Rita Mortenson’ Blog
Rita Mortenson is a STAR Member of the Discovery Educator Network
Discovery Education Techbooks are Awesome!
I was excited to preview several states that have already adopted online textbooks. Although we work in a high school, we felt that previewing the 8th grade curriculum would give us a good idea of what is offered.
The overall layout of the pages is nice, and organized. I loved the fact that everything was right there…meaning the activities, articles, links to videos and even the “recommended more” videos was there at our finger tips.
The reading passages I believe are shorter than a traditional textbook…maybe this is a positive on a small mobile device? Since I have not had a lot of experience with curriculum on mobile devices, it was interesting to see the difference or what the differences might be.
I know that all of my students really thrive with their electronic devices, so I believe this is where the textbooks are heading. I would love to see Wisconsin implement some of this curriculum, and I would love to see it offered at the high school level.
The handouts are visually very attractive and I love the graphics. There were a few handouts, activities that were difficult to read due to the font and a few activities it would have been nice to have a photo of what was being described. For example the biome animals.
Overall, exciting time to be a teacher….and have these opportunities unfold before us.
Student Videos Showcased at the Apple Store
On Wednesday, March 23, approximately 30 students and their Science Instructor, Ms. Hope Mikkelson, along with VAHS Technology Coordinator and DEN STAR/LC Member, Ms. Rita Mortenson, arrived at the Apple Store in Madison, Wisconsin ready to showcase some student created science videos.
For the past month, students in Ms. Mikkelson’s Biology 2 classes have been learning movie-making techniques while they created their informative science documentaries. The science documentary idea came to Ms. Mikkelson after the popular LIFE series aired last spring. LIFE, the 11-part series by the Discovery Channel, was narrated by Oprah Winfrey and featured segments about mammals, creatures of the deep, unique plants, birds, fish and other interesting living species. This natural history series was a huge hit due to its breath- taking photos, and informative segments. The impact from watching the segments sparked the idea by Ms. Mikkelson to have students create their own documentary.
Using iMovie and Discovery Streaming Video clips and photos, these high school scientists set out to research their selected animal or species related topic, create a storyboard, edit their footage, write and narrate their script, add background music, transitions and more. One student even composed his own music using the software program Logic!
The end result – student created videos that showcased their creativity, knowledge and use of 21st Century Skills. At the “movie premiere” students were asked questions about the movie making process and informed the audience members about how technology has changed the way students learn. The night was a lot of fun and the students were very proud of the work they created.
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iPods in the Classroom
This year, 17 teachers from the Verona Area School District have signed up take a course I am teaching called “iPods in the Classroom”. All participants get a 120 GB Classic iPod and are enrolled in a six week course learning everything from charging and plugging in an iPod to downloading and playing Discovery Streaming clips in their classroom.
Bringing 21st Century Skills to Young Scientist
Over the past several weeks, I have been working with an amazing science teacher who has been actively integrating technology into her science curriculum. Her student have been using Discovery Streaming to create digital videos of scientist. Each student selected a scientist that they would like to study, and using the editable video clips from Discovery Streaming, along with iMovie, some headphones and microphones, some amazing documentaries are being created.