Great start to the week despite lack of visitors!

This week we were supposed to welcome visitors from the UK who were coming to see how we are using Web 2.0 tools in the classroom.  Unfortunately, we found out today while awaiting the arrival of our guests, that due to planning problems at our Department of Public Instruction, the teachers from England would not be coming to our school after all.  Needless to say, we (the kids and I) were very disappointed.

However, in anticipation of their visit, I stepped my Web 2.0 teaching up a notch.  Something I should've done months ago, but had gotten into a rut!  What the kids have done the last few days has been wonderful!  Needless to say, having access to the laptop cart made it all COMFORTABLY possible.  I know it all could have been done sharing the 5 desktop computers, but there is a real and measurable advantage to every child having their own laptop on which to complete their activities!

The kids have been using Smart Notebook and the Smart recorder which is on all of the laptops, to create soundless screen capture videos of how to complete various math problems.  They then upload their one to two minute videos onto their Gaggle Blogs and write a post which explains in words how to solve the problem.  As I look over the blog posts, I am amazed at what a great formative assessment tool this has become for me!  Not only are the kids motivated, but I can see first hand what the patterns of errors are, and the kids are challenged to explain their thinking.  It has been great!

In addition, we had a great Skype session today with a wonderful seismologist from the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory!  The kids got to ask the many questions they have developed as we have been conducting our unit on plate tectonics and the lithosphere.  Dr. Peggy Hellweg did a wonderful job keeping her answers interesting and at a level which my students could understand.  Thank you Dr. Hellweg for "visiting" our classroom!  Can't wait until tomorrow - and I haven't felt that way in quite awhile!

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