Now I live in Myanmar, teaching at an international school with a U.S. style curriculum, using many U.S.-based resources. Inevitably questions arise where I need to have more of an Asian perspective, and yet that information is not always so easy to find.
In my science class recently we were studying biodiversity, and how it is an indicator of the health of an ecosystem. As I prepared for the unit, I found a guide for organisms that live in ponds in North Carolina, and how the types of organism could be an indicator of the health of the pond. Of course my immediate thought was, “I wish I could find a guide like that for Myanmar ponds, but, sigh…”.
So with our recent task of seeking out online collaborative projects for students, I was struck by the project called “Bucket Buddies”, which invites students from around the world to compare living organisms found in local ponds. They get to see which organisms are common to different continents, and which are unique. How much more fun that could have been for my students, when looking at biodiversity, to have been able to compare their data with others around the world. It could have truly brought home the concept of biodiversity, along with connecting their learning with students around the world. Granted, the project is for grades 1-5, and I teach 6th, but I definitely think their thinking skills would have expanded from it.
The other project that caught my interest was the Jason Project, which allows students to connect with scientists conducting real research. While I’m not sure if students from around the world interact with each other also (my internet isn’t great at the moment), the topics and interaction looked very stimulating, and they have contests which some eager students might love to participate in. In addition there are games, curriculum, all sorts of things to engage students and help the teacher.
These are only two projects that I looked into, but I found links to so many more ideas that it got a little bewildering. Perhaps that is the true challenge of today’s digital age, when there are so many ideas, projects, etc., that it’s hard to keep track of them all, and to remember them when it comes time to potentially use them. I wonder what other teachers’ strategies are for keeping track of all the amazing ideas on the internet, so that they are not just lost as a bookmark or folder somewhere, never to be looked at again until it is perhaps too late. I’m guessing that tagging might be helpful with this, but would love to learn more tips.