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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

New Blog Design!

For some time now I have been thinking about creating a new look for "Teaching is Elementary". Many of the teaching blogs I follow have cute designs and smashing colors. Still, I wasn't sure all those 'cutesy' designs were for me.

But one day I visited two of my favorite blogs, The Teaching Thief and Shepherd's Shining Stars, and noticed they each had a blog makeover. One has a cute little raccoon mascot and the other has stars! I noticed they both shared the same blog designer so I quickly decided to check her out at Designs by Christi and contacted her.

Old Design

New Design

Christi quickly answered my email and the process began. First, she sent me a questionnaire asking about color, font, theme and other preferences. Then she quickly assesses and sends some graphics for you to choose and then the backgrounds. Soon after, you approve the initial design and there is time for some final tweaking. Within a week I had a new design.

I just love everything from the little detectives on my banner to the cap on my signature! The colors are just right!

If you are looking for a blog makeover I strongly suggest contacting Christi - she is prompt, accommodating and talented (as you can see!).

Question for you: Can you guess why the Little Detectives are on Teaching is Elementary? Please leave me your thoughts in the comment section!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Citizen Scientist - It Could Be Your Student!

This tweet from @mbfxc the other day caught my attention for 3 reasons:
  • It was sent by my twitter friend
  • I know she and her son are spending the summer exploring
  • I just love Jerry Pallotta, author of the Icky Bug Book and More!

So I clicked on the link and it took me to The Explorers Site, which Marialice created with her son, to keep track of their adventures. The post with amazing photos and a video about lobstering with Jerry is great, and I couldn't help but think of the wonderful summer Marialice and her son were having by making 'exploring' together a priority. Memories that will last a lifetime!

Then shortly thereafter, this tweet came into my feed from @dandanscienc

The word "Project" caught my attention (as it often does!). So I clicked on the link and discovered a wonderful blog called SciStarter, which had 10 amazing summer activities in which to participate. They included counting moths in your area, observing jellyfish, volunteering in parks and observing cloud types. I thought for a moment and sent this link off to Marialice in the hopes that she and her son might find some other science-related activities to try.

Then I reread the blog and wondered about the term "Citizen Science". Although I hadn't heard the term before I had a fairly good idea that it had something to do with the 'regular Joe' contributing/participating in some science related task. Read more about it HERE at How Stuff Works.

Hmmm...could this be something that my students might like/love? Could there be some 'projects' here where my students could be involved? I'm thinking - YES!

The SciStarter site includes a scroll of "Projects of the Day". Today one of the features is titled: Killer Whale Tracker. Basically, participants will monitor Orca sounds and measure noise levels (using software that must be downloaded to your computer). The purpose of the project is to learn more about the migration patterns of these creatures.

This activity is labeled for kids. While some of the activities are not meant for kids a good teacher knows how to adapt lessons to their students. These ideas could be used as a starting or jumping off point.

If the Killer Whale Tracker doesn't interest you, the site includes a "Project Finder" which has a drop down menu with all kinds of activities that could be done at home, at night, on line, in the snow or rain, on a walk/run and more. Or you could choose a topic: food, education, birds, animals, geology and earth science and more.

Making our students part of the "Citizen Science" world will not only engage and motivate students, but it will have them thinking about ways they can relate to and help their world.

What do you think of this site? Do you see other ways you could use it with your students/children? Would love for you to share in the comment section below!

More Citizen Science Resources:

Scientific American - Explains the term Citizen Scientist

Citizen Science Central - A site to find or create projects

Filiment Games: Citizen Science - Play a game that "teaches scientific inquiry and limnology" There is a lot of dialogue but looks interesting.

5 Apps that Encourage Kids to be Citizen Scientists by Hack Education

Citizen Science Can Renew a Child's Love of Nature: Article in by Mike Mueller.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Blog Award - Thank You!

The other day I received a surprise Blog
Award from Michelle White of Mrs. White's 5th Grade Class. While I'm not sure I'm deserving of any awards, it was sure nice to receive some positive feedback. So, many thanks Michelle! It came at a most appreciated time!

The awards comes with some rules and responsibilities which includes the following:
  1. Follow the person who gave you the award.
  2. Link back to the person who gave you the award.
  3. Pass the award on to 15 bloggers.

The Versatile Blogger Award Rules:
  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  2. Include a link to their site.
  3. Include the award image in your post.
  4. Give 7 random facts about yourself.
  5. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award.
  6. When nominating, include a link to their site.

First, I did follow Michelle's blog as she shares all kinds of wonderful lessons and ideas. If you haven't already, please stop by and leave her a comment. Click on the Lady Bugs below.

It's time to nominate the award to the following blogs. Some of these I have been following & some are new to me:

Dare to Care

For the Love of Teaching

The Teaching Thief

Classroom Creations

Tech Talk for Teachers


Teaching in Room 6

My Teaching Life: In Spurts of Real, Raw and Random Thoughts

Seven Random Facts about me:

1. Many years ago I went skydiving with my brother which ended up being the reason I got hired for my teaching job...I was considered a risk taker!
2. I secretly like to cook (sshhh...don't tell my husband!) and have started a new blog (One Dish Dining)

3. I love to watch the old "Black & White" movies! My favs: Pride & Prejudice & Wuthering Heights.
4. Love to listen to show tunes (and sing along) including My Fair Lady, Wicked, Momma Mia, Oklahoma, and so many more!

5. I just love all four season of New England! Nothing like sweltering heat or frigid blizzards or watching the Patriots in the Fall & Boston Bruins in the winter.

6. Should care about driving the gas guzzler - but I still love my Explorer after 10 years.

7. My family is everything to me!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Using Google Hangout in Education - 10 Ways to Use in the Elementary Classroom

I'm no expert - especially when it comes to Google+ Hangout. In fact, I've only used it a couple of times. However, I can see the many and varied possibilities for use in an elementary classroom. Classes can collaborate in ways not been done before! Here are 10 ways elementary classes can use Google+ Hangout to connect for more collaborative, authentic learning. (Class would need a Google+ Account)

English Language Arts:
1. Reader's Theater: Each participating classroom will have one or several parts in the play; or each classroom will share a different play. After the play discuss the elements of the story.

2. Book Club - Each class can read the same book (off line) then come together to discuss the setting, character, plot, rising action, conflict and solution. Or classes can participate in their own mini read aloud based on the Global Read Aloud.

3. Create a Story: Using a basic story (outlined by participating teachers) each class will work on one element of the story (based on the Narrative Writing Diamond by Empowering Writers). Classes will share via the Google Doc component of Hangout & read together.

4. Poetry Author Study: Classes will find favorite Poets and share several poems with the other classes. Classes will collaborate and try to create a poem based on their favorite author's style. (Some authors: Jack Prelutsky, Shel Silverstein, Jane Yolen, Ken Nesbitt and more. (Poem below was written in a Jack Prelutsky style).

5. Gather Data: Classes Poll each other, create graphs and gather back on the Hangout to analyze the data. Classes can poll their school and share that information. Other classes can draw conclusions based on the data.

6: Math Mysteries: Participating classes will be introduced to a Math Mystery via the Hangout. They will work on the problem separately, then return do share their answers and to show their thinking.

7. Conduct Experiments: Experiment will be introduced via the Hangout. Each class will be assigned a different variable. Classes will predict what will happen in ALL classes based on the variables. Reconvene on the Hangout to share and discuss the results.

8. Science Share: Using a current event site like Science News for Kids classes can each read and share an article - then discuss. Or classes can share science experiments done in their own classrooms.

Social Studies:
9. Regional Conference: connect with other classes from states in your own region. Compare and contrast data relating to climate, resources, industry, major cities and more.

10. Map-Making: Each class would be assigned a different type of map: Political, Relief, Climate, Population, Road, Resources or other, for a particular state or region. All maps will then be shared and discussed.

As stated in the beginning, I'm no expert. However, these are some activities that I would conduct in my own classroom. Why not flatten those classroom walls and share the experiences, learn others' point of view and Hangout with some new friends via Google+.

I would like to thank the following collaborators for creating and sharing ideas:

Other Resources:
Google+ Hangouts in the Gifted Ed Classroom by: @elle_gifted:
Google Hangout Page by: @cybraryman1

Please share how you might use or will be using Google+ Hangout in your classroom or what you think of the suggested ideas in the comment section below!