Thursday, May 23, 2013

Harvest of History Helps Students Understand Farms

Harvest of History is a website produced by the Farmers' Museum in Cooperstown, New York (also the site of the Baseball Hall of Fame). Harvest of History is designed to help students and teachers explore the origins and development of modern farming practices. The basis for Harvest of History is to explore the question, "where did your last meal come from?"

Applications for Education
Harvest of History is designed with elementary school students in mind. The teachers' page provides 16 lesson plans for use with students of fourth grade age. The question, "where did you last meal come from?" and some of the content of Harvest of History could also be used with older students to spark discussion about the development of modern agriculture.

5 Good Resources for Teaching & Learning About Shakespeare

Last week I shared Shakespeare Uncovered from PBS Learning Media. That is a nice resource for helping students understand the things that influenced Shakespeare's writing. If you're looking for some other resources to help your students understand the works of Shakespeare, take a look at the materials below.

Shakespeare Animated is a YouTube channel containing twelve playlists ten of which are animated adaptations of Shakespeare's most famous plays. Some of the animated plays that appear in the Shakespeare Animated playlist are Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, MacBeth, and The Taming of the Shrew.

John Green's Crash Course videos about English literature includes two videos about Romeo & Juliet. I've embedded the videos below.




TED-Ed hosts a lesson titled Insults by Shakespeare. In addition to explaining the insults used by Shakespeare the lesson also explores some of Shakespeare's other uses of dialogue.



L.A. Paun used LiveBinders to create and share a nice collection of Shakespeare resources. The LiveBinder has a section for Shakespeare in general and sections devoted to Romeo & Juliet, MacBeth, Hamlet, and Twelfth Night.

Shakespeare's Original Pronunciations could be a good resource to support classroom readings of some of Shakespeare's works. Take the guess work out of the pronunciations by hearing them.

Kids Can Bowl for Free This Summer

Just as they have for the last few summers, bowling centers around the U.S. and Canada are offering students two free games every day. To bowl for free students (or their parents) need to register on Kids Bowl Free. On Kids Bowl Free you can find the bowling alley closest to you.

Applications for Education
Kids Bowl Free is awarding 80 $200 grants to teachers every month through July 2013. The grants are for classroom supplies. You can apply for a grant here

5 Great Activities from Read Write Think

If you're an elementary school teacher who has not bookmarked Read Write Think, you absolutely should do that today. Read Write Think produces and shares a wealth of outstanding materials and lesson plans for elementary school language arts lessons. Five of their great, free resources are featured below.

Cube Creators provide templates designed to break the writing process into six distinct parts. There are templates for writing biographies, mysteries, short stories, and a blank template that you can customize. Students enter the required information into the online template. When the template is completed, it can be printed with lines for cutting and folding to create an actual cube.

Story Map is a free interactive story planning tool from Read Write Think. Story Maps provides four templates for outlining stories. To use the templates students title their stories then choose one of four templates to outline their stories. The four template choices are conflict, setting, character, and resolution. Students can print their completed templates.

Read Write Think's Trading Card Creator on the web offers the same creation features that are found in the iPad app of the same name. I used the web version of the Trading Card Creator to create an Abraham Lincoln trading card. To create the card I found a public domain image of Lincoln, uploaded it to the template provided by RWT, and completed the fields that asked for information about Lincoln's life. When my card was completed I was able to download it to my computer. I could have also emailed it to myself or to a friend.

Word Mover is another nice, free iPad app from Read Write Think. The app is designed to help students develop poems and short stories. When students open the Word Mover app they are shown a selection of words that they can drag onto a canvas to construct a poem or story. Word Mover provides students with eight canvas backgrounds on which they can construct their poems. If the word bank provided by Word Mover doesn’t offer enough words they can add their own words to the word bank.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Five Ways to Digitally Celebrate Your Students' Year

The end of the school year is here or soon to be here which means it's a great time to reflect on what your students have done this year. Here are five ways that you can create some digital celebrations of the year.

Make a video. Animoto makes it very easy to cobble together a set of pictures and add some music in the background to show off what your students have created throughout the year. Try to use pictures from the fall, winter, and spring to show how much your students have changed. If Animoto is too basic for you try WeVideo or Pixorial to create longer videos that include your voice-over commentary.

Create collages about the year. Pic Collage is a free service for quickly creating picture collages on your iPad or Android tablet. The app does not require you to register or connect a social network profile in order to create a collage. If you do connect a social network profile to Pic Collage you can pull in pictures from those accounts. Otherwise you can upload pictures that are stored on your device or take new pictures using the Pic Collage app. The Pic Collage user interface is easy to use. Just tap the blank canvas to import pictures from your device, from a social network profile, or by taking a new picture. To arrange the images in your collage just touch and drag them. You can expand or contract the images by pinching on them.

Collaboratively create a slideshow about the year. If you're working in a school that uses Google Apps for Education create a Google Drive slideshow and have each of your students share one favorite memory of the year on one slide.

Collaboratively create a classroom portfolio. Silk is a free service for creating webpages organized around a theme or topic. Silk is intended to be a place where you can share collections of materials as well as write text directly into your webpages. Your Silk dashboard provides a place to organize your materials into collections and sub-collections. Your collections can include documents, videos, images, charts and graphs, and links to other sites. Take a look at a sample Silk site here. You can create multiple sites within your free Silk account. Your Silk sites can be public or  private. Creating collections on your Silk site can become a collaborative activity by inviting others to be editors or administrators on a site.

Invite distant relatives to virtually celebrate with you. As an uncle who lives far away from my nieces I know that I would be thrilled if I was able to virtually attend my niece's preschool "graduation." Skype and Google+ make this possible.