Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Digital Projects


Working with students in an inquiry-based setting is amazing. One of my teachers and I are doing a great “hands-on digital” project that has given them (and me!) the opportunity to make deep connections between atoms, molecules and their structure. Vonnie let them choose a molecule randomly and I taught them how to research, paraphrase and create citations.  Today, they got the chance to build their molecules by hand and take 30-50 stop-action images from above, around, below and any angle imaginable. I have never been a scientist, but I have learned more science in the past three days than in all of my life by building and digitizing my creation.  Thanks, Vonnie. This “tuesdays” is dedicated to teachers who LOVE to pass the gift of curiosity, exploration and reasoning on to their students and share with others.

A creative website

This is probably going to sound strange that I chose Facebook as my creative website of the week, but I got more suggestions from teachers in FB than email, blogs and other websites.  About three weeks ago, I posted this: "Need some help for my science teachers. Does anyone know how to create digital 3D models of molecules that high school students could make?" What fun.  I got lots of comments and great ideas.  Thanks to Rick and Glen because I combined their ideas for our project.  “Hands-on digital” is a phrase that Patti coined for us and a great way to describe this project.  The students are building their molecular structure with some cool kits that Vonnie had and then “digitizing” them.  The images will be imported into Movie Maker to create an adaptation clay animation with a voice over narration of their findings on their molecule.  Vonnie will have a class library of instructional videos of over 30 molecules!  Sharing ideas in Facebook has been an incredible way to stay creative and connected. Teachers, ask for ideas from your peers.  It’s fun to see how willing everyone is to share.


An image to share

Fructose molecule created and digitized by Karen C. Seddon




A proverb
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”  Steve Jobs





An encouragement
I completely understand the dilemma that teachers are in now to make sure they are working within the pacing guides, working around testing windows and having curriculum prescribed. Yet, the irony is that when being observed, teachers are supposed to show students doing inquiry-based-lessons with hands-on interaction. It is my greatest hope that teachers will embrace digital projects like the one we are doing now that not only fulfills the requirements of the pacing guide, but helps students develop their own learning through inquiry, research, respecting intellectual property and creating a product. The model of molecules project was already a great project, but by stepping it up a notch with digitization, the teacher and students have a video library that can be preserved.  Students who were absent or are unable to do this project can watch the videos for enrichment or remediation.  If you want to try a digital project and have never done one before, please get help and seek advice from those who have had successful experiences.  You can avoid a lot of pitfalls by asking for systems and management techniques.  Anything that is worth it, takes time and energy.  Students creating digital projects is worth it!


How do you do that?

How do you celebrate the inquiring mind?  Find a local issue in your community. Introduce the problem to your students and challenge them to solve it.  This means of personalizing learning is called Challenge Based Learning. Students will take the challenge when they believe that what they have to say matters.  They are more than capable of solving some of our major environmental and political issues because they are neither emotionally involved nor bureaucratically immersed. Can you imagine how powerful it would be if each class or school took on a local issue and help our communities solve the problem with a fresh, youthful solution?  Standards can still be address, curriculum can still be met and problems can be solved.  Students involved in this type of project-based learning remember the experiment as long as they live.  Probably, the best advice I can give it to have a plan for x amount of days (with the flexibility to extend one more day because it almost always takes longer than you think) and start small for the first one.  Instead of having each student present in front of the room, make the videos or presentations available and have them peer review in small groups or gallery walk style.  The best case scenario would be to make them available online for a much wider audience and the quality of the projects will definitely become much more excellent. Thanks to all of you would helped mold this project idea for Vonnie and her students.

As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,
K

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Go2Web2.0


It is always fun to work with educators in other districts because no matter where I go, teachers love to share. I think that is what makes ours such a unique profession. Why not help another teacher with content or an activity or website that will impact their students?  What is particularly wonderful to me is that even when we use something that some one else has given us, we almost always have to “tweek” it to make it our own.  Today I was in a very progressive school district in the suburbs of Houston and they are some of the greatest sharers I have ever met. Their district has encouraged them to try new programs, Web 2.0 tools and even Facebook and YouTube to help make learning more meaningful. They have even implemented policies for students to use their own digital tools (laptops, iPads, cell phones, etc).  With so many options available to them, it can be overwhelming, but one of their instructional specialists shared this great directory with me that I just had to pass on to you.  Thanks, Julie!

A creative website

There are so many search engines that organize sites, but today was the first time I saw Go2Web2.0. This very intuitive website let’s you go click crazy and create combinations of search possibilities to examine what some of the newest, most popular and little known Web 2.0 sites are available. Go2Web2.0 works a lot like a directory in the sense it has a layout for all its matching records. What makes it so unique is that it is dynamic giving the “clicker” an opportunity to interact with its endless search possibilities.  I could get really lost in here because there are just SO many Web 2.0 sites that I never heard about (and I’m always looking!).  This is so typical of what is happening to teachers because the good news is that we have SO much to choose from and the bad news is that we have SO much to choose from.  What’s the solution? K.I.S.S – Keep It Simple Sweety.  Just try a few, in fact, just try one. There is no one who can keep up with it all, but it sure is fun to try new interactive opportunities, especially if it will help our students to engage in their learning more.  Give Go2Web2.0 a try.  It’s free, it’s fun and it’s engaging.


An image to share

A proverb
Good designers can create normalcy out of chaos; they can clearly communicate ideas through the organizing and manipulating of words and pictures.” Jeffrey Veen

An encouragement

What have you shared lately? What idea, lesson plan or new website have you shared with a colleague?  One of the greatest compliments in teaching is having someone want to replicate what you are doing.  It’s really a great feeling, too.  I want to encourage you to find one thing that you do in your classroom that has worked well with your students to share it with someone else.  It could be a teacher on your team, a colleague in another grade level or even a total stranger.  Sharing ideas helps us step out of our comfort zone and affords us the ability to give back.  Who knows? You may be helping just the right person at just the right time.  If you can’t think of anyone in particular, put your idea in the comments below. Although you may never know who uses your idea, sharing is one of the greatest outreaches we have as teachers.


How do you do that?

How do you use Go2Web.20? There are just a few simple steps:
  1. Go to the main website where you will find the directory.
  2. Click the side panel for suggested searches, or
  3. Type in a key word (writing, reading, math, etc)
  4. Click on any of the thumbnails to visit some of these intriguing sites.
  5. Click the blog tab if you are interested in learning more
  6. Join the membership role (or not!)
I know, for sure, that I will be returning to Go2Web20 often for fresh ideas and websites to share. Thanks again, Julie!


As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,
K

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Animaps

Maps are fascinating to me.  I’m so excited to see my 3-year-old granddaughter enjoy maps also. Anytime I travel I try to show her where I’m going in a paper atlas or large fold-out map and she lays on the floor and looks at it very carefully. Inevitably she wants to see the houses on Google Maps it on the iPad. It’s unreal how she needs very little instructions.  As soon as I type in the destination, she takes over, pinching the map to make it smaller and spreading it until she gets down to the house level.  Her favorite place so far has been Miami because they have so many streets and houses.  She can even find Hawaii all by herself! I wish my dad had a chance to see this technology because he LOVED maps. Being able to travel so quickly to any place in the world is so amazing.  Let’s not forget how incredible the hybrid, satellite and road maps really are.  In this “tuesdays” I am excited to show you a whole new dimension of maps.

A creative website

First, Google Earth amazed us. Most teachers really wanted to use it with their students, but bandwidth issues and inability to download software were barriers for too many. Next, Google created Google Maps for everyday use and add so many of the Google Earth features without having to download software or struggling with bandwidth difficulties.  NOW, I am so excited to show you Animaps.  Animaps takes Google Maps to the next level by giving you the ability to create maps with markers that move, images and text the pop up when you design them and shapes that show time progression.  When you send your map to a colleague, it will play as a video that they can play, pause and even slow down or speed up.  For all the teachers that really wanted to use Google Earth but had too many barriers, Animaps is much simpler and rewarding. Here is a sample on their site that showed the routes of the hijacked planes on 9/111.  sample map of September 11th.  What a time we live in.  The world is so much more accessible to us now. Thanks Google.


An image to share

Typus Orbis Terrarum - This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired. This applies to Australia, the European Union and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 70 years.

A proverb
"Wars of nations are fought to change maps. But wars of poverty are fought to map change.” Muhammad Ali

An encouragement

Probably the greatest common denominator of teachers is creativity.  I can’t wait to see how teachers take this simple tool to the next level.  Just imagine how English teachers can trace the adventures in literature and novels they are reading.  Social Studies teachers will be able to show how battles were fought or migrations of people looked. Science teachers can plot natural resources that are hidden below our vast nation. Although I am only touching the surface, I want to encourage you to try this with your students.  We may not have the time to investigate this, but they do!  If a 3-year-old has a natural fascination with maps, I am sure your students will really get into geography when they can have this hands-on experience.  We always learn more when we can create something. Animaps combines all the best Web 2.0 tools in one place.

How do you do that?

My intention was to create a map for you tonight, but I just ran out of time. However, the best way to begin is to use their Basics Tutorial.  There is a 12-minute video right on the front page that shows all the basic features and for those of you that want more, there are advanced features. The coolest part is that you can import images from your desktop, videos from internet hosts and even Facebook pictures (be careful!). There is a beta section that allows you to upload KML/KMZ files from Google Earth. Once you’ve created your map, you can share it by hyperlinking it to a presentation, embedding it in a website or even publish it in Twitter and Facebook.  Google has out done themselves again!


As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,
K

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

September 11th



 

I wonder if there is anyone who doesn’t remember where they were when the towers came down on 9/11? For me, it was a most solemn experience being in school.  I was serving as the technology coach for my middle school and remember my media specialist calling me over to the TV in his office while shushing to make sure I was quiet.  We gazed at the first tower with smoke bellowing wondering if we should interrupt the PD session going in the next room.  Just as we decided to let it go, the second tower was hit right before our eyes.  Needless to say, we brought everyone next door to see.  The biggest dilemma was the students. Do we tell them?  There was no doubt in my mind that they needed to know, but how do you handle this one? No one had any experience in matters such as this. It is without doubt that in this “tuesdays” I yearn to share incredible educational resources for you and your students on this 10-year anniversary of September 11th.

A creative website

Discovery Education is offering a wealth of media, live and virtual events and a mass of resources in the feature 9.11 – Rise, Reconnect and Remember. One of the most intriguing parts are connecting to four live events by simply registering with your students.  You do not need to be a subscriber to Discovery Education and only need an internet connection. I registered for the live event this Friday at the NYC iSchool.  There are discussion guides and a Google form that has been created for teachers to enter their students’ perspective on how 9/11 affected them (or perhaps the study of 9/11).   The Discovery Channel and Science Channel are also airing this series which can be accessed the next day through a Discovery Education account.  A Person-to-Person History project: Tribute WTC 9/11 has even more resources for teachers and students including: Personal Stories of Transformation, (incredible!), Renewing our American Dream after 9/11, Inside the Fence, with incredible footage and interviews with construction and clean up crews, and even a Teacher Sharing area.  Please pass these resources to anyone who remembers 9/11.



An image to share
This image is a work of a
taken or made during the course of an employee's
official duties. As works of the U.S. federal government,
all FEMA images are in the public domain. Additional
media usage information may be found


A proverb
"None of us will ever forget this day, yet we go forward to defend freedom and all that is just and good in our world.” George W. Bush in his address to the nation on September 11, 2001

An encouragement

Of all the incredible resources, I would like to encourage you to choose at least two.  Whenever there is TOO much, we have to take things in bite-sized pieces.  If I could encourage you to do only two things, I would highly recommend that you sign up for a live event (for yourself or particularly with your students) and second I would love for you to take a little time to watch some of the vignettes in Personal Stories of Transformation – September 11th.  I was blown away by Ada Dolch’s story, a principal of a high school one block from the World Trade Center.

How do you do that?

How do you sign up your class or your own personal connection to the live events?  It’s almost too simple.  Go to 9.11 – Rise, Reconnect and Remember and scroll down to the Live & Virtual Events area. Watch the video promotion and read about the panelists, opening remarks and moderator.  If the event looks age appropriate and interesting for your students, click “Register to watch this event live.”  The registration form is simple and only asks the basic necessities without being too invasive. Once you complete the registration, you will receive an email invitation with the link to go live on the day of your choice.  This is a powerful form of connectivity for you and your students that I highly recommend.  No matter what you do on this 10th anniversary of 9/11, it is my sincere hope that the day is honored for the heroism and incredible good that rose above the evil act of terrorism.



As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,
K