Over the past few weeks I’ve become acquainted and interested in Geocaching. As always, I’m looking for ways to use Technology, Life Experience and Fun in the classroom. The more I get involved with Geocaching I see tons of ways it can be used in Math, LA/Writing, Social Studies, Science. This weekend for me was one of PE (Physical Education). WOW, my legs hurt from the climbing! I would like us to take a look a few of the ways that Geocaching can be used in each of these subject areas.
Math – With Geocaching students will be using GPS waypoints to find locations. Students can solve a math problem to get the waypoints. Then plug the waypoints into the GPS and find the cache.
Math – Students can use their GPS to calculate speed, distance and plot on a graph. They can answer questions about time, distance, area and speed. They can then use their information to solve other scenarios without even leaving the classroom.
LA – I’m sure you’ve heard of picture prompts. What about location prompts!? Enough said…
LA – Students could create progressive stories. If you have 4 or 5 groups with a GPS, each group could Geocache to different locations with each group crossing to each Geocache. Each group will write a new paragraph to the progressive story at each Geocache. At the end every story should be complete with a beginning,middle, and end. Each group has written all 3 parts but in different stories.
SS – As a 4th grade teacher I’m a little partial to studying the Indians so my example will for that but can be used for other areas. You can create waypoints of study. In studying the Native Americans we would study their shelter, food, tools and regions. I would create a Geocashe for each one of those topics. At each stop the students would have to study, read or observe information about those topics and answer questions about each. I would include pictures, essays, etc so the students could get a good idea of the concepts. After completing the Shelter Geocashe they would move to the Food cash learning more information.
SS – Students are required to study maps in Social Studies so this is a great way to tie in maps. They are learning Latitude & Longitude, Coordinates, Cardinal directions.
Science – Each Geocache can contain instructions on completing a Science activity such a building a lever, surveying what object has the most buoyancy, categorizing and then they can create a podcast explaining their findings, experience and results.
Science – You can also have learning stations setup at different Caching locations where the students participate in a learning activity. I remember at certain times of the year we would have our students rotate classes going to each teacher’s room where they would teach a specific related concept like Crust, Core, Mantel, Volcanoes, Landforms, Platelets, etc. (plants, oxygen, photosynthesis, light, etc.) At the end of the Geocaching experience every student has rotated through each concept either learning new information or review former knowledge.
The ideas of how to use Geocaching are endless. If your school campus is not big enough to Geocache then a nearby park would be a good location for these experiences. If you have one of the new cell phones with GPS such as the Palm Pre, Blackberry or iPhone give this a try yourself. After you’ve done it 2 or 3 times you will find all kinds of ways to use this with your students. If you would like a listing of the Geocachings around your local area go to http://www.geocaching.com/ put in your zip code and you’ll find lots of them around you. Each one will have a GPS co-ordinance for you to plug in and then you track it down. We visited Inks Lake in Central Texas this weekend and did some Geocaching and my 3rd grader and Kindergartner loved it. Not only that. I was able to give them a real world experience that they can use for prior knowledge in their Writing, Science, Social Studies and Math.
Please leave a comment telling all the ways you have used or are thinking of using Geocaching with your students.
Growing up, my generation wasn’t very exposed to the world around us. I do remember when one of our classrooms got a TV with cable so we could watch a space shuttle mission launch. Today our students have access to current events like never before due to things like twitter, facebook, mobile tv, personal home pages similar to Yahoo, RSS readers and TV in general. Yes, most of the current events that they adhere to are entertainment related, but none the less, they are involved.
We as teachers should take the current events of our time and build meaningful lessons out of them, but being careful to not push our own political views or ideals from the headlines but true meaningful lessons. Of course my goal is that you incorporate technology into that lesson.
So, in order to help, I’m going to start posting a “Tying in Technology to Current Events” posts every so often. This week I want to take a look at the new “White House Garden News” .
What lessons can be done from this? Just off the top of my head I think of:
1. Health – A study on the importance of Fruits and Vegetables.
2. Math – Students can do calculations for savings. Take a news paper add and determine what it would cost at the store to feed your family and then how much they saved by growing it themselves.
3. History – Have them research how gardens have helped in recessions of the past.
4. LA – Write a persuasive paper on why more people should grow home gardens.
5. Politics – Have students talk and write about what this does for the Obam’s politically.
6. Science – Turn this idea into a Science project for your school and grow a school garden.
The lessons are endless. These are not the only lessons in each of these areas that can be used. I can think of several more Math lessons as well as LA lessons. The important part is that you tie in current events with the student’s learning.
How do these lessons tying in technology? Each student should present his/her findings in some form of digital media, and the teacher should provide several digital medias for the student to resource for their projects. News articles, TV News Clips, etc.
Please, take the time to leave a comment about other ways you see that this “Current Event” can be used in education.
This week I was reminded of how powerful PowerPoint can be in the classroom if used correctly. So, I went back to one of my former blog posts to pull a resource for a teacher. Well, the link to my resource was dead. I spent a little time this morning reacquainting myself with some PowerPoint resources and found plenty to share. I love not having to re-invent the wheel. Below you will find links to a plethora of PowerPoint resources, templates, premade presentations and even tutorials. I hope you find the resources helpful.
http://jc-schools.net/PPTs-la.html This one is LA but you can click on other subjects to get resources for them. Lots of great stuff here!
Sorry for the delay in posting, I’ve been extremely busy these past few weeks.
What an awesome tool http://vocaroo.com/widgets.php !! With this tool and a microphone your students can login onto your wiki or blog record their reading and play it back! What K-2 teacher couldn’t use this?
It doesn’t save the recording in any location so you don’t have to worry about copy right issues. The student simply clicks the record now button, reads his/her story into the mic and then presses stop. The student can then listen to his recording as many times as he likes. (just don’t close it) Once the page is closed the recording is lost.
Another option for use is having a student read for other students to listen or for a teacher to read and have students listen. This is a great way for struggling readers to hear themselves or other quality readers to help them improve their reading skills.
One librarian is using this as a library center http://monarchcenters.wikispaces.com/readingrecording . What other ways can this be used? Leave a comment and share your ideas for this tool. Play with it over Thanksgiving break and see what you can come up with.
If you want to save the recordings then you’ll want to look at other options, but then you need to be careful with copyright issues.
I’m always on the prowl to find something new. This week I found a collection of pre-made presentations and templates. The presentations, templates and activities range from ABC to Zoo. If you can think of it, there seems to be one here. Many of the presentations are in Power Point, pdf or online. Most are Power Point. In each topic there are presentations, templates, student activities and many of them have teacher lesson plans to go with it. Take a look around at http://www.pppst.com/themes.html#L. I think you’ll find some great stuff to use here.
The good part about using these pre-made Power Points is that if you need to change something, you can. It’s totally adaptable for you and your students.
Some of the topics that I found of interest were ADHD, Telling Time, Texas History, Asthma, Bill of Rights, Cause and effect, Decimals, and even Thunder. There are over 1050 topics to pick from. What are you teaching this week? Maybe there is a Power Point or activity there just for you!
This week’s post was prodded by a question asked in my PLN (personal learning network) last week.
As time goes by, I think, we’ll be seeing more iPod use in the classroom. The good part about that is that there is a lot of already generated content that you can use, borrow or beg from. You can find great educational materials on YouTube, teachertube and other online streaming sources. Don’t you wish you could get some of that material onto your iPods?
Well, today I’m going to give you several tools that you can use to get the job done.
First is: http://www.techtracker.info/ You just simply past the URL of the streaming video into the line and then download.
Second is: http://get2pc.com/ Past the URL and download your new file. After download you’ll need to add “.flv” to the end of your file for it to work.
Thirdly is: http://keepvid.com/ Same as above, copy and paste then download your new video.
There are more, but these are the ones that I’ve used and have worked.
Now all you have to do is import your video into your iTunes and send it to your iPod.
(Note: Do not use copyrighted material. You could get in trouble.)
This week I was talking to a friend about going on their vacation this summer. As a teacher I had two things going in my head. One was, “I need a vacation.” The other thought was, “How can I turn this into a real world learning experience for our students?”
Of course, http://www.priceline.com/ came to my mind, but there are other sites as well that can be used.
Have your students create a dream vacation. They will need to plan for travel to and from the departing location, the plane fair, cruise, activities, hotel or condo, transportation while on location, food etc. You can make this activity as extensive as you’d like. This activity will help them review the math skills that you have already given them while applying them to real world situations.
To expand the learning experience I would have my students:
1. Budget (money, charts and graphs)
2. Plan an Itinerary Schedule (time line development, elapsed time, scheduling, and critical thinking)
3. Map out events (maps)
4. Use checklists to make sure they have thought of everything for their trip. (Google, travel checklist and you’ll get tons of them.)
5. Have them write about their trip planning learning experience.
To extend their learning experiences have them break into travel groups and plan their entire vacation on a wiki!
Enjoy and leave a comment letting me know how you plan to use this in your classroom.
This morning on Yahoo! News another headline reads “Gas.” Later this morning as the headlines rotated out another one read “Gas.” Yes, we are facing “Gas” issues like never before. So, why not turn this into a learning activity for our students. Our children will face things that we have never faced before, and our job is to prepare them. So, this Tech Tip will incorporate Math, Writing, Current Events, Maps and Technology.
The goal here is that we tap into the higher order thinking skills of every student and allow them an opportunity to problem solve a real world event.
Note: Teachers should not use this to promote any political agenda; you can find yourself in hot water over that. This is just an exercise for learning.
Note: If you are reading this and are in another city, state or country there are alternative sites that you can use to gather the same data for your location.
This web site http://www.eia.doe.gov/oil_gas/petroleum/data_publications/wrgp/mogas_history.html produces a Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet with a price history of gas prices by region, state, or even some cities. From these spreadsheets you can create charts and graphs showing changes, have students calculate differences between time periods and even calculate percentages in change over time.
You can have your students present his/her findings to the class in a power point, video, printed graphs and a written report.
The teacher can discuss issues as they come up. (No Political Agendas!)
Now that students can know the importance of and can physically see from the above presentations that the price of Gas is a real issue, have them do a little problem solving. Have the students go to http://www.autobytel.com/content/research/top10/index.cfm/action/mileage/vehicleclass/all/listtype/3 to make an automobile selection based on their newly found information. Encourage your students to select cars that would be suitable or comparable for their current families. (ie. If their mom drives a van now have the select a type of van. If they drive a truck have them select a type of truck.)
Their goal is to select a vehicle that would save them money as well as suit their needs. Have them research the different car types, gas mileage, and feasibility. They can sort the cars by all, compact, convertibles, luxury, passenger, pickups, sport utility, sports, vans and wagons. (I think I want the Honda Civic, does it have enough room for my kids?)
Have the students report back with their selection. They should make a presentation of their top 3 choices with a conclusion as to why they selected their top choice. How will this car impact gas prices? How much money will they save by getting this car? Does the price of the car off set the price of gas?
If you want to make this an extra challenge give them a car price budget and a weekly gas budget. They should have a select number of miles that they have to calculate to get to and from work(school).
ie: Less than $20,000 for a car. Weekly gas allotment is $40. They must drive 20miles one way to work. You’ll need to give them a list of web sites from local dealers to get the prices on the cars.
Exercise 3: The Big Challenge
Using Google Maps or Yahoo! Maps along with http://www.austingasprices.com/ or http://www.gasbuddy.com/ for those not in the Austin area, to calculate mileage to determine if it would be worth it to drive out of your way to the cheapest gas prices locations.
Students will need to know:
1. gas mileage of car (from exercise 2)
2. price of gas (exercise 3 links)
4. price of gas at the gas station near your school (you’ll need to provide this)
Have the students report as to whether or not it’s worth the extra drive. Will they save money or not?
As always, these activities can be extended, shortened or changed. You are only limited by your imagination as to how this can be used in your classroom. For higher grade levels you can turn them loose with the idea and see what they come up with. I think we would all be shocked!
My generation kinda grew up not being very concerned with the environment or economy at all, but today’s generation seems to be more involved with trying to solve issues than we ever where.
If you use these ideas leave a comment and let me know how it went, or if you have other ideas please share!
This week I would like to introduce you to Amazing Space at http://amazing-space.stsci.edu/
Amazing Space has lots of amazing tools and resources for teaching about the solar system, space and observation tools. Here you will find videos, diagrams, images, lesson plans, and student activities that involve exploration, history and new found knowledge. If nothing else this is a great place for your students to start their research, and I’m sure you’ll find some useful tools and information as well, I know I did.
I enjoyed getting to see images from the Hubble Telescope like this one of the Whirlpool Galaxy and the Companion Galaxy.
Wow! Along with that image comes a complete lesson plan. Click here for the complete lesson plan.
I hope that you enjoy exploring this site of exploration! Leave a comment giving suggestions of how you used it, plan to use it, or other related sites of interest.
After blogging about this before I’m sure you know by now that I’m a big advocate for using cartoons to get students writing. So, here we go again with more detail and more ideas.
http://www.makebeliefscomix.com/ provides an easy tool for creating short comic strips. You can choose to have a 2, 3, or 4 window comic strip. Students can email or print it out for their teacher.
I made this cartoon with this new tool. short, quick, and easy
Why Comic Strips:
1. Comic strips are about good writing not good pictures.
2. It helps them hewn their skills of knowing their audience.
3. It helps them focus on important content and story line. (key story elements)
4. It gives them a strategy to order the sequence of events. (beginning, middle, and end)
5. Students will learn how to infer ideas to their readers.
6. The student must know the Plot, Scene, and Characters to write a good comic strip.
7. Students will use “voice” as their character develops.
8. Students will learn how to write dialogue correctly. (bubbles mean quotation marks)
9. It makes the student think outside the box. (no pun intended)
10. While using their higher order thinking skills they will learn to analyze and think critically.
Strategies for Using Comic Strips:
1. Have a collection of quality comic strips for your students to analyze.
2. Discuss character development. Who? What were they like? Why are they that way? Look at the “voice” of the character. What is their personality like?
3. Discuss the story line. Does it have a plot? What is the point? Did it communicate?
4. Discuss the setting. Where? When?
5. Have students create a scrapbook of their favorite comics.
a. They should collect different styles. Funny, Serious, Political, etc.
b. Have them do some research about the history of the comic they like.
6. Start with a sequence of pictures or drawings and have the student fill in the script. This takes the focus off of the drawing and puts it on the content.
7. Have the students stick with their character for several comics. This will give them a chance to develop the characters personality.
8. Keep the comics short. This is not a comic book project. At least not yet.
9. Have the students use their characters and write a full length story based on their comic strips. You’ll be surprised as to how they turn out.
After reading this post, take a look at these TEKS and just imagine how you can use comic strips to teach these. If you aren’t in Texas and you are reading this take a look at your state’s writing standards.
If you have other ideas please leave a comment. I’ll add it to the list. This list is not exhaustive nor is it the only way to teach writing. It’s only one of many strategies that I have used.
After writing this post I felt like I may need some supporting documentation, so I turned to good ol Google. Here are some links to what I found.
Wish I had this when I needed it! It’s full of templates, ideas, samples, tools, and a rubric.
Here is a Comic Strip Template from Microsoft.