Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Power of the Network

A couple of weeks ago, I saw tweet on Twitter by isenbergs asking if anyone was willing to catch an egg. Intrigued, I DM'd her and we started networking . Basically, my students needed to "catch an egg" sent by a group of third graders from Saltsburg, PA live on Skype.
It was a cross country egg toss and the objective was:
"To design and construct a protective structure within a cardboard box that will prevent damage to an egg or eggs which will be mailed to another classroom. An egg without any visible cracks or damage is scored as a success."
Click here for the rules.
Each group had to construct a case for an egg and mail it. Then my students had to open the package, LIVE on Skype. The other teacher, Ms. Jake, recorded the grand opening. We received the package at 1:19pm today and Skyped at 2 pm. The box was very carefully wrapped with warnings on it such as "FRAGILE" and "OPEN WITH CARE." The 3rd graders stuffed the box with broken popsicle sticks, cut up straws, and twine. They also created a paper box inside, placed it in a ziploc bag, and secured it with rubber bands. We couldn't wait to open it! It was so great the they actually got to watch my students open the box live on Skype.
Sadly, the egg was cracked, but it was a good try Saltsburg Elementary!
We blame it on the postman! Better luck next time. I was surprised at how empathetic my students were and they were all genuinely upset! Some wanted to beg the cafeteria manager for a hard boiled egg to hold up to the camera.
Anway, the moral of the story is now we have even more CONNECTIONS. My students are starting to write children's e-books on themes we have been studying throughout the year and now we found a class to send them to for review. It's all about CONNECTIONS.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Summer's OFF? Not if you're a TEACHER!

This summer I am taking PD on the road and heading down to The Center for Mathematics, Science and Computer Education at Rutgers. Hopefully, I will even get to visit the grease trucks!

Here is a list of courses and information:CMSCE Summer 2009 Workshops
While all of the course are worthwhile, here are my course descriptions:

8/17/2009 Web 2.0 Tools for Special Educators

As a special educator you must have the tools to teach to different types of learners. What better tool bag to use than engaging Web 2.0 tools? This course will encompass classroom and time management tricks, graphic organizers, text to speech and speech to text programs, study skills, and best of all-they are all FREE! These web 2.0 tools support the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework. This class is not limited to special educators, but will focus on supporting and engaging all types of learners.

8/18/2009 Turning on Wiki

Why wiki? You may have heard of a wiki, but how can you implement it effectively in your classroom? This course will showcase best practices and provide strategies for using a wiki for instruction, assessment, and virtual student collaboration in a K-12 setting. Additionally, we will also address security and privacy issues and examine sample permission slips. You will leave with a wiki set up and ready to rock. Wikify your school, classroom, a unit of study, or a simple project this summer.

8/19/2009 Google Maps and Earth

Have you ever wanted to take a class trip to Ancient Rome, go inside a volcano, or dive underwater with Cousteau? Well, with Google Maps and Earth 5.0 you can. This class will cover the steps to creating and collaborating on maps and virtual field trips as well as ways in which you can use Google Earth to enhance your instruction and engage learners in Math, Science, Social Studies, and Language Arts. Note: If you do not already have a Google account, please create one prior to the course. You do not need to have a Gmail address to create an account. You may create a Google account with any valid email address. Also, please download Google Earth 5.0 prior to this course.

8/20/2009 Google for Science Teachers

We have all used Google Search, but how can the plethora of FREE Google Tools streamline your tasks, enhance your instruction and engage learners in your science classroom? We will examine and utilize tools such as Google Docs, News, Scholar, Maps, Earth, and Reader. You will leave this course with new tips and tricks that will start your year off on the right foot. Note: If you do not already have a Google account, please create one prior to the course. You do not need to have a Gmail address to create an account. You may create a Google account with any valid email address.

8/21/2009 Google for School Administrators/ Guidance Counselors

The many free tools of Google can help you streamline and organize your tasks and responsibilities as an administrator or guidance counselor. By implementing Google Docs, News Alerts, Reader, and Blogger into your daily grind, you will see a direct increase in your productivity and a decrease in your stress level. All the Google tools are free and technophobe friendly. Note: If you do not already have a Google account, please create one prior to the course. You do not need to have a Gmail address to create an account. You may create a Google account with any valid email address.

Hope to see you there!
Picture credit:

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Google Sites- the New Research Paper

Big Foot, NJ Devil, Mothman, Vampires OH MY! We recently finished our research unit on History's Unsolved Mysteries. Each student created a Google Site on their topic and embedded their research paper using Google Docs. Some students even went crazy and embedded surevys and presentations about their topics using Google Forms and Presentation. We also found some very interesting Gadgets to add to our sites such as creepy crawly spiders and maps.
Here are some example sites:


Have fun exploring!

Google Docs Drawing Example

Google Docs released new drawing tools and my students were quick to incorporate them into their writing. We recently went on an overnight class trip to the School of Conservation @ Stokes State Forest. When we came back the students wrote stories about their trip from the point of view of an object (living or dead) from Stokes.
Here is a link to one student example: Rainbow Bridge by Michelle K.
Here is a second example by Madeline A. from the point of view of a deer.

FUN = New Math + Connections

We needed a break from our current unit, "Forbidden Foods" so when I came across Craig Damrauer's site, New Math, I thought what better way for a language arts teacher to incorporate math and equations in the classroom? Before we even looked at the site, we reviewed the components of equations and I asked the students for some examples of equations. I got everything from:
1+1=2, butter+fly = butterfly, and 2x=18. Then I told the students we were going to do some "New Math" and they groaned. At first they didn't get Mr. Damrauer's newest equation- "March+Optimism=April." However, after discussing what optimism means and how horrible the weather was here in Sparta in March, they GOT it and begged for more. Some they were able to get right away, others they really needed to analyze. Check out Mr. Damraurer's other equations to see for yourself. Next, my 6th graders wrote their own and put them up on the Smartboard. Here are some of our best equations:
time*love = relationship
evil + annoying = little brother
school = learning-fun
hotwheels^5 = race car
black eye = fist + face
log cabin = lincoln logs^5
fish tank^2 = aquarium
disaster = money/economy
After class, I decided to email Mr. Damrauer the equations and guess what? He loved them and wants more.
I only did this with 2 classes, can't wait to see what my other 3 classes do. Will post more equations tomorrow, but I have to admit my favorite one by Mike V. in Section 2 was "Connections = Mrs. Hartman+Fun"