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Learning Quests, 4-9
Quest Atlantis (QA) is an international learning and teaching project that uses a 3-dimensional gaming multi-user environment. A storyline is presented through an introductory video, novel, and comic book. QA includes both curricular and optional projects that can be completed both online and offline as students work alone or together to accomplish tasks within the international community.

Sample Unit:
“The Taiga Fishkill unit is an interactive narrative set within an aquatic habitat (the Taiga Park) with a serious ecological problem. Students navigate through the virtual park and interact with other players and non-player characters that communicate their perspective on the problem. After students learn about potential causes of the fish demise in Taiga Park, they are asked to make a recommendation about how to resolve the issue. In making this decision, students have to consider their conceptual tools (i.e. understanding eutrophication, erosion, and over fishing) in order to make a recommendation about what to do (i.e. stop the indigenous people from farming, tell the loggers they can no longer cut trees in the park, or shut down the game fishing company). After making a recommendation, students travel 20 years forward in game time and see the results of their recommendations (experiential consequentiality)., 7-12 includes the entire archives of photo giants Life magazine and Getty Images. Users can view galleries curated by the site's editors or search the library by names, dates, subjects, and locations. The archive chronicles current events, too, with daily news galleries and the addition of 3,000 new Getty photos a day. Life's last editor, Bill Shapiro, who heads up the new project, wants students, teachers, and parents to use the site to make history more tangible. "We didn't want simply to create a historical repository or a dusty archive. We wanted these events to feel as alive as they did when they happened."

Photos on the site are organized into five channels: news, celebrity, travel, animals, and sports. Visitors can print individual images and share them through sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Del.ic.ious. New features of, due to roll out in the coming months, will allow users to create their own photo galleries (on, say, the life and work of Maya Angelou, for English class, or animal life in the Everglades, for science). All the site's tools will be free.

This is a free European digital library, museum and archive. The Web site gives users direct access to some 2 million digital objects, including film material, photos, paintings, sounds, maps, manuscripts, books, newspapers and archival papers. From the Magna Carta to music scores by Mozart, Europeana features multilingual searching and plans to have 10 million items by 2010.

Experience Nobel Laureates, 9-12 draws students’ interest with games, experiments, and simulated environments where they can test and build their knowledge in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, peace, and economics. A central thought or issue is explored during 10-20 minutes of activity, using a specific Nobel Prize-awarded work as a springboard for the exercise. The activities offer an effective way of using the Internet for in-class activities, homework, or enrichment. The high level of interactivity and the sophisticated illustrations provide a quality learning experience.

LabWrite, 9-12
LabWrite helps students learn science through writing better lab reports. It is a free, online student resource tool that provides just-in-time instruction for students throughout the lab experience. Each section allows students to complete the lab by self-guiding, with hardcopy handouts, or through interactive tutoring. It provides full support for descriptive labs and labs that students design for themselves. It includes a set of resources, such as an Excel tutorial and guides for creating tables and graphs.

Chemistry Collective, 9-12
This is a collection of virtual labs, scenario-based learning activities, and concepts tests that can be incorporated into a variety of teaching approaches as pre-labs, alternatives to textbook homework, and in-class activities for individuals or teams. It is organized by a group of faculty and staff at Carnegie Mellon University for teachers who are interested in using, assessing, and creating engaging online activities for chemistry education. The National Science Foundation currently funds it, so the software is available free of charge to all educators and students.

Classroom Earth, 7-12
The National Environmental Education Foundation, in partnership with The Weather Channel, has launched this free program designed to enhance and strengthen environmental education. It uses the expertise and passion of teachers and students around the country to integrate environmental education. Through experiential learning, students are empowered to take positive action to improve the environment now and in the future.

* Resources for teachers: Helps weave cutting-edge environmental curricula into core high school classes, from art to science. In the News includes environmental news article(s) to connect to classroom content. News articles are linked to suggested curricula. Where in the World offers geographically based environmental information.

* Grants: Offers three competitive grant programs for students and teachers.

* Online Communities: Provides two exciting interactive on-line hubs of practical environmental education resources.

Chemistry Series DVDs, 9-12

This DVD series features content from the "Standard Deviants: The Super-Charged World of Chemistry" series with extra content. The DVDs are designed to capture students' attention and make chemistry come alive. Each DVD is about 26 minutes.

E2: Economies of Being Environmentally Conscious, 7-12

This new DVD series from PBS Video explores sustainable solutions to environmental and social challenges, presented with a combination of storytelling. Each program is about 180 minutes. Click here.

Electricity: A 3-D Animated Demonstration, 9-12

This is a series of seven new DVDs: Circuits, Electric Generators, Electric Motors, Electricity and Magnetism, Electrostatics, Ohm's Law, and Power and Efficiency. Click here.

Middle School Math Teachers’ Circle
A Math Teachers’ Circle brings teachers together and gives them a chance to work on engaging topics and problems, and at the same time become acquainted with an effective problem solving approach to math. Any education professional involved with Iowa middle school mathematics can participate. Expenses for the Teachers’ Circle will be paid for by a grant from the Iowa Mathematics and Science Education Partnership (IMSEP). Expenses covered include room and board for the week of the workshop June 7-12, 2009), reimbursement for travel to and from the workshop, and materials.

Digital Citizenship, 6-12
The Digital Citizenship and Creative Content curriculum is a no-cost instructional program designed to “raise awareness and foster better understanding of the rights connected with creative content”. The curriculum resources offer a set of cross-curricular classroom activities that are divided into four thematic units. Each unit consists of standalone yet complementary lesson plans that center around a creative rights scenario presented through a case study. Each unit has 4-6 project-oriented activities. Includes pre/post assessments. This curriculum aligns with the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Standards for the 21st-Century Learner and covers subject areas that include civics, computer science, debate, fine arts, economics, government, journalism, language arts, drama and video production.

10 Ideas for Using Cell Phones in Education, K-12

In today's "flat world" millions of students in China, Japan, the Philippines, and Germany are using their mobile phones to learn English; study math, health and spelling; and to access live and archived university lectures. Marc Prensky shares that the average cell phone has more computing power than many of the computers of 10 years ago. He goes on to ask, “How can we harness that power in education?” Below are 10 easy ideas for integrating cell phones into learning and instruction.

1. Student response polling or pop quizzes
2. Find definitions, currency conversion, math equations, translations
3. Use as an Internet browser to access information
4. Research
5. Read news articles and current events
6. Read books
7. Download and use education programs such as Google Maps and use as GPS
8. Use as a digital or video camera to accompany school projects, publishing, etc.
9. Educate students on appropriate and acceptable social use
10. Use the voice technology to share engaging lectures or lessons

Listed below are additional resources for learning more about integrating cell phones into instruction.
Toy to Tools Blog by Liz Kolb
This blog is dedicated to conversing on methods for integrating cell phones into classroom learning.

Cell Phones in Learning Wiki

10 Ways to Use a Camera Phone in Education Blog by Jeff VanDrimmelen

Mobile Phones in Education: Constructive Not Destructive Power Point by Sharon Tonner

2009 Horizon Report for K-12 Edition focused on Mobile Technologies

Teach Digital Wiki by Wes Fryer

Duke University Center for Instructional Technology: Mobile Devices in Education

Cell Phones Get Top Marks in Classroom - article from eSchool News

iPods in the Classroom, K-12
Your district may be exploring ways to use the iTouch or iPods in classrooms. Heartland has collected resources for helping you with future decisions concerning these devices. We hope these resources are of benefit to you.

Nine Reasons for Teachers to Twitter, K-12

According to EduCause, Twitter is an online application that is part blog, part social networking site, part cell phone and instant messaging tool, designed to let users answer the question “What are you doing?” Many tweets do answer the question of what the user is doing, but plenty of others are responses to other tweets, pointers to online resources that the user found interesting, product reviews, customer satisfaction queries, or questions. Twitter lets users create formal friendships, which collectively establish numerous and interconnected networks of users. In addition to the social aspect, you can use Twitter to follow experts in various fields. Twitter works with cell phones and other SMS clients, making it an easy way for mobile users to stay in touch.

Listed below are nine reasons to Twitter developed by Laura Walker, a middle school educator in England.

1. Together we’re better
Twitter can be like a virtual staff room where teachers can access a stream of links, ideas, opinions, and resources from a handpicked selection of global professionals.

2. Global or local--you choose
Educators can actively compare what’s happening in their world with others on different continents. GPS-enabled devices and advanced Web searching allow searches that tell you what people are tweeting within a certain distance of a location.

3. Self-awareness and reflective practice
Teachers on Twitter share their reflections and both support and challenge each other.

4. Ideas workshop and sounding board
Twitter is a great medium for sharing ideas and getting instant feedback. You can gather a range of opinions and constructive criticism within minutes, which can help enormously, whether you are planning a learning experience, writing a policy, or putting a job application together.

5. Newsroom and innovation showcase
Twitter helps you stay up-to-date on news and current affairs, as well as on the latest developments in areas of interest like school leadership and technology.

6. Professional development and critical friends
One of the best things about training days is the breakout time between sessions, when teachers can get together to talk about what they are working on or struggling with. Twitter enables users to have that kind of powerful networking capacity with them all the time. It’s just a matter of finding the right people to follow.

7. Quality-assured searching
Trust the people you follow. Hone and develop the list of people whose insights you value. Once your Twitter network grows past a critical mass, you can ask them detailed questions and get higher-quality information back than a Google search would generally provide.

8. Communicate, communicate, communicate
Expressing yourself in 140 characters is a great discipline. You can become better at saying what needs to be said in my professional communications (even without txtspk).

9. Getting with the times has never been so easy!

Go to and create a free account. A little light searching using key words for your areas of interest will soon yield a list of interesting people to follow. There are plenty of Web sites offering advice on getting started and how to avoid a few common beginners’ mistake.

New NSF Report On Cyberlearning

Fostering Learning in the Networked World: The Cyberlearning Opportunity and Challenge, A 21st Century Agenda for the National Science Foundation identifies cyberlearning as having "…the potential to transform education throughout a lifetime, enabling customized interaction with diverse learning materials on any topic..."

The task force report identifies potential ways in which advanced computing and communications technologies might be leveraged to support learning, highlighting opportunities for further research. In it, the task force offers 5 recommendations for the NSF to pursue:

* Help build a vibrant cyberlearning field by promoting cross-disciplinary communities of cyberlearning researchers and practitioners
* Instill a "platform perspective"—shared, interoperable designs of hardware, software, and services—into NSF's cyberlearning activities
* Emphasize the transformative power of information and communications technology for learning, from K to grey
* Adopt programs and policies to promote open educational resources
* Take responsibility for sustaining NSF-sponsored cyberlearning innovation beyond the length of the grant

To view an online presentation about this report by Professor Christine L. Borgman, the NSF Task Force Chair, go to

eSchool News on Twitter, K-12

You can stay on top of all the latest news and information in educational technology. News stories and other information are posted daily. Click here to learn more.

Why Text Messages Are <160 Characters, K-12

This Los Angeles Times article explains how the standard for text messaging was determined in 1985. Friedhelm Hillebrand was typing random sentences and questions on his typewriter, and as he went along he counted the number of letters, number, punctuation marks and spaces on the page. Each blurb ran on for a line or two and was nearly always under 160 characters. Click here to read the article.

Civic Center Applause! Series, K-12

The 2009-2010 series is announced. All tickets are $1.00. Click here for more information.

Visit the Prado Museum, 6-12
Google recently launched the Prado layer in Google Earth, allowing students to explore highly detailed photographic images of 14 of the Prado Museum’s masterpieces. The Prado Museum in Madrid is one of Spain’s most visited destinations, and with the Google Earth layer, students can view and learn about the museum’s most famous paintings, such as The Maids of Honor (Las Meninas) or The Three Graces (Las Tres Gracias). Google Earth Prado layer also includes 3-D models, which allow students to fly around the Prado buildings to experience the museum as if they were actually there. Open Google Earth, check the 3D buildings layer on the bottom left panel, go to the Prado and access the masterpieces.

Visual Composition, K-5
The Artist’s Toolkit: Visual Elements and Principles is an online interactive that allows students to explore the tools that artists use—for example, line, color and balance—to build works of art. Students can watch an animated demonstration, find examples of concepts in works of art from museums, and create their own compositions. In the See Artists in Action section, students can watch two professional artists using the visual elements and principles. Students can also use the Artist’s Toolkit Encyclopedia to learn more about these building blocks of composition. The encyclopedia includes many examples of works of art that illustrate the visual elements (line, shape, color, space, texture) and visual principles (balance, emphasis, movement/rhythm).

Learn with Seuss Characters, PreK-2
Seuss characters serve as guides at the interactive Seussville University. Contents: reading, letter recognition, sounds of letters, rhyming words, recognizing numerals and number words, counting, simple addition, animal categories, basic astronomy, ecology, patterns and directions, and opposites. The activities can be completed at the computer with the on-screen activities and off-line with the printable documents.

Audio Books & Professional Development

An excellent collection of audio books on current research on education, global issues, and self-improvement is available for checkout. With 85% of our learning and knowledge coming from listening, audio books are an effective way to increase your professional knowledge. Click here.