Monthly Archives: September 2013

National Parks: Treasures for Teachers – Virtual Field Trips and Other Online Opportunities

 

 

I remember the first time I saw Star Trek.  As Captain Kirk talked “face to face” with others on a big screen in real time, I thought it would never be possible in my lifetime.  Yet, now we have Skype, FaceTime, and other video chat apps.  National parks are using this technology to bring the park to your classroom.   

What sort of virtual field trips are available?

 

Currently, there are 53 virtual field trips offered nationwide.  Some national parks have one virtual field trip which highlights their entire park.  Some have multiple virtual field trips.  For instance, Grand Canyon has nine such virtual field trips, intended to teach students on various science and social studies concepts.  The field trips are aligned to state standards by grade level.  One such field trip examines fossils and rock layers in the canyon.

Other examples of virtual field trips include visiting Ellis Island, exploring the Great Depression and New Deal, or a live dive into the kelp beds of the Channel Islands.  

 

How much do these virtual field trips cost?

Many workshops have no fee.  Your tax dollars have already paid for the computers, cameras, and software required.  However, some virtual field trips do have a small fee.  For instance, this summer, a classroom in our district went on a virtual field trip 2,000 miles away.  The location mailed a huge, plastic box (similar to a Traveling Trunk) filled with rocks, fossils, and magnifying glasses. Our small fee paid for the shipment of the box back and forth.

How can I find virtual field trips?

LearnNPS is a very helpful website to find most information.  Start your search by clicking “Distance Learning” on the left margin.  You can search by park or by state.

What other online opportunities are available for my classroom?

NPS also has a wonderful WebRanger program.  Students can play with interactive games to learn about the science behind our national parks.  Some national parks have virtual hikes.  Students can even earn virtual badges!  National Parks: Treasures for Teachers is a seven part series  For seven weeks, we will explore the resources for teachers (most of which are free!).  Read on and experience your America in a new way.

 

 

  1. Teacher Workshops
  2. Traveling Trunks and other Materials on Loan
  3. Virtual Field Trips and Other Online Opportunities
  4. Field Trips and Institutes
  5. Guest Speakers
  6. Curriculum Resources
  7. Teacher-Ranger-Teacher
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What’s a NET…can I catch a fish with it?

nets

PLC, PGP, CCSS, PBL….There are so many acronyms floating around that it is pretty hard to keep track of them. Most of the time I just nod my head and pretend like I know what is going on! But here is one that you should zoom in on — NETS. The NETS, or National Education Technology Standards, are desgined to help you use technology in the most sucessful and effective ways. Check out what ISTE (oh boy another acronym) has to say about the NETS.

Technology has forever changed not only what we need to learn, but the way we learn.

The NETS set a standard of excellence and best practices in learning, teaching, and leading with technology in education. The benefits of using the NETS include:

•Improving higher-order thinking skills, such as problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity
•Preparing students for their future in a competitive global job market
•Designing student-centered, project-based, and online learning environments
•Guiding systemic change in our schools to create digital places of learning
•Inspiring digital age professional models for working, collaborating, and decision making

Check out the NETS for teachers and for students to see how they can impact your classroom and guide you on your technology journey!

Works Cited: “Nets Standards.” Nets Standards. ISTE, n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2013.

National Parks: Treasures for Teachers – Traveling Trunks and Materials on Loan

The musty smell of an old steamer trunk.  The creak of a rusty hinge.  Magic awaits inside.  What is this magic box?  A Traveling Trunk!

Traveling Trunks were set up by the National Park Service as a way to bring the park to your classroom.  Perhaps your school is located too far from a national park for a field trip.  Or maybe you wish to build background knowledge before you do take your students to the park.  Either way, Traveling Trunks are a wonderful way to bring materials into your classroom.

What sort of Traveling Trunks are available?

  Traveling Trunks are as diverse as the national parks from which they hail.  Some are filled with books about fossils, Native Americans,and landforms.  Others are overflowing with period clothing (pioneers, civil war, etc.).  Yet others contain salmon eggs!  Most trunks are aligned with the state standards for science and social studies.
The trunks themselves are also quite diverse.  Some are old steamer trunks, reminiscent of centuries past.  Others are suitcases which previously transported wardrobes through airports, repurposed for carting books through classrooms.  Most are plastic bins, favored for their durability and shipping effectiveness.


How much do the Traveling Trunks cost?

Most trunks are 100% free.  While there is never a “rental” fee, there may be shipping costs involved.

How can I request a Traveling Trunk?

LearnNPS has done a wonderful job of compiling a list of national parks and monuments which have Traveling Trunks.  One thing to keep in mind when searching for trunks is that not all trunks can be shipped.  This is due to some being just too heavy and others are simply too fragile.  Some parks require that teachers pick up these trunks in person.  And while many parks do ship their trunks, some only ship within-state.  To request a trunk, go to www.NPS.gov/Teachers.  Once there, click on “Parks as Classrooms” on the left margin.  From there, click “Traveling Trunks”.  At the top of the page, you will see a box where you can enter search criteria, such as grade level, subject, and location.

Besides Traveling Trunks, what other materials are available on loan?

Besides a wide variety of DVDs and books, national parks also loan out other items.  They have maps and compasses.  Or owl pellets and pelts.  Snowshoes, anyone?  The only way to know which items are available is to go to the “Parks as Classrooms” tab on the left margin and click on “Materials to Loan”.  Check your parks often, as park educators are continually adding to their collection.

National Parks: Treasures for Teachers is a seven part series For seven weeks, we will explore the resources for teachers (most of which are free!). Read on and experience your America in a new way.

  1. Teacher Workshops
  2. Traveling Trunks and other Materials on Loan
  3. Field Trips and Institutes
  4. Guest Speakers
  5. virtual Field Trips and other Online Opportunities
  6. Curriculum Resources
  7. Teacher-Ranger-Teacher

National Parks: Treasures for Teachers – Teacher Workshops

Chances are good that you have been to a national park.  And chances are that you have been to the gift shop.  But, have you ever been to a national park workshop?  Currently 35 national parks offer teacher workshops.

There’s no better way to bring math, science and history into real life than to experience them in action. Many of these workshops are designed to help teachers use park resources in the classroom, or to prepare classes for a park visit. Most workshops are accredited and can be taken for college credit, and are structured to meet the needs of today’s teacher – teaching the standards while making the material engaging and relevant. (NPS Workshops)

The purpose of the workshops is to build strong partnerships with teachers, so they understand the resources available to them at the national parks (and monuments).  

What sort of professional development opportunities are available?

One such teacher workshop coming soon is “Phenology: Students as Citizen Scientists;”  from October 18-20, 2013.  Teachers will learn to use the seasons to teach science and connect kids to their own backyards! 

One workshop hosted this past summer was hosted in Glacier National Park.  Park researchers took teachers out in the field to learn about climate change.

Workshops range from snowshoeing in the Rocky Mountains to hiking to an observation tower to view alligators and turtles.  

How much do these workshops cost?

Many workshops have no fee.  Donations have provided for teacher lodging, meals, and materials.  In some cases, teachers will need to pay a nominal fee ($50) to offset the cost of class materials.  Most workshops last 3 days/2 nights, so the small cost is well worth it.  In most cases, the entrance fee to the park is waived as well.  

Where can I find workshops near me?

LearnNPS is a very helpful website to find most information.  However, I have found that not all Teacher Workshops are listed here.  I would suggest starting with LearnNPS and then going directly to a specific national park website.  From there, click “For Teachers” on the left margin.  By clicking “Professional Development”, you will see if that park has Teacher Workshops and/or Teacher-Ranger-Teacher programs.  

 

National Parks: Treasures for Teachers is a seven part series  For seven weeks, we will explore the resources for teachers (most of which are free!).  Read on and experience your America in a new way.

  1. Teacher Workshops
  2. Traveling Trunks and other Materials on Loan
  3. Field Trips and Institutes
  4. Guest Speakers
  5. virtual Field Trips and other Online Opportunities
  6. Curriculum Resources
  7. Teacher-Ranger-Teacher

National Parks: Treasures for Teachers – A Seven Part Series

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The National Park Service has created a department for teachers and learners of all ages.  Learn NPS offers a myriad of supplies and opportunities for teachers and classrooms.  Even if there are no national parks located near your school, there are online activities and virtual field trips available.  Learn NPS recently updated their website.  Now, you can search for educational materials by location, grade level, and keywords.  For the next seven weeks, we will explore the resources for teachers (most of which are free!).  Read on and experience your America in a new way.

  1. Teacher Workshops
  2. Traveling Trunks and other Materials on Loan
  3. Field Trips and Institutes
  4. Guest Speakers
  5. virtual Field Trips and other Online Opportunities
  6. Curriculum Resources
  7. Teacher-Ranger-Teacher

Moodle Roundup: A New Version is Coming to WUSD!

Moodle RoundupThe Learn Moodle MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) for teachers has officially started this week, and I’ve been learning lots about the new version of Moodle (2.5) that will be installed in the near future at WUSD.

There are over 7500 teachers from around the globe taking the class right now, including some from such exotic places as Whiteriver, Canyon Day, and Alchesay.  You can still register for the class and participate even though it has officially started.  The forums in the class are a great place to ask questions and get answers quickly (I’ve been taking full advantage.)

  •  I’ve uploaded about 30 new videos and a couple of “books” of information for new teachers from the Learn Moodle Course.  You can access these materials through the Tech Resource Page and at the direct link here.  (Scroll down to find all of the videos).
  •  Did I mention we will be upgrading our Online Classrooms (Moodle) in the near future?  Here are some of the new features you might like about the new version:
    • You can drag and drop files onto your page to simplify the uploading process.
    • It’s a simpler and cleaner interface for beginners with not as much scrolling involved.
    • More types and options for assignments.
    • It works well with the ipad and other tablets.  The page resizes based on the size of the screen you’re using.
    • It includes “badges” with which you can reward students when they’ve accomplished or completed a task.
  • The STEM units the Tech Ready Team is working on are being created in the new version of Moodle. The image below is a screen shot of the 3rd grade Cycles of Life Unit.

    3rd Grade STEM Unit displayed on an iPad.

    3rd Grade STEM Unit displayed on an iPad.