Two Great Finds!

The first great find was discovered as I searched for some informative, yet fun activity for one of our 5th grade teachers.  She is putting together stations for the 100th day of school, and the whole theme uses pennies!  100th day isn't just for Kindergarten!  She is very innovative and wanted one of the stations to be technology-based, cool!  So in my searching, I came across the US Mint's Kids' site!  What a treasure-trove!  Although I only had a chance to look at a few of the activities and links in their "clubhouse", it is a very kid-friendly place!  The section I think we'll use for the station is one of their interactive cartoons called, "Birth of a Coin" which walks you through exactly how the coins that end up in your couch are made!  Very neat!  I had no idea!  Since so many grade levels' SCOS includes the teaching of money concepts, wouldn't this be a great place to pique student interest!

The second great find came as I read Wesley Fryer's post, "Singing, Not On the Test".  Take just a minute to click on the NPR link and listen to the 2 minute song.  You will chuckle and shake your head in dismay at the same time!

Picture:  Fountain of Wishes

Given the choice, I'd pick Vanilla!

Taking advantage of a very surprising day off due to some ice on the roads (I still have to chuckle at what will close the schools here in the South), I worked on my curriculum for the Green 'N Growing Project and LearnNC.  NC State Library's Special Collections Archive has digitized a great collection of photos and documents related to the history of Home Demonstration and the 4H program.  In cooperation with LearnNC, they have asked teachers around the state to develop some lessons which incorporate these primary documents.  Although I was always more of a "shop" girl myself (my son's wall displays the wooden gun rack I made back in middle school), I did take Home Economics class and even made a skirt (no pockets, no zipper!) and a lopsided pillow!  So, being the challenge-obsessed person I am, I agreed to create some lessons!  Wanting to incorporate as much technology as possible, I decided to create a Powerquest (thanks to some training last summer at Teacher Academy) which would guide the students through many of the archived photos.  But I also want to make it as problem based as possible, so the kids aren't just aimlessly glancing at old photos.  So, I was reassured to read Ben, The Tech Savvy Educator's most recent post, Chocolate Ice Cream and Mario Bros.  The part that ruminates the most for me is this:

Too often I feel that computer labs are seen as the exact opposite of this experience. Teachers will walk their kids in (quietly! No pushing), sit them down, talk them through logging in, carefully explaining each step of the process. The lesson is some predetermined exercise or activity on a website in which the students must follow step by step instructions and all they really end up caring about is hurrying up to finish so they can go to their favorite game site and play an inning of math baseball or some other game. The spark for learning is nowhere to be found, just the drive to finish and go play. Too often this was the case in my early teaching with computers; do as I say, make sure you follow the steps, then you have free time afterward. I’m thankful that I’m learning from wonderful veteran teachers, so that the experience I had today of kids eagerly chatting away about their favorite video game character or ice cream flavor was a rewarding one for them and myself. In a way, it’s important to remember that students need choices on the computers just as much as anywhere in the school, just different choices than what game to play.

Sound familiar?  What if we actually gave them choices and (gulp) decisions to make on their own??  They might actually learn something!  Oh, my....

Picture:  Fork in the Road

How many ITF's does it take to....

Finally!  Excitement!  It is so nice when you have a day when everything on your to do list gets done, AND WORKS!  It started with converting Mrs. Shuey's class readers' theater Powerpoint (complete with the kids' manipulated voices for the characters - all done by them!) into a movie.  It actually happened quite by accident.  I had her ppt. open, trying to figure out how we would get the voices and slide pictures imported into Movie Maker, when I noticed the Camtasia toolbar in the upper left!  After some manipulation of the settings, and a couple of botched saves, voila!  A wonderful movie (didn't know you could do that with Cam)!  I was thrilled even further when I remembered how to upload it to my YouTube account, and then onto the Deep River wiki from there!  Yes, my day could've ended happily there!  But no, it got even better!  This afternoon, while meeting with the other ITF's from our county, we figured out how to get the kids' "podcasts" (audio book reports and stories) from Audacity to the desktop, to iTunes, to our new shuffles!  Hooray!  And it is SO easy (after four of us put our heads together!)!  Maybe this technology stuff really will work!!  Now, where did I put tomorrow's list?

Photo: Let's Put Our Heads Together

New Math I Like!

Isn't it funny how just at the point when you are feeling the most overwhelmed in life, God sends you a message?  That message came for me tonight (only five hours after my stressed out post for the day!) when I read today's blog post from Vicki Davis (Cool Cat Teacher).  I think I must've said AMEN aloud about twenty times!  Make sure you read "Sometimes You Add To Your Life By Subtraction".  Here's to enjoying one ripple at a time!


Stress? Nah...

Just received an email containing 2 syllabi from my Graduate Professor, Dr. Charles Matthews, at the University of Missouri - St. Louis.  I am part of a new cohort in our county who will be taking part in a wonderful distance ed Master's program from UMSL.  We will be participating through videoconferencing each week for the next few months.  Very exciting, but also very scary.  With the exception of attaining my National Boards, I have not taken any seriously studious classes since undergrad at Lyndon State College back in my home state of Vermont (almost 17 years ago!).  Just looking at the pace and amount of work involved in the coming classes stops my heart for a moment.

In addition, I'm finishing up my Kenan Fellowship project (yes, Dr. Annetta it will be completed come hell or high water!), a multi-user, online simulation science game using the terrific ActiveWorlds platform.  I also am working on some curriculum for a project through LearnNC and the Green and Growing Project (due in March).

However, as I look at the stacks of notebooks I have compiled to keep myself organized over the next few months, I can't help but think of the wonderful work going on in the classrooms around me.  Podcasts of book reviews being recorded, movies being made, blogs being written, voice-enhanced powerpoint shows being constructed - and that is just to name a few of the things our KIDS are doing!  Thank goodness for the inspirational work of our KIDS (and their hardworking teachers striving to bring out the best)!


iTunes Alternative?

Was going to continue with my New Year's Resolution to blog more, and answer the meme tag from Danita.  Having read the "big guys'" (guys to Yankees includes women!) answers to the very popular meme circulating the blogosphere, I tried not to curse when I got the tag!  But that will have to wait another day.

After meeting with Lee and Debra today and talking about projects we could develop for the iPods, I think Will Richardson's post today is very timely!  He writes:

It’s becoming clearer and clearer to me that the convergence of all of this will fit in our pockets. It has to. The culture is demanding mobile computing, and it’s being driven by our kids. And I think we need to start looking at ways to leverage that ability.

Where to start? Experiment. A first step might be to go to Mogopop and put together a lesson that can upload to an iPod.  Not a phone, I know, but that ability will be here sooner than you think. It’s an easy way of getting your head around how it might play out.

So I visited Mogopop for a short time... may be worth looking into!  What do you think?

Back to Blogging in 2007

Okay, I've finally caught up on my blog reading!  My RSS feed (Bloglines) had approached the 100+ unread blog posts.  The higher it got, the more I procrastinated reading!  I think I felt so tired and burned out prior to the holidays, I just chose to ignore the increasing number.  Same with writing in my own blog.  But after re-kindling the fire, I have set as one of my 2007 resolutions, to blog more often.  And after coming across a great quote in one of my favorite blogger's posts I know that shorter, more narrative accounts of the successes and challenges of my daily work will prove to be more beneficial to me (and hopefully to Danita who is, I think, the only other reader!)  The quote goes like this:

Found at Gaping Void, but it originally was written in its entirety here.
Write not for others, as there are too many.
Write for yourself, as there is only one.

Ahh yes, too much pressure in trying to be philosophical in my postings (I'll leave that to the edublogexperts!).  Here's looking forward to tomorrow's short post!

The Thinker

The Thinker