Developing Young Authors #MECA14

StorybirdStorybirds are short, art-inspired stories, presentations, reports, or tutorials you and your students make to share, read, and print. Storybird is a fun, collaborative website that can be integrated in all content areas and at all grade levels. It can be an effective resource for teaching parts of a story, the writing process, promoting creativity, and more. STEM and social studies teachers can use Storybird for engaging alternatives to traditional lessons, reports and presentations. Storybird also seamlessly keeps a portfolio of each student’s work.

Participants will be guided in setting up accounts and helped as they begin using Storybird.com’s tools and services. Participants will learn how to use the teacher-specific tools.

Below are my slides from the workshop that I’ve taught a couple of times this week at the Mississippi Educational Communications Conference (MECA) in Jackson, MS. All the workshop materials and resources (including a video tutorial, additional examples, notes, etc.) are available on my wiki, Learning Telecollaboratively.

Facebook Considers Giving Access to Kids under 13 (Video)

“Facebook is working on new technology that would let young children use the social network without having to lie about their age, reports the Wall Street Journal. Facebook currently doesn’t allow users under the age of 13, though many sign-up anyways — last year Consumer Reports said that 7.5 million of Facebook’s users were 13 or younger, including five million under the age of 10. The proposed technology wouldn’t create a separate version of the network for these users, but instead would put in place features that give parents control over their child’s online experience. A child’s account would be connected to their parent’s, for instance, and tools would be put in place to manage who can be added as a friend and what apps and games are used” (Source).

Note that the WSJ is reporting that Facebook is exploring this. It is a multifaceted issue involving Facebook policies and governmental regulations. We will have to see how this unfolds. The following video provides a broad overview about this issue.

 

Image Source: Smosh.com

Paper Airplane World Record

Former Cal quarterback Joe Ayoob sets world distance record for throwing a paper airplane. I saw this during SportsCenter and I instantly started thinking about all the learning and fun that could be generated with this video clip. The STEM teacher in me just loves this sort of thing.

 

Educational Connections

Use friendly competition as a motivational strategy and challenge teams of learners to design the paper airplane that will travel the greatest distance. We are seeing greater emphasis placed on design and engineering in STEM areas on a number of fronts (Common Core Standards, recent grant RFPs, etc.). This would be a way to provide students with practical experience with design, project management, and more.

Consider cranking the discovery learning up a notch by providing non-traditional materials available, too. Will an airplane made of an entire sheet of newspaper travel a greater distance? Does the addition of paperclips to a plane’s design impact results?

Think way outside the box and challenge teams to work together using only non-verbal communication. This can really spice things up and promote creativity and higher-order thinking. My students always enjoy this and usually astound me with their creative communication strategies.

Let’s not overlook some of the more traditional connections. This can be an organic way to provide students with practice with measurement using both standard and non-standards units. This could be coupled with data collection, data anlaysis and the presentation of results through graphs and tables.

Those are just a few connections. Please share your ideas in the comments.

Children’s Book Author Encourages Our Youngest

As I mentioned last week our youngest and I had a great time reading The Pout-Pout Fish. It was an evening filled with lots of silliness and laughter. We had such a great time and I liked the book so much I wrote a blog post about our fun and included a few ideas regarding educational connections that could be made with the story, rhymes, etc. Less than 3 hours after my blog entry posted I received the following message on Twitter from the book’s author, Deborah Diesen.

It would be an understatement to say that our youngest was excited to have received a message from the book’s author. The reaction was so strong that I felt compelled to tweet the following reply to Deborah.

Needless to say, we since have read The Pout-Pout Fish many more times, we have enjoyed Pout-Pout Fish-inspired videos, a full-scale search is underway to get access to Deborah’s other children’s books, and our youngest has a renewed interest in reading and writing.

Many, many thanks, Deborah!

Fun Music Video for The Pout-Pout Fish

Yesterday, I shared how much our youngest and I enjoyed the book The Pout-Pout Fish. I ran across this video of the book set to music. Enjoy!

Reflecting on Field Trip to an Assembly Line

Our oldest’s class went on a field trip to the Brim’s Snack Foods manufacturing facility to learn about assembly lines and mass production. As both a parent and a teacher I’m very pleased with what he learned from this trip. I assure you he can talk in much greater detail about the processes involved in manufacturing cheese puffs and popcorn than he is able in this short interview. He seems to have absorbed every word, action, machine, procedure, etc. that he heard and observed during their visit. Hahaha!

Listen!

Elementary Teachers, I Need Your Advice

I’m providing professional development at an elementary school this week. I’ve been asked to survey some of the most commonly used Web 2.0 technologies in elementary classrooms. I’m very curious what others are using in their classrooms as I prepare this workshop. Please, please, please share the tools and services that you and your students recommend. I’ll compile and share the results along with related resources and examples on the workshop wiki.

Appreciatively,
Clif