If your classroom is far from a 1:1 environment (more like 1:32), it can be hard to find great technology projects that really work. Here are some simple tech tools students can use to create awesome projects. Students can work together in cooperative learning groups or independently depending on your access to technology in your school district. Bonus: They’re all free!
Inkleis a fun digital storytelling tool for students. Rather than having students use Microsoft Word, change things up by having them create a digital book. Students will love adding images to make their story come to life!
Cooperative learning idea: Students can collaborate and create a Choose Your Own Adventure story! Each child adds a paragraph to the story and at least two options for readers to choose from. They insert images by adding the link to an image they like online. This Web 2.0 tool is free and the children’s work can be saved and shared.
2. Story Bird
With Story Bird, kids can choose images and invent their very own unique story to go along with the pictures. Students must use their inference skills to depict an image. What is the character feeling? Where does the story take place (setting)? What’s the plot? It’s up to kids to decide after they carefully examine every detail of their image. There is no right or wrong answer.
Cooperative learning idea: Have students share a computer and agree on an image. Then they go off and depict the image as they see it. The students can then compare and contrast their results.
Students can create free comic strips on Bubblr using flickr creative common images. They simply search under “tag” and they’re offered a wide array of photos to choose from that all meet fair-use standards! This Web 2.0 tool is great for the classroom because it’s simple to navigate and easy for young children to publish their own unique story. What child doesn’t like comics?!
Cooperative learning idea: Students can collaborate and create a science comic strip, such as: the life cycle of a butterfly or frog, the journey of a raindrop or the transformation of matter.
4. Build Your Wild Self
New York Zoos and Aquarium / Wildlife Conservation Society has an interactive game called Build Your Wild Self! Students choose different body parts and limbs for their creature. Then, they choose a habitat. When they’re all finished, the site describes each attribute they chose. For example, orb spider eyes: “You have six eyes, but you can’t see very well. You use your keen sense of touch to track down prey.”
Cooperative learning idea: Have students work together to build a “wild self” and write a paragraph describing what their animal would eat, their animal’s habitat, exceptional characteristics and talents, as well as their unique adaptations. You could also group students into teams to create a habitat that would be suitable for all of their animals!
Blabberizeis a free tool that makes photos come to life! Students upload a photo, create a mouth and record whatever they would like their image to say!
Cooperative learning idea: Students can take turns talking. This tool can be used to give a history or science report. Students could describe an animal’s adaptations by making the animal they researched talk!
6. Little Bird Tales
Students can create digital books, add or draw photos and insert their very own voice with Little Bird Tales! You could have each student create a page to create a class book. Click here for an example.
Cooperative learning idea: Older students can work in teams and create a digital book for a presentation. This is a great project for students who don’t enjoy giving oral presentations.
7. What if? Genie
If students aren’t feeling inspired, have them ask the story genie! The genie randomly generates a “what if?” question for kids. The “what if?” questions are crazy and imaginative, ones kids would have a blast writing about! Hit the genie square to generate a question.
Cooperative learning idea: Students can share a computer, generate a “What if?” question, then go off and write! Then they can compare and contrast their results.
8. Free Rice
Have students make a difference by practicing their math, chemistry, anatomy, geography, foreign language, vocabulary, grammar, humanities and even for the SAT. “For each answer they get right, 10 grains of rice is donated through the World Food Programme to help end hunger.”
Cooperative learning idea: Students can go on Free Rice and calculate how much rice they donated as a group and create a graph to show their weekly results. This can be an ongoing project throughout the year. Groups can compare and contrast their results.
A free Animoto account lets students create 30-second videos, which can be challenging!
Cooperative learning idea: Have students explain something in 30 seconds through music and images. Above is an example of a water cycle video.
How many letters can you chain together to form a word? Point value: 3 or 4 letters = 1 point, 5 = 2 points, 6 = 3 points, 7 = 5 points, 8 or more = 11 points. Goal: Try to form as many words as you can before time runs out! Visit Teacher Led for a free letter generator!
Cooperative learning idea: Have students work in teams to create words. Then as a math project, they can create fractions (words created / how many times they rolled the dice) or graphs (compare/contrast the number of words created).
Erin Bittman is a designer turned teacher. Check out her blog E Is for Explore! You can also find E Is for Explore! on Facebook and Pinterest.
Middle School Activities
Lessons for grades 6 – 8 cover topics addressed in life sciences, social studies, and mathematics including understanding population growth trends through history, human-environmental interactions and their impacts on ecosystems, carrying capacity, wealth and resource distribution, scarcity, the role of gender in education., and quality of life indicators. Download the free lessons below to actively engage your students in these timely issues.
Middle School Lesson Plans
P = Population Dynamics E = Environmental Connections S = Societal Connections
7 Billion: Where do you Stand? (E, S)
Students articulate their thoughts about ethical issues related to a population of over seven billion and consider the opinions of their classmates.Download PDF
A Moving Message – Pop Videos (E, S)
Students develop a persuasive message by writing, filming and editing a video relating world population at seven billion to one other global topic.Download PDF
Chips of Trade (S)
Acting as countries, students discuss how resources are inequitably distributed throughout the world and how this imbalance motivates trade.Download PDF
Code Blue: Endangered Oceans (E)
Through an interactive story, students experience the pollution of the ocean over time and critically examine ways in which to protect and manage our oceans worldwide.Download PDF
Everything is Connected (E,S)
Students identify ways that many factors in human society and the natural environment are interdependent by creating a concept map in cooperative learning groups.Download PDF
Lessons for Life (S)
Students will read and discuss a short conversation between two Kenyan girls, watch and listen to two photo essays of school girls in less developed countries, and interpret a graph correlating literacy and fertility rates worldwide.Download PDF
Looking to the Future (E, S)
Students create a futuristic news telecast 40 years into the future and imagine what their lives might be like in the future, given current realities, hopes, and dreams.Download PDF
Math Path to 7 Billion (P)
Through riddles, cooperative learning activities, and a demonstration, students work through problems to calculate and visualize large numbers.Download PDF
One for All (E,S)
In a simulation, students desiring to draw renewable resources from a common pool determine short-term consumption strategies that will preserve a long-term supply of the resource.Download PDF
Pop Quiz (P)
A pre-test/post-test quiz designed to give students an overview of world population trends and the consequences of these trends.Download PDF
Population Circle (P)
Students experience the changing pace of population growth by simulating the Earth’s population growth over the last 500 years.Download PDF
Watch Your Step (E)
Students learn about the concept of the ecological footprint by taking an online quiz about their resource use and then exploring why the footprint is an important measurement of their impact on the Earth’s resources.Download PDF
Background ReadingSeven Billion and Counting
Middle school level reading that will give your students a base knowledge of demographic trends and related issues.Download PDF
The World of 7 Billion lesson plans found here are only a piece of the larger Population Education curriculum library.