Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Storymaps and the Digital Age

Maps have always intrigued me.  I remember as a student being told that the early cartographers drew the known area and then wrote "Beyond this point there be dragons".  I've never found the dragons but I still look.

Recently I discovered some map sharing tools that appeals to the historian and storyteller in me.  It is a way to connect pictures and maps and include your own stories to go along with the pictures.  I think it would be a great way to study things for social studies and history using primary sources.  It would also be a great way to look at family history in context to the times.

As a student I would be engaged to compare and contrast pictures from "Historical Events" with current pictures.  I am a very visual learner.  Pictures are a really important tool that guides my learning.  Learning how to evaluate pictures and add the storytelling element is higher level thinking at its best.

We Are What We Do developed Historypin in partnership with Google.  I have included the introductory video and How to Use Historypin.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

History in Haiku - Stories in Six

I found this idea when I was browsing Associated Content.  People submitted Haiku's about historical events.  They were featured as "Daily series using haiku poetry to recount history."  How does this translate into classroom applications?  How about starting class with a daily haiku about what the students are studying.  As they progress have the students write the haiku's.

This will help them on many levels.  It's higher level thinking.  They must take a large piece of information and condense and make it into a fun summary. They would even work as exit tickets.  I'm excited by the possibilities.

Last year I heard about Six Word Memoirs in the National Writing Project that I attended.  It is both fun and challenging to write a story in six words, it is somewhat easier to write a summary in six words.  It definitely gets your brain working.  They make great titles and fun writing prompts.

Some of my favorites.  Six Word Memoirs "Not quite what I was planning."  "Written by famous and obscure writers."

They have now morphed into Six Word Stories.  In fact there are numerous websites that feature them as well as books that have collected them.  Here are some links to some sites that feature them:  NPRCatrina NetSmith Magazine; Marginal Revolution;  "Read Twitters Six Word Stories."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Starbright World: A Social Network for Seriously Ill Teens

I learned about this site for teens at Teresa's Blog  Too Many Heartbeats.  Both she and her daughter suffer from dysautonomia an autoimmune disease.  She was talking about how much Starbright World had helped her daughter.  It is a site for teens and it is monitored to keep it safe.  When I was reading the list of illnesses I was overwhelmed.  I had never thought about how many kids are fighting so many life threatening diseases.

I also realized that this site not only allows teens to interact with other teens but it gives them a safe place to talk about being sick to people who really understand. The social network is for kids 13-20 who are ill and their siblings.  I was really impressed that they allow siblings.  Being a sib when someone you love is sick can be really scary.

There is also a Starlight Children's Foundation Blog that showcases what the foundation is doing.  Check it out I know we have students at my school who would benefit from this site.  Help spread the word.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Using Visual Images to Teach Perceptions

Every person seems to have a running visual monologue going in their head as they listen and read.  These visual images are reinforced by Hollywood, TV, magazines, books etc.  I was doing a presentation for teachers last fall.  One of the questions I ask is if I say the words American Indian or Native American: What picture do you see in your mind?

I followed this up by using Montage-a-Google and typing in Native American.  We talked about how most of the images were of Native Americans from the past.  One of the issues we are working on within our schools is the need to change those perceptions. Creating an awareness that there are different tribes that are a living vibrant contemporary culture. The second mosaic shows contemporary tribal members.  We had an interesting discussion about perceptions.

This site would also work to introduce other topics in history and social studies, even biographies.  If you click on individual squares it will bring up the original picture so that you can examine it closer, allowing for further discussion.

There is a great article on Engadget : How to Make Your Own Photo Mosaic.  They list a couple of other sites that you can use to make your own mosaic from your own pictures: Andrea Mosaic for PCs  and MacOSaiX for Macs.  You can also make mosaics with Picasa.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

United Way Hotline 2-1-1

Reading the Summer 2010 copy of the American Educator I read that the United Way had established an easy to remember number, 2-1-1, that connects people to health and social services in their local communities.  Currently it serves approximately 250 million Americans and is available in 46 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico.  Trained personnel will answer and help callers determine what services they need, shelters, job training, housing options, food banks, and other supports.

I clicked on  I learned that United Way are encouraging people to contact their representatives and senators and ask for support for the 2-1-1 Act legislation. I also read that 2-1-1 has been available in some states since 2000. After the Katrina and Rita disasters in 2004 FEMA encouraged states to move forward with implementing 2-1-1 in all states.

I had never heard of this program. So I decided to do some additional research - I was doubly surprised to learn that Montana has this service available. I would encourage you to visit the United Way site and learn about this service and how it may benefit our communities.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

EFL Classroom 2.0

One of my favorite Nings is EFL Classroom 2.0  It is designed for English Teacher's and Learner's.  I enjoy it because it sparks so many ideas.  I discovered this site when I was looking for review games to use in my classroom.  I discovered BAAM games, they are power point games.  I took the templates and used my own questions and answers.  My kids love the game.

I am also a big fan of random generators.  David Deubel created the EFL Classroom 2.0 Ning Network.  He is an incredible creative educator.  Recently he created a random blog generator.  He has put over 100 blogs into the generator.  Each time you click on the generator you read a new blog. Try it out.

Random ELT Blog

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

We Give Books - Online Reading

I was reading a post from Two Writing Teachers about a new program for children called We Give Books. Any child with internet access can read books online free. Each book they complete allows the program to donate a physical book to another charity. This really looks good. I hope you have a young person you can share this with.
I really like how We Give Books makes some suggestions about talking with children about their role in the giving process.
"One of the aims of We Give Books is to encourage the conversations with your child that will better ensure he or she becomes a life-long giver. As you consider the non-profit organizations from which you can choose, take time to talk through the goals of each charity and your reasons for selecting the one you do. 
As long as you’re a member, you can support as many campaigns as you like. We Give Books even keeps track of the books you’ve donated to each campaign fo you."
They have a large online library for people to choose from.  The books can be read more than once.  I would really encourage you to check out the blog Two Writing Teachers.  They share lots of reading Writing Connections.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Walk Down Memory Lane

When I first started teaching (in the last century) I bought Oregon Trail (Apple IIe).   Later getting some other games that were developed to run on Apple GS.  My very favorite at that time was the MECC Word Muncher game.  My students loved the games back then. (Many of you might remember playing them as students).

Well imagine my delight when I was reading some posts on ilearntechnology and she talked about the original simulation game Oregon Trail.  You have to remember that by today's standards the  graphics and interactivity are very basic.  As I was busy remembering my first love affair with technology, I wondered how I might use it in today's classroom with video sophisticated students?  The original post had a wonderful suggestion - use it to introduce the history of technology and how things have changed.

Compare the modern game of Oregon Trail to the original.  The Virtual Apple site has all those old games on it, adapted so today's users can play on line.  Hip Hip Hoo-Rey!  I think i'll go play a few rounds of Word Muncher.