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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

17 Short Learning Activities for Extra Computer Time

I wrote this list of learning activities for middle school teachers so they'd have some options to give to students who finished work early in the lab. There's nothing terribly innovative here, just some open ended starting points that result in exploration and a written reflection or summary of what they learned.

What are other sites or activities come to mind for this purpose?

This is the list as a Google Document.

Complete one of the activities below.  In each case there’s an opportunity to learn something new and to sum it up.  Do not copy and paste writing from websites unless it instructs you to.  All assignments will be checked for plagiarism.


1)  Wolfram Alpha - This is a computational knowledge engine that creates knowledge by combining several sources.  Go to http://www.wolframalpha.com/examples/ and see some examples.  Click on one that looks interesting.  Search for something similar and write a summary of what you find in either a Word document or a PowerPoint presentation.


2)  Wikipedia - Start with an article related to a personal interest.  In that article, find a link to another article that teaches you something you didn’t know.  Read that new article and write a summary of what you found interesting or what you learned.


3) Physics Simulator - Go to http://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulations/category/by-level/middle-school  Browse and experiment with the simulator.  Summarize something you learned.


4)  Blogs - Search for a recent blog or news article about something that interests you.  Summarize the author’s points and write your response.  Be sure to quote parts of the original blog post or article in your response.


5)  Reviews - Read a review about a movie, book, music or game that you like.   Summarize the author’s opinion and write your response.  Quote parts of the original review in your response.


6)  Another Middle School - Look up a website of a middle school that you don’t already know about.  Browse the pages of their website until you have learned some things about the school.  Summarize what you find.  Here are some questions you might answer:  What appears to be the best thing about that school?  What suggestions do you have for their website that would help you learn more or make it easier to use?  What do you dislike about the school based on what you see on the site?


7)  World News - Use Google news to find a current World News event that is of interest to you.  Summarize the article and write your thoughts about it.  Be sure to quote parts of the news article you read.


8)  U.S. News - Use Google news to find a current U.S. News event that is of interest to you.  Summarize the article and write your thoughts about it.  Be sure to quote parts of the news article you read.


9)  Local News - Use http://www.mlive.com/flint/ to find a current local news event that is of interest to you.  Summarize the article and write your thoughts about it.  Be sure to quote parts of the news article you read.


10)  Khan Academy - Watch a video on any topic you don’t already know.  Summarize what you learned.


11)  Fascinating Facts - Make a PowerPoint presentation with at least five interesting facts about a topic of your choice.  Pick facts that might make anyone want to know more about your topic.  Make a slide that lists the websites you used for your information.



12)  Found Poem - Read this article about how to write a found poem:  
After reading it, find any webpage that you want to use and create a found poem from it.  Write your poem and list the URL for the webpage that you used.  Write a sentence or two explaining why you picked the words and phrases that you did for your poem.  


13)  Suggestion for Class - Find a website, game or online program that you wish a teacher would use in class.  Write the URL of the resource and explain why you think a teacher should use it and how they could use it.


14)  Computer Terms - Find definitions for 10 of these computer terms.  Copy and paste the definition you find online, include the address of the site where you found it and then rewrite the definition in your own words.


Hard Drive
Monitor
VGA Cable
Processor Speed
RAM
PDF
Desktop
CPU
USB
IP Address
HTML
URL
PNG
Intranet
Internet
GIF
Browser
Search Engine
mp3
Open Source
Blog
Virus
GUI
Router


15)  Make a Timeline - Use this online tool to make a timeline with at least 6 events from start to end.  It can be about your life (from birth or maybe just a single season of life) or it can be about some famous person or event(s).




Get a screen capture and paste it into Word.  If it’s too long to fit on the screen, copy it in parts.


16) 100 Word Challenge - Go to http://100wc.net/ .  On that blog you will see many prompts and some links to responses that other students wrote.  The object is to write 100 words based on the prompt.  Pick a prompt you like.  You might have to do a lot of scrolling and go to other pages to find one.  Write 100 words as a response.  You can read some sample ones first if you need to get an idea of how these should look.


17)  Career Research - Do some research online and find information about a job that you would like to have.  Summarize information about the career and explain why you think it would be a good career for you.  Also copy and paste the address to the website(s) you used for your research.


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