Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Digital Story

Digital Storytelling is a powerful way for your students to express their creativity. It's more than just a product, it's also about the process. Let me explain...

My grandfather, Roy Grice (I call him "Grampa"), is 96 years old. Last week I had a unique opportunity to travel with him down to San Diego to see the USS Midway, a retired aircraft carrier, now turned into a floating museum at the Navy Pier in San Diego, CA.

While we explored the ship, it brought back memories of his days in the Navy. Thankfully I was able to record some of his recollections and put them together into the podcast embedded below. While the recording probably has more value to me and my family, it also offers a glimpse into one man's view of history - as he experienced it.

It's important to me, that his stories live on after he is gone. With the digital tools available today, recording and sharing those stories is now easier than ever.

While editing this podcast together I must have listened to it more than a dozen times. By going through this process I know I'll retain much more of what Grampa told me - more than I ever would have just listening to him tell it to me once. Plus, I'll be able to go back to it as often as I want.

What digital stories could your students share?

Listen to Grandpa's Story...






The USS Midway Museum


"Grampa" next to a milling machine in the USS Midway machine shop.


Technical Info:
  • Audio edited using iMovie and exported as a .aif file. (I didn't have a voice recorder, so I used a camcorder to capture the audio.)
  • Converted to .mp3 using Audacity.
  • Mp3 file uploaded to GCast.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Tech Tips from the Bahamas

As I mentioned in the previous post, I was honored to be a part the Discovery National Institute last week. Fifty talented educators from 17 states spent a week together on the Carnival Sensation cruising to Nassau and Freeport in the Bahamas. But don't let the words "cruise" and "Bahamas" mislead you - we worked! There were training sessions, group projects, and lots of networking and idea sharing.

What follows is my attempt to list of some of the ideas and resources shared by these amazing teachers, tech trainers, and media specialists.

Note: If anyone from the cruise is reading this, please add a comment to include any great ideas or resources I may have missed.


Science


Stellarium (www.stellarium.org)
From Amy L., Bend, OR
Think of it as Google Earth for the sky. Put in any location and see the night sky and constellations visible from that spot at that day and time. You can also project forward or look backward in time. Requires you to download and install their free application. Versions available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

The Rock Dating Game (see previous post)
From Howard M - TX, Marty G - MI, Chris P - FL, Dave K - CA, and ME!
Good for 6th Grade Earth Science. Compare and contrast Metamorphic, Igneous, and Sedimentary rocks. Includes an Inspiration graphic organizer and a Unitedstreaming writing prompt.


Language Arts & Writing

Knight Cite (www.calvin.edu/library/knightcite)
From Rachel H., WI
An online tool for creating proper MLA, APA, and Chicago style citations.


Math/Social Studies

Dollar Around The World
From Rachel H - WI, Diana L - AZ, Kim R - CA, Jennifer D - PA, Tanya G - KS
Learn about other countries and currency conversion as your students investigate the value of a dollar around the world.
Assignment directions and web resources (Word File)
International Currency Factsheet (PDF)
Student Notebook (PDF)
Unitedstreaming Assignment


Social Studies/Geography


Where in the World? (web.mac.com/jennifergingerich)
From Jennifer G - OR, Carole G - FL, Beverly P - NJ, Dedra S - OK, Donna T - SC
Remember Carmen Sandiego? This project has students taking video clips from Unitedstreaming and breaking them into little "clues" that their classmates have to solve in order to guess where they are hiding. The project includes a writing prompt and quiz on Unitedstreaming and an Inspiration template with project guidelines.

CommunityWalk (www.communitywalk.com)
From Amy L., Bend, OR
This site lets you or your students create a "tour" by adding placemarks to a map. Each placemark can contain information, links, and/or pictures about that location. Possible uses include mapping out specific landmarks along the Oregon Trail, or creating a virtual tour of local historical sites in your hometown.


Library, Media, and Teacher Tools

Good Reads (www.goodreads.com)
From Bridget B., PA
Read any good books lately? Write a review and post it here. This site is great for connecting you with others who have read the same book and have similar tastes. Use it to create literature circles among your staff or with your students.
Bridget was also involved in the creation of this great video promoting their school library - a must see! (http://multimedia.mtlsd.org/Play.asp?FILEID=12429) Requires Windows Media Player.

Teacher Tube (www.teachertube.com)
From Jennifer G., OR
This is basically YouTube for teachers. It contains online video tutorials, student and teacher created projects, professional development, and more. Teachers can create a free account and use it to host their own videos. Make sure your school doesn't block this one! (You might even win a laptop computer.)

Inspired Learning Community (www.inspiredlearningcommunity.com)
From Jennifer G., OR
Have you created a great Inspiration or Kidspiration lesson? Post it here. Looking for a good one? Search for it here. This is a huge library of teacher created Inspiration and Kidspiration templates searchable by grade level and topic.

Flickr Toys (www.bighugelabs.com/flickr)
From Jeanine B., WI
So you've posted your pictures to Flickr - now what? This site of full of toys to enhance your Flickr experience and have fun with your photos. Make motivational posters, trading cards, movie posters, mosaics, calendars, and much more.


Flip Video (www.theflip.com)
From Katie K., VA
This $85 video camera holds 30 minutes of 640x480 video on its 512MB of internal memory. Video is saved in AVI format and can be transferred to your computer using the flip-out USB connector. You can also watch video on your TV using the supplied video cable.


FMO: For MAC Only

3-2-1 Countdown Widget (www.apple.com/downloads/dashboard/calculate_convert/321.html)
From Amy L., OR
A great little classroom management tool. Add this to your OSX widgets and use it in your classroom to countdown to recess, free time, or to time a test.

Bluetooth File Sharing
From Howard M., Austin, TX
Howard showed me this impressive little trick to wirelessly transfer files to and from Mac via bluetooth. No WiFi connection necessary.
1) Make sure Bluetooth is turned on and both machines are discoverable.
2) Go to the Utilities and open Bluetooth File Exchange.
3) Select the file you want to send to your friends Mac. Click SEND.
4) Select the name of your friend's computer from the list of available devices. Click SEND.
A windows will pop-up on your friend's computer telling them that you are sending them a file. All they need to do is click ACCEPT. The file will be saved on their machine. Is that cool or what?!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Don’t Take Him for Granite

Sometimes the best way to discourage plagiarism among your students is to come up with an assignment that forces them to take information and present it in a whole new way.

In this project, developed by a team of top educators at the Discovery National Institute, students compare and contrast three similar, but different people, places or things. The three things appear as bachelors on a dating show. The bachelorette asks questions of the bachelors and they must answer in character using the information they compiled while researching their person, place or thing.

It will work with just about anything. Imagine a lovely young lady asking questions of Columbus, Magellan, and Cortez. Or what about Caesar, Alexander the Great, and Napoleon? With a little creativity you could even give personality to inanimate objects - like rocks.

Here’s a fun example of what such a project might look like for a science class. In it we compare the properties of metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary rocks.

video




At the end of the project students need to fill in a graphic organizer. This one is just a basic Inspiration template that has been modified slightly.

Graphic Organizer Link (Requires Inspiration Software)

Finally, students are asked to synthesize what they have learned using the writing prompt. Their task is to write a letter to the lovely bachelorette encouraging her to choose one of three rocks, using their research to support their choice.

Writing Prompt Link

Who are these ‘top educators’ you speak of?
What did you do on your summer vacation? Well, if anyone asks I'll say I got to go on a cruise with 50 of the most amazing and talented educators this country has to offer. This National Institute was sponsored by the Discovery Channel. I can honestly say I’ve never worked so hard and had so much fun at the same time. For more info about the DNI Bahamas Cruise, check out Joe Brennan’s blog.

This Dating Game project was a collaborative effort that combined the creative talents of five teachers from four different states. (We’re all listed in the end credits of the video.)