classroom clean, providing hand sanitizer, and allowing the student to use the restroom or leave the class if coughing, or to get a drink of water are common classroom adjustments.  Encouraging the student to be active at recess, PE, or school organized sports is also encouraged to help keep their body strong.  The child also needs to eat a higher calorie diet in order to continue growing, so allowing a snack time during class could also be an accommodation.

Based on my experience, the only adaptations that had to be made to the classroom environment were that the student could go to the bathroom when she needed or to get a drink of water, instead of having a limited number of bathroom passes per week. If she was out for extended periods of times due to complications from the disease  I needed to keep in email contact with the classwork and assignments so that she could attempt to keep up when she was feeling okay to work at home.  I also made myself available in the morning times when she would return to school to help her get caught up on assignments and missed activities.

Great Strides

Great Strides, the largest cystic fibrosis fundraiser of the year, will be held in many cities between April and May with individuals walking and being sponsored to raise awareness about this life threatening disease.  The website link provides information about the walk, finding a walk in your area, and a place for sponsors to make donations toward your walk.  There is also information about the foundation and cystic fibrosis to pass along to supporters.

School Fundraisers

Schools could also hold their own fundraisers to support the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  My school holds an annual week of fundraising and awareness for CF.  This includes a “change for change” program where students bring in change to donate to the foundation, a bake sale, and a “jeans for genes” program where students make a donation to wear jeans to school for a day.  Students in the art classes also create roses for the 65 Roses Project.  Over the past several years the school has raised a significant amount of money to donate to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Other school fundraising ideas include holding a benefit concert with student performers with proceeds going to the foundation, having students create rose crafts to sell at a craft sale, or holding a carwash to raise funds.  Does your school participate in charity fund raising events?  If so, please share your unique ideas !

Article By Laura Ketcham

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Lesson Ideas for Cinco de Mayo & Mother’s Day

This week we are celebrating Cinco de Mayo and Mother’s Day.   These two special occasions provide great hands- on-learning connections in the classroom with crafts and culture.

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Cinco de Mayo Lesson Ideas

Cinco de Mayo is a celebration held in Mexico honoring their victory over the French army in 1862.  In Mexico, this is a relatively small holiday that is only celebrated in Pueblo.  In the United States however, this special occasion has grown to celebrate Mexican heritage, food, and customs.  Here are some lesson ideas to celebrate Cino de Mayo in your classroom.

  1. Mr. Donn’s website provides not just lessons about Cinco de Mayo, but full units of lessons, activities, and resources on the topic of Mexico.   This site also has a presentation to share with students, a reader’s theater lesson, and a link to games that you can play in your classroom for Cinco de Mayo.
  2. The Teacher’s Corner has lesson plans including holding a classroom fiesta, learning Cinco de Mayo vocabulary and history, and making arts and crafts related to the holiday including paper flowers and piñatas.
  3. Scholastic has resources on their website to teach students the history and cultural significance of the holiday.  These activities are great because they are already standards based and provide great classroom instruction for an introduction on the topic.  The activities are very visually oriented and would be great to complete as a class using an Interactive board.

Mother’s Day Lesson Ideas

Mother’s Day, which is always celebrated on the second Sunday in May in the United States, is a day to honor motherhood and ones’ mother.  In the United States, it is typical to celebrate by having a special day for your mother.  Making breakfast, buying flowers, or making a card are traditional ways to honor mothers.

Mother’s Day is actually celebrated all around the world during different times of the year.  Each country has their own customs of the significance and customs of Mother’s Day.  This would make a great lesson that combines the occasion, geography, and culture connection.  Wikipedia has a list of the countries who celebrate Mother’s Day including the date they celebrate and their customs.  Students could be paired off to learn about one of the countries and how they celebrate and then present to the class.

For younger students, crafting and Mother’s Day go hand in hand.  There are many different crafting ideas for young students on Mother’s Day.

  1. Mother’s Day Central provides 151 Craft Project Ideas for Mother’s Day.  Some of the crafts are more complicated  and intended for older children and require more material, while other craft ideas are perfect for young students like creating a frame to put a picture of themselves in, making paper flowers, or designing and decorating a greeting card
  2. Danielle’s Place has very cute craft ideas for mother’s day that aren’t as typical.  This includes creating a bookmark, puzzle cards, window clings, and jewelry made out of paper.  The great thing about all of the ideas on this page is that it provides you a list of materials needed for the project, a picture of the completed project, and the steps of how to complete the project.
  3. Enchanted Learning has projects for younger students.  They include printables with starter projects ideas.  They also have classroom connection worksheets with vocabulary words related to Mother’s Day.

Have fun celebrating this week!  Feel free to share your crafty lesson ideas for these holidays by commenting below!

Article By Laura Ketcham

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School Weather Safety

April has definitely lived up to the first part of its mantra “in like a lion.”  This month, parts of the United States have been ravaged by tornadoes, flooding, and fires which have destroyed homes, schools, and even entire towns.  Teachers and students need to be aware of the safety precautions and measures in order to stay safe during these natural and man-made disasters.

hurricane

Schools always have safety plans in case of these events directly correlating to the area of the country that you reside.  However, a unique lesson about learning about weather and disasters is to go above and beyond just teaching the students about staying safe.   A unique lesson idea would be to explore the ideas in more depth so that the students have a deeper understanding of the events.  Since this topic is close to their actual experiences in real life, they will take away the learning from the lesson and be able to apply it if and when needed throughout their lives.

This is especially important for students with special needs.   Some students may not be mobile nor have the independent skills needed to move into a safe area during a weather or disaster threat.  A plan should be in place to help student reach safety including other adults and students to assist those students in need.  If the students are educated on what to expect this will help the students to not panic during a real emergency.

Websites for Lesson Ideas about Fire, Flood, and Tornado Safety

Sparky the Fire Dog is a great resource for younger children to learn about fire safety in homes and schools.  On this website, there are interactive activities for students and lesson plans for teachers.   There are printables for a home fire safety checklist and an escape route grid that students can create.

To learn about wildfires, using the resources provided by Smokey the Bear are great to make connections with students.  This website has resources for all ages of students.  Older students can learn about the science of wildfires and how to fight wildfires while younger students can learn about being smart outdoors.

FEMA’s website for learning about disasters provides informative facts about the disasters along with interactive activities.  There are sections on wildfires, floods, and tornados.  Each section provides a written explanation appropriate for kids about the disasters, what they can do to prepare in case of the disaster, along with pictures of kids in the aftermath of the disasters that are not too graphic, but provide the students with the understanding of the impact of such an event.

Weather Wiz Kids is another website that provides fun and interactive information about weather related events.  This website is written by a meteorologist directly for kids and teachers. This website has experiments and activities to learn about the weather events along with safety information and weather related information on what causes the events.  There are many informative pictures that help making learning the subject visual and engaging.  Lesson plans are provided for teachers to make the connections between the information on the websites and activities and assessments students can complete to show their knowledge of the subject matter.

For older kids, Discovery Channel’s “Storm Chasers” would be an engaging resource for students to learn about tornados.  The show is a high energy show that gets close up images of the tornado chasers, tornados, and the devastation that they can leave behind.  Students can watch clips of the episodes, play the educational games, take online quizzes about the episodes, or follow their weather tracking site based on the various episodes.

All of these lesson ideas will help to prepare students in the event of a disaster along with teaching core-curriculum science content.

Article By Laura Ketcham

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National Frog Month – Jump Into It!

April is National Frog Month and is a special time set aside to celebrate those little fun creatures found both in urban and rural settings all over the country.  Nearly everyone has been fascinated by the development of a frog from a tadpole, listened to their croaking calls, or watched them leap in the grass or on the pond.  There are so many engaging activities for students to learn about frogs.  Books, movies, crafting activities, and even apps have been created for children to study frogs.  Teaching students about frogs in the classroom is a very interactive lesson plan that children of all ages enjoy and can be tied to many subject areas.

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Frog Activities Based on Books

There are many famous children’s books that have a frog as the main character.  One of my favorite series, Frog and Toad, is a collection of easy reader short stories based on the adventures of Frog and Toad.  Their traits and appearances hold true to the actual characteristics of frogs and toads.  This story would be a great lead into a lesson about the differences between frogs and toads.

Jump, Frog, Jump! is a very cute picture book that involves repetition and the life cycle.  Younger students appreciate the repetition and the rhyming while older student can use it at a spring board for learning more about frogs and other reptiles.  Kcls.org has a document of a variety of lessons for reading this picture book.

Frog Activities Based on Movies & Television

The Princess and the Frog, a Disney movie that came out in 2009, is a popular frog movie for children.  This story is a modern retelling of the Frog Prince.  Lessons for this movie can include learning about frogs, crocodiles, and lightening bugs along with connections to learning about jazz and New Orleans.  Scholastic has a website of plans and printables for lessons based on The Princess and the Frog.

National Geographic has an entire documentary style series of videos available on their website to learn about specific species of frogs like the Leopard Frog and the Bullfrog.  The videos are short and designed for kids.  There are facts sheets and links associated with each video for further exploration.

Kermit the Frog is a famous connection to frogs that kids of all ages will love to learn about.  Students can make connections between Kermit and real frogs describing the similarities and differences.  Students can also learn many academic-based lessons with the video clips of Kermit the Frog that are available online.

Frog Activities Based on Apps

One of the standard requirements for high school biology classes is to dissect a frog.  The Easy Frog Dissection app is an educational guide that allows students to dissect a real frog by viewing real images of a frog with the various organs pinpointed and explained.  This app is great for high school students to review and study or in lieu of completing an actual dissection.

Frogsaregreen.com has an online review of 5 of the top frog apps.  U.S. State Amphibians can be used to find out which frogs live in your part of the country.  Frog Flip can be used to study the variety of frogs based on their physical characteristics.  Frog Dissection is a virtual application where students can dissect frogs.  Pocket Frogs is a popular free game that students can play where they become the frog surviving through environment challenges.

Other Resources for Learning about Frogs

  1. Kid Activities – Frog Themed Lessons
  2. Harcourt School – The Life Cycle of a Frog
  3. eHow – Celebrating National Frog Month
  4. Exploratorium – Frogs (Great for middle school students)
  5. Grow-a-frog kits

Article By Laura Ketcham

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April: Autism Awareness Month

April is Autism Awareness Month.  This month is dedicated to spreading awareness about autism through various events that help to raise money for research about this developmental disorder.  The Autism Society began holding Autism Awareness Month in the 1970’s.

autism

Autism impacts social and communication skills.  There are varying degrees of autism including Kanner’s Syndrome (classic autism), Rett Syndrome, Asperger’s Syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder.  Autism is measured on the Autism Spectrum Disorders scale and can range from mild to severe.   Autism is typically diagnosed between birth and two years of age.  When the diagnosis happens at a young age, interventions can begin to help the child with social interactions and learning communication skills.

Typically, a form titled ARI’s diagnostic form is used to diagnose autism.  Questions about the pregnancy, birth, developmental growth stages, and behaviors of the child are used to calculate a score.  This score is then utilized in part of the diagnosis process for autism.

There are many organizations and companies that are dedicated to helping individuals with autism.  Many of them provide information on this disorder, raise funds for research, and provide support for families and individuals with autism.

The Autism Society

The Autism Society is a non-profit organization that strives to improve the lives of all individuals with autism.  They are actively involved in pursuing educational initiatives for children with autism as well as holding conferences and providing assistance to families with autistic children.  For Autism Awareness Month, The Autism Society has an article with an annotated list of events that are happening around the United States to build awareness and raise funds for autism research.

Autism Speaks

Autism Speaks is a non-profit advocacy organization for autism research, treatments, and support.  Their website provides information about autism, ways to raise money for autism research, and support for families with autistic children.  The information section is a great resource for teachers to learn what autism is, theories about what contributes to the development of autism, how it is diagnosed, how it is treated, special education services provided for students with autism, and family planning for a child with autism.  These valuable resources can help to lead to the diagnosis and treatment of a student with autism and make the teacher more aware of classroom modifications that will need to be made for students with autism.

The Autism Education Network

The Autism Education Network provides information about special education rights for students with autism.  They also coordinate trainings, programs, and services to help support families with autistic children.   There is a resource center with links, books, downloads of autism reading materials, and connections to find experts or speakers in the field of autism.  This network also helps families make connections with other families with autistic children in their area.

Vizzle

Vizzle is an online learning program for students with autism.  There are pre-made lessons that can be customized to meet the student and classroom needs or teachers can also create their own lessons with the large database of pictures and sounds.  Students learn academic-based curriculum with the use of pictures, sounds, video, and animations.  Lessons can also include teaching students social, communication, and every-day task skills.

Article By Laura Ketcham

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Life Science Apps | Education

The featured learning applications from the Apple App Store this week are life science apps.  Life science lends itself to be hands-on and engaging.  Visual tools including websites, videos, and photos are easily accessible for teaching this topic.  Apps are especially useful to assist in teaching this topic because of this interactive nature.  Life science topics include biology, anatomy, physiology, plants, animals, reference tools, games, and application of life science.  Here are a few of the interesting apps that you can find via the Life Science Learning Apps on Apple.

butterfly

Butterfly Migration Game

National Geographic’s Great Migrations App is a very timely app.  Monarch butterflies begin their migration north around this time of year, depending on the weather.  In this game-style app students have to help guide the monarch butterflies through various weather, geographical, predator-related and physical challenges, similar to what butterflies will encounter on their journey north.  There are several levels and modes (other animals that migrate) that make this app adaptable for students of a variety of levels.  This would be a great way to introduce a unit about butterflies or even to conclude your unit.

This app is based off of a series that National Geographic created called Great Migrations.  There are videos and an extensive website about the various animal migrations that happen each year.   This would also be a great learning resource for the classroom.

Easy Dissection

Easy Dissection is an app for students to learn the biology of a frog.  This tool can be used as a pre-learning resource before students actually dissect the animal or as a dissection alternative.  Pins easily identify the parts of the frog and students can easily zoom in and out on the organs of the animal with a swipe of their finger.  The images are of an actual frog, not an animated image of a frog, so students can see what the actual organs look like, not just a cartoon image.

Another frog dissection app is called Frog Dissection.  This app is more interactive where students get to cut, pin back, and dissect the virtual frog.  Labels include the function of the organ, lifecycle, and classification.

EcoBugs

EcoBugs is a super fun free educational app.   There is setup required both physically and electronically that must be done by the teacher to plan the activity.  Teachers should login and create an account on the Eco Bug website.  Then they have to setup the habitats for the location of the virtual bugs.  There is a teacher’s resource packet available on their website to help in setting up the activity and planting the locations of the bugs.

The app is downloaded to the iPod Touch or iPad and then the students are sent on a journey around the school location that the teacher chose to find virtual bugs based on the habitats that you set up.  Students working in teams will use the iPod Touch to bait, name, and classify the bugs.  The more bugs a group catches the more the points they earn.  There are 13 additional activities for the students can complete after they have located the bugs.  These activities include learning about the compass rose, classifying bugs, food chain, habitats, sorting, and identification.

What other great life science apps have you used in your classroom?  Feel free to share by commenting below.

Article By Laura Ketcham

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