Design a Space Pennant for NASA

NASA has announced a contest to design a pennant to be flown into space on the STS-818 shuttle mission. From the official site: The STS-118 flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavour will be the first spaceflight of an Educator Astronaut, mission specialist Barbara Morgan. STS-118 is also an important step in the ongoing assembly of the International Space Station. It’s not enough to just come up with a creative design. Students must research their topic, and use what they learn to design their pennant. Then, they must write essays explaining their designs. The essays must tell how the pennants reflect the research about STS-118 or the Vision for Space Exploration. Entries are being accepted now through April 10th by students ages 6-12. See NASA’s official announcement for details. Via BoingBoing

The Outsiders Vocabulary Blog

I know how tedious vocabulary can be–I’m an English teacher. I have a list of 60ish vocabulary words for the novel The Outsiders (Do it for Johnny!). In previous years I have handed out the list, sorted by chapter, and asked the students to define them. I would put a selection of words on the test to ensure the kids did the work, and hoped that the words would stick. I’ll be honest with you, we would be lucky if they remembered a third of those words. I wasn’t happy about this. This year, I decided the vocabulary needed to have more value. I asked Tom to talk through it with me, and we came up with The Outsiders Vocabulary Blog. The students had access to create posts–as opposed to simply commenting on my posts. They drew one word out of a hat and completed a word study on it. The posts were sorted by chapter and part of speech. The result is a comprehensive vocabulary database for the students, and another vocabulary tool for teachers. Two classes worked together to create this glossary. They began to see the benefit of collaborating. By breaking the list down, they were able to get more out of the work. Along the way the students received mini lessons in citing sources, scanning a […]

Audio Book Reviews

Way, way back in May of 2005 I had the following idea- Audio book reviews- This is something Steve Dembo of Teach42 and I discussed. I’d like to see short podcast book reviews attached to the school library database and in RSS feeds. How cool would it be to look up a book and be able to listen to the reviews of other students. Having a RSS feed for various types of literature would also be good. This would seem to encourage both more reading by listeners and more reading by those wanting to make podcast reviews. That idea is (at least partially) coming to fruition now. Mainly because our librarians and another teacher I work with frequently came up with it on their own and got me motivated. It’s odd how circular somethings are. We’ve started a Byrd Books blog with audio, video or text reviews of book submitted by students. The posts and thus the books are also rateable by other readers through a neat ajaxy star system. I’m going to work on creating dynamic pages and feeds based on book type and reviewer so you can subscribe to just the book type you like or to the reviewer of your choice. I also need to install a tagging plugin. I’ve been really happy with the flash player […]

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Optimism

In my district we have 12 middle school people who focus on tech integration (one at each school). We all create lessons and share resources with our teachers but have not until now worked together very consistently/effectively. So at our meeting on Friday we hammered out an idea to what is outlined below. I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time and while I do fear I am being naive in some ways I have high hopes for what this might become. There’s only one lesson there right now- but it’s been a busy weekend for me :). The current incarnation- ITRT Plans a blog for posting good lesson plans in a semi-structured manner including documents (rubrics, instructions, notes, whatever) samples of student work from the lesson a little reflection on how things went, ways to improve or how to change things I’m using a lot of images if possible and installed the snap.com preview script. Visuals are often a deciding factor for me and I imagine the same will be true of others. if someone uses or adapts the lesson I’m hoping they’ll add their experiences and how they changed things Lessons will be grouped according to subject and tagged according to VA SOL and keywords. a group del.icio.us account since a number of us have our […]

Project 365: Take a Photo a Day

Photojojo, one of my favorite DIY sites, has a great post on taking a photo a day for a year. Imagine getting your students to snap shots (maybe around a common theme, maybe without any boundaries) and post them to a blog or flickr. This raw material could be used for discussion or as writing prompts, web publishing lessons or [insert your idea here–serious]. I’m inspired and plan to take on the challenge–using only my camera phone (low rez 4 life!). via Lifehacker

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The Start of a Swivel Project w/ Google Docs Mixed In

So I worked with a great ITRT and former science teacher, Gaynell Lyman, to look at ways we might use both Swivel and the googlelookup function in google spreadsheets to see what we could do to save time and get to the actual learning. Concept We wanted students to be able to see how various factors changed as you move across the periodic table and how they interrelate. The goal was also to have them look at the charts and manipulate them to figure out these concepts on their own. Steps The idea was not to get them to look up data from a chart and re-write it in another chart so we opted to try using google’s lookup function. It performed pretty well but wouldn’t look up some of the values we initially started with and with some of the others it opted for slightly different formats for the same concept (like 185 mu or mu 185). A minor issue but one to look for. What we did was list the elements in column A, in column B we did a googlelookup of atomic radius with the formula =googlelookup(A2,”atomic radius” and then a similar formula to get the data for electronegativity. We were hoping to get a bit more data but the lookup function, while neat, is still pretty […]

Time Line and EditGrid

EDIT- What I should have said was check out the SIMILE Time Line project and their Exhibit project on US Presidents. They both show some interesting interactive ways to check out data. If you’re interested in my at least semi-geeky pursuit of an easy way to generate the XML for the timeline read on at your own risk. Real geeks will probably just be annoyed at my ignornace. ______________________________________________________________ My interest in the SIMILE time line project was peaked by this post on TuttleSVC. It is by far the best time line option I’ve seen.  I encourage you to check it out even if you have no intention of trying to create your own versions.  The Presidential Exhibit example is also awesome and well worth checking out.  It works in google maps and the Time Line feature as well as a variety of optional searches based on lots of data. Positives interactive lower level overview view (I know that sounds awkward) is a good idea you can embed images and links in the pop up windows (like google earth/maps) so the time line can become a pretty effective index for a historical website that helps teach concepts while you navigate Negatives difficulty for teachers/students to create their own content css knowledge is needed for more advanced formatting I played around […]

The Planets get Pages!

So far two science classes have now used iWeb to create social software pages for the planets. It went very well. The kids did a great job and really showed both creativity and a good grasp of the subject. There are some great quotes in there. One of my favorites was “I guess my life started out after that huge bang . . .” I also liked that Saturn’s secret shame was jewelry. I’d recommend checking them out- Jupiter Mars Venus Earth Mercury Uranus Pluto Neptune Saturn