Wax Museum

Wax Museum
Vistors listen to students and view keynotes at the "Wax Museum."

Monday, December 22, 2008


Our newest project is making a movie with imovie. Students are working on movies about our community. For time and convenience, I did the leg work by taking pictures of our community. I took pictures of places in our community and surrounding area. Students are using the photos to make a movie.

First, they had to plan by using a storyboard graphic organizer. They organized photos and wrote out what they were going to record about each pictures on the storyboard. This took them about three class periods. Some students even had to make phone calls to local businesses and ask questions about it to ensure accuracy in their work, while planning.

Next, students used a flash drive and put the photos into iphoto. From there they placed them into imovie and organized their photos into the photo track.

Third, they recorded their descriptions of the photos on to imovie. Finally, they had to edit their work. In addition, their movies will be uploaded to a global project that my class is involved in.

This project is an example of project based learning too. Students used writing across the curriculum, social studies, and 21st century skills.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Wordle and Reading

Today students read a passage in their novels; then created a character Woodle using http://www.wordle.net/ They were assigned to write words that described the main character in their novel. A brief discussion was given about words that we use to describe characters first.

Wordle allowed students to use their creativity to show what they know about a main character in a story, as well as improve their vocabulary and knowledge of descriptive words. Furthermore, it was a quick check of comprehension skills without answering questions. Their finished product will be used for a grade, and placed outside the classroom as artwork.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Project Based Learning

Our leadership project is a great example of project based learning. I covered numerous standards in this activity from Social Studies, Reading, Writing, and Technology Skills. Students were engaged in the research because they used the Internet. They enjoyed creating the keynotes because it allowed for creative thinking. Finally, they were extremely excited about the Wax Museum performance. They had to problem solve on how to make a costume that portrayed their character. A wonderful youtube video called "Colonial Day-How to Make a Costume" helped them come up with ideas.

On the day of the performance, students were more then ready to display their work and what they learned; as well as very proud to show their knowledge of Social Studies concepts and technology.

Students did a great job of acting and remaining calm during their Wax Museum performance even when older students tried to distract them. Good job, class! I'm proud of you.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


For the past two weeks students have been working on their leadership projects. They have researched their leader using the Internet. Written a paper describing the qualities of the leader and accomplishments. Then compared themselves to their leader. Finally, they have prepared a keynote about their leaders.

The cumulative activity will be to hold a "Wax Museum" next week. Students will portray their leader and have their computers set up with the keynote running; so they can be viewed by our visitors.

I will post the results of the "Wax Museum" later.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Computers as a Tool

Students need to learn that computers are a great tool to be used for everyday things. Today students used their computers to look up unknown words they found in their reading. They had the choice of using www.dictionary.com or their dashboard dictionary on their Mac. When writing, I often have them use these tools to enhance word choice by using dictionary.com thesaurus.

In addition, students have started a research project on leadership. They have been assigned a leader; and are learning how to research using the internet. We discussed valid websites earlier in the year, so they know what to look for. This type of activity allows students to learn social studies skills while practicing reading and writing skills.

One key concept to keep in mind is most elementary students aren't ready to do research without guidance. Therefore, I prepared them with a folder and cards before turning them loose on the internet. They have specific items to research; for example, childhood history, leadership qualities, and interesting facts. Again they have been give a time limit of three days to complete their online research. Also, I am on my feet and walking the room while students are researching. They need to be aware that the teacher is watching and paying attention to what they are doing.

Guidelines, preparation, time tables, and teacher monitoring help elementary students achieve success while completing an online research project.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Creating a Podcast

The first step to creating a podcast is to write your material and practice reading it. Once again we're working on writing skills with a little reading fluency sprinkled in just for fun. We have paired up with another class this time since they are working on some of the same skills we are.

Students were put into groups and assigned to write a podcast on the circulatory system, respiratory system, or how to keep the systems healthy.

After writing and practicing, students will record podcast using garageband. They will be allowed to add a few pictures to their work. Finally, podcast will be shared with iTunes and put on classroom ipods. Students will be given four and one half science class periods to complete the work.

Often when using technology, students must be given a time limit for project completion. This keeps students on task, and provides the ones seeking total perfection a cut off time.

Reading, writing, science, collaboration, and student engagement all in one lesson. That is smart teaching!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Just Plain Fun

Some days students think technology is just plain fun. Today students used science websites to reinforce concepts learned and to discover things that they would never discovery otherwise.

Students used the following website to review concepts on the human body. http://www.sciencenetlinks.com/interactives/systems.html

They also used Ed heads to conduct virtual surgery. http://www.edheads.org/ This is as close as they will get right now to conducting real surgery. Maybe someday a few will grow up and work in the medical field. It was extremely humorous to watch this activity. Right away you know who could handle a medical job in the future and those who can't. However, all enjoyed the websites and thought them to be just plain fun! Check it out for an amazing experience.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Using Interactive White Boards

In my opinion every technology rich classroom should include an interactive white board. It is just one more avenue to engage students in learning. They can be used in all subject areas, and are extremely easy to use.

This week I made a Tic Tac Toe game for reading; then used it in a small group situation. I could have very easily used it with my whole class as well.

Students reviewed text structure today by using the Promethean Board and the activotes. I divided the small group of six into two teams. Students took turns reading the text. As a team they had to decide the text structure; then they used the acitvotes to select their answer. My rule was everyone on the team had to have the correct answer before they could put a game piece on the Tic Tac Toe game. If one team did not get the answer correct, the other team could vote on the answer and steal a turn. Kids loved using the activotes and moving the game pieces on the borad.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Scavenger Hunts

On Tuesday students completed a scavenger hunt. I find sites on the Internet that relate to our classroom curriculum; then I create a scavenger hunt worksheet that goes along with the site. These worksheets include directions for navigating the site and comprehension questions. I always create the questions in sequential order related to the text students will be reading.
This week they used the site at Kids Health to learn about the heart and how it works.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Technology Everywhere

Today students used digital cameras to take pictures of fractions; then they wrote sentences about their pictures. The sentences had to state an example of the fraction. This was a hands on way for students to understand that a fraction is part of a whole group.

Later students completed a scavenger hunt on the heart at Kids Health. http://kidshealth.org/kid/htbw/heart.html

Finally, students typed up their scary Halloween stories using pages.

Students spent three and a half hours today using technology, reading, writing, and doing math across the curriculum.

What a great learning day.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Math Technology

I use technology across the curriculum. Students used the Promethean board today to learn about ordered pairs. I used a lesson I downloaded from Promethean Planet.

I also made arrangements with the music teacher to work on multiplication facts by using the computer. Student wrote songs for various facts using familiar tunes; such as Old McDonald.
They will record the songs using Garageband next week; then save them to itunes. I will put the songs on our ipods, so students can listen to them later. I will play one song a day on our sound system to share student work.

This is a great example of using technology,reading, and writing across the curriculum. Students are engaged and learning is embedded into young minds. Those who are struggling with math facts will soon learn them.

Oh how I love technology!

Reading High Tech

After our regular reading lesson in which we read 4 chapters today, students went to http://www.history.org/kids/ At this website they read about colonial people. They were particularly interested in the role of the apprentice since the main character in the story is an apprentice to Capt. John Smith.

They also started a story elements web using inspiration. This will be finished and posted when we finish the book. Next week, student will participate in a webquest at http://www.sites4teachers.com/links/redirect.php?url=http://oncampus.richmond.edu/academics/education/projects/

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Integrating Reading and Writing

I believe that reading and writing go hand in hand. I can't teach one without the other, so today's assignment overlaps reading, writing and technology.

After reading students used Pages to make postcards from Jamestown. Students had to write a postcard from Samuel's point of view to a friend in England. They were not allowed to say anything negative about the new colony-Jamestown. (Chapter 9 stated that the Virginia Company would not let the colonist write any negative letters home.) Students were allowed to put one picture on their postcard, and a picture of a stamp on it.


Today students examined their blog post. I showed them my personal blog as well as other online blogs. I pointed out specifics about blogging. I made a point to show them that blogging is not texting, and that formal language is always used in a blog. (I did this because many of my students were using texting in their blog post.)

After reading chapter ten silently, they were assigned to summarize the chapter in five sentences on their blog post today. I will use this posting as a grade for students. I will grade students on content and their use of formal language. My goal is to teach summarizing and for students to realize that blogging is not texting.


On Monday and Friday my students work in skill rotation groups, during reading. We focus on skills that are on our state assessment. I have two other teachers that come into my room at this time. Students are divided into three random groups. Each teacher teaches a mini lesson, or works on a skill. Sometimes each station is a different skill, but if students are struggling with a concept; we will all work on the same skill by using different modalities.

Whenever possible I use technology in my rotation. One management tip is to have the first group sit up their computers and log on to the site we will be using that day. Those original computers stay at my station for the entire time. This makes rotations go seamlessly. Students do not have to stop, get out computers, and log on each time they rotate. Here are just a few of the websites I use during this time.




I have established a portal http:/guest.portaportal.com/tgilley313 that my students use in class or at home. The portal allows for easy access to websites and an online bookmark storage for me. It is much easier to tell students go to the portal; then it is to spout off a URL. The portal also elevates students having to type the URL.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Students blogged about the theme of the book today using our 21classes blog. The question I ask them was what lesson was Capt. John Smith trying to teach Samuel when he made him stand on one foot. I will view responses today and allow. During our next lesson, students will view comments made by their peers. I required formal written language in the blog post.

The ripple of excitement spread through the room as students were blogging. They love this because it makes them feel grown up.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Integrating Reading and Technology Into the Content Area

After students read chapters 1-3 today of their novel and checked out the author bio online, they went to Social Studies for Kids: http://www.socialstudiesforkids.com/articles/ushistory/13colonies1.htm
At this website they read about the 13 colonies. Students opened an inspiration document and completed the concept map template while reading. Students had to compare the upper, middle, and lower colonies in the areas of food, school, church, and farming. This activity took forty five minutes. Students spent a total of two hours and thirty minutes today reading. One hour and thirty minutes of that time was spent online between reading the author bio and the Social Studies for Kids website. They were totally engaged!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Create a Classroom Blog

One of the first things that I did to improve reading and writing skills while engaging students is create a classroom blog. I use http://21classes.com it is free and protected. Only my students and myself can see this blog. Since I teach elementary students, I don't want everyone in the world seeing their blog post. The great thing about 21classes is you must preview and allow all post before students can see them.

This improves writing skills because it is public-everyone in the class will see your post. I do not allow students to use informal language in this format. Blogging also requires the student to reflect on his or her reading.

Here was the blog post that students had to reflect on today for chapters 1-3 of "Blood on the River Jamestown 1607": Was it right or wrong for Samuel to steal his mother's locket from the pawn shop? Explain your answer.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Technology Improves Reading Skills

Last year, my students increased their reading skills by thirty percent on the state reading assessment. The only change that I made in my classroom was integrating technology. Over the next few weeks my classroom will be reading the Novel "Blood on the River Jamestown 1607" by Elisa Carbone. I will post activities and projects that my students complete on this site, so others can see how technology is used in a tech rich classroom.

One of the first things we will do is visit the author's website and read her bio. http://www.elisacarbone.com/bio.html After students read the author's bio, they will write their own bio. I will model this before students write their own version. Then they will read chapter 1-3 in the book.

Why use technology in the classroom?

Let's face it today's students are digital learners. They have grown up with computers, MP3 players, flat screen T.V.'s, ipods, and cell phones. Because of this their brains are wired differently. Using technology is just a part of their everyday life. When students come to school; they quickly become board with paper pencil task. So why not use what works for them-technology.

The advantages of using technology in classrooms are student engagement, leveled playing fields for all learners, and increased problem solving. I have learned by experience that students are on task and engaged by technology more so then traditional teaching methods. In addition, the technology provides the ability for all students to create a neat, organized project. This gives students that are not neat nor organized a learning advantage; therefore, their projects receive grades that are equal to their peers. Technology increase problem solving skills because students have to figure out problems as to how to use the technology to create specific projects and task.

It is my belief that technology should be available to all students in the 21st century because it is now a way of life. In order for our students to be productive citizens in the future, they will need to be able to use technology to survive. Educators and legislators have got to find a way to provide students with the best technology tools and skills in order to maintain the status quo.

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