Friday, April 6, 2012

History LiveBinder

All things History, a collection of great websites. Way to much to investigate in one sitting, but what I saw looked great --

Interactive History on LiveBinder

Here's another place to find a ton o' good stuff: iLearn Technology

Blogs = 8 Track Players?

I've spent the morning going through the Twitter feeds and re-tweeting* (which of course posts straight to FB) all the incredible thoughts and ideas by Educators and Technology folk, then popped over here to post a few links and it felt... dusty? slow? something my mother would use?

Aside from a rant now and then that exceeds 140 characters, is blogging still worthwhile?

*"Twitter feeds and re-tweeting" Innovative, useful, engaging? Yes. Still silly to say? Yes, and always will be.
Finding a ton of great ideas here:

and here:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Cereal Box Volume Activity

I'm pretty sure the idea came from... dang, can't think of the site now. I saw it here as "Juice Box Geometry" as well. Students had juice, cereal, and tissue boxes and measured with partners to find surface area and calculate volume. Next they used their measurements to design a net for the box, labeling the parts and dimensions. Then the boxes were carefully opened and pulled apart (juice boxes over the sink, please!), remeasured, and matched up to the nets. Volume was recalculated and compared to original figures -- how/why different? Why was the package designed the way it was? Could you improve on the design or increase the volume?

If I kept my Math students (they come from all three 5th grade classrooms) I thought it would be cool to transfer their nets and measurements into an Art lesson -- design your own product and packaging!

Cereal Box Volume Activity

Monday, April 2, 2012

Facebook: The Evil Empire?

Parents, please tell me Why in the holy name of Steve Jobs when I asked my classroom of 10 and 11 year old 5th graders how many were on Facebook 20 little hands shot up?!? Accompanied by big grins and shouts of "and Youtube!" or "Tumblr too!" -- I'm all in favor of the iGeneration being digital from the womb, but aren't there age milestones they're supposed to hit before being immersed in the potentially confusing, sometimes sordid world of social media?

"Do we ban pencils because one wrote on a restroom wall? Why do we do that with Social Media in the classroom?"  --   @JulieDRamsey
So now the District wants to ban all teacher/student connections on Facebook. Which I agree with on the underage side, there's no reason Elementary students need to have to have anything to do with FB. But if my students' parents were big FB users I definitely would set up a class site in order to pass along info and connect all the parents.  For my middle school students and my sports teams, I think FB is an instant and effective tool when used to connect teachers/coaches and students.  I know they all have phones these days, but am I really supposed to sit down and call them all when one post keeps everybody up to date?

Yes, there are creeps in the world. Horribly bad people. If I caught any of these rat bastards preying on my students there would be a very public demonstration of my fury. Do I trust my sons' teachers and coaches? Absolutely: I've met them, talked to them, watched them. I have also discussed the real world with my children.  Do I trust every coach, teacher, scout leader? Hell no, and neither should you. I joked about not meeting a single parent for the first seven weeks of being a brand new, mid-year teacher, and I still have met less than half my students' parents, but it wouldn't be funny if I was a lousy teacher, or worse. Stop by, peek in, look around! I was visited often by fellow teachers and the Principal dropped in randomly, and although I was nervous and self-conscious, I support and encourage the practice.

Back to Facebook.  I have seen the crap teenagers post.  I have two teenagers at home that have posted crap and been called on the carpet for it, not only be me but by aunts and an uncle and friends that knew better and were able to give him a virtual "love tap" and remind him of the rules for proper behavior. But c'mon, they are teenagers and they are going to be rude, obnoxious, inappropriate, and laugh at stuff we do not find funny. They are going to be mean and hurt others. They do not share our values and our interests because we are adults and they are still children. ("Children" by the way, that know so much more about the world than you did at the same age. They've known stuff for years you just found out about last month. They know stuff that would curl your parents' toes and put your grandmother 6 feet under.)

Which is why we need to help them, to watch them, to protect them. We need to save them from themselves, from the other children who also need saving, and from the life-damaging pain of the predators. We need to read their posts and texts just like we read their diary and the notes found in their pockets on laundry day.  We need to view their pictures and videos just like we view the movies, tv shows, and video games.  We must watch what goes into their eyes and ears exactly like we watch what goes into their mouths and bellies.  And most importantly we need to teach them discernment, wisdom, good judgement, ideally through the greatest teaching method ever invented: setting an example.

But that's a rant for another day.

Sunday, April 1, 2012