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Posts Tagged ‘Lesson Plans

The Self-Publishing Classroom: Script Frenzy

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Today’s post on The Writing Teacher inspired me to think about a script-writing unit for writers’ workshop and social studies.

“Who wants to spend the next thirty days writing a script?” This is the question that led my sixth grade class on a writing adventure that took us from war-torn beaches to invading aliens, and from invading gnomes to talking kittens trying to break their fellow felines out of the pound. It was a journey of creativity and wonder, and a ton of teachable moments!

Script Frenzy is an international script-writing event that occurs April 1st – 30th every year. Participants have one month to write a script (Script Frenzy says “screenplays, stage plays, TV shows, short films, comics and graphic novels” are welcome). The website gives students tools and tips to write their scripts. Teachers can receive a free Script Frenzy Classroom Kit.

Next year, I hope to make this a social studies project where students turn historic events and narratives into scripts.

Check out The Writing Teacher’s article for ideas and links to help you plan and execute your unit.

Who knows, maybe I’ll be mentioned in an Oscar’s acceptance speech someday…..

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The Self-Publishing Classroom: Glossy Magazines with Magcloud

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Who needs to work for Condé Nast or Time Warner when you can publish professional-quality magazines in your own classroom? In an article entitled Do-It-Yourself Magazines, Cheaply Slick, the NYT introduces H.P.’s new service called Magcloud.

In the words of H.P.:

MagCloud enables you to publish your own magazines. All you have to do is upload a PDF and we’ll take care of the rest: printing, mailing, subscription management, and more.

How much does it cost?

It costs you nothing to publish a magazine on MagCloud. To buy a magazine costs 20¢ per page, plus shipping. For example, a 20-page magazine would be four bucks plus shipping. And you can make money! You set your issue price and all proceeds above the base price go to you.

How are they printed?

MagCloud uses HP Indigo technology, so every issue is custom-printed when it’s ordered. Printing on demand means no big print runs, which means no pre-publishing expense. Magazines are brilliant full color on 80lb paper with saddle-stitched covers. They look awesome.

I pay particular attention to how students publish work. There are many (reasonably priced) self-publishing websites that give students an authentic medium to publish their work. The process of choosing prices of books (on websites where the books are put up for sale) is a learning and community-building experience. Magcloud opens up a new medium where students can produce professional quality work in the classroom.

Many schools do not have software that exports high resolution PDFs (Adobe InDesign, Quark, etc). If you know of free alternatives, please tell us about them via comment.

Unite Social Justice, Digital Storytelling, and Content with Google Earth Outreach

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I’m always on the lookout for ways to integrate social justice and activism into my content. @vanessacarter gave me a tip about Google Earth Outreach.

In Google’s words:

Google Earth Outreach gives non-profits and public benefit organizations like yours the knowledge and resources you need to reach their minds and their hearts: See how other organizations have benefited from Google Earth Outreach, then learn how to create maps and virtual visits to your projects that get users engaged and passionate about your work.

How can you use this in your classroom? First, go to the showcase. Google gives many examples of dynamic outreach maps by topic: education and culture, environment and science, global development, public health, and social services. You can click on the links and open the KML files in Google Earth. Case studies are examples of how organizations use Google Earth Outreach in their day to day operations.

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Look around the showcase – maybe you can use some of the KMLs in your classroom or you can create a project where students make their own Google Earth KMLs.

Here are a few ideas to bridge Google Earth, social justice, and content:

– Math: Are students exploring inequities around the world or in their communities? Use Google Earth, Google Spreadsheet, and other tools to create a dynamic KML about these inequities.

– Language arts and social studies: Write narratives from the perspective of historically oppressed peoples (or from multiple perspectives….). Students can tell use Google Earth as a digital storytelling medium.

– Science: There are many KMLs about environmental issues. Your students can present their research about this timely topic in Google Earth.

– Have a community service project? Whether it is in the community or involves raising money and sending it abroad, students can use Google Earth Outreach to educate people (and themselves) about their cause.

Have you used Google Earth Outreach to link activism and content? Leave comments and share your ideas with us.

It’s all GOOD

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If you haven’t, you must check out GOOD. In their own words:

“GOOD is a collaboration of individuals, businesses, and nonprofits pushing the world forward.
Since 2006 we’ve been making a magazine, videos, and events for people who give a damn.
This website is an ongoing exploration of what GOOD is and what it can be.”

GOOD presents information about politics, economics, the environment, and many other topics in amazing ways.

Three things about GOOD that are great:

1. The GOOD sheets. You may have seen a print version of these floating around your local Starbucks. GOOD finds visually stimulating ways to present a large volume of information about a timely topic. For example, this GOOD sheet is about the first 100 days of American presidencies:

There are many other topics available. These visualizations are great discussion starters about content and current events. I also like to show students how they can present information in many different ways.

2. The blog. The GOOD blogs also feature stunning visualizations about timely issues. This visualization about water use blew my mind:

3. The “pay what you want” print magazine. You can pay what you want to subscribe to the print version of the magazine and what you choose to pay will go directly to a nonprofit. Get a subscription for your class – cut out important articles, use them for silent reading or student research, etc.

Peruse the website. You’ll also find video shows, an activism event listing, and community features. It’s all GOOD.

Written by TeacherC

19 March 2009 at 1:34 pm

Little Economists

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The Economist is a goldmine for lesson plans. Witty captions and cartoons, brilliant data visualizations, and concise articles, make for a dynamic publication. The kind we want our students to be able to consume and produce (when they get older).

The Daily Charts section of The Economist website offers charts, maps, and graphs by subject (No more fish in the sea). When I come across a good visualization, I cut it out from the magazine (or print it out) and put it into a binder. Students can look through the binder for research ideas, debate research, hints about how to make their own visualizations, etc.

The Special Report section can jumpstart your expertise in a world issue (from the environmental waste crisis to the business of sport). All are downloadable PDFs on the website. I find these reports help me add current political and economic issues to my science, social studies, art, and mathematics content.

The Economist is known for its political cartoons. Look through KAL’s Cartoon Gallery to find cartoons relevant to your lesson plans. I’ve mediated great conversations and debates between students about these cartoons.

It’s important for your students to know you read – especially about issues that affect the world. I keep magazines and books around my desk and talk about issues that intrigue me while I’m reading. I hope this helps my students visualize themselves as older readers.

Have you used The Economist in your lesson plans? Are there other magazines you find useful?

Sometimes teachers use computers like badly written worksheets

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I’m intrigued by a debate sparked by this post on Dangerously Irrelevant:

Dangerous Debate

I agree with the principal who asks for advice – technology should not be treated as an “add on” to our curriculum. Teachers should weave technology throughout the curriculum and their practices – not only as a way to increase learning, but for networking, tracking professional development, and making life easier in the classroom (it’s possible!).

Schools that give equitable access to 21st century learning experiences value community building (home-school, teacher-student, student-student, neighborhood-school, etc), use informed and child-centered pedagogy, and help teachers connect to a wider professional community. Just having technology in a building does not ensure children learn how to use technology appropriately. Currently, our classrooms are filled with literacy, math, science, and social studies artifacts (textbooks, worksheets, libraries, posters, curriculum guides, art supplies, etc). The mere presence of these artifacts has not ensured equitable access to appropriate learning experiences.

Many professionals misuse technology (there are tons of websites about bad PowerPoint presentations). Teachers are prone to the same error. Sometimes teachers use computers like badly written worksheets. Instead of using technology to provide students with rigorous challenges, many teachers provide cookie cutter, linear experiences, where the emphasis is on product rather than process. In my professional development and classroom management plan, I say:

“students need experiences that build upon understandings they already have while challenging them to form new understandings. Vygotski used the term “Zone of Proximal Development”. Learning requires a delicate mix of challenge, conflict, safety, and familiarity. There is not a single linear progression that fits the learning trajectories of all students.”

I guess the question I would have asked, if I were the principal, is “How do you align technology use with what you believe are the best practices in education and the needs of your intellectual community? How can I create a technology plan that provides the equipment and professional development for teachers to use these technologies appropriately?”

How would you answer these questions?

Daystreaming Allowed.

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On the Moodstream (Getty Images) website, students can create their own visualizations using many different settings (image via the Moodstream website):

//moodstream.gettyimages.com/

After students choose their mood and style (happy or sad, humorous or serious, black and white or color, nostalgic or contemporary, etc.), the website streams continuous video, still images, and sound. If students see or hear something that they like, they can add it to a Moodboard and find out more information from the Getty Images website.

Uses I think of right now involve language arts, social studies, and art inspiration/writing prompts. Students can create a stream and then do projects inspired by the stream (poetry, short stories, reflections, artwork, research, etc).

Can you think of other ways to use this tool in the classroom? Have you streamed today?