Thursday, October 21, 2010

Reflection on Final Project

Seems appropriate that we are in the middle of a typhoon and my final project is on weather.

This project is an integrated unit with first grade's weather unit. Last year I read a book that was about clouds and what to do in severe weather. I briefly tied in some library skills by discussing the differences between fiction and nonfiction books. We looked at the call number and I pointed out where nonfiction books are in the library. After the book students played a weather matching game that they loved. It was made by a weather channel and the kids would flip the cards (about 25) and match the photos of in pairs. When a pair was matched it disappeared.

I wanted to improve on this lesson and use the vocabulary words and photos from the Grade 1 FOSS science kit to create my own game. This would be integrated in the curriculum much better and have a stronger impact on student learning. I did a search online for a PowerPoint or Smartboard card game but none of them did quite what I envisioned. I have started the PowerPoint and I can create cards and match them but have yet to figure out how to make them fly off the board once they are matched with the correct pair. If anyone knows of a different program (flash for dummies) or a way to do this, please let me know.

Nancy came through for me again and sent me a memory game. I have finished the game in Smart Notebook and the flash is already done for me so I don't have to learn it. Nancy also showed me the website songs for teaching that has a weather song.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Head, Body, Legs

[youtube][/youtube]This lesson is for kindergarteners and ties in with their social studies unit titled, All About Me, where they gain knowledge of individual development and study basic external body parts. I read the silly book, Head, Body, Legs: A story from Liberia by Won-ldy Paye & Margaret H. Lippert, which is about a disembodied head that can't get cherries or mangoes from the trees unless it cooperates with the rest of the body parts. It finds arms, legs, and body and they work together to get the food they want to eat. I have done this lesson in the past using cutout butcher block paper and magnets and decided to try the Epson Brightlink. The kids loved it. All of the students were able to manipulate the pen pretty smoothly. One boy had a temper tantrum because he didn't want to wait for his turn. When head cooperates in the story he says "This is perfect." One class picked up on that and when they finished their picture they said, "This is perfect." Attached is a video showing the students manipulating the pen.

Standards Accomplished in This Unit

Library Standard 3: The student who is information literate uses information accurately and creatively.

3.3 Communicates and synthesizes ideas in logical and creative or novel ways.

3.3.2 Presents information that visually conveys the main idea and supporting details about a topic.

ISTE.NETS Standard 1: Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity

Social Studies: Individual Development and Identity

ISoc4B3: c. describe the unique features of one's nuclear and extended families

Integrated Unit: All About Me – Students learn how they are special and unique.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Reader's Theater

[youtube][/youtube]Grade 3 performed a reader's theater of the book, Chester's Masterpiece, by Melanie Watt. The story involves the author leaving sticky notes to the character in the book which ties in with reading strategies being taught in the classroom. I used the document reader with Avermedia software on my computer to project the book onto the wall using the Epson Brightlink projector. Students read one page of the book using the microphone from a portable speaker. Props of the author, Chester, and Rat were used as they spoke their parts. Only one of the five classes stayed focused until the end. The words were a little too hard and the lesson was a little too long. Next year I will do this lesson in the springtime when students are better readers.

I had problems with the document reader freezing. The document reader is old and the software is new so I think it is just a compatibility issue but I'm not sure. Anyone had this problem?  I attached a video. In the beginning the girl is struggling with holding the script, prop, and microphone. I told her to put the pages on the chair but she forgot. Other students would mix up the pages or drop them. I put the pages in a three-ring binder and set it on the chair and that seemed to correct the problem. I also moved the videotographer by the speaker and the sound is better in the following person on the video. I had the students' who have problems focusing run the video and flip the pages of the book.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Kill the Widget

Kill the Wabbit! Elmer Fudd shouts at Bugs Bunny, his archenemy in Looney Tunes cartoons.

After my widget war, I too, have a battlecry:

Kill the Widget!

Let me explain.

I've been working with a grade 5 teacher who wants to create digital portfolios with his students blogs.  The teacher wanted to create a blog page with students titled, My Reads, which launched me on a quest to find a website that students could use to track books they have read and write reviews. 

I didn't want it to be a quest.

It should have been easy. I've used Shelfari and Library Thing. But it wasn't easy and during my quest Elmer Fudd phrases kept popping into my head: Bewieve it or not, I'm hunting a certain wascawwy wabbit /widget.

I tried putting Shelfari's shelf widget on my blog. Pwetty cwafty, eh? Wrong! This is where the wabbit/widget outsmarts me. No matter what I did the Javascript kept deleting when I'd try and post, leaving me only a link. The teacher wanted the visual so students could show parents their digital portfolios during conferences.  Check out Jeff Utecht's great posts on digital portfolios. I  tried the only other social network I know for reading books called, The Library Thing. This too has a widget but the javascript would delete when I embedded the information into my Word Press blog. It acted the same as Shelfari. I worked with the IT department and tried all sorts of ways to get the wily widget to work, but no luck. The quest ended in failure. I was told the widget  wouldn't work.

My alter ego, Elmer Fudd, grabs his hunting rifle and pulls the trigger. Blast! I kill the widget.

Elmer Fudd  was always remorseful after he thinks he killed the wabbit. "Oh what have I done?" he says. "I've killed the wabbit. Poor wittle bunny! Poor wittle bunny." I too, am remorseful. I talk to Nancy Gorneau, grade 3-5 IT Coordinator, who tells me to try Good Reads which is supposed to work with Word Press blogs. It works and looks great! Look at the bottom of my column to the right. The teacher is happy. The IT Department is happy. I am happy. I also wearned my wesson... next time I  have twubble wid widgets I'm finding Nancy.