Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Empowering Students: A Cell Phone Video

In my school district, we are beginning to explore the power of the cell phone in the classroom. This has not been easy or smooth. There are many questions to be answered for both teachers and students.

In any case, I was charged with creating a video for students about "responsible use" for a cell phone during school hours. After a quick brainstorming session with many open-minded educators, I went to work. I started collecting video clips, images, and snippets of text. I put it all together one Sunday afternoon.

Then, I actually watched it. It was pretty awful. The transitions were cluttered. I used cheesy sound effects, and some of the animations I created had the scariest synthetic voice ever recorded.

So, I went to the high school students that were currently enrolled in a video editing course at my high school. I shared the video with them and I waited for their feedback. After I broke the ice, the students started providing me with mature guidance to make the video smoother, easier to understand, and, well, JUST PLAIN BETTER. They were polite, sought to recognize both strengths and weaknesses, and intelligently critical.

In short, it was a pleasure to have students shape the final product. Check it out below.

Cell Phones at STMS from SD of Springfield Township on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Turkey Day!

There is much to be thankful for today. Do you have some extra minutes while you're waiting for that turkey to brown? Add your favorite recipe to http://iloveturkeys.wikispaces.com/! Many of my favorite PLN members have already contributed. Join the fun! Photo Credit: http://www.uvm.edu/~uvmaz/alphaweb/images/turkey%20win/turkey.gif

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Guess the Google: Great Game for Summarization

Are you teaching your students how to summarize or outline text? Often students have trouble identifying information that is essential and nonessential when completing that activity. Well, I found a fun game that would be a great lesson starter for a lesson on summarizing. It is called Guess the Google. You look at 16 pictures and you try to determine what keyword describes them all. I played the game several times and I did not see any inappropriate pictures, but you should always double check first. Thanks to Angela Maiers for this resource!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Science for the Smartboard

Looking for elementary science resources that you can use with your interactive white board? Try the LHS Kids Site. It offers a variety of interactive games and demonstrations that students can play. Topics include "crystals," "bird beaks," and many more. Some of the topics appear to fit nicely with FOSS kits that you may be using in your classroom. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Barcamp 2010: A Recap

On November 13, 2010, I joined many fellow geeks and nerds at the University of the Arts for BARCAMP 2010 to talk about computers, programs, and making it all work. Needless to say, I had an awesome time. Here are my top 5 takeaways from the day:

1. The Internet is changing the way we think. Do we control the tool or is the tool controlling us?

2. Developers talk about us (teachers) as "clients." And sometimes, they are only pretending to be nice.

3. The city of Philadelphia is committing to an open data project where developers will donate time to build useful, real-time apps to help citizens.

4. Sometimes, customizing your stream of real-time information places you in an "echo chamber."

5. Marybeth Hertz and Kim Sivick and amazing teammates for leading a discussion. Within minutes, we had agreed up on our topic, complied our research, and prepared a visual. Girls + Google Docs = awesome!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Enter the Group: Group Project Management

Ensuring that cooperative group work is beneficial to all members can be a challenge for teachers and students alike. Sal Pellettieri emailed me and shared her new site with me: Enter the Group. It allows students and teachers to create portals for managing group work. Right now, the service is free. See the embedded video below for more information. It might be a tool that works for you and your students. It could be a good replacement for small group NINGs.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Carryout Text: Universal Design Tool

Carryout Text is a website that allows you to easily convert text into audio. It is a great way to help students access text. The audio files are in an mp3 format. The site does mention that it will not be free forever, but it does not mention when the service will change to a "pay" format. In any case, this could be a good solution to help students in your classroom! Thanks to www.edutechintegration.com for sharing this resource.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Presenting on Universal Design at Global Ed Conference

I was selected as a presenter for the Global Education Conference chaired by Lucy Gray and Steve Hargadon on November 17th at 7pm. It is going to be a great, free event where educators come together to share and learn. Since I'm pretty passionate about Universal Design for Learning (UDL), I'm going to be sharing on that topic. (Don't know what UDL is? Learn more here.) Do you have any UDL favorites that I should be sure to include? Thanks for your input!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Great Middle School Simulation: Civics

I am a huge fan of simulations. I recently discovered Arugment Wars, a simulation from iCivics, and I think it is perfect for middle school students. Students can argue their case, learn about their rights as students, and earn points for valid arguments. I think it would be a fantastic complement to any middle school social studies class! Enjoy!

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