What Queries Guide You?

This week, Day in a Sentence became Day in a Question. I’ll just let the questions speak for themselves this week. (What? No answers?)

  • What impact did I make on the lives of the twenty-one WCCA seniors who graduated Friday night? — Cynthia
  • When much of what we have taken as truths are being questioned, how do we prepare our students for an uncertain future? — Mary F.
  • Through what hoops will the state make us jump in order to make sure we haven’t left any children behind? — Chris
  • Why does it pour when it rains? — Eric
  • Do I avoid a stressful situation I seem to have extricated myself from (a football team worthy of a box-office dramedy screenplay), or jump back in with the promises from them that it will get better? — sara
  • Is the craziness surrounding Portfolios really worth the product? — April
  • Who helped you in your learning this week? Tracy
  • What are the elements of a class’ atmosphere that the students would say are most important for a feeling of safety-in-learning, collaboration, creativity, comfort, joy, and risk-taking in learning?Connie
  • What is the sound of 100,000 teachers not clapping? — David
  • If I stop engaging with the Luddites, then how can I help my organization move forward? Kathryn
  • At this time of the year I always wonder if being in a child centered project based classroom this year will really prepare my kids for the lecture based teacher centered classrooms of high school?Paul
  • How do you put aside a “blah” week and start anew? –– Me.

And two sketchcasts from Jo and Ken:

Peace (in collaboration),

More from the Digital Book Project: The Mitosis Rap

So, as some of you know, we are in the midst of writing and creating digital science books on the theme of Cell Mitosis. I keep extending the deadline, but early this week, the completion date will be final. It’s an odd balance of pushing them to keep making progress and leaving enough time for good quality work. I want them to be proud of what they are creating, but we can’t take months to do it. (Technology almost always adds a time element that is difficult to judge).

One group has been working on a rap song video, which they will be embedding inside their book to be viewed by the characters of their book. I was hoping more groups would move in this direction, but not too many have done so (more time?). Many are adding audio elements to the books and there is plenty of animation going on (more than in the past).

I have a Google Form that they will be using as their final reflections and then we will work on sharing the books with other students in our school (at least other sixth graders and maybe we will invite in fifth graders too. These books are not for younger students, however. The science is too complex, I think).

So, here is the Mitosis Rap from two very creative girls — take a listen too:

Mitosis Rap

Little Johnny fell down
And scraped his knee
Started screamin’ like crazy
Sayin’ someone help me
Sure his mama patched ‘im up
With some tape and glue
But the mitosis part is up to you

Let’s here you say!
Interphase, Prophase, Metaphase,
Anaphase, Telophase, and somewhere
In between comes Cytokinesis

You’ve spent most of your
Life in Interphase
Floatin’ around
Duplicatin’ DNA!!!!!!!!!!
P-P-P-P Prophase
It’s the time when the
Nucleolus disappears Along
With the nuclear membrane!

Let’s here you say!
Interphase, Prophase, Metaphase,
Anaphase, Telophase, and somewhere
In between comes Cytokinesis

After the spindle fibers
Start to form
It’s time for Metaphase to
Come on strong
Linin’ things up like a
Drill Sergeant

Peace (in cell division),

When the teachers sing … in protest of tests

The other day, I shared some lyrics I was writing for our school Talent Show. Each year, a bunch of staff members get together and perform. I re-wrote the words to Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours” to become “I’m So Bored” to offer up some solidarity to our students now in the midst of many hours of state testing.
We performed last night. Here we are (that’s me, with the soprano sax):

If you want to read the lyrics I wrote, here they are.

Peace (in protest),

Day in a Question?

Welcome to this week’s Day in a Sentence — which is turned on its head to become Day in a Question.
I’m using Sketchcast this week for my introduction. Sketchcast was around for a while, then offline, and now (thanks to a reminder from Larry), it seems to be back. The site allows you to create a virtual whiteboard video of sorts. (Although it does seem to be quirky still, as an earlier version with audio failed to play. So, this one is a “silent movie.”)
Anyway, your job is to boil down your week into a single question (an essential question, if you will), add it as a comment to this blog post and I will gather and publish all of our reflective queries over the weekend.

Peace (in sketches),

The Writers going Undercover

This is the second in my series of using Writer figurines for stopmotion movies (see post about the first movie). In this one, they are about to head out on an adventure with the National Writing Project. The little writing dudes (and dudette) are being shipped to various NWP sites over the summer as a “spy mission” to learn more about the work of the NWP’s Summer Institutes and they will be reporting back via a blog.
President Obama is also in this one, and I am sure he is proud to be involved (hahaha)

Peace (in movies),

ToonDoo Comics for Education

ToonDoo - the online comic cartoon strip creator!I have written about the ToonDoo comic site before, but they are now experimenting with a beta version for students. It is a closed-off classroom site and this morning, I got my administrative information and I am in the process of setting things up for my students to use. I imagine it will be a fee-based system later, but I love the many aspects of ToonDoo and see many possibilities.

Here is my classroom ToonDoo site — http://tiger.toondoospaces.com/ — and as I progress with it, I will report out on how it is going.

One of the things I like about ToonDoo, besides its simplicity, is that it is more than just a comic creation site. You can alter photographs, create your own crop of characters, re-edit your comic (or a friend’s comic), and think about art and writing together in new ways. ToonDoo is not the only site doing this, of course, so you may want to explore around a bit. My complaint with ToonDoo has always been that I did not want kids to be able to search around the public forums for adult comics (not that I ever found anything inappropriate, but still …) and this walled-off community for just the classroom seems like a good answer.


Peace (on the virtual funny page),

Want to learn Linux? Read the comics.

Linux is the open source software platform that continues to make inroads in the computing worlds. And many schools are now considering it as a no-cost alternative to Windows or Apple, too.

A site called Intrawebz (I am not sure if that is name of the publisher or the name of the site) has apparently put together some comics that explain the Linux operating system and the first issue about Ubuntu is available as a free ebook download. The second edition costs a few bucks, but there seems to be a way to bulk order for the classroom at some discount.

I am hoping to review the books for The Graphic Classroom in the future, but if you interest is piqued, go download the ebook yourself.

Peace (in comics),

A Music Video Look into Digital Science Books

I had my students upload some of their illustrations from their developing digital picture books on cell mitosis into a class Box.net account and then I grabbed the pictures and put them into Animoto for a neat little music video. I love the characters they are developing (and see if you can spot the “fork in the road” that will force a cell character to divide – ie, mitosis — and take both paths on their adventure).

Peace (in the class),

PS — It occurs to me that I should also be promoting the new book collection that I helped to edit with some distinguished professors. It is called The New Writing: Technology, Change and Assessment in the 21st Century Classroom (by Teachers College Press and NWP) and it looks at writing, technology and assessment in the classrooms Kindergarten through college. I mention it here because the chapter I wrote is all about the digital picture book project.

The New Dog, Duke

We got ourselves a new dog. Some of you may remember that we put down our old dog, Bella, about 18 months ago and we have pined for a new one since then. So, we “rescued” this lab/hound mix and he is such a sweetheart. His name is “Duke” and he is about 9 months old. The boys just love him and he is loving them right back.

Peace (in dogs),

PS — this is my submission to the Photofridays project for this week. Come join us!