Random Thoughts

ISB Round Up: Google Earth, YouTube, and Blogs

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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!

picture-3Let’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 just kept them to himself. Instead he decided to share what he learned about the Great Wall of China with the world. I encourage you to stop by Collin’s Blog and read about his adventures on the Great Wall.

2_dsc00147This is EXACTLY why we need to be connecting students to these types of learning opportunities. This is “free” writing time. This is time that this student took to write, not in class, not taking class time, but taking time from his day to learn, to write, to communicate, to share. When we at schools decide to not fight the technology but enable and teach students how to use it to promote thinking and learning we get amazing things happening like this.

Now let’s think of this as an e-portfolio and pretend that Collin is in 11th grade. He’ll have these memories, these words to look back upon. He’ll be able to say, “I wrote that? That sounds so much like a 5th grader!” which we all do when we look back. There is learning here, and we’re not even talking about when in 8th grade and he studies China in history class and the perspective and link-ability he’ll have from what he’s currently thinking, to what he experienced on this trip.

These are the things that get me excited! These are all ways that students can create information from what they know and add it to the world of knowledge that we know as the Internet. This is why I go to school everyday!

I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. Diane Quirk Reply

    Thanks for sharing your excitement for the work going on at your school. I’ve been excited about the opportunities I’ve had with some 4th and 5th grade teachers who had blogs last year but didn’t seem to have a direction to go in with them. As I read about your work and Kim Cofino’s work with classroom teachers, I’ve been using that inspiration to create lessons that we’ve been taking into the classroom to work directly with the students in a more considered approach to teaching the use of blogs. Our students are just getting started but making some progress.

  2. This inspires me as an educator! I was at the T.E.L.L. Conference in which you addressed us via Skype. I started a class blog called The Spider’s Web, and all my students get excited to write all the time. I am always looking for other schools to expand our class audience. It’s great reading your thoughts. Keep it up!

  3. Jeff, You always inspire me. Just when I think I can’t do or try something, I see what you are doing there, and want to try that with my kids! The last time I used google earth in the classroom, I single-handedly brought down our entire district network! (13 computers only) What are they doing? Do they use a lot of computers at once, or just one? Anyone using wiki’s in the classroom rather than blogging?

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  5. Kristin Tarnas Reply

    Aloha Jeff-
    I heard you speak on the bit by bit podcast and have passed on that episode to all my colleagues and to my principal (who used to work at ISB). I am wondering what you use for electronic portfolios and for blogging. I used a pbwiki (now pbworks) in my fifth grade class last year and had marginal interest, as in, excitement at first and then inactivity, although it was completely volunteer and experimental. I just started a tech club so I could get a smaller group going on some things to try out. I really enjoyed your talk on moving from consumers to producers- very inspiring!

  6. Laura Champagne Reply

    What great projects! I have just dipped my toes into the water with some of the technology becoming available. I am hoping to start my students into blogging or a wiki…. I’m not sure which one would fit best for collaborating with another classroom in another location. We are going to be working on writing for other audiences and receiving feedback.

    • Laura,

      If you want to collaborate and create something together….then a wiki where everyone can add to the site is your best bet.

      If you want your students to write something and just want others to respond to the writings then a blog would be the better tool.

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