Monday, June 30, 2008

Thing 8: What on Earth is Happening?

Well, now I can tell you at a glance because I've create an RSS Feed just to keep me informed of changes occurring on and to Earth. Why? Earth Science continues to be the lowest area of science on 5th TAKS testing statewide. It is my favorite, and I think I do a great job of teaching it but that is just not enough. So ta da da, I have set up daily feeds of volcanic activity, earthquake shaker maps, violent weather notices, and news feeds from the New Mexico about caverns, sand dunes, mountains...
I figure if a student can check these every day or so and report to the class then perhaps these events will just become second nature to them, create a curiosity to find out more, or just build a foundation of personal experience for them. I think it will also be a great teaching tool because I will have gobs of current examples and data to use in class. I put a current feed from each of these on my shared page. It took me a couple of tries to get that going but managed in the end. I also found a blog I really liked from another 5th grade science teacher. I plan to view it often to see how it progresses through the school year as it looks like she uses it to communicate with her students, parents and other teachers. Is there a way to save your reader page as your home page? I'm sure there is but I feel technologically pushed beyond my limits right now. If I have to research anything else I might not have time to eat my breakfast of bacon and homegrown tomatoes! I bet if I did a bog search I could find many gardeners bragging about their bumper crops of tomatoes this year too!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Post #7 Google GAh-GAh

Wow! I am on Google overload. So many possibilities. I just started down the list and found I could continue for days. This could be a complete summer training in itself. Since I like to teach Earth Science in real context as it occurs I set up an alert for any earth shaking or Earth breaking news. It will be easy for me to open up these news stories of video footage at the opening of a class and share.

Next, was igoogle. I included tabs for both work and personal interest. Science related topics for work and things like art and cooking for home. I have already enjoyed looking at these. I specially like a quote from Woody Allen stating that her isn't afraid of death but that he'd rather not be there when it happens. Igoogle just seems like another way to customize information so less time is spent sifting.

With the google calendar option I set a calendar for my next 2 months and became shockingly aware that the summer will continue to zip by at a steady pace. My summer looks pretty busy but usually I can manage my engagements without such a program so I think I'll stick with the old fashion method. I can see where this could replace a syllabus and that students and parents alike could access a class calendar fro upcoming assignment, due dates,....

I enjoyed playing most with the notebook. I was able to open a notebook, insert data, charts, photos, links, and add details about each one. I love that is not stored on my computer. I know I will use this to keep different topics organized. I think it might be a good place to enter teacher notes so that students and parents could see the notes from home.

Google Earth is very popular on my elementary campus. It is a good resource for social studies and science.

Well, because I have spent 2 day at google tools and feel a little behind I will stop here. Next time out I think google tools could be assignments 7,8, and 9.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mashups! Who Thought of Those?

The question is now, "What is it that one cannot do or create?" I loved the Flickr color matcher. It is like the designer's dream come true. When you need art the exact color of the stripe in your bedspread then presto- chango. I can't believe I haven't seen it used on HGTV (Home and Garden Television). I could use it in science to teach about the spectrum of color and to have a lot of fun. Probably more fun than knowledge could be gained. The Mosaic Maker is the mashup that really caught my eye. I can imagine adding a collection of curriculum specific
content to a Mosaic and using it as a writing motivator, vocabulary reinforcer, or perhaps an imaginative sequencing activity. It could also be a great way to integrate the Technology TEKS with other content areas. Boy, learning is just getting a whole lot more fun. I just hope I can remember to use all these new tools when August rolls around. Just to be on the safe side I have down loaded my mudslide Mosaic to have on hand when the need arises. Fifth grade students are also required to learn the states and capitols. I can imagine a lot of ways Mappr could be used not only to teach states and capitols but help the students really learn about the United States. It could also be a pretty nifty open house project. Because I am starting to ramble on, I think I will close this post and go back and play (explore) some more on Mosaic Maker.

Flickr Fun!

So often I need a quick image for 5th grade science. For some reason I can never find what I'm looking for in a jiffy. I took this opportunity to gather some mudslide pictures for future use. I was shocked at the huge number of photos available on one topic. I can hardly wait to see what comes up for volcanic eruptions. I think this will be useful for getting images for ELL and special needs students who need a real live image. I think students could use a collection of gathered photos for power points, books, study aids...I found the site easy to use and navigate and will recommend it to others. At this point I am not into photography myself but can't wait to borrow images from others.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Thoughts on the Avatar

Creating the avatar was fun. I could have spent the whole day. After realizing I'd spent almost 2 hours creating mine I just had to stop and accept it. The hard part was creating the me I wanted to share. Did I want to be the teacher, mother, wife, friend or all? It became obvious early on that I couldn't cover all of the Me's so I tried to pick some of my favorite characteristics. First, the apron. My neighbors always ask, "Are you baking?" I reply,"No, just keeping clean!" That is the honest truth because nearly anything I do I seem to get dirty. I thought it was important to include my glasses because in the last year I find that I can't do anything without them. I hate to admit this because I always felt my peers were being over dramatic about being blind and I now have eaten my thoughts. Of course, I am wearing shorts because it is summer, my legs are tanned and are less flabby than they have ever been. I placed myself in the kitchen because it is the hub of activity. I am holding cake because each summer I have a passion and last summer it was the summer of cakes from scratch. I made a new one each week, tasted it, shared it with my husband, and then took it to the nursing home where my mother in law was staying. Sweets go a long way in insuring kind care of a loved one. In the kitchen with me, admiring the cake you will see 2 dogs. I chose the 2 out of our 5 dogs that aren't really ours, but are our grand dogs with semi-permanent status. One is a fun, swimming, chocolate lab, Tyson just shy of a year old and the other is Bo, the brindle boxer with anxiety and allergy problems, weighing in at about 100 pounds. This is about where my creation came to and end. I could have put in my family and friends but honestly this is just about me.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Which Is My Most Effective Habit?

After much consideration, I think that my most effective habit from the list of 7 1/2, is having confidence in myself as a learner. Although it has been many years since I have challenged myself by learning anything academically challenging I think that I could. Instead I have mastered many other useful skills such as technology, which I hope I use to my advantage, cooking skills, games, athletic and fitness skills, and spritual knowledge. I know that through perserverance and practice that I can master these. In addition to having learner's confidence, I can add to that a willingness to learn and try new things, usually with a good and positive attitude. Seeing the end when I start a project is probably also a strength, as well as seeing a problem as a challenge, and having a good sense of play. When I look for my weaknesses from the list of the habits, I fall short in 2 areas: teaching and mentoring others, and creating a toolbox. Many times I would rather do something for you than teach you to do for yourself. Luckily this is only in my personal life since I am a science teacher. As for creating a tool box of things I need for learning, anyone who knows me knows I am very choosy about how I spend my money ( frugal or cheap?). Many times I will make do with an inferior tool or just do without if it means letting go of money. I am working on this, as I actually pay for tennis instruction weekly and invested in a costly racquet. I feel certain that this summer I will be both challenged and entertained by the tasks set ahead in this course, unless, of course I am ask to explain it to someone else or buy some expensive gadget.