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Whirligig MyMap Evolution Continues

So I’ve added a lot more to the Whirligig map since last time. It turned out to be an awesome choice for this project. Talk about a project that requires a close reading! I spent more time with this short book than I care to admit to. Almost everything in the Whirligig was accurate. It’s worth checking out the San Diego area for pure insanely psychotic detail and there’s some fun links scattered throughout as well as some great CC photos from Flickr. I crammed the map in below using MyMapsPlus which allows you to put the maps you create on other sites. It’s better in the larger view here. The interesting thing I mentioned to kids was that all the photos were from the actual places. I briefly presented the file to students in three classes and tried to stress that this was all real and it seemed to add an some additional dimension to the novel (I’m hoping next year they make their own files). The students seemed to like what this added to the book and it led to some good questions and some wasted time. Some of the kids couldn’t handle the blood alcohol calculator I linked to. There was also a decent amount of students looking up their houses. I don’t have a problem with […]

Open Cola for Science Experiments

I saw a post on BoingBoing about the Open Cola project. To me it looks like the perfect combination of a science project and a way to delve into some health topics related to soft drinks. It’s probably a high school level project as some of the ingredients can burn skin (which is kind of odd). You end up with a real world product that kids would be excited to make the option to experiment with different concentrations of flavor a way to start talking about how much sugar is in the cokes they’re drinking you could also do some taste testing based on the experiments in different concentrations and then you’ve got some statistics to go over

Greek Gods Sell Out

A wonderful English teacher (soon to be librarian) at my school, Mrs. Clark, is combining Greek gods and advertising techniques for a final project. Essentially, the gods will be shilling for various products related to their divine powers. I made up some sample ads for her using Garageband and Comic Life (the kids don’t have it but we make do with Word). The samples, which are based on student work in previous years, are below if you can find a use for them. Oddly, I did something similar when I taught. The focus was on advertising the gods though and the students were the ad executives. The kids got this intro- The gods on Mount Olympus are a conceited bunch. They have each hired an advertising executive (that’s you) to create a full-page newspaper ad to publicize their talents and abilities. The gods are also a vengeful bunch. If you don’t make your god appear to be the most exciting and intriguing god of all, you might end up in Hades or pushing a stone up a hill for eternity. However, if you do a good job, you could end up vacationing on Mount Olympus and having ambrosia for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It went well and they liked it. It’d be a fun project to do now with the […]

Millenial/Zombie Horde Mash Up

>>>>Edit- I added a page and fixed the spelling of millennials (doh!- thanks Greg) I’m working on an Internet safety overview for teachers in our county. I want it to be fun and entertaining but still get the message across. I also have to give a brief overview of the idea of millennials (which feels a little played out to me but that may be because I read too many edtech blogs). So I’m thinking of going the zombie route for the millennials intro. It kind of works if you think about it and I’ll redeem them in the end (I promise) but I thought it might be a fun way to go about this. Check out the quick intro below and let me know what you think. I’ve been known to go overboard. Is this too much? Click on the image for a large view. Click on the image for a large view.

Whirligig on MyMaps

I’m working on do something similar to the awesome work over at Google Lit Trips using Google’s myMaps. The novel is Whirligig by Paul Fleischman- very powerful book that’s a quick read. It’s a great novel for this type of project (fiction but almost all real locations). The main character travels to the four corners of the U.S. (on a Greyhound Bus) as an act of atonement for killing a young girl in a DUI accident. I’ve got the main locations mapped (some real specific information in Chicago) as well as most of the route. It will continue to expand as the students progress through the novel. Check it out if you’re interested. I’ll take requests as well, so let me know if you feel something is missing. Now, what makes this useful? I figure you’ve got two options. You use it as a ancillary material to help get the students more involved in the novel. Let them explore the map and get them involved in explaining things and interacting with the information- otherwise it’s just a fancy map. You have the students add the information for the placemarks in Google Earth. Let them decide what is important at each location and

“My Maps” from Google (an actual example)

I figured after being so gushy about the My Maps option from Google I ought to make a good example. So here is a good start on a territorial acquisition map of the United States of America. I did it free hand based on a number of different maps I found on wikipedia and a few other places- so it’s not perfect and it still needs some work but I think it shows what you can do with little effort. Yes, I promise the writing will improve :). The map took about 45 minutes or so to make. Most of that time was spent looking at various maps. I also increased my speed after I figured out I could move points in polygons after I finished rather than having to start all over. I also made a quick screencast covering the basics of the My Maps tools.

Onomatopoeia- A Hook

The following post is my attempt to clarify how I go about conceiving and constructing lessons. If you’d just like the source files and could care less how I think (which I imagine is the majority), they are linked at the bottom of the page. This is how I ended up with this fairly interesting introduction to onomatopoeia. Yesterday, I found a tutorial on how to make cartoon style lettering for comics using Photoshop at EEight.com. It looked like fun and I figured since Jim was going to be hitting poetry pretty soon, and I had some time during Spring Break to try things, I’d give it a shot. I think I found it using StumbleUpon which is a great site that lets you find some really odd things and that in turn tends to inspire me to make some interesting lesson. I try to keep the question “Can I use this to teach something?” in the back of my head at all times. http://www.flickr.com/photos/46555636@N00/398812150 The first thing I did was brainstorm all the onomatopoeia words I could think of. The main one that kept coming to mind was crash and that led to the association with crash course- finally! an excuse to use the crash sound in a presentation. With that title, “A Crash Course in Onomatopoeia” in mind […]

Rollercoasters, Personal Pies and Data

U.S. Housing Prices The first example is an animated roller coaster ride of US home costs adjusted for inflation. It’s a pretty dramatic and entertaining way to look at the data (link from Digg). It makes a graph “real” in a way that I’ve never really seen before. Personal Pies Personal Pies (great title) is even better because it allows your students a lot of flexibility in the product they create and the data couldn’t be any more relevant to them. He’s created pie charts for his life- everything from portion of life with beard to number of states he’s visited (there is one non-school safe “pie” so be warned). This is a perfect project for students dealing with pie charts and percentages. (from Anil Dash) I think these examples are important because they prove that data (or anything else for that matter) doesn’t have to be boring or presented in boring ways. I try to think about two things when creating project/presentation or anything else- Is this going to fun and original? Is this personally relevant to my students? I guess both those really focus on engagement. It always amazes me how little attention the difference between engagement and silent acquiescence gets.

Sound Seeker Google Maps Mashups

Sound Seeker is a project of The New York Society of Acoustic Ecology. They are geo-caching sounds from all over the city. Imagine doing the same with your students. Using Google Maps API you could have a collection of sounds captured in your city, district, or the neighborhoods your students live in around your school. This exciting activity could be a lesson in GPS caching, a sociological experiment, a creative writing prompt, or a lesson in biology (capture the calls of animals or birds). Tom is borderline manic about the potential of Google Maps in the classroom. Tom, I give you more fuel for your fire! via BoingBoing