Online Activities


We should all be PROUD!!!

The School District of Palm Beach County has been recognized by netTrekker for our commitment to keeping our students safe online and providing educationally sound Internet resources for our students and teachers.  Each year netTrekker recognizes the top 100 Districts based on the usage of their educational search tool, and this year WE RANKED # 7  OVERALL!!

To see where we ranked compared to some of the other districts in Florida and the nation click on the award.

ssa_logo_-_top_100_districts

As a reminder,

netTrekker is available to all students, teachers, and family members of the School District of Palm Beach County, and is available via a link on the Learning Tools website.  This is a direct link from school, and inquire at your school to learn more about access from home!

To learn more about netTrekker… check out the netTrekker Support Page, and KEEP SAFELY SEARCHING!!!

In Palm Beach County we all (mostly) know and love the great curriculum resources provided by BrainPOP, and it’s companions–BrainPOP Junior and BrainPOP en Espanol. Our usage of these services is through the roof, and our teachers report over and over again how much they and their students love BrainPOP and the engaging content that the service provides.

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Now, through a comprehenisive study conducted with our own teachers and teachers in New York City schools we can back up how we feel about BrainPOP content with a scientific study that measured the impact of BrainPOP on student learning gains. To say the results are striking would be an understatement.

Looking at the chart here you can see the differences in learning gains measured using the Stanford 10 diagnostic test. Students in the BrainPOP groups had substantially greater gains than those in the control groups where BrainPOP was not integrated into the curriculum. Reading from the Executive Summary of the BrainPOP Effectiveness Study conducted by SEG Research you learn that:

Students who were in classes that used BrainPOP showed substantial growth in Science, Language,
and Reading Comprehension and more moderate gains in Vocabulary, during the course of the
study. Students in classes using BrainPOP increased their SAT 10 Language scale-scores by 24
points, their Reading Comprehension scores by 17 points, their Science Scores by 17 points, and
their Vocabulary scores by 11 points (see Figure 1). Students received approximately 16-20 weeks
of instruction using BrainPOP, yet the amount of growth achieved is equivalent to between one and
two grade levels of growth when compared to the national sample of students
included in the
Stanford 10 norm group (Harcourt Assessment, 2002).(emphasis added)

In addition to the Executive Summary you can read the full, detailed Report on BrainPOP Effectiveness at this link.

A companion study conducted at the same time found that “the use of multimedia instruction can significantly enhance student learning if properly designed and implemented. BrainPOP uses animation, voice, characters, diagrams and more to motivate and engage learners in curricular topics. Read the full research paper – Understanding Multimedia Learning: Integrating Multimedia in the K-12 Classroom.

Our thanks to the teachers who participated in this study and to the great people at BrainPOP who gave our teachers instruction on its most effective use in the classroom. I had the pleasure of sitting in as Allisyn from BrainPOP Educator’s worked with our teachers to examine our benchmarks and demonstrate how lessons that support and enhance instruction can be found in BrainPOP’s library, and shared how she had used different kinds of content in her own classroom. The remarkable thing about the approach that the entire BrainPOP organization takes is how totally focused they are on creating authentic, fun, engaging learning experiences for kids. In a world run amuck with multi-media of all kinds, it’s often a tall order to get the attention of students and get them focused on your learning objectives. Based on this study, BrainPOP content does just that–engaging learning in the classroom in a way that leads to measurable gains.

Of course, no one, not even the folks at BrainPOP, claims that this kind of multi-media content engages every kind of learning, or is the best and only use of classroom computers. But clearly BrainPOP is far more than simply a modern-day version of the filmstrip if used as intended–as an awesome and fun (even!) curriculum add-on to get help kids get focused and excited (even!) about learning.

He makes a decision... his own choice

John Shoemaker set up a Shelfari book club with all the books from one of my previous blogposts.

I know it took a lot of time to set up (so, a BIG thank you to John) but it won’t take a lot of time for YOU to join and participate in the discussions. If you’re interested, just join Shelfari (free), and join our group. It will be a great activity to do for the summer that can carry well into the school year.

You’ll see that Shelfari allows you to add books to your own shelf, and track whether you’ve read them, are reading them currently or plan to read them. You can rate them, mark them as favorites, comment and recommend for others. You can also add friends and send messages to each other as well as view the most popular books being read and recommendations for you.

I’ve already started my first book, Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire, by Rafe Esquith fwhich will be followed by  The Herb Kohl Reader by Herbert Kohl. For those of you who are interested in joining us on Shelfari, but aren’t quite sure what it’s all about, here are two recent segments from PalmBreezeCAFE where I show Kim Cavanaugh how to use Shelfari.


Shelfari Part I



Shelfari Part II

The nice thing about the Shelfari group is that there is a discussion set up for each book on the original list, so you can not only jump in on any discussion on any book, but you can throw in your own book and add your own discussions!

I will be the first to admit that I can use plenty of help when it comes to my ability to remember lists of facts, or organizing my thoughts.  I will bet that many teachers are familiar with ways to become better thinkers and I’d love to here them.  Here’s a link to a really immpressive list of things you might consider useful in improving your own thought processes.


 This interactive list of ideas and information surrounding ways to improve your cognitive skills comes courtesy of Jessica Merritt and can be found at http://www.find-schools-online.com/blog/  This list has something for everyone. 

Please feel free to comment on your favorite or on any that you think are not worth the time.

If you are looking for an EASY and very cool way to promote community amongst your interest groups, I have found TabUp to be an outstanding resource. If your school district or community group does not provide you with your own web presence FREE TO YOU, and you would like to create a private, semiprivate, or open destination for communication, TabUp can provide just what you are looking for.

With features like a shared calendar, forums for discussion, links to various web resources, and the ability to make this modrated or invite only ALL FOR FREE, I can’t think of a school group, sports team, or common interest group that would not find some use for this service. Please take a look, and add your thoughts to this page. The page is not intended to be a primary source of new information, but rather a living example of another great FREE tool available to educators and community groupsI will be automatically notified of any changes or additions, and will be sure to act on valid suggestions.

Me neither but I felt like I was very close!

Today, I had the pleasure of video conferencing with a 5/6 grade class in Central Butte, Canada. Participating in the activity was (teacher) Barb Mcinnis (& her students), Tim Lauer (Portland, Oregon), Tom Barrett (Nottingham, England) and Dean Shareski (Moose Jaw, Canada). This is direct from Mrs. Mcinnis’ class blog

:

The grade 5/6 students had the chance to meet people from different parts of the world thanks to wireless technology!  On Tuesday, November 4 we participated in a web conference.  We had the opportunity, thank you to Dean Shareski (division technology) to interview educators from Nottingham, England;Portland, OR; Florida; and Moose Jaw via a web cam.  We were able to see and talk to these individuals. We first asked them questions to try and locate them, then we talked about the wireless technology that exists in their classrooms and schools.  Wow!  there are sure some great pieces of technology being used!! This project came about from an article we had read called “Get Set For the Net”. This article helped us understand how past inventions lead us to the wireless age we live in. Most of the students take this age for granted and do not realize the negative and positive effects it can have on our lives. We watched “Smart Guy:Stranger on the Net” to help us become more “Net” smart. Then we decided to do something positive and exciting with our wireless technology.

I’d like to commend Mrs. Mcinnis for her innovative vision as she seeks out relevant technologies to make learning for her students relevant. Wouldn’t you love to be in her class? This is an easy and free activity that took less than 40 minutes and can easily be replicated in YOUR classroom. Where would you find another class to communicate with? Try ePals, for starters.

This is the edited version that Dean created (5 min):

This is the entire conversation (40min):

Thank you, Dean, for asking me to participate. It was truly a pleasure to “meet” Tim, Tom, Mrs. Mcinnis and all of her students.

P.S. I hope my clues (about where I live) still have them stumped!!

The Technical Stuff:
We used Adobe Connect to have our online conversation and I recorded the session. When we were finished, I downloaded the video in .flv format (the default for recorded Adobe Connect sessions) and then uploaded that file to our school district’s Vodcast server (Video On Demand). I was then able to copy the code (anyone know how to read code??? Certainly not me, but I know how to copy and paste!) and pasted it into this blog. Code like that can be pasted into ANY webpage, including Edline! The video is also available on MediaShare along with a description so other teachers can easily access and replicate similar activities in their classes.

As most of you are probably aware, we will host our 11th annual SDPBC Technology Conference in March 2009. We are pleased to be returning to Santaluces High School for the second consecutive year. Here an example of a free online publishing tool that you can employ to spread the word. Feel free to share this countdown with anyone you think might want to have it simply by clicking on share in the lower left corner! Or better yet… go to www.sproutbuilder.com create a free account and build your own! You can build all kinds of widgets and other neat things. If you build something you’d like to share, LET US KNOW!!

If you wold like to add a little personality to your Edline page, possibly lighten up the presentation of some of your content, or try and inject some creativity into your project based learning. I recommend checking out Go!Animate. You’ll find this web based publishing program at www.goanimate.com and it does require an email to create an account, but the service is free and FUN!! Here’s an example of something I put together in about 15 minutes, and I am still learning the interface. Your students will amaze you!!
Get Creative!!

Spelling City

Here’s a great way for elementary teachers or parents to help your students practice for those weekly spelling tests that we all know and love!  Also, you can search for a huge number of provided lists that cover a large range of age appropriateness, and content specific subjects.

As a teacher or parent, you can very easily create a “weekly spelling list” that can be accessed at home with a username and password of your choice. You have the choice of making your list public and searchable, or keep it private so only your students will know how to find it.  No email or identification is required of the student, and when they log in, they will be presented with several very interactive ways to learn their words. They can hear their words, take practice tests or play one of several games.
Jump in and give it a try!  I am using it with my children and they really seem to enjoy it.  I am sure you’ll find the same results with your students.  Let us know how it goes, and if you’ve shared any great new lists!

The election season is in full swing and there’s little doubt that teachers all over the country are using the teachable moments that this year brings to add all sorts of engaging content into their lessons. After all, one of the primary tasks of public education is the preparation of good citizens, so we certainly can’t pass up an opportunity like this now can we?

There are all sorts of great lesson plans floating around on the Web, but I thought I’d highlight two of my favorite sources this time around.

First, the good folks at Education World have quite a few great offerings. For a complete listing of all their lesson plans visit The Election: Classroom Activities for lesson plans, webquests, and links to sites where students can find information about the election coming up in little over a month.

Also not to be missed are all the election and government resources compiled by PBS Teacher’s Source at their Access, Analyze, Act site where you’ll find even more lessons, activities, and links. Be sure to visit the Resources page where you’ll find links to great activities like:

National Mock Election

Get My Vote from NPR

American Experience: The Presidents

So let’s get out there, but be careful! There’s a lot at stake this time around and an educated electorate is one of the keys to our democracy. Are you doing your part to help your students understand what the issues are and which candidates really represent them?

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