Monday, November 30, 2009

Discovery Education

Yesterday I decided to put together an assignment for my students that would enable them to become completely independent learners. How did I do it you ask? (Ok even if you didn't ask I am still going to tell you!) I decided to dive into our school's subscription of Discovery Education (formerly known as United Streaming). I spent about three hours clicking on various buttons and really taking in the options that are available for teachers. It was pretty easy to set up a "classroom" by giving my students usernames and passwords for individual access to the site. I also created an assignment in the assignment builder area. I am amazed at the possibilities for using this feature with the kids to create online classes for any subject area. It is a matter of choosing what media I want the kids to view, websites to access, and providing instructions for the kids to follow. Voila...instant lessons the kids can access independently to take control of their learning. I created a google doc for my students to fill out with answers to questions that went along with the two videos on plant classification. Little did I know, there is actually a quiz builder that I could have used right in the site. I will be sure to try that for the next online assignment. I asked the kids whether or not they liked this format and they all assured me that watching a video and answering questions on a virtual "worksheet" was much more fun than the traditional science book lesson. I sort of figured that is what they would say....

I hope the kids will take a look around the Discovery Education site in the next couple of days. I know I will be thinking of more and more ways to utilize this site for differentiation as well as alternative forms of assessing students!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thank You

There is no better day to say thank you to all of the students, staff and parents of NorthWard Elementary than today. Thank you for making my job challenging, entertaining, and worthwhile. I am truly blessed. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

Wolfram Alpha Video

A while back, the crew from Wolfram Alpha visited our classroom to see how we have been using this "computational knowledge engine" to assist in student learning. Here is the video they captured.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Fall "Leaves" Me Happy!

At least that is the theme of my classroom bulletin board right now. And that theme was definitely the source of happiness this past Saturday as a handful of my students, parents, and I did some leaf raking for the community. What an absolutely gorgeous weekend! It was the perfect day to be out and about with the K-Kid leaf raking caravan.

I am sure we are a site to see as approximately 10 vehicles packed with kids descend on a yard. I would liken it to a swarm of bees coming in, doing their work quickly and efficiently, and then swarming off to the next location.

There are two phases of the leaf raking process with kids that are absolutely my favorite.

1.) The initial hard work. Watching the kids work together to tackle a yard with the help of their parents and teachers is very satisfying.
but I think I enjoy even more...

2.) The look of pride on the kids' faces as the owners of the yards come out and thank the kids for their hard work.

I am not sure if more learning took place on Saturday during our community service project or in the classroom all week. I am sure both are considered productive learning experiences. I guess I just have to believe that Saturday's learning experience is one that will benefit the kids for a lifetime.

Happy Fall!