2009-2010 Winter Wonderland Online Project Announcement

The 2009-2010 Winter Wonderland Project is now open for registration!

The Winter Wonderland Project is an online project for grades K-3 that includes winter-themed technology activities with reading, writing, and math components. Registration will open on Wednesday, November 18th. The Project will begin December 1st and end February 28th. Teachers who participate will share student work on their own personal page(s) on the wiki. Suggested thematic activities and resources for each month will be provided. We will have a Featured Activity each month that we hope all classes will be able to complete. We have chosen our Featured Activity to introduce you to some new tools or websites or new uses for tools you already use. We do realize that there may be times when sites are blocked at schools or schools do not have access to the programs or tools used. If you cannot complete the Featured Activity we would still love your participation in the Winter Wonderland Project.

Please visit the Winter Wonderland Wiki to register, learn about the planned activities, or to get more information about the project.

Thank you,
Winter Wonderland Project Coordinators
Amber Coggin, Nedra Isenberg, & Vicky Sedgwick

Tim Holt has an important blog post today on his site Intended Consequences. He shares the hypcrosity of Unilever with their videos for Dove showing girls how a plain Jane is turned into a super model and the ads the same company runs for Axe. Tim asks for teachers to discuss mixed media messages from the same company with their students. Working in a lab with elementary students, I probably won’t do that. But I will share the information with the teachers in my building and I’ll be discussing it with my own children. I think having a 17 year old daughter has made his post hit a nerve with me. I’ve shown my daughter the Dove video and helping her to accept herself  is a not always easy.

Passion

So often in the blogosphere and at conferences we hear about passion. Great teachers show passion in working with students and have ways of reaching them, we want our students to be passionate about learning and we want them to follow their passions in their future work place. Well, tonight I went to a concert in which both performers displayed absolute passion for their work and found ways to connect with their audience. Taylor Swift and Keith Urban just beamed and exuded a positive energy during a three and half hour concert. Not once did they look bored, tired, or at all uninterested in their audience. Taylor connected with the audience by having her very expressive face up on the jumbotron while she sang and told stories. At one point she just stood and looked out at the crowd in awe as everyone cheered. She took her earplugs out to have a better listen. Keith connected by getting off the stage and walking through the crowd to a small stage at the back of the arena. When he got up there he asked “Who’s got the good seats now?” (That was us.) He sang three songs and moved back to the front. Later he moved to a microphone in one of the ailes. Taylor and Keith entertained the audience  with an amazing amount of energy that never let up. They also made sure they thanked the audience for coming, multiple times. Keith Urban acknowledged that times are hard for many right now and he was honored that so many people make it to their shows. At the end of his performance the band members tossed out picks and drumsticks and Keith shook hands with those closest to the stage. Then they did something I had never seen at a concert before. The band lined up, put their arms around each other and bowed to the audience. That was followed by credits and pictures of the behind the scenes people on the jumbotron. Nice touch. We  left the concert with the feeling that these two people love what they do. They were an inspiration and I hope to outwardly show more passion in my teaching this year. 

NECC 09

NECC 09 has come and gone and after reading many blog posts about it today I realized I better get busy on my own post. I’m going to start out with a quick post of the things that are running through my head at the moment.

1. Goals-I didn’t do a very good job of meeting my goals that I listed in my last post.

2. Next Time…. I had some of these thoughts and Chad Lehman posted a question about this topic on Classroom 2.0. You can go there to see what I’ll do differently next time. And if you attended NECC add your thoughts as well.

3. What I Learned-Well, I’m still feeling a little overwhelmed. I need to sit down and sort through my notes and look through links. This will take a little time. I have notes on Plurk, Google Docs and somewhere on the Mac I was using. I will post information here and on the ning soon.

4. PLN-Meeting and hanging out with people in my PLN, especially the Plurkers, was what meant the most to me at this conference. It was amazing to see people I had never met face to face and to go up and give them a hug. I’m sure the times we spent together talking and having lunch, dinner, or drinks is going to make our online friendships even stronger.

NECC

I’ll be leaving for NECC in DC on Friday. I am so excited to be attending my second NECC conference. My daughter is a little worried about me. I’m doing what I tell her not to do. I’m meeting people and actually rooming with people that I have met on line but never in real life. She’s 16 and sometimes I’m not sure if she is really worried or just giving me a hard time!

As I prepare to leave I’m trying to focus in on a few goals for the conference.

Here’s what I have so far:

I really like Google-reader, calendar, documents, mail. But I want to know more before i start to entice my coworkers about their benefits.

We’re finally getting SmartBoards in our school next year as well as document cameras and flip video cameras. I want to attend sessions on how elementary classes are implementing this tools, particulary the Flips.

I just bought an ipod Touch and we’re going to get a few ipods for our school next year. So, I also want to find ways these are being used in the elemetary school.

As a lab teacher I’m always looking for meaningful, engaging  lessons for my students.

Last year one of my goals was to work on being a more outgoing person. I tend to be very quiet when I’m around people I don’t know. I did pretty good last year and I have the same goal this year. I’m really looking forward to meeting people in my PLN face to face.

If you’re going to NECC what are your goals?

Photo Blog

Well, it’s certainly been a long time since I’ve blogged here! I think about it frequently but just don’t seem to have enough hours in the day. The good news is that I’m still blogging but in a much different way. I’m doing the 365 photo thing on flickr. As a part of this I’m doing a photo blog. It takes time to take the pictures, decide which one to use and to write about it each day. I enjoy it and I think it’s going to make me a better photographer. I also think it will be a nice record of my year. Now that summer is just around the corner I will try to take time to get back on track here as well.

Pics4Learning

Oops, some how February slipped by with out a single blog post and if I don’t get busy the same thing will happen again this month. I know, we’re all busy but I do need to make more of an effort to post at least once a month and preferably twice. I have many topics running around in my brain but just haven’t taken the time to put any of them down in writing. So, now, which one to begin with?

I would guess a year or so ago I looked at the site Pics4Learning and thought it was a good idea but there wasn’t a lot there. I moved on and forgot about it. Well, this year I’m making a greater effort to begin teaching my students the importance of using pictures they have permission to use and how to give credit for pictures. While looking for appropriate sites I came across Pics4Learning again. This time I took a closer look and was happy that there seemed to be a larger selection of photos, or maybe I just didn’t take enough time to thoroughly explore it last time I was there. There are close to 50 different topics to choose from. They even have pictures from the Library of Congress. This came in very handy when I was looking for pictures of the presidents for a wiki project I did with my 5th graders.  I think this site is especially wonderful for elementary students. The site is safe, easy to search and easy to see who to give credit for the photo.

I also noticed that anyone can upload pictures. So, I have become a cheerleader for the site! I would like to encourage everyone to add photos. I  belong to several groups on Flickr and know there are many edtech folks out there that have pictures that would be great contributions to this site.

I had a couple of questions and contacted the site. Melinda Kolk responded very quickly. Here are my questions and her answers:

Is it possible to do a batch upload?

Because of the citation information needed for each image, there isn’t a batch upload on the site. You can however, send a CD to us with the photos and a completed spreadsheet. (Contact Melinda Kolk for spreadsheet info.)

Do you have a size preference for the pictures?

This is really a hard one. It is always nice to have large images for resolution purposes, but really large images take a lot of bandwidth. I wouldn’t do scenery shots at less than 1024×768 or 768 x1024, but if you are shooting a particular bird, or flower, or something at 600 across would probalby be fine because a student would use it in a project as an image that supports their work.

So please go take a look at the site and give some serious thought to adding to the picture collection.

Digital Stories

In December our first grade teachers did an Eric Carle author study and as a result each class rewrote one of his stories. The art teacher helped out by drawing a simple outline of each character or object in the story. The children then filled the outline with scraps of paper they had fingerprinted with bright colors. When I saw the pages I fell in love with the project and volunteered to put them into a digital format. Well now over a month later I have finally completed the process. It seemed like such a simple process but it was more time consuming than I anticipated.

At first I was going to do all three projects using Smilebox, a free download and if you tell them you’re a teacher you get the best version for free. But then I decided it would be better if I just did one story in Smilebox and then one in Photostory3, another free download and the third in Windows Movie Maker. I figured this would be a good opportunity for me to compare the three different processes and see the pros and cons of each. You can see all three stories on my wiki.

So, here’s what I’m thinking about each program at the moment:

Smilebox

Pros

  • Colorful
  • Choice of layouts-scrapbook or slideshow, I selected a slideshow
  • Lots of music selections
  • Easy to embed into a webpage.

Cons

  • Limited #of slides for a slideshow
  • Can’t add narrations
  • Even though I downloaded Smilebox at school I couldn’t save it from home and take it to school to work on it.

Photo Story3

Pros

  • Easy to record voices
  • Picture and voice are kept together as one unit so easy to move around on timeline
  • Music can be added

Cons

  • Can’t edit recording but it is easy to delete and redo
  • My file became corrupt and I couldn’t edit it. When I searched for a solution I didn’t find one but I found others have had this problem.
  • No reminders to add a title slide or credits
  • I put in a page turning transition but it does not show up in the finished product.

Movie Maker

Pros

Recordings can be done in Audacity so that the mistakes and long pauses or ummmms can be deleted.

Cons

Voice and picture were two different files and moving them around on the time line was not easy.

A little tricky to get recordings and pictures timed correctly.

At the end of the project I figured out I didn’t have to use Audacity and could narrate right on the timeline. I tried this but the voice went right on top of the next voice because I hadn’t put more space in the spot.

I’m not sure if music can be added or not.

I put in a star transition between the slide but it does not show up in the finished show.

Final Thoughts

If a teacher came to me and wanted to do a digital story I would recommend Photo Story 3 if the children were going to be doing the project. If the teacher is putting it together and they didn’t need narration I would also recommend Smilebox. I’m working on a Snow in 6 Words project thanks to Martha Thornburgh for the idea with my third graders. We’re building it in PowerPoint and when we’re done I may have them move their slides to Photo Story 3 and then post them on the wiki.

Your Thoughts

Please let me know your thoughts on these programs. What do you see as the pros and cons? Share tips and tricks that will make this easier or recommend other products to try out.

Thanks!

A Picture a Day

Last year I joined Flickr and I saw Tweets about people joining a 365 photo group. I looked at it briefly but quickly decided there was no way I’d ever keep up and forgot about it. Later in the year I joined Photo Friday at the suggestion of Ann Oro. This was a manageable project-one photo a week. It has become a habit and I enjoy looking at and commenting on the variety of photos. So this year as I began hearing about the various 365 groups I took another look. I’ve been doing more photography and decided this year I was ready to give it a try. First I joined 366-1 which is a large group. Then I heard about EdTech 365/2009 which is a smaller group and many of my online friends belong to it so I joined that one as well. Then another once a week group started  up on my PLN-Foto52 so I joined that as well. Belonging to so many groups isn’t that big of deal. I’ve been posting the same picture to the daily groups and then picking a favorite to add to the weekly groups. Sometimes it’s one I’ve already posted and sometimes it’s something different.

I’m beginning to hate leaving home without my camera. I notice so many more great photo opporturnities since beginning the daily project. I really think it is helping me to be more aware of my surroundings. I have a particular interest in nature photography with a focus on macro. I’m putting my photo right into my Photo Journey blog as well. It is so easy to do from Flickr that it seemed silly not to do it. So the project is getting me to write at least a little bit and often a short story each day. For someone who has never been particularly fond of writing that is a good thing!

I take a look at photos as people post links on Plurk and then on the weekends I try to look through the flickr groups as well and leave comments. It’s really interesting to see the variety of photos and I’m so impressed with the quality. I try to make sure I’m leaving comments because I truly appreciate the comments I receive. The one group I haven’t spent much time on is the 366-1. I finally stopped by today and found out they are having a focus for many of the days such as Macro Monday or Black/White Friday. I’m going back to jot those down and try to start doing those as well. I figure it will be a way to help me grow as a photographer. I’ve started bookmarking some photo sites as well and hope to someday have some time to do some reading.

If you’re interested in photography and haven’t joined a group yet you should give it a try. I think of it as ‘me time’. I’ve made it through the first 24 days without missing a photo. Will I keeep it up for all 365 days? Time will tell but I hope so.

7 Things Meme

I was tagged in the 7 Things Meme by Ann Oro and Lori Feldman.

Here are seven very random things you don’t know about me.

  1. I grew up in Elgin IL and when I was in 9th grade we moved to Moline IL. I went to college in Wayne NE. A week after I graduated from college and two days after getting married I moved to Bemidji, MN. Four years later we moved to Utica NY and have lived here for about 24 years.
  2. Despite the fact that my parents sent me to piano lessons for many years I’m a terrible piano player! However, it’s something I enjoy doing and I find it relaxing. My children have taken various music lessons over the years. I’ve tried to tell them they too will enjoy it as an adult. Both have quit music for now and aren’t old enough to believe me.
  3. When I was 15 my dad made me get a volunteer job during the summer. I worked at a nursing home. One of my jobs was cutting toenails on the old men. Ick!
  4. When I was a senior in high school I did a work study program so I worked in a daycare in the afternoons. After graduation I continued to work there. The director and head teacher both pushed me to go to college to be a teacher. The daycare was in a church and had closed before I finished college. I never got a chance to let them know that I got my teaching degree or to thank them for their influence.
  5. I hated high school!  I took the easiest classes possible because there was no way I was going to waste my time going to college. My plan was to graduate, get married and raise a family. A month after graduating I met my future husband. (The day before we met was my 18th birthday and when I blew out the candles I wished for a boyfriend!) He had finished his freshman year of college and planned on staying in school until he had his master’s degree. Since I needed something to do while he finished school I enrolled in a Jr. College that fall. I hated that as much as high school. Other than more freedom it was just like high school. So I quit after one semester and worked instead. The next fall I enrolled in the same school my future husband was attending and lo and behold I liked school there. I often regretted taking those easy classes in high school but I made it through and graduated with honors.
  6. My wedding rings cost about $200. My mom made my dress and the bridesmaids dresses. My best friend did my flowers. My brother and brother in law took the pictures. My sister in law made our cake. My honeymoon was spent ice fishing in a borrowed ice hut on Lake Bemidi! My wedding was the most expensive one in my family, I am the youngest of four. I have a hard time understanding lavish weddings.
  7. When I retire one of my goals it learn how to quilt. My MIL used to quilt and made beautiful quilts for our kids when they were little. I’ve already purchased lots of quilt patterns!

Now I tag:

Heidi Pence

Ginger Lewman

Lori Burch

I know I should tag more but it seems like everyone else has either done this or I don’t have a blog address. So, if you haven’t been tagged and would like to do this please consider yourself tagged.

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