Posted in Salem City Schools

Ways to Set Up A Class Web Presence

This article is mainly for teachers at East Salem Elementary, and any new teachers at G.W. Carver.  It will give you suggested resources for setting up a web presence for your classroom.   Once you set-up your site, please let me know the address so I can link it to our schools’ homepage!

Options Tried by Other Elementary Teachers in Salem

Setup a Webpage

See me for software and initial setup.  Most of our staff in Salem is using this type of web presence.  It’s really not hard, and it looks very professional!

example:  Miss Erickson’s Kennel Club

Weebly

This is a web-based solution…you don’t need special software.  Not sure how long Weebly will remain free, but it’s great right now, and extremely easy!

example: Mrs. Dick’s Class

Edublogs

Create a class blog that includes homework.  Let me know if you decide on this option…I can help you turn off ads.

example: The Busy Bees

Classblogmeister

Create a class blog with separate blogs for your students too.  This is my favorite way to do student blogging.  Let me know if you decide on this option–I’ll send you our school set-up code.

example: The Coffey Crew

Other Options

These options have not yet been used by teacher at East or GWC, but I think they have potential.

Google Pages

example: Mrs. Richau’s Class

Tumblr

Posterous

Update by sending an email and it appears on your web page like a blog

Posted in Geocaching, Projects, Salem City Schools

Geobugs!!!

Last weekend, the Big Lick Geobug was sent on it’s way to Ms. Deyenberg’s Class in Alberta, Canada! If you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, then read this article on geocaching.

http://photopeach.com/public/swf/story.swf
Sending the Big Lick Geobug on its way…. on PhotoPeach (Pictures by Meg Swecker)

Basically, the idea is that our Big Lick Geobug will travel from cache to cache with geocachers…all the way to Canada. It will be a slow process, possibly, since some caches aren’t found for weeks at a time….but hopefully some geocachers can take it long distances. Meanwhile, classes in Salem and Roanoke County (with Meg Swecker) will track it’s movements!

Ms. Deyenberg is doing the same thing too. Her 5th Grade class is sending Flop the Other Dorothy Dalgliesh Dolphin to us! You can read about the geobugs below (and follow them too)!

Big Lick Geobug
Flop the Other Dorothy Dalgliesh Dolphin

It’s a long way to Alberta, Canada, so they might not make it, but we are keeping our fingers crossed!! Following the geobugs as they travel will help our students practice map skills….and Math (as they calculate how far each bug has traveled). Here’s a map with their starting and ending points:

These bugs have the summer to travel, and hopefully will have moved some by the time we come back in the Fall. If you would like to follow along next year, let me know. I can come show your class how to geocache (even tie it with a topic you are teaching), and make sure you receive updates anytime one of the geobugs moves! I think we have some 2nd grade teachers already who will be following along!

Posted in Ideas, Salem City Schools, TechABCs

S is for Skype!

Want to connect for free (or cheaply) with people all over the world?  Want to make video phone calls?  Skpye is a free way to do that!  All you need is your computer, a web cam (and East and GWC each have one you can borrow), and a free download!

Here are the steps:

1. Download and install Skype here.

2. Follow directions to create a Skype account!

3. Start calling.

For a step-by-step how-to guide, click here.

How do you use this in the classroom, you ask?  Lots of ways!

  • call another class in a different area of the world to find out about their home
  • call an “expert” on a topic you are studying
  • have someone dress up as a famous person or book character and call your class
  • play a game with another classroom at a different school
  • write riddles for other classes to guess
  • share writing

Can you think of other ways?

A few of our classes have been using Skype to connect with classrooms in different areas.  Mrs. Barnett’s Fourth Grade at East talked with students in Virginia Beach to learn more about the Tidewater Region of VA.
http://www.flickr.com/slideShow/index.gne?user_id=7637800@N06&tags=skypebarnett
Created with flickr slideshow.

Mrs. Hall’s Fourth graders at GWC answered the questions of a couple of students in Wisconsin who were doing state reports.
http://www.flickr.com/slideShow/index.gne?user_id=7637800@N06&tags=skypehall
Created with flickr slideshow.

Posted in Geocaching, Ideas, Salem City Schools

Geocaching

I found a new hobby!  It combines two of my favorite things: nature and technology!!  It’s basically high-tech treasure hunting.  Who can’t get excited about THAT?!

Here’s how it works.

  • go to http://www.geocaching.com and sign up for a free account
  • search for caches in a specific area (there are 4 at Greenhill park and many more in the area)
  • find the coordinates for them and read the descriptions of them (you may also want to look at the hints).
  • program the coordinates into your gps
  • go hunting.  You will probably want to take a pen/pencil with you.

If you find a cache, there are a few rules.

  • If there are items in the cache, you can only take one if you leave a different one.  No food of course.
  • Always hide the cache back where you find it.  Make sure you hide it so that it is just a difficult (or more difficult) than it was when you found it.
  • Sign and date the log book.  (you’ll probably want to log the find on the geocaching site too).

So, what does this have to do with the TEACHING with Technology blog?  Well, kids love treasure hunts!!  And what better way to get them outside and moving than a treasure hunt!  So here’s how you’d do it in the classroom.

  • Figure out a topic (I’ll list some ideas in a minute).
  • Hide caches (with puzzles or clues or questions) around the school yard.
  • Use the gps systems to make the location of the caches.
  • Send kids (groups of 4 would work) to go find the caches and solve the problems.

I had the opportunity to observe a group of third grades geocaching last Friday.  The teacher, Meggen Devlin, developed a Science Lesson that incorporated the gps systems.  She had students find hidden caches full of pictures different types of “trash.”  Students retrieved the pictures, and then based on what they had learned from a previous part of the lesson, used the pictures to make predictions about the rate in which the different items they found (all types of materials) decompose.  The gps section of the lesson was just a part of a bigger lesson, but it sure got the kids excited and active, and make them think!

I’ve also had the opportunity to talk with fellow ITRT, and expert geocacher, Debbie Newman.  Debbie has created geocaching units to help students review for SOL tests.  You can view some of her resources here.

Finally, our very own Victoria Salvat tried geocaching with Kindergartners!  She had parents help with the activity.  She hid Easter eggs full of sight words, and had students use the gps units to find them, and then read the words to the parent.  Here’s a video from her blog!

So what are some other ideas for using geocaching in the classroom?  Here are some ideas adapted from From: Jen Deyenberg on Twitter (@jdeyenberg):

  • Have students create shapes by marking waypoints for each corner.  Create a grid map showing the shapes and waypoints.
  • Hide caches with coins or other math items.  Have students solve math problems and bring back the correct answer.
  • Have students measure objects at each cache (pencils or some other object).  Have them find the average length.
  • Each cache has a clue to answer an ultimate problem.
  • Waypoint the corners of a space and then find the perimeter of it.
  • Have them find a type of triange at each cache.  When they are finished, have them sort by properties.

Some other ideas:

  • Have students find certain trees in the school yard.  Have the decide if it is deciduous or coniferous.
  • Hide objects dealing with a famous person.  Have the decide which person. (ex. peanut for G.W. Carver, baseball for Jackie Robinson, and so on.
  • Geo-Bingo!  Have students match pictures of items at their caches with a bingo card they carry.  I think we are going to do something like this with careers…matching careers with tools…in a Guidance class.

If you get fancy, you may want to place a travel coin or a geobug in a cache, and track it with your students!  Or create your own cache, and track who visits, and where they are from!

We have a classroom set of GPS units that you can use in the classroom!  Just let your librarian or I know, and well be glad to make sure the set is delivered to you.  I would love to help you set up and run the activity as well.

Does anyone have anymore great ideas?  If so, please post below!

Image: ‘Slightly north of here
http://www.flickr.com/photos/98092274@N00/210369709

Posted in Blogs and Blogging, Links, Salem City Schools

iGoogle Follow-up

Following the our iGoogle Workshop, I’ve had a few requests for blogs to add to your iGoogle page.  Here are a few I like to follow:

Technology in Elementary Classrooms:

Welcome to NCS-Tech
Instructional Technology Specialist
Artful, Tuneful, Beatful
Digital Passports
My Technology Journey
Primary Preoccupation
Tech Thoughts by Jen

Other ITRTs
(Pam Elgin) Technology Medley
(Meg Swecker) Giant Stride
(Brian McKee) Brians TRT Blog

I have many more of these if you want…

Gifted
(Amanda Gibson) The Gifted Corner

Smartboard Blogs:
Teachers Love Smartboards (probably my all-time favorite)
Talking SMARTBoards & Much More!

News:
BBC News in Pictures
CNN Top Stories
So Salem Blog
Roanoke Times

If you need help remembering how to add an RSS feed to your iGoogle Page, don’t forget to take a look at your iGoogle Handout.

If you find that you have a lot of blogs that you want to follow, it might be good to start using Google Reader.  Will visit that topic soon! 😉

Feel free to comment and add some of your favorites!