Archive for September, 2010


Day 2 Reflection on Survival Challenge

September 15, 2010

The survival challenge really isn’t that hard, but what is hard is the thinking about what websites to access.  I really don’t care if this takes longer to  do ( usually 2 periods), because they are really thinking about the websites to access and of course they are googling hard,  refining their search terms.

I feel good about this assignment, much better than I have in the past.  It has always been a good kick off, but this is even better.  I love search twist.  We always don’t have time to give kids that discovery aspect, but if they need to think outside the box and we can’t as educators spoon feed them where to find their answers. They need to learn to find answers for themselves.


Crossword Puzzles

September 14, 2010

This week my spelling words are not only words that are demons in regards to spelling, but also usage, so I made a crossword puzzle to help with the meanings. I found a great one that is not only free, but better than the criss cross one at Discovery Education.  I really like the one at Teacher Corner.  Not only is it free, it also has some options to pick from  and one is “Name” at the top.

I really wish I could insert a graphic organizer to show the differences.


Updating an Old Lesson: Survival Challenge

September 14, 2010

My first unit of the year is on survival.  It’s an interesting topic and kids really like it.  Years ago I was fortunate enough to be apart of a workshop given by Harry Silver of Silver, Strong and Associates.  It was a very hands on workshop in which time was alloted to create a unit.  His resource bag was a lot like  a Mary Poppins’ bag, it just kept  giving.  One of the books he brought along was on survival, and that is where this challenge came from.

In the past I have always just presentented the scenario and handed out a worksheet.  This year I turned it into a blog survivalunit. With it I added an xtranormal beginning and a twist, a blackberry with limited battery power.

The scenario is similar to the one Brain Robeson has in the novel Hatchet by Gary Paulsen.

The purpose of the twist, the Blackberry, is that it is real world, most people would have a some sort of cellular device with them.  One of my goals, in addition to the survival theme, is how to use the internet as a tool.  I gave them some websites as examples, some useful some not.

I did produce a worksheet to accompany the challenge, but I also want them to use the blog to make comments on what sites they would use, why they would use it, what information were they looking for  and the answers they found.

I kick it off today.


Note on Xtranormal

September 13, 2010

I decided to do the opening directions to a survival challenge in Xtranormal, about 100 words long.  When I went to publish  a charge came up.  Not much of one, but enough to make me rethink.  I hope I am not going cheap with this, but rather practical.  So, I shortened it and changed it from the opening directions to a quick intro for free.


Introduction to Class Blog

September 11, 2010

I decided to go with Weebly for my classroom blog.  I love the ease and look.  Plus the pages (each class) are displayed at the top.  It’s going to cost $3 a month because I went with the pro version, but I think it will be money well spent.

I introduced the blog and I asked what they wantet besides homework.  The wanted links, projects we do in class, the ability to respond, any downloadable worksheets and “How To Sheets” for Web 2.0 sites.

A good use of 10 minutes.  Of course they wanted to change the header picture.  That will come.


Lesson: Community

September 10, 2010

Another shortened class day and our computer labs aren’t ready for use.  In addition to the “Meaningful Integration of  Technology,” I also decided to go slow in order to go fast this year.  I have always done the getting to know me stuff, but never thought of building a community within the classroom until I the Responsive Classroom workshops.  So today’s lesson (actually yesterday’s) was on Community.

Using Smartboard software, I simply wrote “What is a community?”  Each group’s task was to decide on one word that could answer that question.  Then, I asked each group to use the words ( all were different) write them on the smartboard.  Each group then had to use those words to write 2-3 sentences answering the question. We shared.  Next, I showed a wordia defintion of community and told the class to write a slash mark down on their papers whenever they heard one of the words or a definition of the words that the class had shared earlier.  WOW!  Finally, I gave each group a small poster board and told them as a group using their word and their sentences create a poster with best illustrates their groups responses. If I had use of computers, I would have used glogster.

Third Eye:  It was great,  Simple yet elegant.  The technology kept them focused, the posters are turning out great.  If I had used glogster, it would be 2 day project, because there I did not have enough time to teach how to use glogster.  My thought on this would be to create cheat sheets ahead of the first using of a Web 2.o tool as well as a demonstration. This is a good idea, because I can remember my frustration in the past of running around to 26 kids helping them with the software.

Extension:  Have kids (groups) make their own wordia video.


Day 1: Smartboard “Wheel of Fortune”

September 9, 2010

Question: What do you do when you have limited time and one computer (labs not open)?

Answer: Smartboard and a Wheel of Fortune game.

Because I teach in a middle school, we enable 6th graders to enjoy the whole school to themselves on the first day (no 7th or 8th graders).  One of the nice things is that they get to run through their schedule (7 minutes a class).  I easily could have talked to them for that 7 minutes, but I opted to use my smartboard and this Wheel of Fortune software (Discovery Education $14) and displayed a message, “You Can Survive English and Reading.”  A little bit of foreshadowing to my first unit, survival.

Third Eye:  Great opener and this cheap software could be used for many many things throughout the year.  It did amaze me how long it took them to get the little words.  Their focus was on the longer ones.  One thing I liked about the software was that the teams ( I used only 1) did not have to earn money in order to buy a vowel.  Even with that advantage they did not get the shorter words like you or can.  This is going to be great for grammar and reading.  In addition, this could be used without technology, but would require more prep time (I am thinking construction paper letters that could be turned over)


Tomorrow:  Wall Wisher