Oh my goodness, this week was crazy! I felt like every day I went from dawn til dark without stopping…and then, when I crawled into bed I just didn’t have the energy in my tired fingers to type a blog post! (Insert big sigh and whiny voice here :) But this weekend has cured my sleepiness, and here I am on Sunday morning with a big mug o’ coffee and nimble, rested fingers ready for typing :)
Up first: SHARE IT FORWARD! Yes, my little Sunday tradition where I share something I have read, found, or used during the week. This week it is resources for Current Events.
Social Studies is often sorely overlooked in 4th grade because of all the other TAKS tested subject areas… so recently my team and I have decided to insert a little “Current Event” block into our schedule to keep our kids up-to-date about what’s going on in the world.
Through out the week we use http://www.dogonews.com/ to talk about current events and watch current event videos. Then on Friday we will use Flocabulary’s Week in Rap to look at things that happened around the world here is the Week in Rap from this week:
We watched the Week in Rap for the first time on Friday and my kids LOVED it. We had to watch it a twice and then we talked about all the events that were mentioned. It was only 10 minutes before lunch, but it sparked tons of good conversation. The Week in Rap is published each Friday and once you start showing it in your classroom your kids will beg you to watch it each week.
Note: Flocabulary also publishes other videos and they are all fantastic! Take a look at this rap about the 5 elements of a short story: Plot, characters, conflict, theme, setting –yes these are the 5 things that you’re gonna be needing when you’re reading or writing a short story that mad exciting! (trust me you will have this rap in your head!)
I read a blog post a couple weeks ago about Capzles, an online tool that can be used to make interactive timelines! Sounds cool, huh? I’ll admit I haven’t used this with my students yet, but it is on my list of tools to try. The timelines can have pictures, videos, links to websites, audio, and you can organize it all in a really intuitive format. (see the examples below) If you are interested in learning more you MUST check out this blog post and video by Kelly Tenkely at iLearn Technology…she also has made a fantastic video explaining how to create a Capzle!
Even though I haven’t had time to use this tool to create with my kids, I spent some time exploring the archives of Capzles that others have made and I found some great resources that I can use in my classroom now, and in the future. Like this Capzle about traveling across the regions of Texas! My kids will have love to looking at the pictures from each region! I’m going to embed this in my classroom blog for Tuesday!
Or here is one where a teacher goes around to different people with a video camera, asking them “Why should my students learn about history?” This would be such a neat way to start the year off in Social Studies!
To use Capzles you need to create a free account and unfortunately you do need an email…but you could create a classroom account or use a burn email address to create accounts for your students! Then you can go to work. It is super easy. And if you don’t have time to create, I suggest you explore some of the already created Capzles!
When I read this blog post by Free Technology for Teachers, I literally LOLed. My Fake Wall is a website that allows you to make a fake Facebook-like page. Why did I think that was funny? Because last year I did this with a fourth grade teacher for characters from a book! I duplicated a Facebook page in Publisher and the kids came in and manipulated it to look like that character’s Facebook. The kids loved it…and now someone has stolen my brilliant idea and made it into a wonderful website. Ay, yi, yi, if only I would capitalize on my wonderful ideas :)
So this is how it works:
You create an account (email required), and then click on “Create a Wall”. Enter your person’s name, and then you can add pictures, information, friends and conversations to create their Fake Facebook wall! Cool. I tried it out and made a Fake Wall for “Jess Aarons” the main character in Bridge to Terabithia, the book we are reading right now. It was helpful that they made a movie about this book so I could find lots of pictures of the characters. Here is what I made in about 10 20 minutes:
Click on the picture to go to the full Jess Aarons' Fake Wall
I had so much fun doing this! I kept thinking of other character connections and events from the story I could add! As I added new events, I could drag and drop them into a different order! What a unique way to make a timeline of a story and show character interactions! I think I will use this with my class at the beginning of a novel unit and we will add characters and events as we read. I will create a class account and let the kids log in and add their own content…what a new collaborative tool
Share it Forward: I just invented a new post thread for my blog, and I shall call it Share it Forward. I read many ed tech blogs and spend an embarrassing amount of time researching ed tech (for my Master’s class…most of the time!). So in this little corner of my blog, I’m going to Share it Forward. If I think another teacher or nerdy individual will benefit from a tool, site or resource, here it will go! And since Share it Forward was born on a Friday, I will continue to post it every Friday. This will work very well, me thinks, I’ll collect my resources all week and Share them on Fridays. Check back again for next week’s edition of Share it Forward!
First of all I would like to plug this fantastic blog resource: Free Technology for Teachers. You should subscribe to it immediately so that you don’t miss out on any of the resources or recommendations that this handy little blog has to offer! I will also add it to my blogroll so you can find it any time.
The latest post on this blog is about a fantastic website Your Next Read. Let me tell you how cool this is! Type in the title of any book you love, hmmm, I think I’ll put in “Chasing Vermeer”, a book I wish all my students would read! Then click search and *BAM* the site will create a book recommendation web of other books you might like. You can give your opinion (thumbs up, thumbs down) of each recommendation or you can click on one of the books and it will create a new web of recommended books based on that new book. Mmmm, love it. What a great resource for your kiddos or for YOU.
Next recommendation is brought to you via Ask a Tech Teacher, the website recommendation is Protopage. This website helps you make a customized homepage for you to share with your students. There are lots of widgets you can add including blog or podcast feeds, bookmark lists, To Do lists and MORE! This reminds me of an iGoole page with out the Google part, and I can certainly see setting my homepage on my classroom computers to a Protopage so that my students can easily find all the resources we use in my classroom. Right now all our computers are set to our school homepage, but I could link our school page to the Protopage so that the kids could still easily find it. I started working on mine here Oelschlager’s Protopage. It’s a work in progress, but I really like this versatile tool. Although, if we use Google Apps for our e-portfolios, blogs, email etc…then I’ll probably stick with an iGoogle page. But Protopage is a great alternative.