Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tech-Based PBL for the Young Learner? Yes!

Tech-Based PBL for the Young Learner? Yes!
Presented by
Christy Keeler and Heather Rampton

Presentation Slides
Downloadable Presentation Slides

Recommended Links

Elementary-Level PBL

There are incredible project-based learning examples online, but few are from elementary level and even fewer are from primary grades. To make a very small impact on this lack of examples, I am sharing a collection of projects my sons, Ryan and Spencer, have completed for their classes during their elementary years. For information on more PBL options appealing to elementary-level students, please visit Tech-Based PBL for the Young Learner? Yes!
  • Scorpion Movie: When in first grade, Spencer made this video by using iTunes to record his narration and iPhoto to make a slideshow with Internet-selected pictures. He combined the two within iPhoto.
  • Spencer Toy's Commercial: Spencer and his friend, Spencer, created this commercial for their fourth grade entrepreneurship project. They wrote the script, practiced, and were recorded using a camera with video capabilities.
  • Mixed-Up Book Report and Safety Notebook: Ryan created a book report on the book From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and a safety brochure for his Cub Scout project while in fourth grade. He used Microsoft Word tri-fold brochure templates for each.
  • Hatchet Report: Using ComicLife, Ryan prepared this fourth grade book report on the book Hatchet.
  • Caravel Mini-Book: In fifth grade, Ryan prepared a mini-book report on caravel ships (those used by Columbus). He used "Make a Booklet" software to enable proper folding, and he created a cover using tea-stained paper sent through a Laserjet printer.
  • Audio Interviews: When in fourth grade, Ryan had to do a book report for a fantasy/science fiction book. He chose The Riddle of the Gnome: A Further Tales Adventure by P.W. Catanese. For the project, he had to write and answer ten interview questions for the main character. Ryan chose to deliver his project in audio format (Listen here). He used Audacity and its voice modification feature to make it sound like there were two individuals in the interview room. Spencer had to replicate this activity when he was in fourth grade. He used the book Flyte by Angie Sage (Listen here).
  • Iroquois Virtual Museum: For his fifth grade project on Native Americans, Ryan chose to study the Iroquois by reading ...If You Lived With The Iroquois. He used PowerPoint templates and techniques from Educational Virtual Museums.
  • Spencers' Toys Marketing Display: Spencer Keeler and Spencer Coombs created this poster during an entrepreneur project in fourth grade. They manufactured and sold cars, trucks, and planes. The display board included a section where they projected a commercial they made using a digital camera.

ISTE 2010: Fisher, "Gadgets! Gadgets! Gadgets!"

Return of the Gadgets!
Presented by Leslie Fisher Allows you to invite people to attend events and will allow you to set an event attendee maximum. It will keep track of the attendees, put others on a waiting list, and move them up as seats come available. You can also use it for pay events and it will take $1 for each attendee. It will automatically create certificates, sign-in sheets, nametags, etc. for your attendees. You forward your confirmation emails to create a virtual itinerary for you. T provides driving directions for your. It’s even available for the Droid.

You can create a Twitter feed on your website., Choose “Widgits,” “Profile Widgit,” and choose your preferences and username, and then “Finish and Grab Code.” This is a great way to post messages to several websites (e.g., 4th period, cheerleading, Boy Scouts).

Type With Me: Allows multiple people (15) to type at the same time in the same place (like with Google Docs). You can by-pass the 15 person limit through Google.

Zamzar: It allows you to convert files into other file types. So, for instance, you can get a YouTube video as a Quicktime file. It takes about 20 minutes, but allows you to access video even when sites are blocked. Creates an immediate videoconference. It can work like a nanny-cam.

Orbicule: This sends out your iSight video and starts taking videos of the person who is using it.

Hulu: Watch television shows for free online.

Boxee: Allows you to watch the Internet on your TV.

Swype: It will type for you as you swipe your figures around the Droid keyboard.

ISTE 2010: Davidson, "Mash Media: New Web, Old Media, and Your Own Stuff"

Wall Wishers: A creative way to share information on a single virtual wall.

Tagul: Like Wordle, but it allows you to make links to individual words in the resulting image.

Jing: Creates websites from screen captures created online. CamStudio is a good free alternative for regional screen captures on the PC.

Gizmoz: Allows you to create avatars.

Email to get a full license code for Google Pro for educators.

Web 2.0 owners almost universally allow educators to take and use screenshots from their sites. Just email the site manager to make sure it's okay to post your screen captures.

Permission to use Discovery videos in Google Lit Trips.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

ISTE 2010: Other Good Sites

EasyBib: An easy-to-use online alternative for EndNote. Useful for young writers learning to cite their sources.

Kerpoof: This is an online drawing and movie-making program. This is a one-stop-fits-all website connecting children to a multitude of children's games.

Games about Money
  • Meet Us at the Mall: Helps students learn about business competition and smart consumerism.
  • Stagecoach Island: Compliments of Wells Fargo, this game offers a virtual world where students can learn to manage their money.
  • H.I.P. Pocket Change: This site is maintained from the U.S. Mint.

ISTE 2010: November, "Digital Learning Farm: Students as Contributors"

Digital Learning Farm: Students as Contributors
Presented by Alan November

We need to trust children to teach teachers.

Tutorial Design Team: Includes videos of math concepts. Some teachers allow their students to either do homework, or they can create screenshot tutorials. An important element is to NOT give students grades for their creative works; otherwise, motivation will decrease over time.

WolframAlpha: An online tool that will solve algebraic and other similar math problems. If you type "Solution" along with the problem, you can find the steps to the solution.

Dan Pink, Drive: In Pink's book, he states that if you do not have purpose, your motivation will decline. November, then, states that we need to focus on giving children purpose. One such purpose is to have them create products that can benefit others.

Screencasting is a critically important tool that teachers seldom use.

Production Designer:
A key to enhanced educational opportunities is to release control to the students. An example of this is Bob Sprankle's student vodcast. In his elementary-level classroom, they do a weekly podcast on what the class learned throughout the week. A student designs the production for the week. After creating these podcasts, students individually came to Mr. Sprankle and asked him if they could create their own shows. One student created a writing show and another created a math show.

Using Google Docs, have three different students keep notes during a single teaching period. Have each of the three students focus on a different aspect of the presentation. Also, inform each of these scribes that they should add additional information as they feel it would be helpful, and they can add information to their notes at any later time.

School culture has conditioned children to create a dependency on the teacher to answer their questions. They are not encouraged to explore on their own; they are rewarded when interacting with the teacher and asking questions of the teacher. A job students may have in the class is to to be the researcher. When a student asks a question, one student is required to find the answer online.

Global Communicator:
One student's job should be to find email addresses of people that could act as experts when the class has questions they are unable to answer.

Kiva: A website designed to facilitate loans to small businesses around the world. For $25, students can choose a business to support and follow the success of the business. When the money is returned, you can re-invest it.

"Don't forget the kids." In fact, perhaps we should spend more time empowering kids to improve learning and less time on professional development. Perhaps a school could put together a team of students who will identify a list of ways they can use cell phones for learning within the school environment.

ISTE 2010: Schrock, "A Dose of Twitter for Every Day of the Year"

Ways to integrate Twitter into the Classroom:
  • Choose a historical figure and tweet as if you're that individual.
  • Provide a summary of a chapter or lesson.
  • Share a link relating to the topic of the week.
  • Do collaborative writing.
  • Post a question each night.
  • Have students follow a breaking news story.

30 Interesting Ways to use Twitter in the Classroom (Tom Barrett offers suggestions for using Twitter in public schools. These are available at

The Twitter Song by Ben Walker

Monday, June 28, 2010

ISTE 2010: Dodge, "What is Engagement, Really, and Where Can I Get Some?"

News Dots: Ask students what story interests you the least and why?

360 Cities: Allows you to look at cities from a photographic 360 degree perspective.
  • Compare/contrast cities
  • Have students find examples of high-density and low-density populations, high and low GDP
  • Where would you rather live?
  • Place novels in context
  • Prepare for an annual Washington, D.C. trip
  • Consider geometric shapes in architecture
  • Create a 360 City of your community and describe its history
Have an observer randomly choose 4 four students and observe them for three-minute intervals while you teach. Ask them to determine the level of engagement for each of the students. Are they engaging with each other? The teacher? Materials? The content?

Engagement is about looking closely at what everyone in your classroom is doing.