Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Great Backyard Bird Count this weekend!

I just read about the GBBC in the Sunday paper (on Monday). Everyone is invited to spend as little as 15 minutes counting various species of birds this weekend. Here are the instructions from the official GBBC website:

1. Plan to count birds for at least 15 minutes during February 16–19, 2007. Count birds at as many places and on as many days as you like—just keep a
separate list of counts for each day and/or location.
2. Count the greatest number of individuals of each species that you see together at any one time, and write it down.
3. Enter your results on the Great Backyard Bird Count website!
That's it! We'll look forward to receiving your counts.
Click here to download a PowerPoint slideshow about the GBBC.

I wish I had found out about this earlier so I would have had more time to spread the word! I love feeding and watching the birds in our backyard. What a wonderful opportunity for educators to share their love of Nature with their students! And what a great opportunity for students to collect some REAL data, to graph it, and share their data with the GBBC website.

There are some classroom resources on the GBBC website HERE, and some downloadable materials on the Audubon Mississippi website.

It's not too late to teach your students how to participate! It's easy, and will inspire some great dialogue I'm sure.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

This made me smile!

The inspiration for this post came from a Kathy Sierra blog post, and ABC's February 9 episode of 20/20.

Kathy wanted to know who'd you make smile today? and it offers some great advice (as Kathy's posts usually do) about how important it is to remember to smile and to make others smile.

The 20/20 episode was all about YouTube and TMZ.com and all the Web 2.0 stuff. It talked about how when videos (like the one below) go viral, and how some regular, ordinary people have gone on to have their own TV shows, or commercials for big time players like Nike (like this song by the group OK Go did).

I had seen the Nike commercial before (and it uses treadmills too), but I hadn't seen the original music video before, even though my sons had seen it on MTV. It really made me smile because it is so creative, the song is catchy, and you can tell the band members are having fun doing it. One of the band member's sister did the choreography for this video, and a previous video the band did. I really like it because although the treadmill routine is very complex, the video is, overall, very simple. It isn't overproduced, the camera stays in one place (as opposed to 1 or 2 second jump cuts that make me dizzy), and the set and wardrobe(?) are very plain.

I had to put the OK Go video right on my blog so that I'll always be able to watch it whenever I need to smile.

Black History Month resource

I came across a fascinating episode of NOVA on PBS last week about Dr. Percy Julian. Who??? He was only one of the most important chemists in the 20th century. The title of the episode is "Forgotten Genius" and it tells not only about Dr. Julian's amazing accomplishments as a chemist, but also his struggles as a successful African American in a 1950's white Chicago suburb.

PBS has a companion website where you can stream the entire program (or watch for it being replayed this month on your local PBS station), hear excerpts of a 1965 speech, and learn about his discoveries and life struggles. URL: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/julian/

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Wish I'd said this...

When teachers properly use technology as a tool, they become facilitators rather than lecturers and students will investigate rather than memorize, evaluate rather than copy, communicate rather than stagnate. --Frank Rudnesky

From another great techLEARNING.com article, "Bridging the Technology Proficiency Gap Through Peer Mentoring."

This video made my day!

From the Learning is Messy- Blog


Great article on wikis

Take a few minutes to read "Wiki Nation" by Craig Ullman on the techLEARNING website:

...the whole concept of a wiki, strikes at the heart of our primary value —
individualism. The idea that collective intelligence is more accurate than the
insights of a single gifted writer (or at least someone with a PhD), strikes us
as unlikely, even bizarre.

Good stuff!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Hmmmm.... interesting quote

"You just need to ask intelligent questions, and you can get answers anytime, anywhere, in real time. Education becomes no longer a fact-based learning process, it's search-based, cognitive. It's kind of like what happened to math skills with the calculator." Jim Taylor, vice chairman of Harrison Group

It's from this article I found on USA Today on the growing use of mp3 files in the education world: podcasts, audio books, study guides, etc... and the money to be made!

American Experience: New Orleans on PBS

Just came across this site thanks to the Librarians Internet Index (http://lii.org).

PBS will air a new episode of American Experience about New Orleans on Monday, February 12. The companion website has many features to check out, including interactive maps, a timeline, a teacher's guide and MUCH MORE! After February 12 you'll even be able to stream the entire two hour program from the website! Here's an opportunity to provide a history lesson on a city that has been in the news a lot since Katrina. And with Fat Tuesday just around the corner, a chance to engage the students with some background on Mardi Gras.

Check out a promo for the episode here. It looks great! I love this quote by Wynton Marsalis: "In New Orleans, people don't tell history, they DO history."

The website URL is: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/neworleans/index.html

Fun spelling practice website

Checkout SpellingTime.com, a great site for students in grades 1-5 to practice their spelling. Here's a description from the website:

Specifically, the program aims to:

  • Provide young learners with an interactive, enjoyable spelling tutorial

  • Simulate classroom test taking scenarios

  • Defeat test anxiety and build self confidence

  • Deliver early computer based learning experience

  • Improve typing skills

  • Remove from parents the weekly preparation and review obligations associated with the Friday spelling test

Teachers can set up a classroom account that will provide students with access from home or school. Then they can add words and sentences for the weekly spelling lists that students can practice in a variety of ways. The site even provides a sample permission slip for students and instructions on how the website is used.

Each day the students will use the site in a slightly different way. On Monday there is a pretest, Tuesday is a Hangman game, Wednesday is for word scrambles, and Thursday is a Pop Quiz. Friday through Sunday is called "reinforcement weekend". Students can also earn points to play some fun games at the end of their spelling practice.

Adobe Flash Player 9 and a high speed Internet connection are required. Parents can also set up an individual account for their children and enter their own wordlists.