Wordle in the Classrom

Today I used Wordle in the classroom for the first time.  I loved it!  More importantly, the kids loved it!

We have been working on thinking about our reading in reading workshop and today’s mini-lesson was about using our thinking to write a paragraph explaining our thoughts.  We were reading Sandra Cisneros’ “Eleven” (one of my personal favorites) and the kids were going to jot their thoughts while we read.

 However, I decided to Wordle the story first and presented it my class under the document camera.  I explained how Wordle worked and then we talked about the words that seemed most prominent.  My students then used that thinking to make some predictions about the plot of the story and the direction it would take.  It prompted some really great ideas and the visual really kept the kids interested.  I can definitely foresee using this a lot this year!

Monarch Emergence and Document Camera

Wow! This past week both of my classes were witness to one of nature’s miracles- the emergence of a monarch butterfly from its chrysalis. I have never managed to have both classes view this miracle as monarch usually emerge early in the morning, before we arrive at school. This year, I remembered to move their cage into the air-conditioned (and dark) supply closet overnight. When I removed them in the morning, both chrysalids were dark. I assumed that they would both emerge that morning. Well, lucky us- one held off until after lunch!

What made this experience even better was the fact that I hooked up the document camera and placed it only a few inches from the chrysalis. Then, I hooked up the document camera to the TV. Well, watching the monarch emerge, close-up, on the TV was amazing! (And it allowed me to keep the kids away from the cage so they didn’t inadvertently knock into it). Well, you could hear a pin drop as we watched our two boys crawl out of their chrysalis, flip upside-down, and slowly begin pumping their wings.

I love my document camera!!!

Document Camera in Action

Today I used my document camera in front of the class for the first time and it was a huge success!  The kids loved it and were fascinated that I could now show items on the board in color.  It definitely takes some getting used to (I kept moving the paper in the wrong direction) and I need to rearrange my front tables so that I can use the camera easily.  I look forward to using it even more as the weeks go on!

Our Eco-art book!

Yay! Today my class’ eco-art photobook arrived, and it turned out beautifully! The book includes photos of both class’ eco-art and the poetry that it inspired in my students. The book was created as part of the Voices….From the Land project through EIRC.

The book, a 12×12 photobook made on Shutterfly

The awesome back cover, a collage of the art created in our schoolyard.

One of the photo/poetry spreads. (Made smaller because I don’t want my students to be recognizable!)

Another photo/poetry spread

One of the poems that a student wrote after creating his group’s artwork.

Another poem.

The final page in the book- a photo I took inCape May coupled with my favorite quote (and mantra).

I am completely in love with this project. It is a great marriage of art, science/ecology, language arts, and technology. We will also receive books from two other schools (including one in New Zealand!). How cool is that?  Even cooler?  The fact that I might get to meet that teacher from New Zealand at a workshop this summer.  Talk about making global connections in a new world, huh?  Absolutely amazing.

My favorite quote from today was, “Wow, Miss M!  I am published in a real book!”

How Today’s Students Learn

Watch this short video summarizing some of the most important characteristics of students today – how they learn, what they need to learn, their goals, hopes, dreams, what their lives will be like, and what kinds of changes they will experience in their lifetime. Created by Michael Wesch in collaboration with 200 students at Kansas State University.

While the video is aimed at college level professors, the statistics apply to almost all of our students. While my students don’t spend time on facebook in class, they do spend hours at home on Myspace (which they are not even old enough to be a part of) and AIM. I think many new teachers, and some older teachers, are seeing this and adjusting their teaching for it. But too many teachers are continuing to teach out students in archaic methods that don’t apply to their lives. I love telling my students that many of them will have careers in industries that don’t even exist yet. However, we must do our best to prepare them for this. Make technology a part of your daily classroom lessons!

Technology in the Classroom

While looking at all the new products displayed at the NJEA Convention, I decided I really want a document camera (or an ELMO). My overhead projector works well enough, but it drives me crazy that I have to copy anything I want to display onto a transparency and then use it. A document camera would allow me to display everything from our read-alouds to my own writing notebook and work from there. It would be in color and could even use the same screen as my smartboard for the display! Of course, document cameras are not cheap. I know I can not afford to buy one on my own, so that means I have to convince the district that we need one or find a grant. I know I can go through DonorsChoose, but I am wondering if there are any grants out there in cyberspace that are for ELMOs/document cameras in particular. I am googling for every combination I can think of, but no luck yet!

Does anyone out there in the blogosphere use a document camera in their classroom? Specifically, in a language arts classroom? I would love to hear about your experiences and even recommendations!!

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