Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Imagine...Texting your Favorite Author!

Mrs. Dachelet's class had a great time wrapping up on their unit on Dear Mr. Henshaw.  She wanted to find a fun project that would engage the kids right before Thanksgiving break while also relating to the style of Dear Mr. Henshaw.  We had our old stand-by tools, but Mrs. Dachelet is always willing to try something new.  What would be the right new tool for this experiment?

Days prior to my conversation with Mrs. Dachelet, I came across this cool website: ifaketext.  This website lets users create imaginary text message conversations.  The finished product is a screenshot of the fake text message.  This can be saved, linked, or embedded into a website.

To put a 21st century spin on writing to an author in the spirit of Dear Mr. Henshaw, we decided to have the kids do a bit of research about one of their favorite authors.  After learning a bit about this person and imagining the author's real voice, the students created their own fake text conversations using ifaketext

The students were eager to work!  The results were creative and impressive.  View our example below.

Internet Safety Discussions with Canada

Last week Thursday, fifth graders in my Integrated Technology class met in small groups over Skype with their Tech Teams partners in Canada to engage in their first Internet Safety discussion.  The library had three Skype stations set-up.  Each group discussed a list of Internet safety questions with another small group in Canada.  The conversations allowed the students to not only discuss the topics we are simultaneously learning in our individual classrooms, but also gave the students a chance to share any personal stories that they may have experienced online.  We continue to converse daily through our common Edmodo classroom space.  We look forward to our next Skype discussion with them!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Talking Life with Taiwan

We are ready to share part two of the connection between Mrs. Winton's seventh graders and students from Taiwan.  After Skyping to talk weather a few weeks ago, they continued their conversation via VoiceThread.  Daylight Savings Time made it impossible to find another common time to talk live, and with so many unanswered questions, we felt it important to find another creative method of carrying on the conversation.  VoiceThread to the rescue!  We began a VoiceThread with our students asking a specific question.  The students in Taiwan answered our questions by inserting their own comments on each slide and also added new slides with their own questions.  See our results below and check back to see the conversation continue!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Death Penalty Debate with Honduras

Today students in Mrs. Koshollek's eighth grade Language Arts class engaged in a formal debate on the death penalty with students in Honduras.  Each school chose a side and their key speakers; New London was for the death penalty and Honduras students were against.  To prepare, each student researched a side and wrote a persuasive essay.  As a class, they brought their arguments together and agreed on their main points.  They also prepared possible counter-arguments and an opening statement.  While our main speakers were the debate's focus, the rest of the class assisted to prepare counter-arguments and rebuttal comments while the debate was occurring.  Despite technical difficulties, the students involved did an amazing job and had a chance to see the perspective of students from another country.

View the video below to see a peak of today's debate.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Talking Weather with North Carolina

Mrs. Winton's seventh graders had another opportunity to talk weather with another school.  This time they Skyped with fifth graders in Clinton, North Carolina who also recently learned about weather.  Our students were especially curious about how the Clinton students were affected by Hurricane Sandy.  Although they were surprisingly not affected at all, they shared some personal stories of enduring other hurricanes.  They also shared information about their weather during the different seasons as well as the different weather patterns that occur simultaneously throughout their entire state.  What else surprised us? They close school when they have one inch of snow!!!  They were equally shocked at how much snow we usually see in an average winter.

View the pictures below to see a bit of today's experience.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Fifth Grade Internet Safety Partnership with Canada

My fifth grade Integrated Technology students are so excited to be learning about Internet safety!  While this is a topic that I have been teaching for many years, I have decided to try something new with it and sought out a partner school with whom I can team teach.  Luckily I found a fantastic partner in Alan Stange from Sunningdale Elementary in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada!  Throughout the course of this month, Mr. Stange and I will be teaching the same Internet Safety lessons.  Our students will be discussing related issues daily within our common Edmodo group.  We will also be Skyping with them in small groups to carry on discussions and team-teach some lessons.  The final project will involve students at our school partnering with a fourth-grade student from Sunningdale to complete one final web-based project.  I think that you can understand why they are so excited!

Our Edmodo discussions have taken off with some meaningful commentary.  Students also introduced themselves to one another earlier this week via a Skype meeting.  What did we learn?  In reality, the students from Canada have the same likes and dislikes as us and participate in similar activities.  I'll keep you posted on our future connections and conversations.

Monday, November 5, 2012

READ 180 Character Trading Cards

Mrs. Dachelet's READ 180 fifth graders used the website Big Huge Labs to create character trading cards related to one of the books that they finished reading in class.  What a fun way to share what they learned from their reading and advertise their books to others.

To create your own trading card, go to www.bighugelabs.com.  Click on the trading card option.  Upload a picture that represents your character, add a title and subtitle, and then fill in something about your character in the description.  You can decide on the card's color and placement of the picture.  You can even add up to seven symbols on your card, if you choose.

Once you are finished, you can save your card.  See my example below.  You can also try using some of the other creative options at Big Huge Labs.

Talking Weather with Taiwan

After learning about weather in Mrs. Winton's science class, Mrs. Winton and I decided that it would be a fun learning experience to have our seventh graders talk about weather with students from different parts of the world.  We found two interested classrooms: one in Taiwan and one in North Carolina.  We will be skyping with fifth graders in North Carolina next week (and especially looking forward to hearing how Hurricane Sandy affected them), but last Thursday, Mrs. Winton's first hour had the opportunity to talk with a group of Taiwanese students.

We only had 20 minutes of overlapping schedule time.  (At 8:10 am our time, it was actually 9:10 pm their time.  Yes, they were still in school until 9:30 pm!)  We utilized our 20 minutes by beginning with each school sharing some facts about weather in that part of the world and then followed with a question-and-answer session.  Questions ranged from weather to favorite foods to our pets.  What an amazing experience to talk live with students in a completely different part of the world.  Mrs. Winton and I were extremely proud of all students and the respect and professionalism that they displayed.

Twenty minutes just wasn't enough time to ask every question on each end.  Due to daylight savings time, we no longer have that short common time available.  With a little creativity and use of the great digital tools available, we are able to carry on our conversation through the free website VoiceThread.  We created a slideshow with our questions attached to each slide for the other students to answer.  The Taiwanese students will add their own answers and questions and share the VoiceThread again with us.  Check out what we started below:

New London Middle School students represented us well, and we look forward to talking more with our new friends in Taiwan.