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Flip Cameras

5 Jan

Flip Cameras are a new favorite tool of mine!  I have two flip cameras in my classroom and then our school has an additional 12.  I have had several teachers ask “how can we use these in class?”  Usually with comments of how difficult of a task this would be.  First, these cameras are INCREDIBLY easy to use!  It took all of 5 minutes to explain the basics of how to record.  I did spend some time talking about facing the camera, not shaking/moving it, and speaking clearly, but these are the same things we teach kids for a live presentation.   As for ideas on how to use it in a lesson…here are a couple straight from my classroom.

One area my students struggle with is understanding why text features are so important, and why they shouldn’t just skip over them as they read.  I broke my class of 20 into 5 groups.  Each group was handed a text feature (captions, glossary, charts/graphs, maps, index).  Each group had to create a short (about 30 second) video telling people what the text feature is and why it is so important.  I won’t bore you with all 5 videos, but here is one to give you an idea of the end product.

Other ideas:

Fluency Practice– My students LOVED reading and watching themselves read.  Especially when reading dialogue, students would try again and again to make things “sound right”.  I have never seen them want to read the same thing so many times.  I did this with a group of low readers and the results were astounding!

Brainstorming– I have a couple of students who have a very difficult time writing.  They can’t seem to get what is in their head down to the paper.  Allowing them to have a friend record their explanations and then play those back and write what they said helps tremendously.  Could they do this to a scribe?  Sure, but the addition of another student asking for clarification, or giving suggestions has helped the students go beyond what they thought they could do.

Commercials– A great way to make a commercial. We shoot, load, and project them onto the smartboard for INSTANT gratification.  By recording them, they can show these off later to parents.

How have you used flip cameras in your classroom?


Lost Generation

11 Mar

About a year and a half ago, the AARP hosted the U@50 Challenge. Participants created a video “ that describes how you envision your future.”  Applicant’s then posted the videos on Youtube.  I ran across one of these videos this week on Presentation Zen’s Blog and had to share.  It was simply done, but required a lot of forethought.   I found it very inspiring and wanted to share it.  The video won second place.  I have posted the winners list below.  Most of them are still posted on Youtube if you would like to take a look.

Top 5 Winners
Grand Prize — “When I’m 50…” by rockyourd
Second Place — “Lost Generation” by metroamv
Third Place — “ME@50” by triciOC1986
Fourth Place — “Jenny AT 50!” by Jennycarreiro
Fifth Place — “The College Years: Episode 50” by davethebrave987

Wordle in the Classroom

31 Oct

I first mentioned Wordle on this blog back in June.  Mrs. Nicholson wrote to me this week and told me about how she used it in her classroom.  I think this is a wonderful project, especially if you have a class that needs some self esteem work.  The students each created a wordle answering “What words do you use to describe yourself?” Mrs. Nicholson used the wordles and pictures of the students to create this video using photostory.

I could see this same activity working well for a biography unit.  Have the students research a person and write a description in Wordle, then pair it with a photo.  Thanks to Mrs. Nicholson for sharing her wonderful idea!!

Why Google Docs?

28 Aug

I will be starting my Google Gab soon.  Each Monday, I will post about a Google tool or application.  This will start on Monday, September 8th.  While looking up some info, I found this video about Google Docs.  Teachers, Administrators, Technology Coordinators, and students demonstrate the benefits of Google Docs.

Understanding Your Kids

16 Aug

Can you relate to this mom?  Too many parents and teachers can.  Kids use a whole new language to text and IM each other.  So how do we protect them from something we don’t understand?

I am a firm believer that the best way to protect kids is to educate them, and yourself, to dangers that exist in our world.  This goes for online protection as well as for protection IRL (in real life).  This generation is one that spends more time emailing, chatting, texting, and IMing than most adults can comprehend.  Many parents see a chat conversation or a text message and it looks like just a series of letters and numbers that barely make sense.  Kids text in a whole new language, and parents need to know what the are saying.

In this post I am including several common phrases that kids use when texting, IMing, and chatting.  These are a few of the MANY phrases that are texted each day.  I have spent many hours on Yahoo IM and in various chat rooms and forums.  While I do this for enjoyment, I also do this to stay ahead (or at least afloat) with what is going on online.  As a computer lab teacher, and mom to a 2, 6, and 9 year old, I feel that it is my job to know what goes on online and to educate and protect my children and students.  The phrase below are phrase that I have seen many times.  In some cases, they can be innocent, in others, not so much.

P911- Parents coming
POS/TOS- Parents over Shoulder/Teacher over shoulder
IRL- In real life
a/s/l- age/sex/location
wtgp- Want to go private?
f2f- face to face

If you would like to learn more about common and not so common phrase head to How to Understand Your Kids’ Text Messages.  They do a wonderful job of giving you all kinds of insight into the every changing “Text Language”.  I would highly encourage all parents and teachers to look at the site and to go into some chat rooms or become familiar with IM and texting.

Google Teacher Academy- Chicago 2008

8 Aug

Many people have asked how I became a Google Certified Teacher, and the answer is that I applied and was accepted into the program.  Until today I could not answer the question that always followed my explanation- “When will there be another Google Teacher Academy?”

The answer is September 24, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois!  Applications are being accepted now through August 24th.  To apply you will need to make a one minute video on one of the following topics :”Motivation and Learning” OR “Classroom Innovation”.  Then applicants must complete an online application form.   For more information head to the Google for Educators site.

I would LOVE to hear from those of you applying, so please comment on this page!!  Good luck to everyone who applies.  It is such a wonderful experience!!

I am including my video application on Motivation and Learning.  There are many videos posted on as well if you need an idea of what others have done.

Play in Their World, Learn in Ours

28 Jul

“Play in Their World, Learn in Ours” was the theme for our Site Technology Specialist training last week. We started off the 2 days event by rotating through stations equipped with Wiis, Xboxes, PS3s, various web sites and games popular with students. We had about 15 minutes per station. I was introduced to several new games including Guitar Hero, Rockband, and World of Warcraft. I experimented with Wii Tennis, Wii Bowling, Webkins World, and iPods. I had heard of all of these, but had spent little time learning what they were, let alond playing them. It was eye opening, and now my list of games to rent/buy has increased. It really did help me to know what kids are up to.

A lot of discussion on how to incorporate some of these game systems into our classrooms occurred during the training. Of course the debate on how much should we encourage the game systems, iPods, cell phones, etc occurred as well.   I tried googling to find classrooms using the Wii, and found a few references, mostly to the same teacher.  I also ran across the following video which I had to pass along.

I am so impressed by the ingenuity of this video, and hope that others out there will find and share simple, cheap ways to have technology in the classroom.  So much money goes into technology in schools, and then it becomes outdated so quickly.  There are obviously ways to do things in a cheaper way- open source software and google docs seems to be the most common.  If you have heard of other ideas, please share them!