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Pros: Virtual cultural exchanges and video presentations give kids a peek at life around the world.
Cons: Some articles are quite short, and some topic areas have very few articles.
Bottom Line: Kids get a sense of culture and global responsibility via kid-friendly articles and great multimedia.
Oddizzi is a great way to get kids involved in learning about geography, cultural awareness, and global responsibility. Upon creating an account, new users get an introductory webinar session, and the developers are always available for additional support; take full advantage to learn how Oddizzi can work for your classroom. Since Oddizzi is U.K.-based, curriculum mappings are most relevant to U.K. school systems, but take a look at the suggested mapping anyway for some inspiration. Project the map and videos for class discussions. Give kids a narrow focus to encourage them to learn about a particular topic. Use the included thought questions and quizzes to get kids thinking and assess what they've absorbed. Or, let kids explore on their own or in small groups and have them report back to the class on what they discovered. To really enhance learning, play an active role in the ClassPals option and make connections with classes around the world. Gather questions, comments, and ideas from kids to find out what they want to know. The developer can help establish contact with the school that's right for you.
Kids travel the world by clicking on pinpoints on a map or navigating through six big topic areas. Learn about geographical features; food, farming, and fair trade; climate and weather systems; or different countries and their cultures and customs. Each topic has varying amounts of text, videos, pictures, fun facts, and links to related topics. Multiple-choice and thought-question quizzes test recall and understanding. Kids can also stay up to date with a newsreel that scrolls across the screen. A virtual pen pal system called ClassPals lets teachers connect their classroom with other classes from around the world through text and images in electronic postcards. There are also a limited number of downloadable worksheets for off-screen extensions.
Oddizzi is chock-full of facts, figures, and tidbits that can help kids understand the world in which we all live. That global feeling of sharing the world and appreciating and caring for its people and its assets is front and center throughout. Articles are short -- sometimes too short -- kid-friendly, and nicely enhanced with colorful pictures and videos. Though there's a lot available, it still feels a bit like a work in progress, with spotty coverage of some topics, such as a disappointingly small number of country close-ups. New material is constantly being added, though, so Oddizzi continues to evolve and grow. The best features are the ones that allow kids to make real connections with kids from around the world. Interviews with other kids (who describe their home, their life, and their customs) and the ClassPals system let kids exchange experiences and learn first-hand an appreciation for different people and cultures. Kids get a real sense of exciting adventure and "exotic" lifestyles while still seeing how much we all really have in common.