Oh Yeah, THAT’S Why I Teach!

I am extremely excited about the new project that my students are working on. While looking at some of the offerings of that wonderful wiki cooltoolsforschools, I found a site Storybird that allows the user to create a book. I decided to have students create their narrative paragraphs using the artwork that the site offers. They were to create a narrative paragraph that could be illustrated by existing artwork and made into a children’s book. Immediately, I could see the students perk up and the enthusiasm build. We worked on it for three days last week, and each day, the sounds in the room were absolutely wonderful. The sound of motivated, excited students discussing the program and their ideas fed my teacher soul.

First the students watched the tour of Storybird which is quite brief and simple (as is the program); then I told them that they could collaborate with another student or work alone (offering extra credit to those that chose to collaborate). Next we spent a class period looking at the artwork of the multitude of artists on the site. After finding an artist’s work that they liked, I asked them to use Google Docs to work on their paragraphs.  After discussion with a colleague, I revised my directions to allow them to do either task first (write sentences to go with pictures or create the paragraph then find pictures to go with those sentences). Students reacted positively to that change. There is not only one way to successfully achieve a task, so I  let go of my idea of how I thought it should be done.

Students will be graded in two ways. Their narrative paragraph will be graded traditionally with a rubric that targets specific writing skills. The book will be graded with a different rubric that focuses more on the relationship between the pictures and the text. I plan to then post links to each student’s book on a classroom wiki. I so love when my ideas or teaching inspire students to be excited about learning. Learning should be an adventure! Links to the books were place into the class wiki; to see the result, select the following graphic.

My Storybird Book

Educational Videos

Well, here’s my third attempt at a video. They’re no more compelling than the PowerPoints (and Zoho) presentations that I’m taking the slides from. I need to learn more skills to make them more sophisticated, more interesting. I guess that I need a different program than the Windows Movie Maker. Here’s one that I created with my new career in mind.


Wow, I love technology! It never ceases to amaze me. Karen Hamilton, you’ll remember that she is my greatly admired friend and former classmate, posted a video that was an example of animated typography. I hadn’t seen it before, or if I had, I didn’t recognize it as the amazing creation that it is. Unfortunately, it seems that an expensive piece of software is necessary to create it (Adobe Illustrator). Here is an example:

What Teachers Make by Taylor Mali

I have so much to learn!

Michael Wesch

Michael Wesch from Kansas State University does such compelling work; it makes me wish I could go to college in Kansas! He says that rather than trying to help our students be knowledgeable; we should help them to be knowledge able. I agree; we can no longer expect that it’s enough to teach our students what to think; we must focus on teaching them how to think.  His YouTube channel has other very interesting videos about technology and education.

Wow, I’m Impressed!

This is a great video about updating our teaching methods created by a middle school film club.

Tax Break?

Well, I got my first check of the new year with the new tax break. Apparently, I did not pay close enough attention to the details. This tax break is for those that pay into social security. In actuality because of a combination of our district two year pay freeze and the new provisions, I will earn $24 less per month, $288 per year. I am not sure that this is what our president intended. I wonder if he knows.

Happy New Year!

2011, wow! Last year was a good one for me; I was able to accomplish some goals, and my family continues to be in good health (with a few blips here and there). All in all, 2010 was a very good year for me. I look forward to making this year just as good. New year’s resolution? The same as it’s been for several years…to be more positive. I know that I cannot control others or cannot always control what happens to me, but I can control my reactions. I do believe that life is what I make it (I said that long, long before Hannah Montana–as my students have informed me said it). If I choose to ignore the bad as much as possible, to put a positive spin on everything that I can, then life just seems better (leading naturally to happiness). That’s my plan…and I’m stickin’ to it!

Peace in 2011

Previous Older Entries