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Green With Envy

by Briana in iPads, Science Comments: 0

photo credit: leg0fenris via photopin cc

photo credit: leg0fenris via photopin cc

In early April I met with my 3rd grade team and they mentioned doing a green screen project in Science. Well, well, well! Little did they know I had just ordered a green screen! I’m a mind reader, in case you didn’t know. 🙂

So, they give me the rundown on the project. The kiddos were studying weather and climate and the teachers decided to have students take their research, data and graphs and turn it into a weather forecast. Love it! Let’s get started!

So I said. But, if you know anything about technology things don’t always go as planned. It started with the arrival of the green screen kit. It is a great kit with two lights, light boxes, stands, a green backdrop, and backdrop stand. Awesome! I was SO excited to open the box and break out the setup. I unzipped the case and gave it a once over…whoo hoo! We’re ready to go.

A day later I’m showing my colleague the setup and…screech of breaks…THERE’S NO GREEN SCREEN! AND NO STAND! Clearly I wasn’t paying attention when I opened the box! So, I email the company and wait. I hear back from them a day and a half later…they’re sending the green screen and stand and apologized for the inconvenience.


Great! We have everything; green screen, lights, the DoInk Green Screen App! Let’s roll! What is that I hear? Screeching breaks? AGAIN! Ever have one of those ideas that fights back? Well, this is one of them! I bought the Green Screen app, but our iPads do not have the most up to date iOS! No go with the app. On top of that, it’s the beginning of Passover Break…7 days off!

And we’re back! Time to update the iPads; one of my favorite tasks!

Eventually, we’ll get to the project. Until next time!


Never Too Young for Project-based learning

Edutopia featured this video on their Facebook page today about an Early Childhood center that uses project-based learning and the students’ input to guide their curriculum. Pretty cool! This is how learning SHOULD be!

Flubaroo for You!

Do you use (or want to!) Google Forms to give your students assessments? If not, you should be! Environmentally friendly, easy on the back and organized, Google Forms are a great way to assess students whether it be a short quiz or essay test.

But what about grading? And giving students feedback? Their scores? I hear you, but that’s where Flubaroo comes in! It’s a free add-on service available to Google Apps users that will grade all of those tests for you! Whoo hoo! Don’t you just love less work!

So, how does it work, you may ask. You begin by creating a Google Form and creating your questions. After the form is created, you take the quiz, creating the answer key. Next, assign the quiz to your students. Once everyone is done, grade the quiz with Flubaroo and review the grades. Lastly, you can email the grades to students. (This assumes you asked them for their email as part of the quiz.) That’s it! Pretty easy, huh!

You can learn more and get the Flubaroo Script here. Here is a step-by-step overview as well. Have fun giving quizzes! I’m sure your students will LOVE it! 😉

Facebook for Rocks?

While searching for a “fake” profile page to help teach Internet Safety I came across the Tomorrow’s Tech in Today’s Schools blog by David. The post I came across, Facebook project & template,  is about Facebook templates for the classroom! David has done all of the work for you by creating a Facebook template in PowerPoint. It’s not just the Wall or Info page, he hyperlinked the Wall, Info and Photos pages to make a more realistic Facebook page.

His example is a Facebook page for John F. Kennedy. It’s a great way to get kids to think about a person, what they did, what they may have thought and how they impacted history. Not only can students use this as a way to report on a person’s life, they can also use it for writing about any object, invention, theme, or process. Just imaging a Facebook page for Schist!

Schist Boy, it’s getting hot around here!

Sandstone I’ve got ya beat! Not only is it hot around here, but man am I ever getting the squeeze!

Schist Hot! There! You’re not the one being subducted by these tectonic plates!

Basalt Will you both quit you’re whining! I’m wastin’ away in the wind and nobody cares! 🙁

Just think about Schist’s Info page and Photo page. All of Schist’s characteristics and pictures of “family” like Quartzite or Gneiss and “friends” like Shale and Limestone. What a creative and fun way for students to think about and present information.

BrainPop & ActiVotes/ActivExpressions

So, this isn’t new, but it may be for some. BrainPop, that wonderful animated video site, is integrated with Promethean’s ActiVotes and ActivExpressions. What does this mean for you? Well, the next time you show your class a video and get to the quiz, you can plug in your ActivHub, fire up the votes or expressions and have your class take the quiz using a familiar tool!

To set up the connection between BrainPop and the ActiVotes or ActivExpressions, you will need to download and install the Flash Bridge. It can be found here.

Once the Flash Bridge is installed you will be able to see the ActiVote or ActivExpression icon seen at the bottom or the image.

To see the ActiVotes and ActivExpression in action visit BrainPop’s web site to view a webinar. Or, stop by and see me for a demonstration!


What kind of scientist will you be?

Portrait of Robert William Holley (1922-1993), Biochemist

White lab coats and glasses…is that what comes to mind when you think about scientists?

Well, at the Smithsonian there are many scientists with unique and interesting jobs, all minus the white lab coat! How about being a Coral Whisperer or an Amphibian Ace? Kids (and adults) often don’t know much about what scientists do, where they work or just how fun their jobs can be. Being a scientist doesn’t mean always being stuck in a lab!

Whether your learning about different scientific areas or talking about jobs people have, don’t forget to share the awesome jobs on the Scientists @ the Smithsonian site! Students can see the scientists in action, read their profiles and explore resources related to the scientist’s job.

Photo from the Smithsonian Institution’s photostream on The Commons

Wikipedia…is it an educational resource?

Every year this comes up, so here’s a reminder of how and why.

Over the years educators have debated the value and reliability of Wikipedia as a source for educational projects. I have always been FOR students using Wikipedia! But, I always make sure my students know how and when to use it.

The guidelines include using Wikipedia for…

  • background/overview information
  • technical and unfamiliar terms
  • pop culture
  • quick facts or trivia
  • and…most importantly, its bibliography!

I always teach my students to go to the source of information and well written Wikipedia articles give you that. If a Wikipedia article doesn’t have a bibliography with sources you can go to, then it’s not a good choice for school research.

20110912-082906.jpgLibrarians are often against Wikipedia for academic work, but The Daring Librarian (aka. Anne Bronwynne Jones, one of Library Journal’s 2011 movers and shakers!) has a wonderful, albeit older, blog post on why she is FOR using Wikipedia. It’s worth the 10 minutes.

So, as we embark on another school year, remember to teach your students to use resources appropriately and responsibly, rather than sticking your head in the sand and pretending they won’t use Wikipedia just because you said so!

Scientific Micro-origami

Here’s another WOW! This video is a series of micro-origami creations that expand when in contact with water.

So, how does this work? Here are some resources to help your students understand what’s happening.

Color changing celery

Escaping Water

Celery Rocks!

Crab Balls!

Wow! Next time you’re teaching about crustaceans, be sure to share this with your students. Or just show it for fun!

Click on the image of the crab to see the sand bubbler Crab in action.

How to do Research

The Kentucky Virtual Library has created an interactive map outlining the research process geared toward elementary students. Throughout the process students can click on a step to learn more about it and see examples. There is a lot of information, but you can focus on the parts your students need to know.

This is a fun way to review how to work on research projects, but students will need to be walked through the process.