Thursday, April 18, 2013

Learning about migration

We recently visited the Liberty Science Center and saw "Flight of the Butterflies" in the center's amazing dome theater. The film dramatizes the story of how the path of the Monarch butterflies was discovered, capturing both the excitement of scientific discovery as well as giving the audience a close look at the incredible journey of the Monarch. At home, we had been noticing the Canadian geese heading north. It was a perfect time to order "Winged Migration" from Netflix. We enjoyed both the humorous as well as gorgeous images of the  migration of birds all over the world. Solana says, "Sometimes the birds, especially the storks, look like they're dancing. They jut their necks out like pigeons." A great accompaniment to this film is the award-winning picture book North: the Amazing Story of Arctic Migration with its gorgeous illustrations of "the greatest journey on earth."

The Talking Unicorn

Hi, my name is Solana and I just made a voki that I really like that I want to share with other people like you, because you're on this site, obviously, if you're reading this. My voki is a talking unicorn whose name is (what else?) The Talking Unicorn. I hope you enjoy The Talking Unicorn!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Reading Like a Historian

I used to be the one researching picture books for Solana, but on the last Scholastic books order that came in, Solana circled some great books that I hadn't read yet. In the content areas, we're always talking about ways of getting students to read like a scientist or a historian. Those Rebels, John and Tom is one of the books Solana found that is a great way to introduce students to reading like a historian. While contrasting the lives and ideas of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the author uses quotations from primary sources which are listed along with an author's note at the end of the book. The illustrations really bring the historical concepts alive. I'm always excited when I can relate children's books to books in the adult world, and I pointed out to Solana that this book is very similar to an book that I just finished reading called American Sphinx: the Character of Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Digital text sets for argumentative writing

I really like what the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project is doing around argumentative writing, particularly the work collecting both digital and print resources at different grade levels to help students research and take a stance on a high interest topic such as whether competitive sports in schools are beneficial or harmful.

Two of my favorites are videos that Mary Ehrenworth highlighted at the October Saturday Reunion  giving two sides of the issue of chocolate milk being served in schools, the first showing truckloads of sugar being dumped on a school bus as a vivid illustration of the way serving chocolate milk in schools is an unhealthy decision and the second featuring a smiling representative of the Midwest Dairy Council explaining all the benefits of drinking chocolate milk. (I just saw Forks Over Knives. Can you tell which side I'm on?)

Teachers are always asking for resources: for persuasive writing topics, it's important that they be recent. TC is constantly collecting and organizing these resources as well as quality samples of student work that can be used as mentor texts. I recently showed this link to teachers in an after school class around close reading and they were really enthusiastic: one of them recommended the set in the 2012-13 collection on cyberbullying.

Some teachers are worried that students will come home telling parents that a teacher has taught them a controversial topic with a bias towards one side. These text sets allow students to weigh both sides of a topic and come to their own conclusion.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Experiential/digital learning at Chicago museums

We visited several museums in Chicago this summer: I was impressed with how the museums incorporated technology into learning experiences for children. Solana created the above postcard at the Chicago History Museum by taking a photo of herself and then selecting contemporary and historic images of Chicago to fill in the other letters.

At the Children's Museum "Skyline" experience, we used provided materials and worked in a space in front of an automatic camera as a team to create our own skyscraper. Afterward, we narrated the steps of our process and our reflections to go along with images that were snapped of us working. Then, when we got home, we could view the digital story on the museum's web site. Both were fun, fairly brief learning experiences that instantly incorporated digital sharing as well as narration and reflection in the second experience-- something to think about for the school year.