Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Online Brain

"The Online Brain"

"The Homework Helper"

"The Online Tutor" (as I have it linked to our classroom homepage)

"The One Stop Shop" for all of your classroom assistance.

What am I writing about?

Why Wolfram Alpha of course!
This website is opening up a whole new way of helping kids become successful students.

Just in the past few weeks I have used this site to help students with vocabulary definitions, spelling patterns, longitude/latitude, and state research projects.

But honestly, that is just the tip of the iceberg. I am very excited about its use when checking math problems for immediate feedback as well as locating nutritional values for common foods that don't necessarily have a label printed directly on them (think fruit and veggies here). We are in the middle of our unit of study on the human body and I will be asking students to begin tracking their food intake for a day or two so we can evaluate whether or not we are getting proper nutrition. Using Wolfram Alpha will be a a major contributing factor to these nutritional journals.

I had a wonderful opportunity to show the parents of some of the students who are in my classroom how we are using this site. It is my hope that parents, too, will use this site at home for aiding in homework success. Whether is takes the place of the home dictionary, thesaurus, calculator or conversion tables, students and parents alike will be able to benefit from this resource.

I was also fortunate enough to present Wolfram Alpha to a large crowd of teachers this past Friday to show them how their students could benefit from the site. They were equally as excited as me. I imagine their students will be too! You can read more about that at the Recess TEC Inc. blog.

If you haven't had the opportunity to visit yet, please click on the link and take 10 minutes to look around. Take a look at some of the examples that are listed by subject area. I continue to be amazed and excited about the possibilities for my classroom!

Your first task when you get there...type in hello.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Light Bulb Moment

All teachers know it... The light bulb moment. The exact moment when all of your hard work pays off because you can see the light switch on in the eyes of your student. The "I've Got It!" look. The " I understand" expression. I am not sure what causes this to happen for some students or why it takes longer for some to finally get there, but it is one of the best payoffs in the world of a teacher. Better than dare I say...the paycheck.

However, as wonderful as the light bulb moment seems, I have found another moment as equally as satisfying. The smile. The smile that creeps on the faces of my students as they watch their completed digital stories appear on their screens in full viewing mode. The moment they see their creative writing combined with music and real images is unbelievably fulfilling.

That happened to me a couple of weeks ago in the computer lab. As the kids were finally done searching for images on, putting them in order to coincide with their stories, double checking transitions, recording, rerecording, and recording AGAIN to achieve their desired fluencies, the time came to insert their background music. That was when the smiles started to appear around the lab. Since they each wear a set of headphones, I don't know what music they choose while we are working. I can just see the smile and the heads bobbing. Then more clicking with the mouse. Another smile, head bob and finally a hand shoot in the air indicating the readiness to publish. Once the program runs its course and puts the elements together into a movie-like story, the students can view the finished project on full screen. It is the easily the best part of my job!
Please be sure to visit and click on student showcase. Their first digital stories are "Nothing Ever Happens at North Ward".