Ben Hosts Day in a Sentence

The Day in a Sentence is on the move again!

Day in Sentence IconThis week, Ben B. is your host and he is accepting your thoughts and ideas on how your week, or a day in your week, is going — all written in a nice sentence. He will then collect the sentences and compile them and release them to the world over the weekend.

So, please, join me in hyperlinking over to Ben’s Blog — On the Tenure Track — and add your words.

Peace (in collaboration),
Kevin

Giving Students Political Voice

I teach writing to 11 year olds but that doesn’t stop me from injecting some political current events into our activities. I remind them that they need to pay attention to the world, as it is their world that is being developed right now. The political season in the US provides us teachers with an opportunity to talk about leadership and the ways of our government and I sure hope that teachers are using this opportunity.

Yesterday, our state held its primary election (Hillary Clinton won). Last week, I had a long discussion with all of my students about the differences of a primary and a caucus, and what those results mean.

I decided that I wanted to give my students some voice and so we held a modified “Mock Election” using Survey Monkey to allow my 80 students to cast a vote for major candidates in both parties and to answer some questions about the state of our country and the priorities facing our nation.

First of all, the voting:

They are really struck by the youthfulness of Barack Obama and that appeals to them. It also is a surprise to them that we have never had a woman run for president. Or maybe it is shock. The girls, in particular, seem to connect with the concept of Clinton and it makes me wonder, regardless of her politics and chances of winning, if she isn’t making a substantial impact on young women right now just by being in the race and having a powerful voice.

McCain has appeal because of his time in the military and they know that he was a POW and they believe that gives him some fortitude in leadership.

I then asked them to consider which issues are most important to them:

I thought for sure that the environment was going to win but the war continues to be a focus. We live near an Air Force Base and there are a number of families with relatives in Iraq, so the war and its impact is very close to home for many of my students.

Then, I wondered if they thought they should have the right to vote.

I guess the graph says it all.

Peace (in politics),
Kevin

PowerPoint as Movie

In the spring, my students will once again be creating digital picture books, using Powerpoint as a platform for creation. In the past, I have grappled with how best to present the final products in multiple forms — as a slideshow, as a PDF and on paper. I wanted to make them into videos, too, but couldn’t quite figure it out.

I took the plunge this weekend and purchased some software from Wondershare that does take Powerpoint and converts it into a video, complete with animation and voice left in. It’s not so bad and I am thinking of how I can try to experiment with this in my classroom before the picture book unit rolls around.

Here is a book that I made last year:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=-8690927707479293668" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]

Here are a few of the stories from students from last year:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=6898363634712354140" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]

[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=-1300180233155542124" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]

I wish the audio were better quality but PP does a terrible job with audio, I have found.

Peace (in PP),
Kevin

The Giants Win!

Some of you know that I am a die-hard New York Giants fan and they won the Superbowl last night in an amazing game all around (as the underdogs trying to keep the Patriots from securing a spot as completely undefeated).

http://atlantafalcons.contentquake.com/files/2007/10/giants-helmet.jpg

Funny school story: I live in Patriots territory and on Friday, the Student Council hosted a fundraiser spirit day to support your favorite sports team. I, of course, wore my New York Giants tie but I was surrounded by Patriots fans.

In the middle of a lesson, a fifth grade teacher marches his entire class into my room, with a megaphone, and they begin chanting “P A T R I O T S” as loud as they can. The kids are all armed with balloons and then they pop them, and drop them on the ground, and march right back out. It was a nice laugh (I’ll remember those faces for next year, I am thinking)

Then, at the end of the day, a preschool teacher walks in and gives me a Giants helium balloon. Apparently, they had a Patriots and a Giants balloon and NOT ONE KID wanted to take home the Giants balloon. So they decided to give it to me (my kids have had great fun with it).

So, today will be sort of a fun day. I need to buy a few New York Posts and festoon the fifth grade teachers door with some good headlines. (all in fun)

Peace (in the Superbowl),
Kevin

Your Experimental Days in a Sentence

This week, I moved us in a new direction for Day in a Sentence and so many of you took the challenge and went into VoiceThread. Thank you. And for those of you who found the task too complicated — I apologize. We’ll be back to the tried-and-true sentences next week, as Ben B. takes over as a guest-host.

Anyway, here is the Voicethreaded Day in a Sentence for this week:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://voicethread.com/book.swf?b=37834" width="400" height="400" wmode="transparent" /]

And here are some sentences that came here via the blog:

“Bob Dylan said it best: to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free…” — Christina

“With Beethoven streaming in my ears and new snow dropping from a white clouded Colorado sky, I sit inside writing a case report about a teacher whom I greatly admire for her 30+ year career and dogged commitments to excellent, equitable education for second language learners, many of whom are immigrants.
” — Tom

“This week marked the 100th user registration for my website which validated my dream that, if you build it, and it matters, and it works, they will come!!
” — Sue

“If links were currency, I’ve just found myself some serious scratch thanks to a well-established blog.” — Ben B.

“I am having the sort of week where one longs for a lifesaver to be flung neatly at one just in the nick of time; grade-level meetings, all day training programs, district assessments . . . oh my.” — Liza

Meanwhile, I recorded the audio off the VoiceThread and made a bit of a podcast:

Take a listen

Have a wonderful week!

Peace (in collaboration),
Kevin

CyberSurvey 2008, part two

 

Yesterday, I shared out some of the results of a survey that I gave to my sixth graders. Today, I am sharing out some of the comments they added for two questions:

First, if they said that schools should teach them how to use technology to connect with other students, then I asked them to write why that is important to them.

Here are some of their comments:

  • Yes and only if the teachers teach you to be very careful on how and what your saying to interact with friends online, and if someone you don’t recognize thats trying to communicate with you,you should just tell a parent or teacher you trust. Also never, ever give out personal information!
  • Yes, because it good to know how to communicate with each and other. It is also become very common and it would be helpful if you were taught about it.
  • I would like it because,when you grow up to get a job.The owner would see ask you if you know alot about technology.That is why teachers should teach kids how to type and read!
  • I think that because we should now properly how to communicate with others so that if there was ever an emergency and you did not have a phone you would have to be able to get in touch with somebody fast and I don’t really now how to do that and I’m sure that most other people do not now how to get in touch in other people. Like my grandparents. They have a phone but if they did not and one of them had a heart attack the other would not now what to do.
  • I think yes because teachers can teach us how to start IMing and emailing and teach us not to trust or talk to people you do not know.
  • sometimes kids don’t have computers and need to learn how to write to others. they also might not have the best handwriting. That’s why I think schools should teach how to write on computers.
  • Yes, it would give kids more introduction to what happens on the internet.
  • If the teacher teached us how to use technology for communicating we could what to do and it would help with social skills. I also think we should learn other technology also because technology can be very important. Me myself would like to have a class that could learn about things like video making and editing because it is important to me.

Second, I asked them envision a classroom of the future (Always an interesting question to pose to students).

Here are some of their thoughts:

  • There should belarge computers with a 300 gb hardrive and memor
  • I think they’ll have a tiny computer that teaches them everything. Everything will be used in technology.
  • Robots as techers and mini laptops
  • I think that they will have laptops on every desk, and high tech stuff to use because later 30 years from now if people now are good with technology they should be wicked good with using it 30 years from now.
  • Mind reading pencils
  • I think that they will be using computers that wrote down what they wanted to write. It would a be voice activated computer. I know that they have them now but, they have not reached the schools quite yet. Also they would have these robots that do the homework for the kids.
  • No keyboards, faster use, no lag, more information, and easier to learn
  • High powered scooters — 2 min school with thinking helmets — and better food
  • Super-high tech computers, with almost immediate signal. I also think that Apple(Macintosh computers) will be more advanced and more popular.

Interesting, eh?

Peace (says the robotic teacher),
Kevin

My own little CyberSurvey 2008, part one

Usually, once a year, I try to give an online survey (using Survey Monkey) to my sixth graders to get a sense of how they are using technology and how they perceive technology and education. The first seven questions that I posed to my students were itemized and the last two questions were short answers.

Tomorrow, I will share some of the short answer responses, but here are the results from the first seven questions:

I find it interesting that so many consider themselves “advanced” in using technology tools; that video and music are at the heart of how they are using technology (it must be at home); that a good majority of them enjoy writing (yeah!); that so many think the use of the computer as a tool allows them to be a better writer (although I did not define what I meant by “better” so it may be a bit unclear if I am talking about content or proofreading); and that so many want to learn more about interacting with others via technology.

Peace (in unofficial data),

Kevin

My Day in A Sentence

Even though I put my sentence on the VoiceThread for this week (see post down below), I missed seeing it as part of my blog archive, so here it goes:

I got an article published in the local newspaper about my new XO, leading the other newspaper to interview me for their own article on the XO, and my hope is that both articles help advance the ideas of technology and education in the developing world.

Peace (in sentences),

Kevin

Day in a Sentence: VoiceThread Experiment

I want to invite you into this week’s Day in a Sentence feature, and I am adding yet another twist to the equation. I have created this very simple VoiceThread and I want to invite you to post your sentence in my VoiceThread.

You can do it as text, as audio, or talking into a webcam. VoiceThread makes this so very easy to do. Here is the link to VoiceThread for the homepage, where you can set up an account in minutes.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://voicethread.com/book.swf?b=37834" width="500" height="600" wmode="transparent" /]

If this is impossible for you, then, by all means, leave your Sentence here as a post, but I really do hope folks will try out VoiceThread.

Peace (in threads),
Kevin