Google to hold first ever Global Science Fair

  Now this is just down right cool! Mashable is reporting that in a few hours from now on 1/11/11 Google will be announcing the first ever global science fair. So many possibilities and I can only image what students will submit. The fair is open to 13 – 18 year olds from around the world and the prizes range from scholarships to work opportunities (as reported by Mashable). The Google Science Fair Site is now live. You can view it here and sign up your class or school here. What a great was to start 2nd Semester at any school. Great timing on Google’s part as a teacher could give extra credit to those student who submit an entry, or even make this a part of their own school wide science fair.  As usual Google as a nice little video to go with the launch.  I just spent a bit of time going through the site and it looks really cool. There’s no reason why a school district or school couldn’t easily copy this format for future use as well.  I’ll be following this over the next semester and hopefully will get some kids at my own school interested enough to submit an...

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Celebrating Teachers – Mike Jessee

Sometimes there are teachers you just need to celebrate…..and that is this blog post (and the next). This week is only two days old but I’m already excited at what teachers who are finishing our COETAIL course are producing. The final course has them implementing everything we’ve learned in the four classes before into units or lessons within their content area. It also calls for us, the instructors, (Kim, Dennis, and I) to observer a lesson where they implement everything they’ve learned and using this rubric have a discussion with them about what we observed in their lesson and room. The last two days have been even more special in the fact that I was able to observer a 3rd grade classroom and an IB High Level English class (11th grade). I wish everyone had the opportunity to see the whole spectrum of learning as I do. Monday I sat in a 3rd grade classroom and watched, talked to, and just smiled in amazement of what happens when we let students be creative with their own learning. I’ve talked about Mike Jessee’s classroom many times on this blog (here and here). In my opinion, he’s an amazing teacher that gets inquiry learning at a level that I myself struggle with. I’ve never witnessed a teacher that has been able to freely give control over to students like Mike does. I think his most favorite phrase is, “I don’t know…what do you think?” His lesson on Monday was not the original lesson that his project outlines called for. No, the project called for students to create VoiceThreads, or to keep working on the VoiceThreads they stared in earlier science units. There was only one problem…when Mr. Jessee told the students they were working on VoiceThread the student’s energy disappeared. Wait a minute…they didn’t want to use this cool tool? Why not? “It allows me to be creative” “I can show what I learned and create my slides the way I want to” “I created a VoiceThread, but it didn’t allow me to show what I know so I wanted to make a Notebook file that allowed me to show what I know…but I linked it to my VoiceThread…see…watch” Yes…those are direct quotes from 3rd grade students on Monday as I watched them work on their SmartBoard Notebook files. You see….when Mike saw the energy disappear from the kids eyes when...

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Games and Bugs

As our first Certificate of Educational Technology and Information Literacy program (COETAIL) draws to a close here at ISB educators are starting to put the finishing touches on their projects for the 5th and final course. They’ve been working all semester on putting into practice what we’ve been learning about the first 4 courses. They have been paired with a mentor (Kim, Dennis, and I) to help them create a unit or lesson to use in their classroom. We then schedule a time to go in and observer them using this rubric that the three of us created (worth checking out) based on the enduring understanding of all of the courses. Some of these projects have just blown me away. Take this Multi Cultural Games Wiki created by two of our PE teachers who have taken the course Andy and Kerry (check out their blogs to see how they’re using cell phones in PE Class as well). Students are outlining, filming and sharing cultural games from around the world….and Andy and Kerry invite your students to do the same and add to the wiki. They do a fantastic job of outlining for other educators the idea behind the wiki and how to get started in this youtube video. These are two PE teachers to follow and pass on to your own PE Department. Andy next year will be moving into the Athletic Directors role and with me moving to the High School next year, we’re already talking about ways to use technology even more to enhance our physical education program. Next up is a very tech savvy 1st Grade teacher who is finding ways to use the technology in his room to help teach a life cycles unit in science. Vu was one of the first teachers I connected with moving here to ISB a year ago and he continues to find ways to use technology with his 1st graders. Using technology in the early primary grades is where I struggle most in my own understanding. Vu’s been a great resource for me to go to, bounce ideas off of, and someone who is willing to explore crazy ideas on new uses of technology in the classroom. He’s created a blog for their life cycles unit here, and has found ways to take some amazing pictures with the document camera and digital microscope in his class. His students are...

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Socialize your Science Data

As we continue to set up and learn about blogging in the 5th grade we’re finding ways to both teach skills and tie blogging to the content in which the students are learning. Idea: Can we move the students’ science journals online? The Set Up:Two classes of 5th Graders. Mr. Armitage’s Class and Ms. Hellyer’s class took time this week to post data from a recent science experiment on their blogs. Skills: Write a blog post Take a picture, transfer it to a computer, upload it to the blog, insert into blog post Task:Each student will now look at the data from a student in the other classroom. As a group (the same groups that they did their own experiments in) they will discuss what they notice about the data, compare it to the data they got, and then give advice via comments to the students on what they should do next or what they might want to retest. Skill: Leaving good comments (explain your thinking clearly to others) Understanding variables within the experiment and be able to explain/give advice on what the scientist should do next using scientific language Read Data from another scientist If you have a look at the data from the students you’ll notice that they have given very little details on what the data is about. This is done on purpose as we want the commenter to have to interpret what the data is saying and give advice based on the data shown (all students have done the same experiment and have that background knowledge to work from). But as an outside class, or commenter you could also help by just having a look at the data and telling us what you notice or observe. What does the graph tell you? What do you notice about the data collected? This is just our first in what we hope to be many socialized scientific experiments this year. This is our first attempt at moving the student’s science notebooks online where they can be linked, commented, displayed, and reflected on throughout the year and years to...

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New blogs for learning

Today I found out just what a vacation will do to you. I spent 4 hours helping some 34 9th graders start new blogs, and I no longer have a voice. We’ve run wordpressmu were we have over 600 4th-12th grade students blogging (School of 2900ish K-12). Students only set up blogs once a teacher contacts one of the educational integrators and they decide that the blog is the best avenue for learning. Today’s meeting was sparked by a science teacher who has been looking for a way to start e-portfolios with his 9th grade science students. We’ve been talking for the past couple of weeks as the teacher and I work out just what he wants the program to do and I add my two cents about what the program can do and at the same time push the teacher to think even deeper about what this blog, and his blog, can offer his students. The classes were each 80 minutes long…plenty of time to setup a blog, write a short blog post, learn about posts vs. pages, walk through how to manage comments, change themes, update options, change password, and have a discussion on the use of the blog. I always find it interesting when teachers come to me and are amazed when I tell them we can accomplish all this in a 80 minute class. But these kids…this generation….they just get it…and I love it! My first question lately has been “How many of you have a Facebook page?” Of course everyone raises their hand and looks at me like “dah!” I then continue to compare their new blog to their Facebook page. Explaining things like “Blog posting are like your wall in Facebook, the latest comment is always on top and the rest get pushed down the line.” They get that, it’s there language I compare sidebar widgets to all the apps you can add to your Facebook page. Where you can drag and drop them and have some control over the layout of your page….not total control…but some. The kids of course just go with it. My favorite part is signing them up for their blog. You sign up, get the e-mail, click the link, get the password, log in. What do I say? “You guys know how this works let me know when you’re finished.” And off they go setting up their blogs….it...

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