Systems of Support Supporting Educator Excellence through Technology and Strategy

Monthly Archives: July 2010

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Mission-US.org

I had the opportunity to sit in on the unveiling of a new interactive multi-media project Thursday. Without going too far into the background of the whole thing, it originated from a grant that was awarded to a New York public broadcasting company (see www.thirteen.org), who then chose 10 sites in the US through another grant to start using it with.  KET (Kentucky Educational Television) was awarded one of the grants and I had the opportunity to be invited to the initial training provided to a few teachers, KET folks and representatives from other state organizations.

Now for the important part. This multi-media project is a fancy name for a game, but as we all know using the word game in education isn’t always a good idea.   Mission-US is different however.  While it is a game, it comes with more teacher materials than you can imagine.  It breaks each section of the game down and provides background information, vocabulary, how it relates to standards, and tons of activities to do in class.   So a teacher could decide to use the game in one class, or do what most teachers who were involved in the pilot did and use it over multiple class periods.

There’s really much more to say about it than the information I provided here.  The first game in the series is “For  Crown or Colony”, which deals with the American Revolution.  It has been tested with teachers and students in a variety of settings and proved to be both engaging and increased achievement.  More games are to come over the next few years on a variety of US History topics.  One of the best parts about this is that it is completely free.  I believe the official release date is towards the end of September, but it can be accessed now.  Check it out at www.mission-us.org

MindMeister – Another Brainstorming Tool

I just came across a site called MindMeister, which is a web based mind mapping/brainstorming software. It is similar to mywebspiration.com (which is currently in beta and free, but will likely be available as a paid subscription only soon) and is free for up to three boards, or if you are in education you can get the Premium edition for only $18/year. My initial thoughts on this site are very positive. The free version allows for the basics (create a board, sharing, printing, exporting to a pdf, etc…), but for $18 a year there are some additional very cool features. There is really too much for me to mention in a blog post, so check it out for yourself at http://www.mindmeister.com/. Another big plus for me is the ability to work in offline mode if you are traveling and do not have access to email and the mobile app.