Archive for the ‘In the Classroom’ category

Virtual Guest Speakers to Enhance our Curriculum

October 16, 2007

I am spending a few days this week away from my classroom. I am participating in a Lesson Study with Day One and Two of the Open Court program. I was a bit nervous exposing my teaching in front of peers and coaches. I was thinking about threads in this weeks Creating Lifelong Learners by Mathew Needleman. At the same time I am listening to the Seedlings Podcast presentation for K12OnlineConference, flat agents of change.

So as a Flat Agent of Change; How do we enhance our curriculum? I think Mathew had a great idea. He has done so many things with bringing in video into the classroom. The concept of having a video conference with a real person is empowering. I was thinking on our next unit on City Wildlife. I can try to bring an expert into our classroom.

Nowadays it can be done virtually through different web tools. I have used a skype call with video. I don’t want to discuss the specific tool because, there are so many available. The big idea is that you can bring in an expert from anywhere. They can be across the street or across the world. Even for me, it doesn’t have to be video. It can be audio only.

How cool can it be to have several classrooms viewing the same speaker? This can be achieved with tools such as Flash Meeting or Ustream. Even better, would be to record these sessions and upload them to a blog for others to use or revisit the following year. So, how would you use video conferencing to enhance your curriculum, Open Court or otherwise?

Open Court Unit Openers

October 12, 2007

So what makes a successful unit opener?  Thanks Mathew; Creating Lifelong Learners  blog for the friendly nudge. I’ll be spending some time this next week looking at our next unit plan.  The unit opener is an opportunity to give your Language Arts curriculum a jump start.  Spending a day away from routines and exploring a concept is such an enriching experience.   It  sets the tone for the rest of the unit.

In  the introduction of my next unit I will have a small table in front of the Concept and Question Board.  I will bring several pieces of realia to have students identify and explore.  I will put these items in a big brown grocery bag, just to build suspense.  Even though we are bombarded with the use of different mindmaps, the old KWL chart still works for me.   I have students with in table groups to come up with ideas.  The students then share their ideas with the class.  From these ideas we make our class KW, I revisit chart throughout the unit and add ideas and facts learned.

The use of images is an essential part in my introduction of the concepts in the unit.  This can be accomplished by preparing selected images that represent these concepts.  I like to search for images at social sharing websites like flickr. I use a school LCD projector to show these to the students.  You can also print them out and make a transparency and use with an overhead projector.   I will use these to introduce a writing prompt.  This will be their initial writing piece.

I will also use this day to introduce the unit project.  These projects can take many forms, from your traditional display boards to more sophisticated reports and maybe even powerpoints.  I am thinking of having the students create a digital story to showcase their learning from the unit.  The digital story will incorporate student narration, the use of pictures and maybe some video.  We are going to publish these group digital stories on our classroom blog, thirdgradediscoveries.  This is our new classroom blog.  So, how do you introduce unit concepts in your classroom?

Spring Time

March 30, 2007

I am back in the classroom now! It has been a roller coaster ride. Today we celebrated Cesar Chavez day. ALL DAY.   I put a packet together last night. It went well with our storytelling unit. The students were engaged. I was able to use the school LCD to see a quicktime movie and a time line on Cesar Chavez life. I am off on Spring Break all next week. Time to catch up on some reading. I need to charge my batteries up to the end of the year.