Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Give and Take Final Projects

This IB unit was entitled Give and Take and addresses the limited resources in our world. Students were challenged to build a section of a community on the edge of a river. This is loosely based on our own community, so they were also challenged to add a community center, an amusement park, a college, a football stadium, a wildlife preserve and a power plant. Their communities should reflect their knowledge of renewable and nonrenewable resources and how a community reduces pollution and waste. In addition to this project, students also completed an expository writing about ways that they think we could help our environment. Those writings are also posted below. We also experimented with a "Wall Wisher" which is posted here. Double click to add a comment of your own.

We collaborated on this project with Mrs. Heaton's fourth graders from Mossy Oaks Elementary in Beaufort, South Carolina. They mirrored this process in their class and we are going to spend some time looking at the issues that they feel are important in developing their community, and how those issues are the same and different from ours. Thanks to Mrs. Heaton's class!

Great job room24, this is a great start. If there were more than a handful of days left we would continue to discuss in class. This is certainly a discussion you will need to have throughout your lives. Comments are welcome.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Students' India Presentations

Students recently were given the task of studying another culture for our "Cultural Comparisons" unit. Originally, I was going to have students do a voicethread, but with some recent technical difficulties I had, I decided to have students make a presentation through Google Docs. Students were separated into groups to study a different aspect of the Indian culture: Money and Education, Geography and Climate, Food, Diet and Health, or Family Structure and Traditions. I put together a presentation with the questions that they had to answer, and each group had to find or create a visual to go along with their information. The final product looks pretty good. I would have liked students to be able to access the presentation without having to sign them in. I also had intended to embed this in our class blog so students could comment on their work, but the unit ended before I got to that step. We may still do this in the last couple of weeks that are remaining as a review of their fourth grade work.
Cultural Comparisons IB Planner

Sharing Discovery Streaming Videos

Recently, a colleague of mine and myself were given the job of beginning to consolidate Discovery Streaming videos that teachers were using in their grade levels to support their IB units. There are a couple of tools in Discovery Streaming that make it very easy to keep track of your videos. (Here's their help page on this subject.)

First, once you find a video you should save it in a "My Content" folder. I have different folders within "My Content" for each of our six IB units of inquiry. This has made it very easy to find the videos that I used last year.

After the videos are in your own folder, it is very easy to then share them with others in your building or in the district. Click on the drop down menu on the right and select "share".

If you are sharing with others in your school, select which folder you would like to put it in, or select "share to new school folder". I am sharing all of my videos that I use with our unit on renewable and nonrenewable resources with my colleagues who are teaching the same unit. The next time they sign in to their account, they will see the video in the school content folder.

Want to share the video with a Global Learner in another school? Click on "Share to District" in a folder of your choosing or create a new one. There is already a video there from Idledale Mayoral Candidate, Dave "Mountain Lion" Tarwater.

This has been a great discovery (no pun intended) for us so that we can do a better job of keeping track of resources that we use to support our IB units at Alsup. There are a couple of things that are a little glitchy. For example, I will give a crisp $1 bill to anyone who can tell me how to delete a school content folder. I'm stumped...

I used two videos from Discovery Streaming recently to have students compare life of people in India living in cities to those living in the country. Cultural Comparisons planner is here.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Shared Reading and the SmartBoard

Using a combination of StoryTown online resources and the SmartBoard screen capture tool, I have a routine that I use for my Tuesday shared reading lessons. While we are reading the weekly story together as a class, we are focusing on two outcomes:
  1. Recognizing new vocabulary that we have learned that week. (Usually the day before we play our vocabulary game on the smartboard to reinforce the words.)
  2. Practicing a new skill for that week like identifying main idea, sequence of events or cause and effect.
First, at the beginning of the year I downloaded pdf files of the student practice books and reading transparencies from the StoryTown website.

Next, when it is time for us to read the weekly story together, students have their text books in front of them along with a skill practice page. For example, we were reading a story called The Bunyans and the skill of the week was sequencing plot events. As we were reading, students needed to identify characters, setting and the plot events on their practice page as we worked our way through the story.

I open the practice book pdf file that I have saved on my desktop and project the page on the SmartBoard. Then, using the Smart Capture tool, I capture an image of the part of the page that we are working on, like the first part where we write the characters and setting. Then when we read, we pause to talk about characters and setting and I write them down on the SmartBoard as they work in their practice books. When it comes time for us to do the next task, I quickly capture an image of it from the pdf file and it automatically puts it into a new page on the same notebook file.

Two reasons why the use of the SmartBoard and Screen Capture have been so useful:
  1. It is very easy to do. I don't have to set up anything ahead of time. I can do it so quickly and easily that I just do it as the kids are getting their books out or as I am teaching the lesson.
  2. Students are looking at exactly the same page at their desks as I have on the SmartBoard. It is a good time for me to model how they write in complete sentences, with caps and punctuation. Also, I am modeling my thinking as I am working on the task.
  3. Wait, there's a third... It is save-able. If I do this lesson on Tuesday and I run out of time, I save it and we pick up where we left off. I will also save it and use the chart to review the story and skill before I go into guided reading groups on Wednesday.

Saturday, May 2, 2009