I have been playing with a new site called Last Spotted. The concept is that people are "spying" or "searching" for someone or something and everytime they see that person or thing, they can send a text message and/or picture to a Last Spotted account. At first I did not see much power in this site (it seemed a bit Hollywood...people were looking for "Kate Hudson" or "Brad Pitt"). But then I realized that many people using this site were teenagers and this is the type of activity they enjoy doing. So why not add some curriculum to the concept. Therefore I set up my own Last Spotted site and created an "i-spy" game. I created a person called "Insects". Therefore students who are studying insects in a biology class can use their cell phone to take pictures of insects that they encounter in their everyday activities and send their pictures (along with a text message of what type of insect they think it is to the Last Spotted account). Students do not need to create an account in order to use Last Spotted. The teacher can set up the account (monitor it) and give the students the email address to send their pictures. My only major concern is that there does not seem to be a good way to keep the account private. Hopefully Last Spotted will work on this (I am putting in a request).
Other ways to use i-spy with students:
1) Question/Answers with everyday people and content.
For example, student's who are starting a unit on the Civil War, can ask people what they thought the causes of the civil war were (or one main cause per person). They can take a picture of the person (or not) and then text that person's answer to the class Last Spotted board. Back in school, the teacher can open up the board and a huge discussion can ensue. Throughout the unit, the teacher could even refer back to the board as they study different possible reasons for the Civil War.
2) A Day in the Life
Students could be paired with professionals in the community who represent potential future jobs (such as students in a mathematics class shadowing an accountant, or students in a science class shadowing an environmental chemist). They could report their experiences via a Last Spotted account.
3) Current Local Events
As "breaking news stories" occur in the community, students can report via Last Spotted. In addition, students can take a picture and write a short text message about local history/science/authors that they might encounter on their everyday adventures.
4) Scavenger Hunt
Students could be given a list of items and/or people related to classroom studies, where they need to go out and find answers or document experiences. Students could try to be the first ones to "spot" the item on the list. This would be a great extension to a unit or on a field trip. For example students on a field trip to a nature preserve could be given specific items to find and document from the field trip location. This would keep them focused on the field trip and could be done in pairs or groups in case some students do not have cell phones.
5) Classroom--Real World Connections
Similar to current events, extra credit could be given to students who are able to document content-related events, activities, or items that they find in their everyday life. Such as a class studying the War in Iraq, might have some students who know or meet a solider who has served in the war. They could get a quote from them and possibly take their picture.
6) Topical Stories
A Last Spotted could be devoted to finding people who have had a similar life experience (such as people from the 1960's who remember the MLK or RFK or JFK assassinations) and give short text message quote (maybe a picture) in a Last Spotted account. The quotes could lead to an interesting class discussion as well as a wonderful way to document living history.
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