Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Professional Development Meme

I've been tagged! Normally the introverted rebel in me tends to ignore these Meme challenges, but I couldn't let this one go unanswered. Why? First, because this challenge comes from well respected colleague and friend Jen Wagner (who I know will check up on me to make sure I do it.) Second, it forces me to practice what I preach. Lately I've been leading a lot of professional development to prepare our middle school teachers for our 1 to 1 program which starts with 6th grade this Fall. I've been having them do a lot of project planning and goal setting. This is a good way to keep me accountable to do the same. So here goes...

Section 1: The Obligatory Posting of the Meme Rules
  1. Pick 3 professional development goals and commit to achieving them this summer.
  2. For the purposes of this activity the end of summer will be Labor Day (09/01/08).
  3. Post the above directions along with your 3 goals on your blog.
  4. Title your post Professional Development Meme and link back/trackback to
  5. Use the following tag/ keyword/ category on your post: pdmeme.
  6. Tag 8 others to participate in the meme.
  7. Achieve your goals and “develop professionally.”
  8. Commit to sharing your results on your blog during early or mid-September.
Section 2: My Goals
  1. Learn how to work with SQL Queries. Our Angel VLE is built on SQL tables. Knowing how to find and manipulate data with this powerful tool will make my life significantly easier.
  2. Take one new idea from both NECC and the Discovery National Institute and make a plan to implement it sometime this school year.
  3. 2:14 it! Putting a Tablet PC in the hands of every 6th grader poses some significant new challenges this summer. My final goal is to keep a positive attitude and "Do everything without grumbling or complaining." (Philippians 2:14).

Section 3: Tag! You're It!
If you see your name below, you know what to do.
  1. Bridget Belardi
  2. Rob Jacklin
  3. Genny Kahlweiss
  4. Alan Lutz
  5. Jonathon Orr
  6. Martha Thornburgh
  7. Tom Turner
  8. Trevor VanBlarcom (Maybe this will encourage you to start your own blog. You KNOW you want to.)

Friday, June 13, 2008

1000 Words for Father's Day

They say a picture is worth 1000 words, but sometimes words are not enough to capture the power or summon the emotion present in a photograph. That image becomes even more powerful when you have a connection to the subject of the photo. Those of you who have seen my Digital Storytelling presentation have also heard me mention my ongoing project to scan and archive family photos. So far I've digitized over 1400 of them.

What I've found fascinating about this project is the incredible detail in many of the oldest pictures. While many of these pictures are quite small, some only an inch or two square, most are contact prints and are incredibly detailed. Scanning and enlarging these prints reveal things one might not notice looking at the original photo.

I found this to be true yesterday as I was looking at one particular photo. The picture above is one of the only photographs of my great grandfather.

According to my grandpa, who will be 97 this month, it was taken in 1914. His father was working at a sheep ranch near Yakima, Washington. He recalls early childhood memories of watching the ranchers drive the sheep down the main street of town. Looking at the photo brings back fond memories of his father.

The original photo was not much bigger than a standard print, but because the photo was so detailed it was quite easy to zoom in and crop it to reveal a portrait of grandpa's dad. Yesterday when he was handed the enlarged print I was not totally prepared for his reaction.

Grandpa joined the Navy in 1931 and his father passed away while he was stationed in in the Pacific. It's been many years since he has looked at his father's face and been able to see his eyes. What took just a few minutes to crop and print turned out to be quite a Father's Day gift. Why didn't I do this sooner?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Tide Pool Adventure

Every May our 5th graders take a field trip to the tide pools at Corona Del Mar to learn about marine life. Part of the follow up for that trip includes some sort of assignment about various tide pool animals that reside in our local marine habitat.

This year as part of my effort to promote creativity and digital storytelling, we decided to shake things up a bit. Each child was to select a creature from the tidepools and make a story about that creature. They would give it a name, talk about it's life in the tidepool, or tell a story about their creature's little adventure. Stories must be factually accurate and cannot include any plot elements that go beyond the creature's natural abilities, real life predators, or physical environment. (i.e. No "Sea Slugs in Space" stories.)

The project began with students sketching out their stories in class on a storyboard template. (Storyboard.pdf courtesy of Hall Davidson) Storyboards included the story's "script" - what the student would say for each image. Next, they began to work on their pictures in the computer lab. Pictures could be drawn in KidPix, created in PowerPoint and exported as a jpeg file, imported from the Internet (properly cited, of course), or any combination of the three.

Finished pictures were imported to PhotoStory3. Students recorded their narration and added music and titles. When the stories were finished, they were exported to a Windows Media file and submitted electronically to their teacher for grading using our school LMS.

Were we crazy to start a project like this with only 8 1/2 days left in the school year? Maybe, but nearly all the kids were able to complete and submit their projects by this morning's deadline. (School ends this Friday!) They will be sharing them in class this afternoon.

Here is one about Brittle Stars.

This is a story about two crabs that sneak out to do some "TP-ing" with seaweed.

NOTE: Because of the limited time available to complete the assignment, students were limited to three pictures for their stories. But even with that restriction, they were still able to come up with some pretty good projects. Hopefully next year we'll be able to give them a little more time.