Pamela Skelly’s Blog
Technology Integration Ideas and Tools
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
On Monday, October 18th schools across the country will be celebrating 50 days until the 50th anniversary of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the far northeastern corner of Alaska by flying kites (mark your calendar for the Refuge’s anniversary on December 6th!). And they would love to have your students be a part of the migration! I learned of this from an email from a friend who works in Alaska during her summers.
The kites are symbolic of the birds that travel through your state to the Refuge on their migrations every year. Click here to find out which bird connects your state with the Arctic Refuge! This offers a great way to teach your kids about migration, geography and could even make a great art project. They are providing FREE KITE KITS (for anyone who registers with the educator network) which include all the materials necessary for your students to build and fly the kites as well as a short DVD on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge which can be played for your students. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, address, and number of students if your class would like to participate and receive these free materials!
Encourage your friends who are teachers to sign up! For any of your friends who signs up and joins the Educator Network between now and October 18th, they will also receive a free kite kit. Please encourage them to visit www.alaskawild.org/educate and sign up using the form which may be found at the bottom of the page.
Edmodo: Classroom Social Networking
Edmodo is a FREE, safe and secure social networking site designed specifically for education. Teachers can share ideas, files and assignments. Once you have an account, you can create groups for both classroom and professional needs. Edmodo provides tools for grading and polling. Teachers can also share resources in their library.
Teachers have control over the groups they create, managing the group members (teachers and students. Groups can also have co-teachers for a particular class. Messages and web links can be sent to one or more groups or members.
You’ll be surprised how easy Edmodo is to use. Read more about it Edmodo’s press link or just sign up for an account and try it.
Summer Reading Lists and Technology’s Impact
Connecticut Reads 2010: The Governor’s Summer Reading Challenge journal accompanies the summer reading list that students have brought home. As educators, we hold literacy in the greatest regard, encouraging everyone to find joy in reading. Kindles and other eBook Readers (some reviewed on TopTenReviews) are now used in some schools and homes. How will this impact student reading? Listening through an audiobook requires some different skills than reading the text, but are there times when this might be worthwhile? Similarly, reading the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and viewing the movie (from Discovery Education) are both engaging to children and will provide a rich environment for exploring the alphabet.
Many teachers are also determining their reading lists. As well as books related to technology in education, I also like to find books that have been recommended just for pleasure. Our state government provides funds to support iConn: Connecticut’s Digital Library that not only provides a rich database of magazines, journals and more, but allows me to check local libraries to see if the books I want are currently available. I find the Useful Links section is especially interesting. For younger children, KidsInfoBits has audio accompanying the article text.
I also love the Project Gutenberg — it’s an old favorite established in 1992 before there were Internet browsers. I used the site recently to find a passage from Shakespeare’s Tempest. The passage I was looking for, Tricullo’s first speech, does not have the typically poem form and difficult to determine how to perform the piece. AudioBooks are also available here and I downloaded one with the cast lead by Sir Ian McKellen. I continued my Shakespeare search on Discovery Education where I found some wonderful resources for teaching Shakespeare at the high school level from Standard Deviants, an award-winning educational video producer.
Will eBooks replace the children’s picture book? Would I want to read Eric Carle’s Very Hungry Caterpillar or Demi’s A Grain of Rice? If you compare the aesthetic quality of Jan Brett’s The Mitten in its board book form and picture book form, the picture book has finer lines and a greater color palette. Purpose will determine whether to use books, audio, video, or emerging and future technologies.
Giving Voice to Their Vision: Students Narrate a Video Segment
When students write a script and narrate over a video segment, they synthesize and express their knowledge on the topic. Getting a good video segment for students to narrate is relatively easy with Discovery Education, but there are other sources available as well that will be included at the end of this post. When searching on Discovery, be sure to select the Editable segments and use the Citation provided by the segment. Teachers should model legal use and proper citation of all sources, as well as expect their students to do the same.
This activity is easily differentiated for age, computer access, computer platform, and more. With sixth grade students, you might want to let them hear the original narration, but with older students, you might want to provide an already muted segment. If the students have frequent access to technology, they can find their own segment. If time and access is an issue, you can select a few for them to use. Free video editing software is provided with the two common operating systems — Windows XP has Windows MovieMaker and Macintosh has iMovie.
I’ve been sharing this idea and others with teachers in our region, especially since the Connecticut State Department of Education is currently providing the DE Science for Middle Schools to teachers. On Saturday, May 22, 2010, I enjoyed the day with other Discovery Educators at the New England Day of Discovery, and presented a short hands-on workshop on the activity. If you want more information and specific instructions, please see the eastconnTOT wikispace.
Rumsey Historical Maps with Google Earth
Google Earth is a sophisticated imaging tool that can be used quite powerfully when teaching history. The visual perspective can illuminate a viewpoint not easy to convey through words. Maureen Festi shared how to use the Rumsey Historical Maps in Google Earth at the April 27th Teaching American History session. David Rumsey has made his maps available as a layer for Google Earth.
- Under the Gallery settings, check the box for Rumsey Historical Maps.
- Give Google Earth a few minutes to gather the information.
- Click on the triangle/arrow to list the two subtopics and double-click on the Map Finder.
- You’ll see different “compass rose” icons listing the specific maps.
- Click on the icon to open it.
- Click on the thumbnail to place the map as new layer atop Google Earth’s layer.
- Remember you can save the maps you like best for quicker access in a lesson. (Above Temporary Places on Windows and under Temporary Places on the Mac.)
And it just doesn’t get any better than the North_America/United_States_1833 map that has an eagle superimposed on the map — it’s a must see!
Google Earth Tips:
- The information that is provided is phenomenal through Google Earth. In fact, it is rather intimidating because the sheer amount of information shared visually can be intimidating so you may want to uncheck most of the layers when you start.
- I usually leave on Borders and Labels under the Primary Database and Terrain (at bottom). I prefer to keep the Gallery unchecked and then click on the specific layers I wish to view. Some layers are like a wiki in that you can add your own photos (Panoramio) so they maybe unreliable. Museums and businesses add theirs to Places of Interests.
- You can always turn different Layers on or off as you work.
- The Layers are accessing online databases and this process takes time to download. You’ll probably think nothing is working (as I often do) until the information from the Layer starts popping up somewhat magically.
- Save any interesting places as you work so you can look at them later. Again, you can have so many place open (checked) that you become overwhelmed by the information. You can turn them on or off as needed. You’ll get the information immediately in Places, unlike in Layers.
- Give yourself a little time and have fun! Your enthusiasm will engage your students in learning.
Round & Round: Seasons and Cycles
Sunny and 70 degrees — Spring Fever!
This time of year I love my World Sunlight Map gadget on my iGoogle homepage. For a similar image at die.net is the World Sunlight Map mercador projection. “Watch the sun rise and set all over the world on this real-time, computer-generated illustration of the earth’s patterns of sunlight and darkness. The clouds are updated every 3 hours with current weather satellite imagery.” In just a couple days, the night shadow will be straight indicating the equinox. Check back at the summer solstice and see no night shadow on the arctic. Other projections are also available.
Seasons and moon cycles are topics in fifth grade science. As simple as these topics may seem, the underlying science is not. Perhaps it is because we experience our lives through these cycles that we don’t think about the science concepts involved. Video segments and online interactive activities can provide an overview of the celestial image and shorten the timeline so students can visualize the science content to improve their understanding. The Reasons for the Seasons is a video aimed at grades 3-5 that explains planetary rotation, the earth’s tilt, and more. The Earth’s Orbit is an interactive video from DE Science for Middle Schools. Two DE Explorations, The Seasons for grades K-5 and To Every Season for grades 6-8.
The current moon phase is also pictured on die.net. The DE Exploration Moon Phases is designed for grades K-5 and The Inconstant Moon is for grades 6-8. The tool Lunar Cycle Challenge from ScienceNetLinks, a partner of Thinkfinity, presents a calendar of moon phases with some missing for students to finish.
Save this date: Saturday, January 9, 2010
The Connecticut DEN Leadership Council is planning to host our first event on January 9th from 9am to 4pm. This is the time that the DEN’s SCIcon virtual conference will take place. We want to invite DE teachers from Connecticut to meet together and share at one location. We are looking into the possibility that the location will be the new Connecticut Science Center. We will keep Connecticut educators informed as we learn more. Below is more on SCIcon.
DEN’s SCIcon: Saturday, January 9, 2010
Join the DEN community for our first ever Science-themed virtual conference! From 9 AM to 4 PM (ET) on Saturday, January 9, 2010 we will explore creative ways to use the amazing resources available in DE Science and DE streaming. We will also tap into the abundance of free resources available through Discovery Education programs and contests like the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge.
Register for the virtual sessions today at: http://links.discoveryeducation.com/denscicon.
For more information including the day’s agenda, visit the Science in Action blog: http://blog.discoveryeducation.com/scienceinaction/denscicon.
Estimation is an important skill yet Connecticut students do poorly on this strand on the mastery test. I suspect one reason is since students have ready access to calculators, estimating skills are less important in their daily life. An accurate estimate provides feedback to students on how reasonable their answer is. Most students probably think estimation is just another skill to be tested so we need to put it into the proper context.
I did find some interactive estimation activities online to help students develop their skills in a game format. Glowla’s Estimation Contraption from CyberChase requires intermediate grade students to estimate answers when adding several numbers. Curious George’s Super Bouncy Blast Off is a game for primary grade students. Jan Brett has a Sea Shell Estimation Game on her wonderful web site — always a visual pleasure. (She also has some great movies on how to draw animals designed to be used with children.) For grades 3-12, students can use two estimation methods for measuring a treasure trunk of pearls in How Many Pearls.
CCSU Veterans History Project
Sunday’s Hartford Courant had a timely story about the Veterans History Project at Central Connecticut State University. The article highlighted how the project provided one man with information that lead to a meeting with his late father’s shipmate. Check out the full article. The Veteran’s History Project has videos of interviews with veterans and other resources.
Perhaps this article struck me since just last week the Railway Museum in Willimantic was vandalized. Seeing the swastika on the engine was very painful especially since many of the museum’s volunteers lived during World War II. The vandalism was caused by teens home from school due to local elections. Most teens have no connection or understanding of the times of WWII. At the personal level the article moved me since my mother’s family is Jewish and my 83 year old father is a veteran of the army and although he doesn’t talk about it much, it greatly affected him (and probably why he opposes the Iraq war).
I thought this would be a good learning opportunity for students. Information following the article states, “If you are a veteran interested in sharing your story, or would like to volunteer to conduct interviews, contact project director Eileen Hurst at 860-832-2976 or email@example.com.”
Embedding html into Assignment Instructions
The neatest idea that I learned from the DE Virtual Conference from Oct. 24 was that you can embed html instructions into the assignments created for students. One example used Blabberize to provide engaging instructions recorded by the teacher.