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Building Empathy Through Technology

January 28, 2015
Video games are most often thought of as tools for escaping reality, not as a means to further explore current events. But at the University of Southern California, a team of students has built Project Syria, a virtual reality experience that allows players to better understand the effects of the four-year-old civil war in Syria. The simulation uses video game technology, but with a very different purpose. According to Nonny de la Peña, head of Project Syria, the experience functions more as an “empathy generator,” a way to get students to connect on a deeper level to people and...

Increasing Student Ownership by Using Data

January 27, 2015
In my special education class, students rotate between centers—each providing a different way of teaching and learning.  In one center, students work on their own.  In another, I provide instruction to a small group of students.  In the third center-- their favorite—students work with an adaptive computer program. In this blended rotational model, while some of the students are working on the computer, program, I am providing individual attention to other students.  As a result, I monitor how students are progressing in multiple ways—from one-on-one interactions in our small group...

Taking Students on a Virtual Safari

January 23, 2015
It can be challenging to get kids engaged in environmental or earth science from the classroom – especially now, in the middle of winter. (We don’t know about you, but here at Smarter Schools Project we are so over the cold and snow.)   On February 5, Nature Works Everywhere, a site run by the Nature Conservancy, is partnering with PBS to give teachers and students a new way of experiencing the outdoor world—with a live, virtual field trip to the deserts and grasslands of Africa.  Through YouTube, students will have the opportunity to “meet” an African farmer who developed innovative ways...

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