Student Math Projects

One of our high school math teachers, Kerri Heymann, @kheymann on Twitter, recently had her Algebra students create a neat project to help other students in the school.  The idea is not new, but it is useful; the students created screencasts of math problems and posted them on the Internet for other students to use as a review resource.  You can find the screencasts here.

The process was simple, students paired up, chose a topic, designed several problems and directions to solve them, then recorded their examples.  Kerri then posted the link to the videos on her school Edline page and her Edmodo classroom.  Now for some name dropping to explain the details…

The students set the problems up on the Polyvision Boards using RM Easiteach software, Kerri set up a free account and a channel on Screencast-o-matic, which the students used to record their explanations.  At this time I would like to thank fellow technology coaches, Jason Henry, John Deihl, and Carol Roth who helped with the recording ideas.  I could not find a way to record directly with RM Easiteach, and they helped clarify that you cannot do so at this time and suggested alternatives.  The students then came into several staff classrooms to record their presentations without distractions.

The students were comfortable with using the Polyvision Boards and Easiteach, we run both the Next Generation and older versions in our district.  Screencast-o-matic took them all of about 10 seconds to learn; the process went very well…the hardest obstacle the students had to overcome was giggling or shyness during their presentations.  The best part of the project was the independence of the students.  We sat back and waited to assist if necessary, but the students handled their issues well.

As a first step, the project went very well, we are already planning expanding and improving upon things for next year.  Hopefully the students can help pull other staff members into similar projects next year.  After all, students are the best at pulling hesitant staff into the realm of classroom technology use and making these tools a part of everyday life.

New Brighton Story Walk 2011

This past Saturday, March 5, 2001, the New Brighton Elementary School had it’s annual story walk.  The story walk has been going on for about five or six years.  I have taken my daughter the last two years, she thoroughly enjoys the day.  The staff from several of our schools, and in some cases their families and former staff, come in school and create a family reading, craft, and fun day for several hours.  Laura Fryer, our Elementary Librarian organizes the event and works on getting the funding through various grants.

The story walk itself consists of a number of areas where students are read stories and get to create crafts related to those stories.  There are several other stations where they can make a healthy snack, play in the gymnasium, or listen to music.  Every child in attendance gets to choose a free book to take home and keep forever.  It seemed like many of the children remember this fact, because the books were rushed right off the bat.  For awhile we were unsure if we would have enough books, but the demand evened out and we did have a number to keep for next year’s event.  This year there were 5 or 6 stations with the event having on overall open theme.  Last year, the theme was a story from every continent.

This year over 260 children and their families attended the event, a marked increase over the past couple of years.  A number of parents gave unsolicited feedback about how they enjoy the event and their kids look forward to it every year.  It would be nice to think that the numbers will continue to improve, bringing the community together with the school and strengthening the overall relationship.

With budgets shrinking or being gutted, we are already brainstorming ways to fund the endeavor next year. The goal is to ensure that we can meet the growing demand and allow all the children to participate fully in the event.  We believe we can make it happen with some help from the community and others in our personal networks.  Hopefully next year’s post will talk about how the numbers continue to increase and have more success stories of collaboration between our schools and the community.

‘Kelsey’s CHRISTmas’ brings smiles to kids – WeirtonDailyTimes.com | news, sports, jobs – Weirton, Hancock County — Weirton Daily Times

‘Kelsey’s CHRISTmas’ brings smiles to kids

December 31, 2009

“Kelsey’s CHRISTmas” is a holiday collection and distribution effort conceived by 17-year-old Kelsey Andrews in memory of her sister Kristin, who lost her battle with cancer in 2007.

“This year’s ‘Kelsey’s CHRISTmas’ left the staff at UPMC?Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh speechless,” said Joan Andrews, mother of Kristin and Kelsey.

This article is over a year old, but still very relevant. We took my daughter to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh for a check-up last week, it was one of two regularly scheduled trips there each year. Since it was during the holiday season, she was given a teddy bear from one of the nurses, compliments of St. Jude’s and she received a set of pajamas too. The pajamas were in a ziplock baggy with a label, “For Someone Special From Kelsey’s CHRISTmas.”

Being naturally curious, I Googled “Kelsey’s CHRISTmas” and found the article. It is great to see that this was at least the second year in a row that something was organized for the children and staff at the hospital. There was no other information about the effort, I even checked Facebook to see if there was a group. I just wanted to say, “Thank You,” and bring attention to the efforts of those who put this together. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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This site came across my PLN on Twitter over the weekend. I forget who Tweeted the link and I apologize for not being able to give them proper recognition for the info…sorry. I think the site has many positive implications for education. In the day of shrinking budgets, who can afford to ignore free resources? The site is easy to use and you can view the ebooks on platforms other than an iPad.

I downloaded the free FireFox add-on and in minutes read a Dr. Seuss book to my daughter. It was just scanned images from the hard copy, but she enjoyed it. Imagine doing the same thing over an LCD projector onto an interactive whiteboard in your classroom? The students would go nuts, allow them to round robin read and turn the pages with the click of a mouse…even the high school students would enjoy it.

I forwarded the information to the administrators in my district, hopefully they will find the information as interesting as I did. At the minimum, I hope they look into the site, we could use any free help we can get!

Online Resource info from Capella

The powerpoint has more information than I have time to research., though I started a Slideshare account so I could download the ppt. It looks as if I can move forward with my plans even if the school does not go with school-wide Blackboard next year, just a lot more work on my part. Link to powerpoint is on my Twitter and here:   http://www.slideshare.net/capelladoc/social-networking-tools-for-instructional-designing/

Variety Show

Yesterday was our last day of classes before holiday break and we had our traditional school-wide variety show.  I have to say that I was very impressed.  I know our kids have talent, but sources of the talent were greatly varied yesterday.  The students were great on stage and in the audience, no lighter or cell phone incidents this year!!!!!!!  The highlight of the show was one of our shyest students get up and dance to “Greased Lightning” from Grease.  He was nervous before the show, went to practice several hours before he was supposed to and almost got cold feet.  He received an ovation when he got on stage and at the end of his routine.  The other performers mobbed him afterwards, it was terrific to see him get that kind of support.  I must say it was the best way to start the holidays from work.  I may just put a few bonus points out to those who took the time to perform and help out behind the scenes, they deserve something besides a few words on an obscure blog.