HD_Links: Making Sense of Measurement

Here are some links to support students of all ages by giving visual references to help make abstract measurements more concrete.

The Learn.Genetics site created by The University of Utah has created a Cell Size and scale visual that allows visitors to view the size of cells from a coffee been down to a carbon atom. Use the slide bar to zoom down from 12 ml (millimeters) all the way down to 340 pm (picometer = a trillionth of a meter).

Let students compare themselves to other animals by measuring their ear, height, and foot length and see where they line up in size to other animals with similar dimensions. The Lawrence Hall of Science has created the Measure Yourself and other measuring activities such as “Jump Start” which has students jump as far as they can then measure the distance they covered to compare it to their friends and other living organisms like a grasshopper or rabbit.

From the BBC’s Math files, Animal Weigh In, has students balance a scale with weights that equal the same amount as the animals sitting on the scale. Student will practice adding and converting weights in pounds, ounces, grams, kilograms, stones, and tons.

eThemes, your source for online resources that are content focused and are safe for students, has 4 “themes” on measurement that might include additional links to help your students learn about this topic. Check out Math: Metric Measurement, Math: Customary or Standard Measurement, Math: Telling Time, or Science: Temperature.  If you are an eMINTS teacher and still can’t seem to find the exact resources you are looking for resources, you can always request a new eTheme and get what you are looking for and save yourself the time searching Google.

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can read more at her blog Higgins Helpful Hints Blog. Diane McCormack, a PD4ETS Graduate and Instructional Technology Facilitator with the Affton Public Schools, shared some of these and other great resources.

Tuesday’s Tool: Classroom Architect

As the year winds down, many teachers are already thinking about next year and planning the space their new community will fill. They may be moving to a new classroom, getting an eMINTS classroom, or just looking into creating a new feel in their current classroom. Classroom Architect might be the tool to help create a new classroom environment.

The Classroom Architect tool from 4Teachers.org offers a simple interface to help teachers create an online floor plan of their classroom.  Before beginning, measure the room and take inventory of the items you would like to arrange. Then visit the Classroom Architect site, plug in the dimensions, and start dragging and dropping items on the grid. Additional items and labels can be added using the draw feature.  When it’s finished, print the diagram and start moving furniture.

Get students in on the planning and teach measurement, map scale, grids, along with 21st Century Skills in Learning and Innovation or Life and Career Skills areas, and technology standards such as having students use technology tools to use critical thinking skills to solve problems and make informed decisions.

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can read more at her blog Higgins Helpful Hints Blog. A big “thank you” goes out to Diane McCormack, a PD4ETS Graduate and Instructional Technology Facilitator with the Affton Public Schools, for sharing this great resource.

Monday Message: eMINTS/SMART Summer Training

Two levels of professional development on SMART Board and SMART Notebook led by SMART training specialists will be offered in summer 2011 at three locations across the state – Columbia, Springfield and St. Louis. Attend one day or both days. Find all the details and a link to online registration at the eMINTS website.

Level 1
Increase your effectiveness with SMART Notebook collaborative learning software at a full-day professional development on-site session.

Level 2
Learn how to design lesson activities in Notebook collaborative learning software by adding style and incorporating interactive content at a full-day professional development on-site session.

Again, for more information about what specifically is being offered, when and where trainings will be, and cost are available at our website and register here.

Friday 4ALL: Natural Disasters & Relief

F5 tornado Elie Manitoba 2007
Justin1569 via Wikimedia Commons
Natural disasters have been dominating the headlines this spring. We’ve witnessed everything from earthquakes to flooding to tornadoes occurring around the world. Whether it happens in Japan or in our own backyard, what are your ideas about how citizens might behave responsibly before, during, and after natural disasters?

There are many sites that provide information on disaster preparedness, and being informed is definitely a critical first step. In fact, Ready.gov tells us to “Prepare. Plan. Stay informed.” But I’m wondering today if that Is where responsibility ends or begins?

In a shrinking world, we not only have immediate access to images of the aftermath of a natural disaster, but we may also watch surreal scenes unfold in realtime. Our hearts go out to those affected, but there can be a feeling of disconnectedness and unreality. After a natural disaster, whether I’m personally affected or not, what actions could I potentially take as a responsible citizen? How might one student or one classroom make a difference? This is not a day I have answers; it’s day when I have questions for us to ponder.

Related links:
⁃Ready.gov: http://www.ready.gov/
⁃Home Safety Council: http://www.homesafetycouncil.org/index.asp
⁃National Disaster Education Coalition: http://www.disastereducation.org/
⁃FEMA: http://www.fema.gov/
⁃FEMA for Kids: http://www.fema.gov/kids/
⁃Children, Stress and Natural Disasters: http://web.extension.illinois.edu/disaster/teacher/teacher.html
⁃72Hours: http://72hours.org/
⁃USGS (Earthquakes) http://earthquake.usgs.gov/
⁃Discovery TV Stormchasers: http://dsc.discovery.com/tv/storm-chasers/

Debbie Perkins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

Thursday’s Tip: Projects to Encourage Student Reflection

In our previous post, Helping Students Learn Through Reflection, we shared questioning strategies to engage students in reflective thinking as a way to transfer learning beyond subject areas and beyond the walls of the classroom and shared some online tools that might facilitate those conversations.

On a daily basis eMINTS teachers craft lessons that ask students to think about and address real-world problems. By embedding reflective activities into those lessons, students can have authentic opportunities to learn from their experiences and then be able to apply that learning to new situations.

Some projects teachers may want to plan into classroom lessons to facilitate reflection could be using portfolios, journals, surveys, and even multimedia projects.

Portfolios that include students selecting items to showcase their learning and then reflecting on why they chose those items will require students to evaluate their learning and possibly set future learning goals. Weebly for Education, an online application for creating websites and blogs, is an option for creating student portfolios. Students can include video, images, and files by uploading them to their site which can even be password protected.

Reflection journals, with daily prompts or a scoring guide, can purposefully direct reflection and allow students to be constantly growing. You might use a blog post with students commenting on reflective questions or have students make posts to individual blogs. Check out WordPress, EduBlogs, or Weebly for Education to create class and/or individual student blogs.

Using surveys can help students monitor their progress over time by responding with both qualitative and quantitative data that could even be charted and analyzed for personal growth. Google Docs allows for creation of survey’s that can be completed by learners. The data is automatically compiled in a spreadsheet and could possibly be turned into charts or graphs for easy analysis.

Creating multimedia projects is another way that students can reflect on what they have learned at the culmination of a unit or project such as a WebQuest.  Some ways you might use technology to put this into practice could be creating still or action movies using iMovie, Movie Maker, Animoto, or even VoiceThread which can add collaboration.

As you consider using these and other types of projects to facilitate thinking and reflection, you might think about:

  • How could your learners become more self-directed through individual and/or group reflection?
  • What might they gain from the reflection process?

Carmen Marty, Terri Brines, & Brooke Higgins are eMINTS Instructional Specialists and Cognitive Coaching/eMINTS Agency Trainers. For more information about Cognitive Coaching and related seminars visit the eMINTS National Center events page.

~*Dawn*~ (Photographer). (2007). Reflections on the Stream. [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/naturesdawn/1283502759/

HD_Links: Lucky 7 Online Writing Tools

It's time to write

Here are seven online tools and resources for helping your students in generating their best creative work.

  • Remember “choose your own adventure” books when you were growing up? Well, now there’s a collaborative writing project called One Million Monkeys Typing where you can help write such adventures. Follow the routes already set by previous writers or add your own twist.
  • Another collaborative writing project is FoldingStory where contributors are limited to 120 word “folds” in order to complete a narrative.
  • Remember Magnetic Poetry? Still have those magnetic tiles with a variety of words allowing you to create poetry on your refrigerator? Now, there’s an online version for your students to write their own poetry. Check out Magnetic Poetry’s Kids’ Poetry Page and see for yourself.
  • Lightning Bug provides young writers a writing partner when they need some feedback or ideas in writing a story. This could be an excellent tool for those students who find themselves out of school and writing workshop for an extended period.
  • Besides the need for writing partners, young writers also need graphic organizers. Writing Fun by Jenny Eather is your one stop for an interactive graphic aid resource.
  • Games and writing prompts that can spark creative writing can be found at Language Is a Virus.
  • Sometimes, the best way to make the dialogue in creative writing seem more authentic is to add a flavor of a local dialect. “The Dialectizer” is such a tool. Enter a URL or selection of text and choose a generalized dialect to transform dialogue into a conversation that looks the way you want it to sound.

What are some online tools and resources you use to help your students with their writing?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. He wants to give a big H/T to PD4ETS graduate Diane McCormack, a tech facilitator for Affton Schools, for pointing out these and many other great online resources.

Tuesday’s Tool: LiveBinder

livebinderLooking for a place to store and share resources with your students? LiveBinder might be the perfect Web 2.0 tool for you. LiveBinder is an online web resource that will help you organize online content, documents, pdf files, videos, images, and more. In 3 easy steps you can collect your resources, categorize and organize them to share them with your learners so that they can easily be used during your lessons. Students could even use LiveBinders to showcase their learning in projects they create.

To make your first LiveBinder create a free account and click the “Start a Binder” button. Begin adding links while you browse the web. LiveBinder makes it even more easy by having a Bookmarklet tool. After adding the button to your favorites toolbar all you have to do is click the “Live Binder It” button to add links to your binder. Learn how to use it by watching the How-To video.

There are a variety of ways to use LiveBinders. You can use it as a teaching tool, a student end product, or a way to share resources with your colleagues. The Evidence of Learning 2.0 LiveBinder by mikefisher821  is a jumping off point to software and web apps that teachers can use to facilitate authentic learning experiences. The Sample 6th Grade Book Report by Guru  was created to show how you might have students use LiveBinder as part of a classroom lesson.

What might be some ways you are thinking about using LiveBinders in your classroom?

Carmen Marty & Brooke Higgins are eMINTS Instructional Specialists.

Joplin Tornado

Our city needs your prayers.   on TwitpicThis is from our executive director, Monica Beglau:

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the teachers and families devastated by the tornado in the Joplin, MO area yesterday. All eMINTS staff and their families that live in the area are safe. The Joplin district eMINTS specialists are also safe. We know there were many schools damaged by the storm and are hoping that they can be repaired or rebuilt soon.

Donate:

http://www.redcross-ozarks.org/donate/

Here are sites assisting in recovery:

http://www.redcross.org/safeandwell

http://joplintornado.crowdmap.com/

http://www.facebook.com/joplinmo

Monday Message: May 23, 2011

Happy Monday, all! May seems to be chugging along at a quick pace. That can be good or bad, depending on whether your school year is over or about to end. Either way, things are always happening here at eMINTS…

If you are in Missouri and your district is planning on sending new or replacement Year 1 Comprehensive eMINTS teachers, eMINTS4All teachers or Professional Development for Educational Technology Specialists (PD4ETS) participants to training provided by eMINTS staff, please register those participants at: http://www.emints.org/services/adduserprogram.php by May 31.

Missouri District-level eMINTS Instructional Specialists: Please use the same link to register any new Year 1 Comprehensive eMINTS or eMINTS4All teachers that you will be training as well by May 31. Please also register teachers who are continuing  from Year 1 into Year 2 next school year. This will ensure that we provide access to eMINTS materials and Moodle space (pending approved schedules) to  your teachers.

eMINTS program participants in other states will receive instructions about how to register new Year 1 teachers and continuing Year 2 teachers in the next several weeks.

Please call the eMINTS office at 573-884-7202 with any questions.

Southern Boone School District in Ashland, MO Seeking Certified eMINTS Specialist: The Southern Boone County School District in Ashland, MO is interested in hearing from certified eMINTS instructional specialists (graduates of PD4ETS) or educators who would be willing to complete the PD4ETS program. Ashland is located 15 miles south of Columbia and 15 miles north of Jefferson City on Highway 63.  Contact Superintendent, Mrs. Charlotte Miller, at cmiller@ashland.k12.mo.us<mailto:cmiller@ashland.k12.mo.us> and to express your interest in learning more.

eMINTS Winter Conference Survey: We are planning our 2012 eMINTS Winter Conference. We want your input. Not planning on attending? That’s okay! We still want your input. Please help us by taking just a few minutes to fill out this very brief survey. https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/6QC9ZXR

4ALL: Shared Experiences

While scrolling through my Google Reader, I stopped at a post in my subscription to WordPress’s Freshly Pressed feature. “So I was on a plane to Florida…” was the one that caught my eye. Blogger and Twitter enthusiast Stefanie Gordon tells her story of Tweeting a picture of the Space Shuttle Endeavor breaking through the clouds as seen from her seat aboard a flight on Delta Airlines.

Gordon goes on to tell her story of how this image made her an instant sensation. The picture and her name spread throughout the internet and all over mass media outlets. One Tweet provided her fifteen minutes of fame.

While the effect her picture going viral had on Gordon’s life is significant, what is even more interesting is the fact that her little share allowed the world to experience what only she and any other passengers on her flight could have experienced. This is the real power of social media and why wouldn’t we want our students to have access to these experiences?

Twitter especially is adept at sharing experiences. Instantly, from wherever, Twitter users can share perspective, images, even video of their experiences. While many of these experiences can be somewhat mundane, a few are as amazing and worthy our time, much like Gordon’s picture of the Space Shuttle.

Zac Early is an instructional specialist for the eMINTS National Center and he Tweets.