Friday, September 28, 2012

Learn NC Does It Again!

Learn NC is a fantastic and probably underutilized resource! There are so many things there you could not even list them all - lesson plans, online professional development, new teacher support, field trip suggestions, and so much more. I recently found where they have take Common Core and NC Essential Standards and added lesson plan links. While I have not looked at other areas much yet, I have spent a little time on the Information and Technology Essential Standards. It is such a great way to get ideas! I have not seen any that I will do just as they are written yet, but it has given me several springboards to ideas that I will tweak to use with my classes. I have also found a lot of resources I didn't know about through the lesson plans.

Check it out and add a comment of your favorite lessons or resources you find!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sir Walter Raleigh

Timelines are a great way to create a summary of someone. Our fourth graders are working on learning about the Lost Colony in North Carolina, so they asked if I could work with the kids on learning about Sir Walter Raleigh a bit more in depth. I decided to use this as an opportunity to also work with the kids on finding important information in an article and creating timelines. We started off as a group and I modeled adding a couple of dates. Then, we talked about how to add events that were important, but didn't have a specific date in the article by locating what other events came before or after and making a best guess where it might fall on the timeline. The timelines also helped the kids think about numbers when we talked about having to estimate where the years would fall on the timeline, rather than just putting them anywhere, why there might be a long space at the beginning with no events, and how they begin and end unless the person is still alive. This was also a good way for the kids to break an article down into important events. I am thinking about maybe using the timelines next time to create a project of some sort, but have not decided what yet. (Edited below to add our follow up!) Here are some of the kids working on reading the articles and creating their timelines.

Edited to add: We have finished the written timelines and are using the online timeline from ReadWriteThink to type and print the timelines.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Explorers A to Z ... or not?

I am preparing a unit for my 5th graders on explorers and was looking for sites to add to my livebinder for them to use to research their person. I came across Explorers A to Z and it looked like a great site! Looking a little closer, I realized it will be a great site...but not for the reason I thought. Instead of using it for our explorer unit, I will be adding it to my website evaluation unit - on my list of hoax sites. You can see more about the Explorer A to Z site here and how it is meant to be used. They have even color coded the Treasure Hunts for facts by easier with more surface level fact problems to harder, more fact specific issues so you can challenge kids at the level you want. The Treasure Hunts give a real site to visit and their own fake one so they can compare the information.

This is a perfect site to use along with sites like the Northwest Tree Octopus in helping students learn more about how to look at a site and that just because it looks legit, doesn't mean the information is correct. As I was reading about Christopher Columbus, I thought at first they made some typos, because I know he didn't sail in 1942, but of course he didn't have infomercials or a toll free phone number either. Hopefully, kids would catch these things, but then again I was surprised how many still thought the Northwest Tree Octopus was real even after really exploring the website.

What sites do you use for website evaluation and examples of hoax sites? (See a list of my main ones on my livebinder.)

What sites do you use for information about explorers?

Wiki What?

I am experimenting with using wikis this year. I am starting with my fifth graders and may work down to younger grades in the future, but I don't know yet. We spent our time going over what a wiki is, how and when you might use a wiki, examples of a wiki, and cyber safety and etiquette. This video was a really helpful introduction for them. (The previous link will take you to the video on TeacherTube, it is also on YouTube, but can't be embedded.)

 We also discussed the roles in a wiki - editor, writer, and reader. The students are so far starting out as readers who can read and comment, but can't edit pages yet. As the year goes on, we may increase the role to writer so they can really get a feel for the point of a wiki, but I wanted them to practice with cyber etiquette a bit first. I am hoping to use this wiki for a few things this year - as an exit ticket sometimes at the end of a class, as a place for students to post book requests, and a place to post book reviews.We may also use it for group work collaboration if we get to the point of becoming writers. Here are some of kids commenting on the wiki.
This is our wiki homepage.

Any other great ideas of how to use a wiki?

Jukebox from 'Back in the Day'

Photo Source
My kids always use the phrase "back in the day" when they are trying to ask me where books about earlier time periods are, I guess that must be a popular phrase among grandparents in the area maybe? Anyway, it popped into my head this morning when I saw this post on the Library of Congress blog for teachers. (Which, by the way, if you are not following, you should! There are so many resources there that you don't know about or forget about!)

The post was about their online Day by Day jukebox, which I had not seen before. You can choose any date ( I think the default is today's date) and see recording from many years in the past available to play online. What a great addition to calendar time in the mornings, music class, math lessons (how many years ago was this recorded, what is the beat, etc.), social studies (time periods in history), etc. Those are just the first ideas that popped into my head. The first recording for today is from 1905.

If using the Day by Day feature is not what works best for you, you can also search by several different methods including by artist, genre, playlist, etc. There is a brief First Time Here review also. This would allow you to use it as more of a unit. For example, we talk about Marian Anderson with Black History Month and there are several recordings here by her, so you can let students actually hear her singing.

How could you use this in your classroom?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Plant Big 6

We are working on a plant project in third grade. We did a similar project last year, but this year we are not doing unusual plants. I am trying to build in the Big 6 and Super 3 more often with my classes so the information will hopefully travel with them year to year as they get more used to hearing it and doing it. So, we are using the Big 6 process to research plants. They will be taking notes, compiling their information, and creating a powerpoint about their plants. We have just started working on note taking and discussing that notes should be important key words, not whole sentences. Here are some of the kids getting started.

Our state is kind enough to fund several resources through NC Wise Owl, so we are using the Britannica encyclopedia through that to read about their assigned plant. They are working with a partner. I can't wait to see what their finished products look like!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Finding Fiction

I wanted to help my second graders work on being able to better find books they wanted on the shelf, and also to show them some books that would be good choices for them to read. So, I combined some book talks with book ordering. We talked about some of the series that might interest them, then at their tables they put them in order by the spine labels so they might be better able to think about how to find them on the shelf. I included books from series such as Geronimo Stilton, Magic Tree House, Cam Jansen, Bailey School Kids, and a few others.
Deciding where to start the ordering
Working on shelf order
Finished order
Smart Board sort to check as a group

 What are some of your favorite chapter book series for younger readers?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

What are you scared of?

Our 4th grade AIG students have been working on a project about phobias. Each was given the name of a phobia to research, then prepare a powerpoint presentation containing the information, citations, and a picture and background that represents the phobia. They did a great job and we got some creative presentations! Here are some of their presentations.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bob the Alien and Dewey

I was looking for way to help younger students (about 2nd grade or so) understand how to look for the Non Fiction book topics they want. I came across this video on YouTube that I think breaks it down a little with fun illustrations that might hold their attention and get them to think about it a little. I will still probably pause it as we watch it to talk more about each 100's section, but it is a neat little clip to get the conversation going better than just me standing and talking to them about numbers! Here is the video:

How do you teach your kids to find books?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Virtual Author Visit on Your Own Schedule!

Skyping with us last year
Suzanne Slade was kind enough to skype with one of our second grade classes last year and the kids loved it! Now, she has created two YouTube videos that are really great and could function as an author visit on your own time for free! The first one, What Authors Really Do, describes what she does, where she works, how she writes, and more. The second one is a Q&A of the top 10 questions kids always ask her. I enjoyed both videos and she does a great job keeping them engaging and adds some humor too. With over 90 books under her belt, she is certainly an accomplished author! It is interesting for kids too to see a mostly non-fiction author since author studies are usually done with fiction authors. Check it out!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Electoral College

 Ever try to make sense of the Electoral College? I was working with some 4th graders on that very topic trying to explain that popular vote doesn't always cut it in a presidential election. This site from Scholastic got them interested! We talked about considering the amount of people that live in a state, not just the size of the state as well as Representatives vs. Senators and how they are allotted. They were still confused until we played the game on the smartboard. There is not a direct link to the game, but look for the Electoral Challenge here. It could work on a computer for single students or pairs, but was also great as a group in two teams on the smartboard so we could talk about it as we went. The directions for the game explain how the electoral votes are assigned to each state and that the goal is 270 votes. They really loved this and wanted to play again but we were out of time. I think I will definitely use it with other groups. (One of the best parts might just have been that one of the teams named themselves Awesomeness -  you gotta love that!) Here is a screen shot so you can see what the game looks like.

 What are you doing for the election coverage? I think next we might try this site from Disney to let students see who they would really be a supporter of from ideas alone. It could be interesting to see if they are most in line with who they think they are or not.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Read It Maybe

I saw this on a post on The Book Bug blog and thought it was really cute and might be fun for the kids to see too, especially with all the videos popping up (such as the Olympic swim team) doing the same thing to the song Call Me Maybe. It is a parody of the song, called Read It Maybe. Check it out!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Election Comparisons

This year I am working with a small group (15) of 4th grade kids each week expanding on their weekly Scholastic News integrating some of the Information Skills Essential Standards. This was our first session, and we focused on an article in this edition comparing Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. We started by talking about who was presenting the information and did it seem like fair information for both parties. Then, we talked about and looked at websites such as an online encyclopedia entry about President Obama, wikipedia entries on both candidates, and each candidate's own election websites. While doing so, we talked about considering the source of information for each type of site and the purpose of each site to look for bias in the information it presented. Finally, we used this ReadWriteThink site to create a Venn diagram comparing the two candidates. Here are some of the kids in action.