Over the past 6 months I have run across some interesting websites that can be used to integrate technology and problem solving into your classroom. In this post I will describe the website as well as some ways it can be used in the classroom
Kiva.org is a website that facilitates the lending of money to entrepreneurs in impoverished portions of the world as a way to combat poverty. The key is that these are loans not donations to these people, the loans are what are referred to as microloans. You can view is as sort of a financial networking site for small businesses. The website has been featured on a variety of news magazine shows as well as various magazines.
This would be a great way for a school to have an ongoing impact on impoverished nations. Instead of doing a onetime fundraiser where the money is donated and that is often times the last the kids see of the money. With Kiva students can watch their money flow to the individual and then come back to them to be loaned out again. Students can also get updates through the journals the entrepreneurs keep on their progress.
At Voki.com individuals can create a virtual character and attach audio to it. Characters that can be created can range from realistic representations of the self to religious figures, animals, etc. Built as part of the social networking world as a way to communicate with friends, this web 2.0 tool has numerous educational applications.
Teachers can use a Voki to post instructions on their website. These instructions can range from how to do things on the website to help completing assignments. Vokis can be used to give one dimensional history lessons a third dimension. Create a Voki of a historical figure and have them talk with students. Students can use Vokis to add dimension to their writing and other assignments. Office staff can use Vokis to post messages on school websites giving them some pizzazz.
Freerice.com is a simple vocabulary game where one guesses the meaning of words; the catch is that for each correct word 20 grains of rice is donated to starving people around the world. The site was started by a father to help his son learn SAT vocabulary but has grown into a full fledged non-profit. The site has it's own vocabulary raking system that has no educational basis that I can find. You can also set the website to remember where you left off and what settings you want for when you return.
This site can be used for more than just preparing for the SAT or wasting time. It is a great way to challenge students to build their vocabulary beyond the basic. You can have vocabulary contests to see who can learn the most words and/or donate the most rice. You can use this site as a way to launch investigations of new words. Challenge students to figure out what the words mean as part of a decoding unit.
These are just three websites I have used in class and/or visited. I welcome your comments on these sites as well as some suggestions you may have as well for great web resources.