Reflection: Virtual Field Trip to the “New” Man-Made Wonders of the World

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My Google Earth virtual field trip was designed for my 7th grade students, in collaboration with their social studies and English writing curriculums.

Standards:

Social Studies:   7.1, History of Ancient Civilizations

English:  7.2, Comprehension and Analysis of Nonfiction and Informational Text; 7.5, Writing Applications;  7.6, English Language Conventions

The goal of this project is to introduce students to several important archeological and cultural sites around the world.  The purpose of this is to encourage students to have respect for people in other countries and cultures.  Emphasis is put on the immense global value of these sites and on the hard work of the people who created them. 

We begin our journey at school, where we introduce the field trip:  The NEW 7 Man-Made Wonders of the World.  By watching a short video about the 2000 worldwide voting project to select the New Wonders of the World, students will gain an understanding of why this project was initiated and what its purpose was.  We jump from Indianapolis immediately to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to begin our tour of the 7 different sites.  At each stop, students are asked to either watch a video, participate in a virtual tour, or visit a website about the site.  At several stops, students are asked to complete a writing and research assignment about the Wonder they are learning about.  My intention was to provide interesting resources that will excite and motivate the students to want to know more about each of the places.  Finally, we return to school where students are asked to think more deeply about the people who created these monuments, and about those who treasure them now.  The project culminates with students being asked to choose the 8th Wonder of the World, and to be able to justify their selection based on what they learned throughout their virtual field trip.

My hope with this project is that students will gain an appreciation for other cultures in the world, and a respect for the values of people in other countries.  I believe students will more readily accept the differences between themselves and others if they can learn to see them in a positive way—as something to be excited about and of value.

Link to Google Earth Virtual Field Trip:  http://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0B9JBOvRQwf8XODlmYWIwODUtMTg2My00NjViLTk4YzEtNmQwNDcxY2Q1MzRi&hl=en

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Unit 7-Keeping Current

As a Technology Coordinator, I really wanted to find a resource that encompassed all the different areas that I work with.  The blog, “Ask a Tech Teacher”, has been a really great find for me!

This blog is written by Jacqui Murray, a tech teacher at a Southern California Elementary School.  It is packed with wonderful tips, recommendations, and suggestions for any teacher or tech coordinator looking for what’s new and fun in the world of educational technology.

The blog has several different areas to explore.  Every Friday, the author posts a new website that she has found and used under Weekly Websites.  In Great Kids Websites, you will find lists of recommended websites (all linked) listed by grade level from K-5.  There is even a separate section under each grade for technology specific sites.  In the 2nd through 5th grade sites, the author lists websites under specific units, and includes websites of special interest to teachers.On Tuesdays, a new problem-solving tip, quick lesson plan, or some other goodie is posted under Tech Tips.

One thing I thought was very helpful was her links to wiki pages that her own students have done.  I want to incorporate students’ wikis into our technology toolbox, but wasn’t very clear on the best way to do it.  Her examples are really great.  She also lists lots of recommended keyboarding sites that I know I will find useful.  In addition, there are lesson plans listed in the left-hand column focusing on using the Microsoft Office Suite.

You can subscribe to an RSS feed for this blog which will help you to stay right up-to-date!  This blog looks like a great resource for any technology administrator or teacher looking for ways to integrate technology into their classroom.

http://askatechteacher.wordpress.com/

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Unit 6-Activity to develop Respectful & Ethical Minds

I discovered the global project called “Debunking Stereotypes” while going through the iEarn catalog of collaborative projects, and I can’t wait to use it this year with my middle-school students.

In this project, students research stereotypes that people outside of our country have about us/our country.  Through interviews, internet research, and discussion groups, students will attempt to debunk those stereotypes that are not true.  As a final culminating project, student groups are asked to create a blog detailing what stereotypes the students found and how they debunked them.

There is an absolutely beautiful example of this project on the webpage: http://media.iearn.org/v/activities/iearn-stereotypes.

This specific project was by a group of students in Pakistan who communicated with students in Portugal to determine what stereotypes were connected to Pakistan.  In the resulting video, the students addressed such stereotypes as:  Pakastani people are violent, terrorists, and religious fanatics. Additionally, they discussed the perception that women in Pakistan are oppressed and discriminated against, and that the people of Pakistan are religiously intolerant.   I was amazed at the final product-educational, informative, with great cultural significance.

The hope is that this project will help to strengthen relationships between countries “through improving the images of people around the world.”  Of course the project doesn’t end with your students’ blog or video.  Rather, it is through reading and watching all of the other projects done by students in countries all over the world that will help to educate our students and encourage greater tolerance and compassion and understanding.

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Glogster-reflection (Unit 5)

To set the stage for educators to encourage students to use and develop their creating mind, we need to do a few things.  First, we need to be ready to model creativity in our presentations and teaching to them.  Secondly, we have to assure them that our classroom is a safe place to practice their creativity.  And last, they need to know that creativity will not only be encouraged, but be rewarded!

Glogster is a great tool to use to accomplish these three goals. 

As an educator, I can use Glogster myself to create innovative and worthwhile projects for the students.  Using all of the creative tools available in the program, I can design a Glog that engages students in the curriculum, while also modeling creativity in its presentation and appearance.  My activity glog on the Rainforest is an example of how I could use a glog in this way.  On accessing the glog, students will be introduced to the activity by watching an embedded video on Rainforests.   Then they are directed by audio and by visual cues to their writing prompt activity, which also includes some video segments.  After writing, students can then proceed to some fun websites which will enhance their study of the rainforest.  Several photos of rainforest animals are presented on the glog, as well as the background photo of a rainforest biome, all reinforcing the theme of the lesson.  This activity addresses a number of Indiana state standards including Social Studies (interactions of people and their environment), Science (learning about different varieties of organisms and explore how they satisfy their needs in their environments), Critical Thinking, and English (Writing applications, English Language conventions).

Students witnessing my use of glogs as teaching tools in the classroom will know that this is a safe and acceptable method of presentation.  Many kids will be naturally drawn to the tricks and tips of the program knowing that they can use them to create something that is unique and fun.  And even better, the teacher wants them to do it!!!  Following my planned activity on the rainforest, students could create their own glogs, selecting various different topics that all relate to the subject.  For example, students could create glogs on different animals of the rainforest, or the different layers of the biome, or different medicines that have been created through rainforest research.  Part of the grading rubric could include points for creativity and originality and the use of different tools in their presentation.

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Glogster

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Unit 5-Sharing Creativity with iEarn

iEarn stands for the International Education and Resource Network.  Begun in 1988, iEarn is an internet-based,  not-for-profit organization that enables teachers and students from around the world to collaborate on interesting, creative, and meaningful educational projects.  Participants come from over 125 countries and include students from over 30,000 schools. The projects supported by iEarn encourage online collaboration through the Internet and other communication technologies such as e-mail, Skype, blogs, and websites.

At any given time, there are several hundred ongoing iEarn projects.  Here are some examples:

Beauty of the Beasts   (https://media.iearn.org/projects/beautyofthebeasts)

This is a global project in which children are asked to “capture the grandeur and magnificence of animals indigenous to their areas through original artwork and poetry”. Original student work submitted is compiled into a worldwide exhibit, and then displayed both at galleries throughout the country and online.

Eradication of Malaria                                          (https://media.iearn.org/projects/malaria)

In this collaborative project, students are asked to examine the causes, effects, prevention and treatment of malaria throughout the world.  At the end of the project, comparisons will be made between how different countries are affected and how they deal with malaria.  Students will write summaries describing their project including what they learned and what changes they would make in the future.

Debunk Stereotypes                        (https://media.iearn.org/projects/iearn-stereotypes)

The purpose of this project is to have students look at cultural stereotypes of their countries, and determine the accuracy of those stereotypes.   Using research, students are asked to “debunk” these stereotypes. In the final project, students set up blogs where they “introduce their countries, expose the stereotypes, and determine the validity of them.”

Listen to the Walls Talking  (https://media.iearn.org/projects/wallstalking)

Students will collect and share with others “meaningful graffiti and other messages from our walls, desks, chairs, T-shirts, etc.”  Students will record and share their finds, in the interest of opening up dialogue and learning about their own culture as well as others.

There are so many other wonderful projects sponsored by this group.  My school has done several projects with good success. (One in particular was the My Hero project.)  Unfortunately, this site does require a membership which I believe is about $300 per year (this covers an entire school, and as many projects as you want to participate in.)  New projects are continually being started, and as a member you are welcome to submit any ideas for projects.  This is a great place to start for anyone looking for creative projects that encourage collaboration, communication, and connectivity with others.

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Creativity Tool-Animoto

I am really excited to bring Animoto into my arsenal of creative teaching tools.  Animoto is a free online video creation application.  It allows you to upload your own video clips, photos, and music.  It takes those and automatically melds these into an amazing video production.  One of the most exciting parts of this program is that students who may not feel that they are very “creative” will be amazed at how beautiful their work is.  Hopefully this will encourage them to  further explore their innate ability to be creative.

Animoto is super easy to use.  To start, you create a login for yourself. The basic (free) animoto application allows you to create 30-second videos.  You can upgrade (for $30 a year) which allows you unlimited, full-length video capability.  You will be directed to upload your photos, images, and videos.  A typical 30-second video will include between 8-15 images.  They recommend video clips to be between 3-5 seconds.  To this you can add text and some fun special effects (highlighting, rotation, etc.)   Next, you are asked to either upload your music or you can select music from their library.  They have a good selection of music readily available, but students can always add their own music from CD’s and iPods.  You will be asked to provide a name for your video–and click “DONE”.  It takes a few minutes, but the program will render your video automatically.  As an extra feature, if you don’t want to sit and wait, you will receive an email when it’s ready.

It took me about 10 minutes to create a short video of my family’s vacation, with music and video clips.  It turned out amazing!!! 

The Animoto site has a number of sample videos available for viewing.  I particularly liked the example they gave of a public-service ad.  I can see asking middle-school or high-school students to take pictures of a flood-ravaged area, or of war refugees, and to put them to music to create a powerful and dramatic message.

Easy to use.  Free. Visually appealing. Potential for sending powerful messages.  Creative.  Check out Animoto

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