Types of Energy

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Types of Energy

My mind map is one that I would use as a note taking tool for my students. The SOL that I am planning my unit on is about public policy as it relates to renewable and nonrenewable resources. Before we can have a discussion about policy, it is imperative that students have an understanding of all of the various energy sources. This mind map will serve as a review at the beginning of the unit and a visual that students can continue to reference throughout the week.

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“We can do better”

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I really enjoyed reading Shelley Wright’s blog, “The Nuts & Bolts of 21st Century Teaching.”  Wright had her 10th grade English class create a museum about the Holocaust.  The material, information, and themes were completely up to her students. Wright must be a great teacher and one that is well loved by her students.  And good for her for not repeating another unit where she is a dispensary of information for her students.

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I wanted to learn more about Wright’s experience.  She mentioned working for six hours straight on this project one day.  How is this possible?  Didn’t she have other classes to teach?  Didn’t the students have Algebra or English?  And what about all of the resources they used?  Did she front the cost or did her students contribute?  This blog truly inspired me to want to have project based learning units in my classroom one day.

But I wonder how this could be done in an elementary setting. Younger students often need more structure and guidance from their teacher.  High schoolers have learned how to “do” schooling and they should have the discipline to be able to lead their own learning.

Fortunately, Wright included a YouTube video in her blog where Michael Lehmann talked about how much “high school sucks” and how it needs to change.  I loved how he said that schools should teach us how to learn.  It’s not just about the elements on the periodic table or Shakespeare and all of his plays.  It’s about acquiring the ability and desire to learn.  I also really liked Lehmann’s idea of benchmark projects instead of benchmark tests.  When students know that they are going to create a visual project that is real, they are going to typically put forth more effort.  Benchmark projects (and not just a poster or diorama) could be easily incorporated into an elementary classroom.

I felt so inspired after reading this blog.  I want my students to enjoy my classes as much as I hope to enjoy teaching them.  I absolutely plan to incorporate project based learning in my classroom.  I often hear about teachers feeling burnt out.  If they took Shelley’s approach and completely revamp their units, I bet that they wouldn’t feel so burnt out!  Probably exhausted, though…

 

So Good! So Good!

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ImageImageFor my father.  Who told me that I played a great tee-ball game when I was picking flowers in the outfield.  Who taught me how to score a game so that I, too, could be involved in my sister’s sports career.  Who never gave up hope when the Sox were down 3-0 to the dirty Yankees.  Who cried when the Curse of the Bambino was finally broken.  And again in 2007. And who gave my son his first baseball and bat when I was just 12 weeks pregnant.

Happy Father’s Day.

Twitter – The Educational Social Media

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twitter picI’ve finally done it and joined Twitter.  I have to admit that until last Friday’s ED554 class, I found Twitter extremely annoying.  Especially when obnoxious Tweets made their way to the bottom of the TV screen during “The Bachelor” (it’s my hour of guilty pleasure and mindless viewing. Please, we all have one).  But now I get it!  I have been instantly connected to educators who are Tweeting out valuable resources that will no doubt benefit me.

I followed Scott McLeod after Steven mentioned him in class last Friday.  He Tweets A LOT, like every hour.  His Tweets are typically always beneficial and no doubt worth the noise, but to a Twitter novice like myself, it is overwhelming to log on and have several Tweets to catch up on.  One, however, particularly caught my attention and even deserved a retweet.

Scott Tweeted a link to Pinterest where a user was sharing her favorite iPad learning apps.  There are so many great apps!  When you first see her boards, you’ll notice a lot of tech accessory boards.  Keep scrolling and you’ll see boards for teaching prepositions, voice therapy apps, data collection, measurement, and so many more!  How great is this?  My first personal learning network inspired me to dive into another.  Looks like I’ll be joining Pinterest next!

My Quest to be Techie-er than a Fifth Grader

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The video “Digital Media* New Learners of the 21st Century” was inspiring and yet so overwhelming.  I kept thinking that I am one of those dreaded teachers stuck in the past; I have never owned a Playstation or Ninetendo or Gameboy, can I really be expected to guide my students to create their own game?!  This course couldn’t come at a better time…

The Quest 2 Learn school in Manhattan is so amazing.  What kid wouldn’t want to go this school?  I hated when I studied Aesop’s Fables.  But I probably would have enjoyed it a little more if I had to make a game about one of the fables.  One of the teachers commented on how students gain a better understanding of the fables in their ability to make a game.  In order to create a complex game about a fable, you break it down into smaller pieces.   I may have enjoyed The Boy Who Cried Wolf more if I could create a scene where a lonely boy calls “wolf” just to have the village people come out to join him.

I loved how one of the teachers called it “stealth learning.”  Students are going to have way more fun by playing arcade games about division than completing a division worksheet.  Students may be learning the same material but when they are having fun, they are going to want to continue that activity.  Who ever asks for more worksheets to complete?  When it looks fun, students will want to continue it.  Videos and games attract students so we need to let students learn through videos and games.  I can’t wait to add all of this to my toolbox.

Let’s hope I don’t regret this one!

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Earth Resources 

6.9 The student will investigate and understand public policy decisions relating to the

environment. Key concepts include

a) management of renewable resources;

b) management of nonrenewable resources;

c) the mitigation of land-use and environmental hazards through preventive

measures; and

d) cost/benefit tradeoffs in conservation policies.

Students can complete research into various renewable resources.  As part of the research, students will need to critique the information and the source of the information; this is important because it requires a higher level of learning than just Google-ing solar energy and copying and pasting the information that they find.

Students can then use their research to create various projects about renewable resources.  They can use Glogster to create digital posters about how to advocate for renewable resources.  Students who love music can write a song or rap; students can create games (either computer or board).  It would also be really interesting if students created an interactive map where you can click on a certain area and learn about the renewable resource that is present there.

Still a “Reluctant” Student

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The article, “Giving Reluctant Students a Voice” struck many chords with me.   I identify as that “reluctant” student.  I have always been one who answers questions to myself and does not share my thoughts or answers to the class.  I am a fairly shy person and I worry that I may not say the correct things, I may not word my thoughts correctly (the rumors are true: pregnancy brain warps itself into mommy brain), or I may be totally wrong.  I have been this way since I can always remember.

I took an online class at NOVA and one of the requirements was to participate in discussions on Blackboard.  We had to answer questions from the professor and also respond to classmates’ answers.  I loved it.  While I did not have the anonymity that students in this article had, having the opportunity to take my time in phrasing the best answer or response was something that I appreciated.  It made me more comfortable as I wasn’t put on the spot.

As a future elementary teacher, I wonder how I can use this in the classroom.  At what age can I ask my students’ to blog?  What if parents refuse to allow their students to blog?  Do I make the students anonymous or use their names?  Besides, there isn’t a guarantee that each student will have access to computers at home.  So how will I get around that problem?  Whatever the solution, I always promised myself that I would never be that teacher who requires my students to speak a certain number of times during class.  Yes, I’m talking to you, Dr. Wolfe…