Just in time for back-to-school: New distance learning resources are available on Wide Open School.
Use Blades – The Grassland Biome as an alternative or supplemental textbook resource in the classroom. Depending on their reading abilities, kids can read chapters independently or in small groups and then complete the chapter or custom tests on their own. The app could also work well as a reference tool for a research project. Have kids work in small groups and assign a different chapter to each group. Kids can create digital slideshows or posters that summarize their assigned chapter, and then share their projects with the class.Continue reading Show less
Blades – The Grassland Biome is an interactive digital textbook with a range of interactive and reference features. On the app's main page, kids can access six featured sections. When kids tap Read, they enter the reading pane where text appears on the left side of the screen. After entering their name to create a digital bookmark that tracks reading progress, kids swipe the screen to read text. As various keywords pass through an arrow in the middle of the reading pane, supporting media appear on the right. Kids can tap green keywords to trigger the visual support and purple keywords to see and hear vocabulary definitions. Kids can also highlight text and create notes as they read. In the Map feature, kids can rotate a globe and tap icons to learn general information about Earth's grasslands. In the Media feature, kids can tap to view the media that appears within the chapters, including photos and videos. Kids can also tap to use the interactive glossary, read the app manual, create notes, and view teacher resources.
The teacher resources option provides access to the developer's website, where users will find sample lesson plans, worksheets, and more. In the Tests section, kids can access chapter tests, create custom tests, and can choose a reading level for each test. When finished, kids can email their tests directly to a teacher, who receives a partially graded test –- only the essay portion must be graded by the teacher.
Kids can learn about a variety of topics including grassland plants and animals, adaptations, threats to grasslands, and benefits of grasslands. The major grassland ecosystems are described in great detail: tropical savannas, steppes, prairies, pampas, and velds. Kids can build vocabulary skills by tapping keywords to see supporting images and definitions. There are several options to support learning, including text to speech, highlighting, and note-taking. Kids can bookmark pages, choose from five different reading levels, change text size, have the text read aloud, and record their own voices while reading vocabulary terms. An interactive map of grasslands, a photo gallery, chapter tests, a glossary, a handful of videos, and a Dropbox sync option make the app an excellent resource for any digital science library. It would be nice if kids could see the results of their tests directly within the app or have access to hints and feedback for incorrect answers.
With so much information and so many different options, some kids may be overwhelmed at first. The manual, which is accessible within the app, is a good starting point and should be reviewed before kids fully dive into the content.
Key Standards Supported
Reading Informational Text
With prompting and support, read informational texts appropriately complex for grade 1.
By the end of year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, in the grades 2–3 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
By the end of the year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grades 2–3 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
By the end of year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, in the grades 4–5 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
By the end of the year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grades 4–5 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
By the end of grade 8, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 6–8 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
Key Standards Supported
Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats.
Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular habitat some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.
Earth and Human Activity
Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.
Communicate solutions that will reduce the impact of humans on the land, water, air, and/or other living things in the local environment.
Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.
Obtain and combine information to describe climates in different regions of the world.
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