Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Adding Gadgets

I am taking a blogging class and one of the assignments is to add gadgets. Before I took on this task I looked at several of the blogs I follow to see what gadgets my favorite bloggers used. I then went to the gadget section on blogger and found some cool ones I have never seen before. My favorite is the PDF maker. Because I am an educator, I often have to create PDF's to send to parents. I also like the rhyme gadget. I teach elementary and this would be a useful tool for my students as long as my students do not ask for words that rhyme with chuck, I think it will be a useful tool. Calendars and clocks are something I am always looking for, so I added those as well. Lastly I added a way to follow by e-mail and a stats page that shows how often this blog is read. I added the last two because these gadgets were on all the blogs I looked at in one form or another! 
 The gadgets do add to my blog. I think the gadgets make my blog look more official and appealing. I have always wondered how these gadgets are added. I now see how easy this is to do, I will be trying this on the other blogs I have started for my class. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Learning the Rock Cycle Using Doritos

     Our third graders in Michigan are charged with learning the rock cycle. Several parents complain that this is a subject that is very difficult for their child to grasp. Many teachers in my team hate to teach this unit for the same reason. I, however, LOVE this unit. It costs me a lot of money to teach it, but it is worth every penny. I use what every child or any person for that matter loves to teach the rock cycle. That item that we all love is...FOOD!
      One activity I love to do is what I have phrased "The Dorito Rock Cycle Experiment"! Students are given a handful of the yummy Doritos to use as their "Boulders". I chose this chip because of the shape, which reminds me of a boulder, and the cheese, which represents sediment quite well. We start by taking one Dorito and breaking of a little piece and sketch the new look our "boulder" has. We take another chip and take our hand and press on it crushing it into many pieces. We then sketch this boulder. We take the next "boulder" and place it in a baggy and pound the living daylights out of it...this will be our sediment. We repeat that in another baggy and then we add water and watch how the sediment clumps together and when we add a little pressure to this it becomes a layer that will eventually become part of a sedimentary rock.
    Having the students keep each stage of our Dorito weathering and erosion process helps my third graders see that a rock goes through many changes. When all the sketches are finished and we write about what we just did at each step the students are allowed to eat all of the Doritos left. This is one of the most popular experiments I do in my room. I think it is important that you give the students more than one Dorito so they can see the process, but I also think you need to give them enough so there are a few they can eat as well! When students are asked to describe the rock cycle this experiment helps them remember what the process is and it stays with them forever. Way better than any worksheet I can think of to use.

Monday, January 14, 2013

  I believe blogs are an essential component of the classrooms that want to encourage our students to use twenty-first century skills. Students will need to learn how to express themselves and blogging is a great way to allow students to engage in meaningful communication.I also see blogging as a great tool for teacher sharing and reflection   I would like to use blogging in two ways in my classroom: one for reflection and one to showcase student's thinking and projects.
      First I would like to use a blog to communicate what is going on in my classroom through the teacher's point of view. This blog would include lessons and how I feel the lesson went, ideas that I used from other sources, such as Pinterest, to allow other teachers to see how these "Cute ideas"a actually work in a real classroom setting. I also see this as a way to communicate with parents. Parent communication is essential and often the are not privy to what lessons you do in your room and more importantly why you chose to do this lesson. Having a deeper look into the classroom will help parents see their children are in good hands. 
      The second way I would like to use a blog in my classroom is as a place for students to share their work. Blogging gives students an authentic audience and I think writing for "real" will have a profound effect on students even as young as my third graders. I also think the ability to comment on posts will be very powerful. Having peers and parents comment on a child's work will have a huge impact on that student. The teacher reading your paper and telling students what is a strength or weaknesses in the writing will never be as effective as what a peer or a parent has to say. I see blogging as a way to strengthen my instruction of writing by making it authentic and accessible to others to read and critique.