37 Replies Latest reply on Jun 28, 2013 6:42 AM by mcsweej

    Back to School Tech Style

      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.

        • Re: Back to School Tech Style
          glen_w

          Jill,

           

          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.

            • Re: Back to School Tech Style
              MrsSmoke

              I love this idea, Glen!  Unfortunately, I won't have a set of digital cameras until November, but I can completely integrate it 2nd semester with my three tech classes.  Thanks for sharing!

              • Re: Back to School Tech Style

                Glen,

                 

                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!

                • Project 365
                  Bonnie Feather

                  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

                    • Re: Project 365

                      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?

                       

                      Neil

                        • Re: Project 365
                          lcsheehy

                          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/

                            • Re: Project 365
                              tdiener

                              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!

                                • Re: Project 365
                                  lcsheehy

                                  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.


                                    • Re: Project 365
                                      tdiener

                                      Laura, I really like the concept of PhotoWalks. I am looking to join one in my region, then I'd like to lead one. Perhaps this might be a good activity to do at the next Intel Summit? Thanks again for directing us to this resource.

                                • Re: Project 365

                                  Wow..what super ideas!  Keep them coming...

                              • Re: Back to School Tech Style
                                JulieSzaj

                                Glen,

                                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.

                              • Re: Back to School Tech Style
                                MrsSmoke

                                Hey Jill!

                                 

                                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:

                                • What is your favorite and least favorite reading genres (most often I have to ask them what movie genre to help them answer that question - )
                                • Would you rather.....
                                • What toppings do you think go on the perfect sundae?
                                • What movie can you watch over and over without tiring of it?
                                • Write a four line rhyming poem about your favorite restaurant dish.
                                • What do you collect?

                                 

                                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.

                                  • Re: Back to School Tech Style

                                    Smoke,

                                     

                                    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/

                                  • Re: Back to School Tech Style
                                    dougemints

                                    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.

                                     

                                    http://www.metamath.com/multiple/multiple_choice_questions.html

                                      • Re: Back to School Tech Style
                                        tdiener

                                        Doug, So true when you say "It was the first time they thought about education as theirs and not just doing things for the teacher's benefit". The meta math assessment might be a golden oldie for you, but it's the first time I've seen it...Thanks!

                                      • Re: Back to School Tech Style

                                        Jill,

                                         

                                        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.

                                        • Re: Back to School Tech Style
                                          NaomiHarm

                                          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.

                                           

                                          • Edutopia Back to School Guide

                                          • Students Guide to Personal Publishing

                                          • Poll Everywhere "How-To" Tutorial

                                          • Alma, PA Freebie List of Web 2.0

                                          • "Make Use of" The Ultimate Twitteer Guide

                                           

                                          Have a FABULOUS school year everyone!!!

                                           

                                          Naomi Harm

                                          • Re: Back to School Tech Style
                                            dougemints

                                            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.

                                             

                                            http://www.exchange.smarttech.com/index.html

                                            • Re: Back to School Tech Style
                                              Bowerman@cox.net

                                              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. 

                                              • Re: Back to School Tech Style

                                                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

                                                Lesleigh

                                                • Re: Back to School Tech Style
                                                  erroth

                                                  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. 

                                                  • Re: Back to School Tech Style
                                                    emansisy

                                                    I'm thinking about a wiki to present my students' ideas about one of the1st term school units in English to improve using English as a foreign language.

                                                    • Re: Back to School Tech Style
                                                      mcsweej

                                                      In Social Studies, I like to have MS kids do a culture project. It gets them used to the idea of diversity, lets them explore all the wonderful web 2.0 tools we will use throughout the year and lets them talk about their favorite subjects; themselves!