Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Wow! That's just about all I can say about these book report trailers.

Sometimes you get an idea and it seems like it might be pretty cool.

I really liked what my Apple Distinguished Educator buddy Sean Junkins had created when he used Discovery Education footage to make historic movie trailers.

Since we don't have access to Discovery Education anymore, I was perplexed how I could do something similar with our kids. Coincidentally at about the same time I was thinking how kids still need chances to do old fashion arts and crafts and little skits. Somehow this project ended up lending itself to the best of both worlds. They would use the Apple iMovie app's trailer building capabilities but would have to get really creative on how they would produce the footage. It was completely open-ended but after a week of brainstorming we had really focus on the project being do-able.

The other guidelines were:
A) Trailers had to provide important information about the plot or focus on character traits.
B) Trailers could not be "spoilers" for anyone who had not yet read them.
C) Trailers had to be non-violent.
D) Several students could work together and there was no limit on the number of projects in which students could participate. Students could work solo but all students had to be included in meaningful ways.
E) This was basically an introduction/exploration activity and I didn't fully know what we would accomplish so there wasn't a set evaluation rubric beyond my formative checkups along the way.

The results were mind-blowing. Here is one on the Hunger Games Trilogy's Mocking Jay. More can be found in the project's album on Vimeo.

My biggest reflection on this project is that you never know how a project might go. Sometimes they flop but as long as you salvage the key points, that is okay. Sometimes you get way more than you ever expect. Also, don't think this is rocket science and beyond your capabilities. I completely left completion of it up to the kids (with some progress monitoring and coaching along the way) but it was them who knocked this thing out of the park.

An insane amount of new interactive resources to share

Thanks to Julie Woldring and Lori Sanders for sharing these sites over the last couple of week.

Julie reminded me of all of the great stuff up on Funbrain.com. She is currently using the cookie dough activity with her second graders to work on writing number words.

Next up is Scholastic's Character Scrapbook.

[caption id="attachment_91" align="alignleft" width="300"]Scholastic Character Scrapbook Scholastic Character Scrapbook[/caption]

It is a new take on the old book report wanted poster option. Students have to change the character's physical characteristics to match what they perceive it to be. They then add ten character traits to further show their knowledge of the character.

Lori also shared a site she uncovered full of more student interactive site links. The site is part of the Jefferson County (TN) Schools' website. The Math Interactives have over 150 activities alone. There are also reading, language arts, science, social studies, and assessment.

Give them a look and thanks ladies for sharing.

Friday, November 16, 2012

EdReach.us: Can we find some Common Ground with the Common Core?

Here is a blog post from over at one of my other ventures, The Disruptors Channel on Edreach.us.

This is how I try to go about my duties as a technology integration specialist and coach here in Hamilton and someone who is deeply involved with the goal of continuing to move education forward. If you ever catch me not practicing what I preach here, call me out.

“There’s something happening here.
What it is ain’t exactly clear.” ~Buffalo Springfield

On Wednesday morning as I prepared for school, the news programs worked through their post-election coverage. The one phrase I kept hearing was “a need for common ground”.

Yep. If there is one thing this country needs right now it is some common ground. That couldn’t be truer in the world of education either.

To quote Buffalo Springfield again, “There’s battle lines being drawn. Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong.”

A lot has happened legislatively, economically, and technologically since I first started teaching in the mid-90’s. With all of the change has come increasing divisiveness. Back then it seemed like the only real squabbles in elementary education circles I heard were from the hardcore phonics and whole language camps. Oh, there was also that time when a first grade teacher declared she was now going to do a penguins unit although a second grade teacher had done been doing her own penguins unit for 17 consecutive years. Total chaos in the teachers’ lounge almost led to no Secret Santa exchange that year.

Now it seems like there are passionate camps on both sides of absolutely any issue…even issues that aren’t issues.

I have been hopeful that the new adoption of the Common Core State Standards might help us find some common ground. Unfortunately that is yet to be experienced.

We must not have disrupted this thing enough yet. Right? Sometimes though you have to disrupt the disruptors…call out your own.

Read the rest of the article.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Tip #6: Controlling which applications open specific file types

Sometimes you want to open a document in a specific application or your MAC isn't opening them in the one you want. Changing those behaviors is really pretty simple.

Tip #5: Changing Scrolling Direction in Apple OS X Mountain Lion

Apple's "natural" scrolling gesture seems anything but natural to me. Here is how to get your cursor to move down as you stroke down with your fingers.

Here is a quick how-to tutorial.

Tip #4: Changing how Firefox handles certain types of files like .PDF

Sometimes a web browser like Firefox doesn't handle files the way you want them to be handled. Taking control of those actions is only a couple of clicks away.

Here is a quick tutorial how.