Friday, July 22, 2011

New Year Approaching....

July 22, 2011 ~ As a new year approaches (in about 20 days for teachers), I often ponder on what I can do to create a community in my classroom. What to do as ice-breakers and beginning of the year activities that either are "new" (at least to me and the students) and unique to get their attention and stir their internal motivation. I have done some research and come up with some resources.

These are just a few links to hopefully spark some creativity. Please share if you have any thoughts or ideas that have proved useful in your classroom!

Beginning of the year activities:
10 Great Classroom Icebreakers
Interesting Ways to get to know your new Class

Back-To-School Activities

Back-to-School Activities from Mathwire (for my math friends)
Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators Back to School


Classroom setup ideas:
Pictures of my classroom

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Links for the Science and Social Studies Classroom

June 7, 2011~
  • National Jukebox (More for 7th grade but good way to expose all students to music from our past starting about 1900's)
        The Library of Congress presents the National Jukebox, which makes historical sound recordings available to the public free of charge. The Jukebox includes recordings from the extraordinary collections of the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation and other contributing libraries and archives.

       WeatherSpark is a website dedicated to making in-depth weather information easily   accessible.

      Keys are tools that provide a systematic (step-by-step) way to identify plants and animals. A series of choices are made based on the organism's characteristics to discover its identity. This fish key is based on body shape and physical features.

Cohort Planning for 2011-2012

June 7, 2011~ During the course of the year, my school participates in early release days for students. These six to seven student half days are designed to allow teachers more time for planning. Teachers sign up for a cohort of their choosing and develop their skills. I was asked to facilitate a cohort for the coming year. The course will be entitled "Integrating Technology into the Middle School Curriculum". Training for facilitators will not be until August, however, I wanted to get a "jump" on the technology component prior to training. I have my favorite tools that I would like to share but know the best way to help teachers integrate is to give them choices to allow for ownership of the process. I will be conducting a survey at the first session and have a few that I prefer and they are listed below.

Technology Options:
Musuem Box
Poll Everywhere

I am looking for suggestions of other integration tools that you may have had success with in your classroom. Please share and give thoughts, ideas and concerns (including classroom management aspects during integration)....

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Animoto and iTouch's

June 1, 2011~ Whew, the end is near but I thought it would be appropriate to reflect on our Animoto project. Students were assigned a South Carolina Science Curriculum standard for 6th grade. Their assignment was to create an Animoto video that best represents all indicators that are covered under that standard. Students were allowed to choose their standard. Students were shared how to use a storyboard prior to researching pictures and this helped keep them focused and on-task.
Here are a few examples:
Law of Conservation of Energy (created on web-based Animoto)
The how-to's for text on the iTouch version's included using neu.Annotate to create text on a blank PDF that I uploaded to my school webpage. Students downloaded the blank PDF and then added text and saved as an image. It was this image file that was uploaded with all the project pictures into Animoto. 

Items used:
Animoto for the iTouch
Animoto (for those that had iTouch issues and it woudn't work)
PowerPoint saved as a JPEG (for one student) and imported into Animoto
Weekly Work Culminating Project

Some things for me to consider next year include:
  • more emphasis on music and how it needs to compliment the project
  • more emphasis on including text features so it is not just a bunch of pictures that the audience doesn't understand the meaning 
  • smaller storyboard template (maybe twice as many squares on one sheet)
It was fun and nice to see the students excited about the learning process both revisiting standards we had already addresses as well as new technology standards.  It was also exciting to see how some students had their "ah-ha" moment about the content. Several stated that doing the project helped them better understand the content and allowed them the time to learn on their own in something they enjoy. I hope to repeat this next year and look forward to expanding to my Social Studies classes.