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Posts Tagged ‘social studies

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…..

Teacher Geek Sites of the (Mid) Week (March 31, 2009)

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It takes a good website to get me through the middle of the week. Here are a few I’ve been geeking out to (in a teacher kind of way) this week:

For the budding filmmaker: Xtra Normal

Create animated movies with this awesome tool. There is an easy-to-use interface for typing a script (text to voice!), adding movement and facial expressions, choosing actors, designing the scene and props, and adding the finishing touches to your short movie. You do not have to sign up to try this website (but if you want to save your movies, you might want to – it’s free). I was thinking about classroom uses (Will I ever be able to enjoy a website in a non-teacher geek way again?) – this could be a great way for students to generate their own content. My only concern was the content monitoring of other films (I am not sure if posted films are moderated). I plan on using this to add movies to my blog.

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For the geek historian: Playing History (Thanks to @a_armstrong for the tip!)

I.love.history.games. I make daily references to the lessons I learned playing The Oregon Trail (to ford or not to ford?). Use this website to find and play free historical games. I’ve been enjoying The Battle of the Atlantic Game.

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For the GTD nerd: chron me

I use this simple stopwatch to keep myself on-task. Chron me shows split times on the screen and these are exportable to .csv files. Ten minutes of twitter/web distractions for every 50 minutes of work? Enforceable with chron me. (If I really need to get work done, I find a friend who uses all of my social networking vices (twitter, facebook, etc) and tell them I will pay $1 for every facebook post, $2 for every twitter post, and $10 for blog posts that they catch in a certain time window…..whatever works…..)

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For the thrifty consumer: Woot!

Teachers need things on the cheap. From luxiorious wine packs to golf clubs and iPods, woot! posts one unbeatable deal per day. Many items run out within minutes or hours of posting so I follow their twitter feed (@woot) and put it on mobile alerts. I scored a cheap iPod a few days ago.

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Enjoy the rest of your week. Impress your friends with obscure facts about the Battle of the Pacific, make an animated bromance film, or indulge in retail therapy. Maybe I’ll owe you money if you see me on twitter….

Written by TeacherC

31 March 2009 at 7:46 pm

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.

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?

Are We There Yet?

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I ran into the City of Memory project via Gothamist:

An organization called City Lore has created an interactive map that fuses NYC cartography with its residents’ oral histories. Whether on the news, the subway, or even online, New Yorkers see mapped representations of their town several times a day. City Lore’s City of Memory map has deepened that visual familiarity by creating an interactive environment where users can hear vignettes from other New Yorkers about their lives. The organization, which is sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation among other groups, has produced a number of the stories itself, but the general online public is free to submit their own stories for placement on the map.

This amazing project got me thinking about lesson plans involving oral histories and interactive maps. Google has easy to follow video and text tutorials that show users how to personalized Google maps including place-markers, videos, shapes, pictures, and other annotations.

I found examples for how interactive maps and oral histories can be used across the curriculum:

Stay tuned for a more complete lesson plan.