What window have you opened?

image from TechnologyRocksSeriously.com

Do you have a window in your classroom? Can you see outside from your desk?

There are no windows close to my desk at work … unless you count the computer …

I know that I have written about animal webcams before:

But I think I have discovered even more animal videos and webcams almost everywhere I looked this week …
Even though I have been to zoos and seen these types of animals, I still find it very interesting to be able to watch the animals via webcam (and videos). Imagine the wonder and curiosity these images would create for students who have seen animals like this before but especially for those who have not ….

Think about all the doors and windows technology has made accessible for both us and our students …


What do you know about Primary Sources?

Library Of Congress Washington DC
Did you know there is a Teacher’s section and lots of available classroom resources on The Library of Congress website?

The part that really caught my attention was the Using Primary Sources area. When I was in the classroom, helping students use and understand primary sources is something I admit I did not do very well. I really did not know what I was supposed to do and what students were supposed to be able to do …. if I could even find primary sources for us to examine.

Here is a great definition of primary sources from The Library of Congress Site:

Primary sources are the raw materials of history — original documents and objects which were created at the time under study. They are different from secondary sources, accounts or interpretations of events created by someone without firsthand experience.

Just that definition helps me understand the reason for encouraging students to examine and explore primary sources …. we regularly talk about various points of view and perspectives. I have done a  large amount of research on Orville and Wilbur Wright. I loved being able to look at their notes and scrapbooks to see what they thought and how they understood what they did instead of reading an interpretation of their actions.

On the Using Primary Sources page, there are three sections which some direction for teachers and questions for students:

  1. Engaging students with primary sources.
  2. Promote student inquiry.
  3. Assess how students apply critical thinking and analysis skills to primary sources.

Even though those areas generally cover the before, during, and after reading skills, there were a few questions which caught my attention:

  • Where does you eye go first?
  • What do you see that you didn’t expect?
  • What powerful words and ideas are expressed?

Also included in the Primary Sources section of The Library of Congress website is information about:

  • Citing Primary Sources
  • Copyright and Primary Sources
  • Finding Primary Sources
  • Teacher’s Guides and Analysis Tool for a variety of types of Primary Sources

So what do you think? Are you more willing to try using some Primary Sources? Do you understand a bit more about Primary Sources? I do! 🙂

    Pictures, Pictures, Pictures ….

    After attending the NCTIES Conference last week and having lots of great conversations, my mind is just spinning with so many ideas and things to try (I have several blog posts started in my head … ).

    I took a preconference session on Visual Artistry with Ken Shelton using Photography (more to come on that later I promise), so I have been creating LOTS of pictures from various angles and trying out various settings on my camera.

    The sun is nice and bright on this beautiful Sunday afternoon, so I had my camera out in backyard trying to capture different textures and shadows to use for presentations and future blog posts. My five year old daughter asked me if she could take some pictures too, so I found a camera and sent her outside. I told her that she could take any pictures she wanted. She really has a pretty good eye for pictures and perspectives ….

    Madalyn captured things around the house that I had forgotten about (like the heart on the fence gate). I really like her shadow and her take on the house numbers/birdhouses. She loves moving the at turtle all around the yard …

    She came in the house a few times to show me a picture she took and ask if I had taken that one too. All our pictures are different and it is great to celebrate those variations!

    Another thing I have started playing with after the preconference session is Picasa … so here is a collage created with Picasa of the pictures Madalyn took this afternoon ….

    Looking at a monthly theme with a focus …

    Moving DayIn March, one of the themes is Women’s History Month. I came across this while looking at Thinkfinity today:

    The theme for the 2012 Women’s History Month is Women’s Education – Women’s Empowerment. This month-long event celebrates the fight against cultural and historical prejudices that traditionally created the gender gap in schools, institutes of higher education, and professions. Thinkfinity and its Content Partners have a variety of lessons and resources that showcase the contributions of women to our society and culture.

    Here are a few of the resources shared on Women’s History Month page:

    Who Was the Most Famous Female Aviator?
    View a video about aviation and find out more about Amelia Earhart with this Wonder Of the Day. Then try one of the follow-up activities to explore the topic in more depth. (from Wonderopolis)

    Great Women of Our Pasts
    Consider the sacrifices made and obstacles overcome by women who shaped our past from 1754 to the present. Review a list of featured books on this topic and learn how a genealogical study can provide valuable insights into the people and events in your family’s past

    Females in the Spotlight: Strong Characters in Picture Books
    Identify the character traits demonstrated by strong female protagonists in several books, and use the online Character Trading Cards tool to create and share your own trading card.

    Young Women in Science: Forging New Pathways
    This booklet, designed to inspire young people to consider science as a career, provides a glimpse into the lives of young female scientists from a variety of backgrounds.

    Analyzing Character Development in Three Short Stories About Women
    Compare the women characters in stories written in different historical times to analyze the effects of gender differences and society’s expectations on the role of women.

    Taking Control of Their Lives
    Follow the stories of two women from different countries and different generations who improved their literacy skills and became involved in an important health empowerment project that had a personal impact on their own lives  

    OLW Reflection for February

    Mr. Think #6At the beginning of the year, there was some talk about what was going to your word for the year …. I even wrote a blog post about it! In the comments to that blog post …. I shared that I thought my One Little Word would be thinking for this year.

    In January, I wrote a blog post describing my thinking about actions to take.

    This past month, my thoughts have been everywhere with so many things going on, so I think I want to reflect on thinking this month . . . 

    • What does it mean to think
    • Is thinking just the random ideas that pop into my mind?
    • Or is it the connections I make with specific ideas that promote further action and ideas?
    • Does it need to be quiet for thinking to take place?
    • Does hearing other sounds and ideas promote even more thinking
    • Does thinking have to happen in your head?
    • Can thinking happen on paper?
    • Does thinking happen in color?
    • Does thinking happen in black and white?
    • Does thinking happen in words?
    • Does thinking happen in the formation of images?
    • How does discussion with others fit in to thinking?
    • I know that I like to talk through my thoughts to be able to effectively express the ideas forming in my head, so for me talking helps my thinking …. I think ….

    I guess all the above questions look at thinking as a verb …

    But there are also ways thinking can be considered a noun …

    What do you think?

    What have you been thinking about this month?

    What are we going to read?

    My five year old came home from school talking about Dr. Seuss. I suggested that we read a Dr. Seuss book for our bedtime story tonight. Madalyn pulled every Dr. Seuss book off the shelf (I realized that we have a lot and double copies of some of them …. I think I have even more in my “school books” in the basement). The book she finally chose was a collection of Seuss Stories that includes versions of several of the books and some commentary/history.

    New bookshelfThe “teacher in me” wanted to select one of the not-so-well-known stories, but the “parent in me” let my daughter choose the one she wanted … Green Eggs and Ham.

    As I began to read the story to her, I noticed that many of the words in the story were some of the same “word wall words” we have been practicing for her homework. So I started reading most of the sentence and then pointing to the word for her to say. The more words she said, the more confident she became. She even pointed to some of the words ahead and asked if I would let her read those words.

    At first, I thought Madalyn might be saying the words from memory (she has an extremely good memory) but I realized she was really looking at the words when she pointed out that box and fox both have -ox at the end. When house was at the end of one line and mouse was at the end of the next line, she also pointed out that they both has -se at the end and then noticed they also had -ou, so they both ended in -ouse.

    When we got to the end of the story, Madalyn looked up at me saying, “This is a cute story.” She was involved in the story and interested in the words. Her interest in words makes me smile … as a former reading and writing teacher, I want to encourage and support that interest in words.

    So here are some Dr. Seuss resources that can be used with students of all ages:

    • Reading Everywhere with Dr. Seuss from ReadWriteThinkYoung readers celebrate all the places they can read by creating a classroom book modeled after Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham. (k-2)
    • Teaching Short-Vowel Discrimination Using Dr. Seuss Rhymes from ReadWriteThinkThe integration of Dr. Seuss rhymes creates an engaging study of onsets and rimes. Students will discover patterns in words, sort words based on their vowel patterns, and apply their knowledge in reading and writing activities. (k-2)  
    • Exploring the History Behind the Satire from ReadWriteThink :  Begin your class study of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels by reading Dr. Seuss’s The Butter Battle Book to illustrate the use of satire in a very accessible way. After reading the picture book, students discuss the historical allusions as a class.(9-12)
    • Who was Theodore Geisel? from Wonderopolis   If you live on Mulberry Street with a cat that wears a hat, chances are you probably already know Mr. Theodor Geisel. Join us in Wonderopolis today as we celebrate Read Across America Day with a closer look at a beloved author who could really rhyme!

    Are you ready for Leap Day?

    29 il 23As we approach the end of February, I started thinking about finding resources to share next month. I went to the calendar pages of Thinkfinity, and something caught my eye: classroom activities, websites, and resources for Leap Day!

    Here are some of the suggested websites:

    • Leap Central
      This site explains things about Leap Year that are not common knowledge to most, has resources for party planning, and also includes a list of Leap Day books.
    • The Year of Confusion
      This online story from Highlights Kids is an engaging account of the time leading up to the revision of the calendar to include Leap Day.
    • Star Child: A Learning Center for Young Astronomers
      Intended for grade-school-level students, this NASA website recommended by SchoolZone has information about astronomy as well as projects, lesson ideas, and resources for the classroom.
    • Astronomy Picture of the Day: Julius Caesar and Leap Days
      This site from NASA, focusing on an image of a coin minted with Julius Caesar’s likeness, provides a brief explanation of the origins of Leap Day. The site also references Sosigenes, the astronomer who consulted with Caesar on the calendar and invention of Leap Day.

    I really like the lists of books available from these sites. The science focus could also be a great connection to make with some of the STEM resources now available.

    Wonderopolis for Science Inspiration?

    Serving as both the 5th/6th grade Gifted Education teacher and the Grades 3-5 Science Specialist at an elementary school, Jayne Grubbs has a hectic schedule but loves every minute of it! She uses the information and questions from Wonderopolis in some pretty interesting ways. (I wrote about Jayne in an earlier post: Persistence Pays Off)

    In class, Jayne distributes “Curiosity Questions” to her students. Students can earn “bugs” for thinking about and exploring possible answers to those questions … most of which come from Wonderopolis. The “bugs” students are trying to earn is part of a motivational technique used in her class.

    Jayne finds ways to connect what may seem a simple question to a pretty detailed exploration of a science topic. She loves the way she is able to use good nonfiction text from Wonderopolis to integrate reading with science and to even bring in some social studies every once in a while.

    Here are a few of the past Wonders she has used to serve as inspiration:

    #191 Where do diamonds come from? She used the information about diamonds lead into a discussion of fossils. Students were involved in comparing and contrasting diamonds and fossils. They even had to write diamante poems comparing the two. I think that was one of her favorite lessons she has done.

    #262 Can Plants Grow Without Soil?  She used this one as an introduction to hydroponics and created a very strong science lesson to go along with it. The more recent Wonder #487 Do All Plants Have Roots? would also be a great tie in.

    #228 Do Elephants Ever Forget? The exploration of this one prompted the students to explore what makes a person’s memory work and not work. Students were so engaged that one student woke up in the middle of the night afraid of what would happen if he lost his memory and did not remember to breathe.

    #422 Is the Sky falling? This wonder was used to explore meteors and comments in a 3rd grade class to go along with a state objective about how gravity affects things in space.

    #432 Can Woolly Worms Predict the Weather? This wonder inspired a month long curiosity question and unit about how animals prepare for winter and how can we tell they are preparing for winter.

    #355 Do Plants Need Hair Cuts? To go along with this wonder, her students did an experiment involving placing plant clippings in colored water to enable them to watch how the water moved through the veins in the plant.

    Jayne loves how excited the kids are and also mentions that she has so much fun looking at all Wonderopolis has to offer that she could do it all day long! To hear her talk about all the things her students are doing, it is evident how much of an impact these activities are having on both the students and her as the teacher. I really need to get a video the next time we talk.

    According to Jayne, she wants students to learn how to ask questions and to think.

    Asking questions and exploring topics is what Wonderopolis is all about!!!

    Talk about a great connection!