Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Time-lapse video: Space shuttle Endeavours trek across L.A.

This was an awesome video.  The shuttle only moved at 2 miles an hour!  Just look at how slow they had to go to avoiding hitting trees and houses, and the cherry pickers that were driving around it to ensure it had clearance to miss everything.

Time-lapse video: Space shuttle Endeavour’s trek across L.A.

Reading in the outdoor classroom

Ms. Whites class checked out books today and it was so warm that we went outside to read in the outdoor classroom!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Grade 4 Halloween Poems

The Grade 4's did a quick audio activity yesterday. Students selected a poem from two sites that had Halloween Poems for children. They then needed to select two Halloween sounds from the bank that I had downloaded from Sound Bible.  One sound was for the introduction of the poem, and the second was for the closing.  After they found their two sounds, students then needed to use Audacity to add their first sound, record themselves reading their poem, and add their last sound.

The finished product wasn't too bad, although I didn't remember to tell the students to name the poem or give credit to the author after they finished.  They worked in partners too, which gave me half as many computers to deal with plus I think it really increased the success rate of the students.  I sometimes forget in my zeal to have each student seated in front of a computer that sometimes individual work isn't the best method of getting something done.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Deep Freeze Ugh!

Another day of setting up computers at school.  Adding printers and just ensuring that everything is functioning so that teachers can at least check their mail and print something.  I got roughly a third of the school done when I realized that Deep Freeze, a piece of software that prevents users from installing new software on the computer, was installed.  This meant that all of the printers I had installed weren't actually finished.  

So at least a half days work wasted, because I forgot about it... Sigh, always more work to do tomorrow I suppose.

First Day

First Day of school, over.  Actually, it was just administration day.  Met with the staff, had breakfast, and then spent the rest of the day setting up computers in teachers classrooms. Got the bare minimum done, ensuring everyone had at least one computer working so they could check their email.  Also tried to make sure that everyone's Interactive White Board was working too.  Day went by quickly, though setting up machines is about my least favourite thing to do.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tracking life with Scribblemaps

I find a lot of the time when working with students we simply look at the information they are learning or studying in text form, ignoring all the other myriad ways there exists for presenting facts.  That is partly because people don't know about other ways to represent their work, and partly because most of us are slaves to the ways we have always done things.

One site I knew was good for something, but really haven't have a chance to use, was Scribblemaps.  It lets you annotate a map with scribbles, lines, images, text and a large variety of icons.  Students in Grade 6 do research on a historical figure from Canada's history and I hoped that in conjunction with their work, either as a section of it, or as an extension, they could map the important locations in their historical figures life.  For example, here is a quick version of my life: (all locations are approximate)

So you can see each part of my life was noted with a numerical pushpin, so you can follow it on the map, instead of just using text.

Sadly, due to scheduling restraints, I did not get to do this with a class.  Instead I managed to squeeze one Grade 6 class into use it.  It was so late after the research was finished that it was unfair to ask them to try and remember all of their historical figures data.  Instead we mapped their own lives with important locations.  You would think that in a 11-12 year old's life they wouldn't come up with much, but most students managed to mark at least 4-6 points, including vacations, places they had been around the city, and locations where family members lived.  I can't really share them here though because they often started from their home mailing address, and just shared the finished product with their teacher.

The other neat thing about the site is that once the information and points are created in Scribblemaps it can be exported as a KML file.  If you are familiar with that, it is the format used in Google Earth.  So you can take your Scribblemap, stick it in Google Earth to look at, and even make a tour using some of Google Earth's features.  It could be quite the lesson.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Google Docs

One thing I have really wanted to finish for this year was getting the Grades 4's and 5's very familiar with their Google Apps for Education accounts.  The accounts, with their email, docs, sites, and some other tools, offer some really flexible tools for school use.

My hope is that I have will have the Grade 4 and Grade 5 students competent in using it, so that next year when they are in 5 and 6 we will be able to jump right into using them well.  Also, then I will just need to teach the Grade 4's each year how to use it, making it easier for me as well!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The 6th Grade Nickname Game

I have always loved Gordon Korman Books.  I remember when I was in elementary school I enjoyed such classics as I Want to Go Home! and This Can't Be Happening at MacDonald Hall. Gordon Korman always seems to do a good job of portraying characters that are in school, and in trouble.  The people in the stories always have interesting back stories.

This one isn't an exception, mostly.  It has some interesting people, but I found them slightly less fleshed out than some of his other stories I have read.  That could be because at 11-12 years old they just aren't as old as characters in some of his other stories.  Also, given the books shorter length, there just wasn't time to develop them as much.

Regardless, I still enjoyed it.  Lots of Kormans humour was present in the story, and it makes for a good read. He has a wonderful grasp of what is just absurd enough to be plausible and funny at the same time.  The story progresses well, and the teachers aren't just caricatures.  The mult-cultural fair that they present is vintage Korman.

I would certainly say this is a recommended read.  It was light, but pretty good.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Raven's Gate

Just finished reading Raven's Gate.  It is about a Matt, a boy whose parents died in a car crash when he was 8.  After that he left to live with his mother's half sister.  She squanders his parent's fortune, and in general neglects him. He finds a friend with a kid who is constantly in trouble and eventually finds himself arrested, at 14, for taking in a violent crime.  As a result he is sent to live in a farm in a small town far away from anything.  While there, his creepy land lady and her odd helper lay odd restrictions on him, and anyone he gets close too appears to vanish, sometimes in quite the bloody fashion.  

After that, things get weird.

This is the first in what appears to be five books.  I can't say I loved this one, but it wasn't a bad read.  The action was somewhat disjointed in the middle, but it got better after that.  And to be honest, a couple of the unexplained odd parts are explained near the end of the book.

I would probably go read the other books in the series, if I can get my hands on them easily.  It was worth finishing.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Bar Code Tatoo

I just finished reading "The Bar Code Tattoo".  It is about a 17 year old girl named Kayla who lives in 2025, a not too distant future.  In this future people over the age of 17 can get a tattoo of a bar code on their wrist that holds all kinds of information, money, health information, family, and your address.  She is very mistrustful of the barcode because she thinks it will be used in some bad ways, including tracking people, or keeping some information about them that they don't want to keep.

I really liked the first part of the book.  It is about Kayla's thoughts on the tattoo, and its effects on her family and friends.  She even joins a group at her school that is anti-code, called DeCode.  The second half of the book though, it gets a little strange, especially the last several chapters, going in a completely unexpected direction.

Normally I would be ok with this, as it would make for an exciting end to the book.  Instead I just found it to be a little bizarre, and such a strange turn of events that it made the book feel somewhat disjointed.  It made me less satisfied with the ending of the book.  It also set itself up for a sequel, but based on how the first book ended, I am not completely sure I want to read the next one, which is odd for me, as I always want to finish the story.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Student Interactive Storymap

This storymap interactive from lets you do several different types of maps.  Students can do character maps, setting maps, conflict maps, and resolution maps, all important aspects of a story.  The site makes it easy to use, and I like the fact that you can print out a hard copy to look at later.

The description from the site itself states that, "The Story Map interactive includes a set of graphic organizers designed to assist teachers and students in prewriting and postreading activities. The organizers are intended to focus on the key elements of character, setting, conflict, and resolution development. Students can develop multiple characters, for example, in preparation for writing their own fiction, or they may reflect on and further develop characters from stories they have read. After completing individual sections or the entire organizer, students have the ability to print out their final versions for feedback and assessment. The versatility of this tool allows it to be used in multiple contexts."

Story Map Interactive

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What do you love? by Google

What do you love? by Google is a neat search site.  Instead of just searching text, or just searching images it gives you an intersesting result that searches all of their available offerings, meaning you can see text results, blog results, youtube results, and even recent news results.  Not all of them will be relevant or needed, for example, there is a patent section, but overall you can get a large variety of information from one search.

Try it out with a nice search of your own, or look at my miniature schnauzers search.

Graphing with Stats Canada

Did a nice activity with Grade 6's and graphing today.  All because i could not find the change in moose population in NL for the last 20 years.

We used this site to do our graphing:

Excellent little site.  Just play around with it too see how it works.  Best thing about it is that you can preview everything before you print it.  Especially important for soemthing simple such as making sure your x and y access are labeled correctly.

As for data to graph, on stats Canada you can create your own population data sheet.

Stats Canada

You can select and mix province, gender, and even ages over a period of time.  Nice to show kids the population change in NL of 10-14 year olds over the last 20 years.

Once you "retrieve as Table" then ask for it to output format as  "HTML table, time as rows"  Then
click retireve now.

Population of 10-14 year olds, NL, 1990-2010

That is the 10-14 year olds in NL from 1990-2010.  Interesting looking data set?

Finally, if you just want some random interesting data about Canadian kids try this link:

Stats Canada Summary Results

Has everything from average wrist circumfernce, to travel time by bus to school, to average foot length.  35 different data sets that you can discuss and graph about kids in Canada.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Massive Collection of IWB (smartboard) activities

Large number of activities and games formated for IWB's.  They are ordered by what appears to be the British educatoional system, so it may take a little effort to determine exactly what you need, but it really isn't all that bad.  And the activities are good, full screen interactive activities.

Here is one for measuring capacity

There are dozens, if not hundreds, similar to that in quallity.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Learning about blogs for your students

Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano is a huge fan of blogging with her students, and has done a lot of work showing how to to it the right way to be successful.  Her site, has lot of information on that, and other things she is working on, including digital storytelling with Ipads.  Right now she is writing a multi-part series on the most effective way to blog with students.  You can start with the first part, Learning About Blogs for your students - Reading here.  It continues on for at least 7 parts at the moment, although I am unsure if she plans to continue it further.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Google Green

Google Green Scrapbook seems like a nice idea.  It presents you with a series of questions you answer, and in the end you are given a nicely laid out scrapbook with all kinds of environmental information.  From the site:

2011 Green Scrapbook

Google Plus
The 2011 Green Scrapbook highlights the top environmental search trends in this year’sZeitgeist. Explore the trends, create your own scrapbook, and share it with others.
Here is the one that I created:

Thursday, January 5, 2012

EDUBlog Awards

The EduBlog awards are done in December, with readers voting on their favorite educational blogs.  Whether you agree with the the concept of voting on blogs, (it is somewhat like grading them) it is a great list of blogs to look at.  You might find something there to add to your reading list that interests you.

EduBlogs Awards

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Super List of Autism Apps for Ipad

Ipads have become very popular lately, due to their ease of use, large screens, and great interactivity.  Below is a link to a Google Spreadsheet that has a large list of apps that many have used with students who have autism.  They are sorted by topics such as advocacy, communication, and art.  Take a look and see what others have contributed.

iPad Apps & Resources for People With Autism : Reviews, Links, Prices