Review by Emily Pohlonski, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2013

ARKive

Captivating catalog of biodiversity with great classroom resources

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Teachers say (5 Reviews)
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Grades
6-10 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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5 images

Pros: Resources are polished, engaging, and include the necessary support materials.

Cons: Some games lack baked-in learning, and resources could use more support for diverse learners.

Bottom Line: Powerful images and videos capture kids' attention and make them want to learn more.

Lesson ideas range from presentations teachers can show to the whole class to games and projects for small groups. For example, the "Invasive Species" lesson provides a PowerPoint presentation followed by individual case study research that requires students to use the images and resources on the site. Some activities are individual, like "Handling Data: African Animal Maths," where kids use a worksheet to convert units and produce graphs from animal data. Games like "Egg and Spawn Race" are best used as an extra activity for kids who finish their work early.

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ARKive is a digital library that contains more than 100,000 high-quality videos and photographs of the world's animals, plants, and fungi. Gripping videos, photographs, and information catalog 15,000 of the world's endangered species. A Fun section includes learning games and activities related to conservation and other related topics. Teachers can find classroom resources organized into age categories for kids 5-18 years old with most materials in the 7-11 and 11-14 age groups. The ARKive lesson plans provide opportunities for kids to look more closely at the site's resources and inspire them to protect living things. Topics focus on biodiversity, human impact, and evolution.

Standout Lessons, Games, and Activities

"Superb bird of paradise courtship dance" -- Watch an up-close video of birds courting.

"Team Wild" -- Play a game where you act as a superhero and save the environment.

Design a Conservation Programme Lesson -- Design a conservation program and weigh its costs and benefits.

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The classroom materials are visually appealing and professional-looking. They are the PowerPoint slides and worksheets you would make yourself if only you had enough time. For example, in the "Web of Life" presentations, kids are given time to reflect on what the word carnivore means with a vivid picture of a cheetah eating an antelope. After they access their prior knowledge, they get a definition for the term.

The ARKive games may be fun for kids, but they aren't as centered on learning as the lesson plans. In games like "Team Wild," kids may learn nuggets of info about captive breeding programs, for example, but the game itself is simply based on eye-hand coordination. Also, it would be nice if the games, quizzes, and activities had audio support and other accessibility options for diverse learners.

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
5

Vivid images and fun activities and games will draw kids in; 100,000 videos and photos will keep them coming back. 

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4

Activities in each lesson build on each other and give kids a way to develop their own understanding. Games on the site are fun but don't promote learning as well as the lesson resources.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
4

Lesson plans have extensions for advanced kids or links to additional activities. Unfortunately, games, quizzes, and activities are heavily text-based, making them less accessible to kids with varying learning needs.


Common Sense Reviewer
Emily Pohlonski Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

4
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Featured review by
Pat D. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Falcon Creek Middle School
Aurora, CO
4
Great resource for my ecology and environmental unit.

I like what I am seeing, but I will not try it out until we are studying ecology and environmental science. I am excited about what I have found on the website to support and extend my students' learning.

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