Friday, April 26, 2013

Conversations with Estonia

Students in Mrs. Young's Integrated Technology classes have partnered with students from Tallinn, Estonia to talk technology. Since our timezone differences make it impossible to speak with one another via Skype, we had to be creative about our mode of communication. Enter VoiceThread to the rescue! Using webcams and phones, we are able to record video our comments and share them with one another. Others can watch the created VoiceThread and add new comments to the original slides, allowing students to actually see and hear one another in order to create a more meaningful conversation. See our first VoiceThreads below. Our goal was to give the other school a brief introduction and then start a conversation. We will then respond to one another's VoiceThreads to engage in a deeper discussion.


 Our next VoiceThreads will ask students to reflect on how technology affects education and the pros and cons of technology. We look forward to a meaningful conversation and learning from our new friends in Estonia.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

5th Grade Edmodo Book Project

The fifth graders in Mr. Wegner's class have been busy sharing what they have been reading in class using the classroom social networking site Edmodo. After reading their independent selections, students have been using Edmodo to discuss and share with other members of the class. Students love Edmodo because it reminds them of another popular social networking site. Can you guess which one?

Students were responsible for completing posts sharing the following:
1.  an image that symbolizes something about the book.
2.  a new ending to the story.
3.  a fake tweet using the website Fake Tweet Builder summarizing the book.

Not only did the students enjoy connecting via a social networking platform with which many were very familiar, but these tasks challenged the students to think about their books in very different ways.  Once information was posted, students then had the chance to comment on one another's information and try to meaningful infer what was being shared about each book.

In addition, during some of the writing tasks, Mr. Wegner's students used the Google extension Read & Write, available through the Chrome Webstore, after adding text into a Google Doc.  Read & Write plays the written text out loud so that students may hear exactly how their writing sounds.  This helps students identify when grammatical and spelling mistakes have been made. 

Students were very engaged when they had this opportunity to connect with one another and explore their reading in unique and meaningful ways.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

8th Grade Decade Research Videos

Eighth graders in Mrs. Koshollek's Language Arts classes turned a traditional research paper project into something 21st century by creating videos using Microsoft's free software PhotoStory 3.  Students created a Top 10 list of facts based a research topic they choose from an assigned 20th century decade.  Using PhotoStory, students were able to highlight the most significant events from their research and create a multimedia presentation that combines images, text, and audio. See some of their examples below.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Thanks for another great National Library Week!

A big thank you goes out to all of our community members-from near and far- who took the time to celebrate literacy as "mystery readers" and support this year's National Library Week theme "Communities Matter @Your Library."  These people truly showed our middle school students the importance of a community and how lucky they are to live in a community that supports literacy and their education.  Here are some snapshots of all of the mystery readers who visited our building during this past week.

John Faucher, School Board member and owner of Johnny's Little Shop of Bait

Kent Hager, City Administrator

Laurie Shaw, Executive Director of the New London Chamber of Commerce

Retired teacher Mrs. Cristy

Kathy Gwidt, new District Administrator

Preschoolers from Winter Haven, FL

Judy Arzt, Associate Professor, University of Saint Joseph, West Hartford, CT

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

National Library Week Detectives

The New London Intermediate Middle School library is looking for a few good detectives during this National Library Week.  Our students are working hard to solve the mysteries that we have created for them to support this year's theme "Communities Matter @your Library."

Our hallways are bustling with students trying to "guess the readers."  Which staff members are hiding behind those books?  Our student detectives are working hard to try and solve this mystery.  Students have until Friday to turn in their matching sheets to see if they are lucky winners of this contest.  All readers will be revealed next week.

The second mystery involves some secret readers that will be appearing throughout the building during this week.  Who are they and where are they from?  Hint: they are members from both our local and digital communities here to read to students.  You never know who will appear in your classroom.  Here are a few mystery readers that stopped by on Monday.  Do you know who they are?

Finally, can you spot the "Lucky Reader" books hidden throughout the library?  Some secret books are checked out to a "Lucky Reader."  If you happen to find one, you will receive a prize at check-out.  You won't know if you are a winner unless you check out a book.  Could the next lucky reader be you?

We are looking for a few more good detectives.  Stop in the library this week and help us solve these mysteries.

Happy National Library Week!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

National Library Week Activities

We are excited to share our activities for National Library Week, April 14-20.  To support this year's theme, Communities Matter @your Library, we have many exciting activities planned including:

  • Mystery readers from our local and digital community reading during Bulldog Time
  • A "Guess the Reader" bulletin board and matching competition
  • A visit from New London Public Library's teen librarian, Mehta
  • An autographed book raffle
  • A secret "Lucky Reader" check-out competition
Want more details?  Visit the New London Middle School's library webpage and click on the link under National Library Week.  

We look forward to an exciting week!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Skype with Author Johnathan Rand

It all started with a student, his favorite author, and an idea.

"Mrs. Young," he said, "I have an idea for our next book club meeting.  Each person could read a book in the American Chillers series (by Johnathan Rand), and then we could explain what happened in the book because the end of each book sets up the next book in the series."

After briefly contemplating this student's idea (and listening to his animated description of how much he loves these books!), I decided that we could easily make this work.  As if this student wasn't excited enough, he had another brainstorm.

"Wouldn't it be cool if Johnathan Rand would Skype with us?"

"That would be cool," I responded.  "Why don't you contact him and ask him if he would do that."

That day at lunch, this student worked diligently to compose his request.  With an almost immediate response from Mr. Rand (Thank you, Johnathan!), we set up a date and a time for our book club Skype.

On April 3, our opportunity arrived and our students had the chance to talk personally with one of their favorite authors.  They not only learned more about his writing process, how he researches information for his books, and how he generates ideas, but also about Johnathan's passion for writing and connecting with his readers.

The student who began it all was the most excited.  He had many questions for his favorite author and some especially creative ideas for Johnathan's future books.

Technology has provided us with some amazing opportunities to connect our kids to these types of experiences. The simple gift of Johnathan Rand's time has given at least one young student an experience that he will remember forever.  The 5th graders of New London Intermediate School want to give Johnathan a special thank you for sharing the joy of writing, answering all of their burning questions, and showing the kids that their voices do matter and that their role models do care about what they have to say.

You can learn more about Johnathan Rand and his writing by visiting