Monday, December 26, 2011

Fotobabble Vs. Video: Two Ways To Feature Projects And Reflections

I love using video cameras in my class. When Cisco announced that they were shutting down production of this classroom-friendly Flip camera, I went out to Best Buy and bought the ones they had left in stock. Just by their very function, they do such a great job promoting cooperative learning that it’s hard for me now to imagine a classroom without them. Children at this age love to be on camera, they love to manage cameras, and they're in awe of the responsibility of doing both on their own. There are very few times when I can’t trust my kids to do exactly what they’re supposed to be doing when I send them to work independently with a Flip camera in hand.

This is the second year that I’ve used the interview format to show off some of the stuff we do and think about during the first couple of months of school. I like the interview format for several reasons. First, it gets the children to learn how to talk about what they believe, what they enjoy, and why they did what they did for some of the projects they made. Because the production of each video takes a long time with reshoots and editing (a definite drawback), I can also give the parents a trailer of the interviews to come:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Connecting Math and Art: Beyond Elementary Numeracy

All too often one of the first subjects students learn to dislike is math. That is because the focus of elementary math is numeracy and operations. It can get kind of dry. And for those students who have trouble with basic operations, math becomes a nemisis. But elementary students can and should be exposed to the larger world of math. One way I do this is our class economy, where the students have their own bank accounts using class money, and regularly deposit, withdraw, and balance their accounts.

Another way is using Vi Hart videos to connect math with art. I haven't met a student that isn't eager to create a Sierpinski's triangle or an Appolonian Gasket after viewing one of her videos and a short mini-lesson. The point is of course to show that math is beautiful and is more than basic operations, place value, and decimals.

The Sad Situation of Sam Smiley: An Introduction To The Scientific Method

HSI (Historical Scene Investigation) is an interesting site that allows students to be investigators of historical events by examining primary and secondary documents and then coming up with their own conclusions. It doesn't seem to have been updated for years though. I first discovered in in 2007 and it has remained the same since then.

Still, there's a lot of good stuff on it. I've modified their investigations for a 5th grade study of the Boston Massacre and the Jamestown "starving time." My favorite investigation is Sam Smiley. It's meant to be an introduction to investigation skills needed to be a good historian, but I find it even more fitting to introduce the scientific method. The process that one undertakes whether or not she is a historian or scientist is essentially the same: Ask a question, do some background research, construct a hypothesis, test it against what is known, analysize the results, revise your hypothesis as new information comes into light, and eventually reach a conclusion.


The Sad Situation of Sam Smiley introduces these components to the students very well. Over the years I've made changes to the original investigation. I've taken away and added new witnesses, altered the storyline to keep it fresh for each grade, added video testimonies, and try to connect it with real places that the students will know.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...