Monthly Archives: October 2013

“Journey North” But Not Before You Head South First

Two third grade teachers in the Whiteriver Unified School District completed a project called Journey North a few weeks ago.  Lisa Marchetti and Jen Eagle inspired thier students to study the migratory patterns of the monarch butterfly.  They participated in Journey North, a program that has citizen scientists track butterfly migration to and from Mexico in the fall and spring as they explore the monach butterfly’s life cycle, ecology, habitat, and conservation needs.

Each student in the class made a life size butterfly and they also made a class butterfly that showed a little of the culture and life of the White Mountain Apache Tribe.  They sent these butterflies along with a letter to Mexico.  They are able to track its migration to Mexico on either the computer or the iPad.

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When the butterflies travel back in the spring, our class’ butterflies will go to other classes around North America.  We will also get butterflies from other classes in North America.

For more information on Journey North visit this website http://www.learner.org/jnorth/sm/index.html

Snagit

Snagit OneClick Icon

Snagit – If “Pictures are Worth a Thousand Words”, Screencasts Must be Worth a Million!

What makes a screencast such a powerful tool?  This emerging tool has tremendous benefits and potential for both teachers and students.  Not only can it facilitate student learning, it empowers both teachers and students as creators of digital content,  a fundamental skill in the 21st century.   As students transition from consumers of digital content to creators of digital content, they take greater ownership of their learning, increasing participation, and motivation.

Whiteriver Unified School District has made Snagit accessible to teachers.  The capture button is always available on the edge of their screen for quick and easy access.  Once a screencast is produced, it can be saved, edited, and shared through e-mail or the web.  Here is a few ways of how it can be used by teachers and students.

How Might Teachers Use Snagit?

Demonstrations – Teachers can create a video to describe a step by step process or explain a concept such as, creating a digital story, a science concept or finding a solution to a math problem.

Presentations – Teacher can use Snagit to capture content  to create engaging multimedia presentations that can be used in class or uploaded to their online class.

Having computer problems? Teachers can quickly and easily capture an image with the error message to show exactly what is happening on their computer screen and then email it to Technical Support or the IT Department.

How Might Students Use Snagit?

 To Foster Learning – Screencasts can be watched anytime, anywhere and can be paused or watch over and over.  It canhelp students learn how to use their time efficiently and also help them catch up on any missed sessions.

Student Projects – Students can capture online resources for research projects, web pages, and segments of videos.  They can highlight text and take notes within the capture resource.  Snagit can also be used to document the bibliography information and will even remember the URL to where it was taken from.

Showcasing – Students can show their work such as projects, presentations and strategies to problems to their teachers, peers, and to their parents.

For an introductory video on how to use Snagit to capture an image click on:  Introduction to Snagit Video

For more educational benefits and examples of  screencast read the Edublog, Screencasts Turn Students into Digital Teachers by Katy Scott.

Don’t Just “Google It”

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The instinct to just “Google it” is very strong in teachers and students alike when given the task of researching a topic or just finding out information. But did you know that Google goes way beyond that first page of search results? I mean, honestly, how many of you actually go to the second or even third page after you hit the submit button? If you don’t find what you are looking for on that first page, you will probably delete the word or words you typed in and try something else.

Since you are already putting in the extra work, why don’t you try doing it the way Google intended?

For a narrow search:

For example, say you want to look for STEM lessons. If you type the words STEM lessons into Google search, Google will search for both STEM and lessons as separate words. Is this search narrow enough (I got 36,500,00 results) for what you want? Probably not. If, however, you type “STEM Lessons” with added quotation marks, Google will search that exact phrase, narrowing your search (I got 20,300 results). Make sense?

For a broad search:

Let’s try another trick. Let’s search for websites about guided reading. Instead of just typing in guided reading, add an asterisk – *guided reading. In addition to sites about guided reading, Google searches items realated to the topic, such as book authors and publishers of guided reading materials.

A very useful tip:

Lastly, and I use this one all the time, tell Google to search sites that are most current by adding the date. If I do this: “STEM lessons” 2011..2013, Google will search for sites with the exact phrase STEM Lessons that were created between 2011 and 2013. The results are much more manageable now.

The coolest thing is that you can combine all of these together to find exaclty (well almost) what you are looking for without having to weed through the junk.

To learn more tricks, check out the cool infographic here.

Windows Movie Maker: Old Dog, New Tricks

Windows Movie Maker is not new to the scene of educational technology.  In fact, its been tried and tested for several years now. Yet, for the novice movie maker (and lets face it most of us are not expert film editors) it never ceases to amaze.  From elementary age students to tech wary adults, the interface is extremely user friendly.  You can compile video clips, photos, and text seamlessly into a video that will wow.  Throw in some music and special effects and your video is ready to compete with the best that youtube has to offer.

While this tool has many purposes, you might be asking yourself “how does this fit into my classroom?” Ever heard of digital storytelling? It is 21st century concept that gives students the opportunity to retell a story, demonstrate knowledge, or even evaluate their learning process.  Anyone can do it for just about any purpose and the kids absolutely love it.  From the teacher perspective, critical thinking skills are required as students are required to storyboard their concept and find the most effective and engaging way to share the information.  Want to give it a shot in your classroom?  I bet you do and I know your tech coaches are desperately (I sure am!) awaiting the chance to help you out. Let’s create a book trailer or show what our students learned in class! This software is available on your new teacher laptops and will soon be available on the windows tablets and existing desktops.

For a tutorial on how to use Windows Movie Maker check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZZij3NNyVg