Saturday, March 24, 2007

Going on Vacation

For the first time in over 15 years I am going on vacation. Yeah!! My parents are looking after the kids and my wife and I are going to Sedona.

My students will be working on their fraction unprojects and I am looking forward to being away from the computer for a while. Drop in a give them some pointers if you can.

See you all in a week!!


Monday, March 19, 2007

Help Please

I am doing a project with my students. One of the categories that the students can choose is to create an online interactive game or boardgame. The key being that it has to be online and linked back to the class wiki.

I have some examples of interactive game sites
this site is nice but the powerpoint slides will not embed properly.

I have also looked at Quar and Quizstar. These sites are ok but not interesting to a 13 year old.

I will show them how to use a table in wikispaces and create a Jeopardy type game but this is so unsatisfying. I want them to have more fun than that.

Can anyone help?


Any ideas

Too Cool for School

My 8 year old son Cam has a reading journal that he records his daily reading in and then once a m0nth has a project to complete celebrating his accomplishments. This month he decided to write a letter to an author. His journal had the usual blackline master and he filled it out.

Cam reads the Droon Series by Tony Abbott.
Being the teacher I told him to write an email to the author and see if the author would write back. Cam doubled his efforts, wrote more and started to take pride in what he had written.

To top it all off the Tony Abbott wrote back. He really wrote back and it wasn't a form letter. My wife and I were impressed and Cam is realizing now just what has happened.
Here is what Cam wrote:

Dear Tony Abbott,
My name is Cameron Harbeck, I'm 8 years old and I really like your Droon Books. My parents recommend books because they love to read. My parents gave me a pack of your books and that is how I started reading your books. I have read lot of your series. The last book I read was Special Addition #2 - "Wizard or Witch?" I have #26-28 and Special Addition #4. I hope I can get these books # 22,23,24,25 and Special Addition #3.
All your characters are really funny but Neal is my favourite. Neal is funny because he eats too much and he does not have power. My favourite place in Droon is the dark lands. I really like Sparr's castle because it is cool and I would like to see the dungeon. I made a poster about your first book for my month end home reading project.
The stories on your Website are really good. Will make another series? I hope you do. Your books are very good.

Here is what Mr. Abbott wrote back:

Hi, Cameron. Thank you for writing to me. I'm glad to know that you are out there enjoying the Droon books. Neal is my favorite in a way, too. I just realized something I hadn't thought of before. Neal's name comes from two food things: his first name is from a restaurant that used to be in New York called O'Neals, and Kroger is the name of a supermarket where I grew up (Ohio), but not around where I live now (Connecticut). You are very cool to like the Dark Lands. I think I should probably write a book that talks about them more; write about what goes on there, how they started, who actually lives there and how. Thanks for the idea. I am starting a new series (in a month or so), and it will be out next year. It's called something like The Haunting of Derek Fish; it's for readers a little older than Droon readers, and will be spooky and funny at the same time. Thanks again for writing. Have a good day!
Tony Abbott

Instant reply for an 8 year old. We just went and filled bought the rest of the series. Thanks Tony Abbott. You are all class. You have made an 8 year old and his parents very happy.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Every tool you could ever want!!

A while back Darren and I created a site for students to find tools to make their blogs and wikis more interesting.

We callled it studentblogwikitools. I thought we were doing a great job. It had everything a student wanted until ............

Here is a site that has everything. Thanks Lynne for finding this. This site has so many applications that at first I just sat there with my mouth open. I will never get through all of these.

Then wait. All the applications are categorized and tagged. When you click on an application another window opens and gives you more information to better inform you about if this is the application for you.

I still like studentblogwikitools because it has examples of my students work and shows how kids, students can use applications out there to make their blogs and wikis better.

Warning Go2web2.0 may be addicting. Enter with caution ;-)

Friday, March 02, 2007

Student-Led Conferences and Electronic Portfolios

Ok before I go any further I do not like Internet Explorer. This is the second time that it has crashed (viva Firefox) and I have had to redo this post. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

The students at my school create powerpoint presentations about thier progress during the year. They spend many classes creating these keepsakes and are very proud to show their parents at our conferences. This year we had an excellent turnout with over 80% of parents sharing thier students school experience.

I have my students create a parent quiz and have them teach their parents Grade 8 math. This is an awesome experience to see if you haven't everdone it before.

The storage of these portfolios has been an issue. We want them stored locally to force the parents to come to the school and experience the student-led conference. At the end of the year we keep some examples but most get wiped off the server and we start again.

This year I will show the students how to use slideshare. Here are a few examples of the portfolios. I have some issues in posting them to the web. One is that the students have their last names all over the powerpoint. I have edited these 2 examples. The extra links to assignments on the server at school are also unavailable. You will see the hard work put into these portfolios. Please enjoy these efforts.

Here is her wikispace.

Here is her wikispace.

Here is her wikispace.
I want to make the entire process 2.0 next year. The dilema is that when you let them do it from home the experience of getting parents into the school is lost.

If you enjoy the samples of the students work I will post more. They will post to their class blogs 816, 817, 841, 873.

They might post them to their wikispace math section.