Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Flip Cameras on Field Trips

Our principal just purchased six new flip cameras for upper grade students to use.  This will be a great addition to field trips - imagine when our 4th graders go the the North Carolina outer banks this spring...  The history there:  there is the mystery of the "Lost Colony" in Manteo, what happened to that first colony and the first European baby born here?  The shipwrecks off the coast, the legend of Blackbeard who lived and pirated these waters, and died here, the wild horses found on the northern banks and on Ocracoke -- these horses are of Spanish descent (checked by DNA) and are thought to have survived when ships wrecked and swam to shore to live and reproduce.  The horses' descendants still inhabit the islands.  The thrill of visiting the historic lighthouses, all with unique histories and the joy of the students capturing this on camera and making movies when they return to school. There are so many reading, writing, communication skills, technical skills and just plain fun in learning opportunities that it will take awhile to post it here and on the school webpage.  -- And this is just the example of one field trip.  There will be many to come.  Yippee!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Phones & Driving

This is my 2 cents worth:
Technology - it is great and there are apps for just about everything.  It can become a "jazz" thing of always learning the new thing and moving on with it, but you should always look at the application and its uses and even its effect on others.  Recently I saw a tweet about a website that offers "hands free" apps while driving.
This might be a great thing for a few folks who may be driving long distances with little traffic around them, but for many who are driving in dense traffic or bad weather, this could be just the one thing too many that causes an accident.  When I am stopped at a traffic light, I will answer my phone, but as soon as traffic begins again, I say good-bye, or use the other option and pull off the road.  Driving while talking on the phone does distract the driver from giving full attention to safety. This cartoon says a lot. It's not just their safety, but the safety of all who are near-by.  Take responsibility for yourself and others.  Leave the phone alone while driving.  As of December 1, 2009, it is illegal to text while driving in NC. Talking on the phone is legal while driving.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Orville & Wilbur Wright - PPS Mega 3

The big day has arrived - our students are ready, they've researched Orville and Wilbur Wright, from Ohio to North Carolina - they've written a script, posted their work on the wiki, and practiced their skit.  But first, there are some other presentations to watch and an interactive presentation about robotics.  Teams of middle school students made robots - they researched to determine a purpose for their robot, then developed it to complete that task.  Our students and teachers were thrilled as these students shared their projects.  This all day videoconference was PPS (Pittsburgh Public Schools) Megaconference 3.  Schools from Pittsburgh, PA, NC, TX, Canada, and England participated; schools from elementary through high school.

The fun of the culminating activity of collaborative projects -- sharing it with others, interactively, adds dimensions of learning to students and teachers.  They stretch their abilities and observe other students in their pursuits.  The atmosphere, the joy, the presentation skills, all allow opportunities to students. And to teachers, as they thoughtfully interact with students in discussion of the presentations, oral and written reflections of the activities.

Our students will travel to the outer banks of North Carolina this spring and visit Kitty Hawk.  They will film and post videos and blogs of their travels - stretch the learning - take it to new layers.  "12 seconds that changed the world" refers to the first flight of the Wright brothers.  Yet, technology in education is changing the world as our students perceive it - and opening the world to our students, not to just a few who can afford to travel, but to all who can find internet access - sharing this learning through blogs, webpages, wikis, videos, videoconferences, twitter, web 2.0 tools, collaborative tools, and the new, yet to be invented, communication tools that enhance learning.