Our most recent Character Project Video is about Kindness, an appropriate topic for this time of the year especially. Although this tends to be the most joyful time of the year, it also has traditionally been when patience is a little more stretched and everyone is looking forward to the break. Tempers flare and everyone is exhausted. It is good for my students to think about other student's feelings and to be good examples of what it means to be understanding and most of all, kind.
So anyone that knows me, knows by now that I have fallen in love with green screen technology and its many applications. We use it in my broadcasting intervention as well as my regular classroom. You may also know that I have an Elf named Holly that comes every year and causes havoc. This year is no different, although my students don't think she's doing anything too bad right now. Last week we had the screen set up for intervention and class. The students came in Friday morning to the surprise of seeing Holly in a superhero costume hanging in front of the blue side of the "green screen". It appears that Holly, who we already knew was a diva, decided to also be a movie star. Using the iPod, "green" screen, the DoInk app, and iMovie she is creating quite the sight. I can only imagine what it will be when she is finished.
We had the opportunity today to start a part of our PBL STEM project, time-lapse photography. Over the summer I discovered the very cool tool this can be when discussing weather conditions as well as severe weather situations with my students. In July, my family stayed at a house on Lake Huron. One day a huge storm rolled in. I went down to the beach to take a short video of the waves. Then I went inside and set up the device in the window. I let it go for a while and then checked through the video file. Twice the timing was just perfect to see a lightening bolt striking the water. Today a winter storm was rolling in so we got permission to set up the iPod and Padcaster Verse in the Media Center windows. I wish we could have had it up longer but with the weather getting worse, I was all too happy to be going home. As it is, we enjoyed seeing the playground change and become covered with white. At times the wind (and the salt being put down near the building) made it look like there were waves.
I am beyond excited to announce that I was chosen to receive a grant through the William and Ruth Janks Fund, a part of the Tuscola County Community Foundation, for $9,700. Although I actually received the confirmation weeks ago, the official check presentation was today and we are in the process of ordering.
What are we ordering you may ask? The majority of the funding will be going towards a 30 student class kit of Google Expedition. For those who have not heard of Google Expedition (GE) before, it is, at its core, virtual reality. How this is educational is all about the content. With GE, students are able to travel to places on virtual field trips. For our students, many of whom may never leave our county let alone the state, this opportunity to explore will be priceless. I feel a bit like Miss Frizzle from The Magic School Bus, being able to show my students what they previously thought impossible. In Miss Frizzle's words, "Let's take a closer look."
While there are a lot of applications to science and history, GE can be used in practically every subject area. Don't believe me? Here are a few examples. Science: Visit biomes like the rainforest or tundra. Social Studies: Visit battlefields such as Gettysburg while studying the Civil War. English: Give Greek Mythology some context by visiting the acropolis. Art: Why not visit a museum like the Louvre? Physical Education: While studying the body systems, why not visit them.
The other, smaller portion, of the project will include technology for my class (or others that are interested) to be able to create our own "expeditions" of our community and local historical areas. It is my hope that this will increase students' understanding of the world around us.
This grant project was inspired by this year's STEM@Schall grant, "STEM in the Real Word Expansion Pack", and future information about it may be placed in that section.
In science this week we mixed several different subjects and expectations into 1 experiment. Students worked in teams of two to create a car out of LEGOs. Each group was gives a bag of mixed LEGOs which included a windshield, four wheels with axles, and various other pieces. They were given no guidelines for what pieces to use or the size of the vehicles. After building was finished, they tested the cars on a ramp that was marked in 5cm increments from 5 to 30. One partner was in charge of releasing the car and reading the meter stick for the distance while the other partner used a chromebook to record all of the results. They had to try the car 3 times at each interval. Then they could switch jobs, so both had a chance to do the recording and releasing. Some students discovered that their designs were flawed when their cars turned, ran off the ramps, or in some cases broke when reaching the end of the ramp.
That's Elementary Explains is a teacher with almost 2 decades of teaching experience and a technology degree who is still trying to figure out the new and unexplained.