Ready or not, here we go.....back to school that is. For some of us that time has already started, others of us are holding on to our last week of summer vacation.
Smoke has already gotten us started with websites that we should not start the school year without, but I would like to know what tech projects you do with your students at the beginning of school. Is there an activity you do with your students that involves technology? Please share your thoughts and ideas here.
I'm considering using digital photography on day one. (Note that means this is new ground for the start of a year for me.) I was thinking of having each student provide one photograph of something they either "know a lot about, don't recognize, or know very little about." I was considering having them take photos of anything in the classroom, my hallway, or the schoolyard just outside my classroom. This will be the first year for these students to be out of Elementary School - so I expect there are many things they might enjoy taking a photo of.
Then - to expand on this during the year, I thought I'd try to take close-up photos of these same objects to use during class discussions during the year.
Digital cameras and middle school students? Surely you are kidding....lol. They love taking pictures of themselves and everything else.
Another spin on this activity would be, they HAVE to find something they have no clue about. Once they have discovered the unknown object, they become the expert on it: identification, function, related to science?, etc. They could even create a presentation about their unknown object. I think it would be cool for them to find the science connection to their object. Just a thought but I know the cameras will be a hit!
I like the spin of challenging students to find something they do NOT know anything about to photograph. Then the challenge comes as teacher to help them see how it fits into our core . I think there are many items they might photograph that I can tie into my 7th grade science core. Y'all got my mind thinking on this one. Thanks for the suggestion!
Wait Jill, are you suggesting I have my students use Seeing Reason for this project? Whatever might they do? Wait - now I'm having them use digital cameras and a computer. What happened to the old version: "Get out your books and turn to chapter 1. When you finish reading the chapter you can do the chapter questions so you are ready for your chapter test."? (Smoke - please correct my grammar here - remember I went to school in Idaho .)
Since Glen is starting out the year with those digital cameras, I wonder if he and others might be interested in "Project 365." The link takes you to the instructions- or challenge to take and post a photo each day of the year.
I imagine many students would begin not quite having much of a focus, but might come to develop a focus through this project. The images and posts on any associated blogs they might develop would be a great collection for use with many projects throughout the year. I suppose it could be a project in and of itself, but could develop along many different lines.
I hope to hear about some student blogs developed for this purpose!
Bonnie, what a fantastic site! It might be a little difficult for each student to complete this, but what if the "classroom" created this digital story? Each student could take turns and be responsible for the day. They would have to work out the "weekend" issue, but that seems easy enough. It might be interesting at the end of each month, quarter or year to have the students each write a story from their personal perspective. That might be a real "eye opener".
Thanks for a great idea. Do you know of anyone who is doing this?
I have a Project 365 blog that I started in July. Here's the link to the page http://lsheehy365.blogspot.com/ I love posting a picture a day and thinking about what it will be. Deciding which picture to post is a challenge some days. Of course I am typically a few days behind too
Here another site where you can host your page: http://365project.org/
Laura, I wish I had the discipline to do this project. I saw in one of your postings that you either organized or participated in a photowalk http://worldwidephotowalk.com/. I'd like to know more about your experience. I think it's a cool mix of online and real time collaboration. Interesting that a group of people can take the same walk and discover very different things. I like the use of Google maps in the project too!
The photo walk was amazing. I was a participant and loved the local organizer. Worldwide participants could join a variety of walks. There were multiple in Phoenix but I opted for an early morning walk in an attempt to beat the heat. After a brief introduction, we set off in different directions and captured scenes in totally different ways. I wandered off the beaten path to see what I could capture. I was thrilled with some of the shots I caught. The winning shot has been posted and now I know I have a ways to go, but I'm going to love the journey! http://worldwidephotowalk.com/bestphotos
The morning was followed by a group gathering for breakfast. Sharing photos and talking about the event was a great end. I gained some new friends and found a photo club to join.
I believe this would be an excellent activity for students too. You could "theme" the walk: find math shapes in nature, story settings, or take as many pictures as you can for use in a story. I would be interested in seeing what pictures students could find in a schoolyard. Maybe a before and after exercise: send them out to take pictures, then give them instruction about taking pictures and send them out again. Let them compare and reflect on their pictures.
Have you seen the site 101 Questions http://101qs.com/? It would be a great way to introduce questions associated to photos. You could also join and add your students pics in the mix.
Thanks for the recommendation to use http://101qs.com/. I appreciate learning of new sites, especially those that can engage students. You rock my Back to School week!
The first day of school, I have the students create doodle art describing more about themselves. I usually do this via colored pencils and cardstock, but it's easily done on a powerpoint slide or using one of the online photoshop like tools at Aviary, Creaza, or Sumopaint. I have them use different colors, fonts, writing styles to answer a heap of questions that I read aloud while they are creating.
Here are some of the questions:
The final product of this should be a colorful mess, actually, but it's a wonderful tool to get to know the students well without having to read months of journals. I pull data from it all year to customize my lesson themes with topics they find interesting. I even use the reading genre question as their first AR requirement for the quarter. They must read one book in the genre they dislike and one in the genre they love. Quite often I find that the students enjoy the genres they would generally never investigate.
Thanks for adding to this discussion.
I love this idea. I am sure the students create wonderful masterpieces. I know it is a fun activity for them to complete and more techy than the paper pencil survey, "what is your favorite movie, what is your favorite tv show", etc. It allows their creativity to shine and they will never know you will be using the data for the rest of the year.
I came across this program that seemed pretty easy to use, if you need another one. http://www.onlinesketchpad.com/
I used to start the year off with my JH and HS kids with a learning style inventory. For many, it was the first time they thought about education as theirs and not just doing things for the teacher's benefit. It kicked off a year which in which independent learning and ownership thinking would be critical to success. Why not understand learning styles so that you can make better choices on how to learn?
Here is an oldie, but would probably still fit this purpose.
Once upon a time when I was still teaching I would have the students to create 'All About Me' mini posters as a way to introduce themselves to the class. If I were teaching today, I would absolutely have them to use Glogster Edu to create interactive posters about themselves. I would post them on a blog site for parents to enjoy. The interactive posters would evolve as the students develop throughout the school year. It would be interesting to compare the beginning of the year glog to their end of the year glog.
I was going to start a new discussion thread on back to school but found one of my favorite freinds, Miss Jill Summers, already beat me too it. I am so glad you have added this discussion Jill! Even though many are you are back at it, I am just winding down from my summer journey of teaching and keynoting at 27 summer technology camps and academies this summer. WOW- it has been a marvelous experience to work with over 5,000+ educators this summer and hear their stories of gearing up for the new school year, and sharing what works and what frustrations they deal with on a daily basis, and how they overcome these "technology hiccups."
Since I am not in the classroom, but do offer a lot of ICT training's for educators and administrators I have found many technology gems of best practices throughout my educational travels this summer. I am now attaching a few of those teaching gems and guides below for all of you to jazz up your instructional focus to engage and motivate your kiddos in the classroom.
Have a FABULOUS school year everyone!!!
Thanks Tom for the commnet. It has been fun collecting some exemplar teaching resourcesof PDF's to share with everyone. Practical, easy to use and layout looks professional- and teachers like "pretty."
Here are a few more teacher resources as PDF's that are attached from my "scribd" community has shared with me.
If you are a teacher with a SMARTboard, they you will want to visit the following website. They are featuring "Back to School" and other pre-made notebook activities that are recommended by teachers.
We always start by learning to scan pictures and take pictures - it's a great way to get to know one another. We scan our baby pictures and create Wanted posters with our awful crimes of stealing blankets or hiding binkies. We then compare our baby pictures with current pictures and write about how much we've changed over the years and what we want to learn during third grade. We're now beginning a unit on rocks and minerals so we're also using photography to explore the different types of rocks in our neighborhoods.
In our district students can also use technology to track their grades and progress. All students and parents have a portal to check assignments, homework, attendance, lunch money and menus, and grades. This is a great tool in addition to our class web pages and parents say they love to be able to look online and see their child's progress.
have you used the Camscanner App? It is free and available on Android and iOS devices. Basically you can make a PDF or jpg out of anything, including old photos. I once made a pdf of a teammates board for her sub (her first block was a tricky class that would gladly have erased key parts of the assignments, just for laughs).
I have used a photo challenge with some of my upper primary classes(10-12 yr olds) called 'What's Outside my Window?' Students would share (email or Dropbox) their favorite view through a window in their house to share and discuss at a class level. It really highlighted the variety personal interests we had as new class community (eg garden, tractor, pool, river, cattle, street, BBQ, sea etc) This project evolved nicely into an E-Pal project where my students were sharing a view through their classroom window here in Australia with students from Canada and America to promote collaboration on different cultures later in the year.
Loved all your ideas! Thanks for sharing
THanks Susan - I like your music idea too. I had not considered that because it was a 'one off' project that the students completed at the beginning of the year. Sadly no - I do not have any links to their personal resources however here is an example - hope it helps to inspire!
I get our fourth-grade students started right away with our class wiki. Students practice navigating the wiki and then make a student page with tables for organizing their work. They write a bit about themselves (we talk about cybersafety and what kind of info not to include) and learn how to make links.
I also get the students started on a Fantastic Voyage project (based on the movie/novel Fantastic Voyage). The instructions are all on the wiki and the students keep track of their human body travels on the wiki and on a lifesize cut-out of a body.