Thursday, January 23, 2014

NLEA gift to our library!

What a great day today has been.  Not only is it my birthday, but our library also received a very special gift from the New London Education Association.  Ms. Evers surprised me with a check to our library for $100.  This money will be put toward things that YOU have requested.  What books do you want to see in our library that we do not currently have?  I am taking your requests.  Please fill out the form below to share your ideas.  Watch for our new materials to arrive in the next few weeks.  Thanks NLEA for recognizing the importance of school libraries.

Schools of the Future using Voki and iFakeText

As semester one comes to an end, I have mixed feelings about the group of Integrated Technology kids who will leave me. While I will miss working daily with this great group of kids, I also want to celebrate how far they have come and the exciting work that they have done!

As a fun culminating activity to challenge them to think about how technology will affect the future of education, I used this idea from Jessica Johnston.  Students first created a Voki of a student who attends school 50 years from now in the year 2064.  Imagining what a student living 50 years from now would share, students considered how technology will make learning different from the way students learn today.  The second step was to create a fake text conversation between themselves and this student of the future using iFakeText.  Upon completion, students saved the fake text file and shared their results via Edmodo.

Below you will see some examples of my students' creativity.  This activity forced students to really think about how technology impacts our lives and how it will impact future generations.  Thanks for a great semester!


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sharing the Artistic Process through QR Codes

Students in Mrs. Daly's seventh grade art class created projects that will be shared with the whole community come spring.  Spring in New London is huge on the Wolf River, especially during the time when sturgeon fishing begins.  To celebrate this exciting community activity, seventh graders each created and designed a sturgeon of their own which will be publicly displayed at Mosquito Hill Nature Center in the spring.  The design of each sturgeon reflects something symbolically important to each student, and much thought was put into the design itself before the actual artwork began.

Mrs. Daly was inspired to do this project after learning about Chicago's 1999 "Cows on Parade" public art project where hundreds of fiberglass cow sculptures were decorated by local artists and displayed around the city.  Similarly, in nearby Appleton, prior to the 2007 premiere of Fox Cities PAC's The Lion King, the city celebrated by creating their own public art project called "Lions of the Valley" where local artists painted fiberglass lions and distributed them throughout the city.

These public art displays not only give artists an opportunity to share their talents with the wider community, but they also create an increased sense of pride for the city as many of the artists choose to add elements representing their community into their artwork.  Our students showed the same type of pride as several Wisconsin themes are also visible in their artwork.

I personally loved the idea of the public art display but felt that adding a 21st century technology component would make the display that much more powerful.  Mrs. Daly and I both agreed that the artistic process of planning and designing the sturgeon was an important piece that the public would not see unless students were given an opportunity to present their entire artistic process.  That led us to the decision to have students create videos explaining the meaning behind each sturgeon. After each video was created, students uploaded their videos to their school YouTube accounts.  To easily share the videos with those visiting the public display at Mosquito Hill, I showed students how to create QR codes.  Each sturgeon will not only have a label identifying the artist and the name of the piece, but also an attached QR code that will link the community to the videos of students sharing their artistic process.

For most students this was their first experience using QR codes.  After they were created, students tested them out by scanning them using the free app QR Reader. Ah ha! moments occurred when students realized that they have seen these codes at the grocery store, on their games, and even at Starbucks!  I can only imagine the things that they will scan now on their own outside of school.

Monday, January 6, 2014

5th Grade Blogging Partner Project

The library was dead silent last Friday as 5th graders from Mr. Wegner's class wrote steadily and diligently on their own blogs.  The only sound audible was the tapping of keys as students eagerly typed drafts of their latest Language Arts writing piece.  What got these students so excited and engaged in their writing?  It was not only the knowledge that they would be sharing it for the first time with everyone on their own blogs, but it was especially exciting to know that they were also publishing for their writing partners in Mrs. Castonguay's class from Canada.

Each student from Mr. Wegner's class created his or her own blog using Kidblog and was then paired with a student from Mrs. Castonguay's class.  During the course of the remainder of the school year, students will be using their blogs to post writing drafts and other thoughts for feedback from their writing partners.  The goal is that students not only receive feedback on their writing from a source outside of their classroom walls, but that they also learn how to safely develop a digital connection under the guidance of Mr. Wegner and me.

It has been an exciting beginning!  We look forward to watching the students grow as writers and developing a digital connection with their new friends in Canada.

We would love your feedback on our blogs as well.  Check out Mr. Wegner's Kidblogs and Mrs. Castonguay's Kidblogs.