ISB Round Up: Google Earth, YouTube, and Blogs

There are so many great things happening at our school right now that I find I don’t have time to blog about one before I’m deep into another project with another teacher. All that I know is we’re having some fun! Let’s start in Mr. Jessee’s room where I wanted to share a great Google Earth project that the third grade team has been working on for the past month or so. I talked about this in an earlier post so won’t go into all the back ground here. But you can visit Mr. Jessee’s class blog and download Google Earth tours. This time the students created video tours using Google Earth and take you to landforms around the world. Of course the trip starts off from school and then you’re swept away learning about landforms and some pretty cool facts. As usual, if you download and listen to the Google Earth files, we’d appreciate a comment on the blog. Let us know what you learned or if you have a landform to share, please push our thinking. 😉 In Ms. Tulli’s 3rd Grade class they’ve been deep into some science research learning how to analyze data. Ms. Tulli wanted to capture what the students were learning so grabbed a flip camera and simply asked: What have you learned about graphs and analyzing data? Pretty cool! If you get a moment to watch the video they’d love a comment on their class blog as well. 😉 And finally to round it all off is our whole 5th grade team and their amazing adventure into blogging for learning and as e-portfolios with their students. They are all continuing to build their own skills as well as finding ways to incorporate blogging into just what they do. As teachers start to wrap their heads around it and as students get better and faster at blogging, they are becoming just a part of what is done in 5th grade. I walked into Mr. Armitage’s room yesterday and before I had a chance to say hi to the class Collin approaches me and says: “I’m getting a lot of views on my blog” “Really? Why do you think that is?” “Because I’ve been blogging a lot?” “Cool! About school?” “No, about my trip to Beijing over break!” So…here’s a 5th grader who on his break could have taken his thoughts, his feelings, and...

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World Landform Tour via Google Earth

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been working closely with a couple of our 3rd grade teacher looking at their mapping unit and using Google Earth. I talked about the lessons I was helping with a couple blog posts ago. What has been really great about this project is how I’ve been able to support and differentiate the project at a teacher level based on their comfort zone and knowledge of technology and still meet the learning outcomes. Ms. Tulli’s students just posted their KMZ file that you can download and learn about landforms from the kids. If you have time the kids would really appreciate what you learned from their landform project. You can leave a comment on their class blog. Ms. Tulli and I sat down at the end of last year and marked this unit as a place to integrate technology. This year we met, looked at outcomes and came up with a plan. Ms. Tulli had never used Google Earth before in the classroom and was ready to stretch herself to not only learn the program but use it in her class for learning. The final project is great, I only wish I would have videoed the class on Friday as they sat with partners and got to take the tour and talk about the different landforms together. The conversation was fantastic, they were excited to see their placemarks and those of their classmates. Now we just need some comments from the community (yes…that means you! 😉 ) Next to Ms. Tulli’s room is Mr. Jessee’s room. We’ve been working on the same project only looking at a different product. Instead of place markers with information we’re hoping to record the students voices and video their tour. So they will be creating a video tour of their landforms giving information. We’re hoping to be finished with the project next week and I’ll post their final .kmz file here so you can take the tour. With both teachers we started with what we wanted the students to learn and then found a way to get to that understanding. As a supporter to the project, I allowed the teachers to tell me what they were thinking and then supported them in that outcome. By working this way I could get a feeling for what the teachers’ comfort level was, what they wanted out of the project...

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What can a map tell us?

Over the past two weeks I’ve been working with our 3rd grade teachers on a social studies project to introduce the students to some mapping skills. Of course the USSR no longer exists, yet many atlases in schools and even school encyclopedia talk about the USSR as though you should be able to find it on a map. The left overs of social studies curriculum reviews that seem to always get pushed to be the last curriculum to be updated at schools. Funny how we want our students to be “global citizens”, “globally aware”, and communicate globally, yet our curriculum in this area seems to fall behind, math, reading, writing, and science. Maybe it’s just me and the 3 past schools I’ve worked at and where they are in the curriculum review cycle….or is it the pressure of standardize testings taking it toll. Most standardize tests do not have a social studies component and we all know that what doesn’t get tested doesn’t get………anyway. 😉 Over the last three weeks we’ve been looking at maps…and just for a second stop and think about the maps these kids are going to need to know how to navigate in their future. You’re still going to need an atlas when trying to find your way across Thailand, but a GPS is better for most parts of America. Then there is Google Earth and it’s ever constantly updated data (we looked at the typhoon off Japan today). Google Maps with its street view and pin point addresses, and iPhones and BlackBerries that let you find places on the go. Oh how the mapping world has changed yet the skills of reading a map have remained the same. On that note here are the first three lessons I’ve been co-teaching with 3rd grade teachers around comparing maps and answering the question “What can a map tell us?” Lesson 1: Google Earth ExplorationWhenever you introduce a new program/tool to students on the computer I find it well worth the time to give them 10-15 minutes to just play with the program. Of course we’re not allowed to “play” in the classroom as I tell the kids…so let’s call it explore in case the principal walks in. This always gets a couple of laughs and we spend the rest of the time with this little inside joke about “exploring” the program (picture 3rd grader making the...

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A Great Day in St. Louis

A big thank you to Elizabeth Helfant for inviting me into St. Louis for a chance to spend a day with the staff of Mary Institute Country Day School. I was the last in a string of one day workshops that Elizabeth put together for her staff. Being the last of the summer was nice as it allowed us to talk about how tools such as Google Earth, Blogs, and Wikis can be used in the classroom. We spent the first part of our time not talking about the tools but looking at examples of how they are being used in the classroom. We spent some time searching and exploring the Google Earth in Education section. Where teachers can download some amazing layers into Google Earth to teach with. From there we looked at some high school examples of how wikis and blogs are being used in different high school classrooms. We spent some time discussing Welker’s Wikinomics still one of my favorite class based wikis. What’s great is that Jason Welker freely shares his rubric for grading the wiki and his rules of conduct for students. Teachers appreciate seeing exactly what the student expectations are for such a site. From there we talked about WikiBooks.org and how teachers could use this site to not only study, but create the textbook of the future with students. I’ve yet to hear of a teacher actually doing this…but still feel it has some potential in the classroom. Next we looked at some examples of blogs. My two favorite student blogs Theory of Knowledge and Chemical Paradigms where perfect examples of just how introspective high school students can be. Teachers were shocked at how personal and in-depth some of the posts from students were. How they took pride in their work and how having an authentic audience engaged the students in meaningful ways. After spending the first half of the day discussing how these different tools might fit into their classes we took the second half of the day and just allow teachers to start and build their wiki or blog or play with Google Earth. The history department got together and laid out some ground work for a wiki they want to use this year. Others explored the use of Nings from previous presenters in the summer. In the end we just gave them time to work….the kind of time teachers...

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Google Earth and Audio Books

Two recent lessons I have been involved in are using Google Earth with 2nd Graders and having 5th graders create audio books for Pre-K students. Google Earth Lesson (2nd Grade): Have students pair up. (I always have kids number 1 and 2, it makes it easy to say “OK, #1 your turn to ……) Students start Google Earth and each person is allowed 5 minutes to explore the program. Click here, click there, spin the Earth this way and that. I find I have way less interruptions if you just give kids time to explore the program “their way”. Giving just 5 minutes gets all those “what’s this do?” out of the way. After both kids have had a turn at exploring the program, they come up to the front of the room and we talk about what they learned or found cool. Here was the report: “If you click on the 3D button down there, you can then go to New York and see the building in 3D.” “If you search for “Queensland’ you get taken to New York. If you search for “Queens Land” you get taken to Australia. “I like to make the world go fast” (Funny side note, one girl in class watched the world spin to fast and had to go lay down 🙂 ) “I like how it flies you places” Next up Questions: “Why are the pictures not clear on my computer but they are on yours?” “How do I find my house?” “Are these pictures like right now?” So we took some time to answer the questions. We talked about the pictures having to download from the Internet so if you are busy spinning the world or moving to quickly the pictures don’t have time to download. We also talked about why images in the states might be clearer then say those in rural Thailand. We talked about how you might find your house? What information would you need to know? Where could you find that information? Is just knowing Thailand enough? Or do you need to know where in Thailand. Oh, Bangkok! Great (we fly to Bangkok) Now what? Well we know we live by the old airport. What might an airport look like from space? What could we find that would tell us it’s an airport? A runway! Great! Let’s fly around slowly to see if we can find...

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