The annual Edublog Awards (known as The Eddies) are underway again this year. No, it is not part of the Edublogs blogging network (although James is graciously offering up some of his Campus blogging suites as prizes). It’s a way to recognize some of the outstanding blogging that is going on. What I like is that when the actual voting takes place, you can follow the links to the nominees and discover all new worlds of blogs out there.
I struggled with nominations, but here are a few:
Best Resource Blog: I love Two Writing Teachers, which is a place to reflect on writing practice and also, to write as teachers. Ruth and Stacey really bring a passion to what they do and are so willing to share their best practices — you can’t go wrong. (Another blog that is a must-see is Larry Ferlazzo, but I am hoping that others will nominate him — actually, I am sure of that).
Best Individual Blog: I love to read Matt Needleman’s Creating Lifelong Learners, which shows us how to think about video and audio in the classroom — not as an add-on, but as part of the curriculum itself. This is so important and Matt has some great insights. In fact, I think his K12 Online presentation was the best one that I viewed this year. I learn a lot from Matt.
Best Group Blog: OK, so I have written for this one from time to time, but TeachEng.us is a great resource for the English classroom. The lesson plan and ideas run the gamut from elementary to high school classrooms. Plenty of good teaching ideas here.
Best use of Social Networking: Although I have been absent from discussions there (sorry), the Fireside Chat network is a place of rich discussions that move beyond the day to day of teaching and education. Connie has established a warm and inviting place to connect with others.
Best use of Audio: I think Teachers Teaching Teachers continues to develop as an outstanding home for quality discussions and topics, and the podcasts are a great way to stay informed and keep up to date on what is happening in the worlds of education, writing and technology.
Best New Blog: I like what Bill Gaskins is doing over at his Blogging on the Bay. He offers up reflections and insights and shows by example. I hope the teachers in his network are following his lead and moving deeper into technology integration.
Best Use of Video: I love what George Mayo is doing with video in his classroom, and how his students are becoming real movie producers of small movies. (Oh, my class is joining his stop-motion project). George is a real leader in collaborative projects.
My friend, George, is up to something interesting again (last year, it was the inspiring Many Voices for Darfur project) and it reminds me that what goes around, comes around. Last year, George asked about integrating stop-motion animation in the classroom as my class was engaged in claymation projects. Now, he has a group of kids calling themselves The Longfellow Ten who are creating and producing stopmotion films around literary terms. And he asked if my students might be interested in joining his students, and possibly others, in building up a site of short stop-motion films on certain themes (George, can we do Math in the spring?).
I looked at my schedule, cleared out a few things and today, I began working with all four of my classes on stopmotion movies. I just let them play today and they had a blast, using the freeware (StopMotion Animator) and webcams and a few even made it into Moviemaker to start messing with titles. Tomorrow, we move on to the real lesson. They will be working in small groups to develop a short movie on a literary theme that is part of our curriculum:
First Person Point of View
Third Person Point of View
Here is a picture of them at “work” today.
And here is a little movie that I made with one of the classes to show how it is done.
I’ve been thinking in syllables this week (maybe some residual sickness?) and so it seemed natural to return Days in a Sentence to a former version of itself, known as Day in a Haiku. I invite you to boil down your week or a day in your week into a haiku (traditional structure: 5-7-5 or non-traditional) and share it out with us here at Day in a Sentence.
Use the comment link on this post to submit your words. I will keep them in a moderation bin until this weekend, when I will publish them all.
I am putting the finishing touches on the tutorial I am going to show my students as we launch into the Hero Journey Project that I have been writing about. Take a look and steal from it what you need:
I like to pose some tech-related questions to my students each year, just to get a sense of where they are at with their own use of technology. I usually tack on this question: What will a classroom of the future (say, 50 years from now) look like? The answers are always amusing and interesting. This year, a big theme — floating chairs and desks.
Check out some of the student responses:
The desks will hover
Floating desks and robot teacher
A bunch of jet packs.
Exactly the same, but all electronics smaller.
It might have floating desks, electronic chalk boards,and other things like that
I think they wouldn’t have chalk boards anymore; they would have the kind of board we have in the library — the “Alive” board or whatever; and they would have a computer attached to every desk and an electric pencil sharpener. The children would have personal white boards so they could envision what they’re learning. They would also have better heating and Air conditioning. 😉
A classroom in the future will have a robot teacher. Hmmmmm, maybe we can break it.
Cool with hats that tell you stuff
The walls might be made of slate and instead of desks we could have the teachers desks.
The desks will float, the chairs will have rockets on the bottom of them, and everything will be chrome.
robots take over the world
An old cob web place like very haunted house
There will not be school so there will not be one (classroom of the future)
There would be lots of Mac’s and no chalkboards. (there would be no chalkboards so teachers couldn’t write down homework :D:D:D)
It might be all white, have solar panel windows and desks and chairs that hover in the air
Flat screen computers that hang on the wall, floating desks, and animated teachers
Who knows what it could look like? It will be surprise. Hopefully the fab Mr.H will still be teaching.
White walls — fake windows — robot teachers — smart-boards in every classroom — all desks will also be computers
I hope Dr.cool is still teaching!!
I also took all of the answers and threw them into Wordle:
It’s nice to know that teacher will still be needed, although a few of them have converted us into robots.
I wonder what your kids think if you pose the same question.
I knew this was possible (and thanks, Sheryl, for reminding me) but I had not done it, but … wow — moving my Hero’s Journey from Google Maps into Google Earth was very cool. And so simple: download the .kml file from my Google map and open it right up in Google Earth. So simple, and yet, being able to move across the globe like that, and to zoom down into the terrain … pretty amazing.
Want to give it a try? Here is the kml file from my Hero’s Journey sample. I am hoping you can just open it up and it will launch your Google Earth application (if you have it and if you don’t or need the Earth update — as I did — it will walk you through the process).
So, I had this idea … (don’t these projects all begin like that?). We have just finished reading The Lightning Thief, which is a fantastic book set in Modern Day against the landscape of Greek Mythology that has as its main character a boy (Percy Jackson) who is considered dyslexic and ADHD, but who finds out he is really a half-god and must avert World War III by returning the stolen Lightning Bolt of Zeus. The kids eat this book up and many were borrowing Greek Mythology books from the library. I had parents saying their kids were reading, on their own, more than I had assigned — for the first time that they could ever remember. Honest.
So, too bad we had to end it, right?
Next up: the graphic novel version of The Odyssey. I convinced my team to invest some of our shared resource funds into a set of the novel, which is going to be a perfect companion to The Lightning Thief, and should allow them to see how the travails of Odysseus (and his hubris) are alive and well in Percy Jackson. Plus, it has cool monsters and stuff. And it allows me to teach a bit about image and text and the dynamics of a graphic novel (this is another first for us).
So, I was trying to think about a project after we read The Odyssey and it occurred to me that a great project would be for them to create their very own Heroic Journey Home. It would be a creative journey, but how best to show it? Why not use an online mapping program, I realized, that would allow them to learn more about the technology and create something interesting. I thought about CommunityWalk — too many advertisements. I searched around for some others. Interesting, but nothing outstanding. And I kept returning to Google Maps and so, that is where I stand right now (but still searching).
And as it turns out, in writing class, we have been doing an entire descriptive writing project around monster, so there are illustrations of almost 90 monsters that they can draw upon to “encounter” on their way back home. Are you with me so far?
If so, can you give me some feedback on this sample Heroic Journey that I created?
View Larger Map
Thanks and peace (with as little hubris as I can muster),
I was interested to see what would happen if you Wordled the two political speeches: Obama’s acceptance and McCain’s concession. So, what the heck, I did it.
This is Obama:
I like how change and hope and world and new are out front (wordle takes text and recasts it based on frequency). I guess you can’t give a political speech when you win the presidency without saying America over and over again, right? But notice some of the smaller words and how they seem to capture details of ideas and policy. Interesting.
Here is McCain’s (which I had to edit the various “boos” and chanting from the text version that I was using):
Country is certainly front and center, and notice how differences is pretty prevalent, too. And, to give McCain credit, he noted the achievement of Obama in his speech. And of course, he mentioned Obama by name more than a few times (as opposed to Obama, whose reference to McCain barely registered in Wordle).
McCain should be commended for this line: “…he (Obama) managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving.”