Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Just a couple ways GoogleEarth has been used at SCSD:

A 5th grader created a .kmz file which layered his push-pin locations and his comments about the journey of Lewis and Clark onto GoogleEarth. The student narrated the tour to the class as he navigated through the landmarks and read the comments.

In Media Center, we combined the International Childrens Digital Library with a GoogleEarth tour. We traveled from Lakeview across the Pacific to the Philippines and back and then from Lakeview across the Atlantic to Croatia and back. The students loved seeing their school from the sky and zooming across the continent and ocean to another place where children also live and read books.

Kathy Kaldenberg, Librarian

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Student absent? No problem!

A Geometry student communicated in advance that she was going to be absent for three days.  Usually students just ask for the assignments and we figure out the rest when they return to school.  Let's all be honest...if our instruction is worthwhile, it's probably not the same as simply reading the textbook.  Students who are absent either figure it out from reading the textbook (my guess is that these students are self-learners to begin with) or struggle and don't put in the time once they get back and never learn those ideas/concepts/skills.

This time a few SHS staff members decided to do things a little differently.  Here's how it looked in room 203:

Day 1: The big ideas were isosceles triangles and the "HL Theorem."  Using a tripod and a Flip video camera, each lesson was recorded during class and later posted to Vimeo.  I emailed the student links to the videos and she learned when she had time later in the day.

In case you're wondering how they turned out, here's one of the videos.

4.6 - HL Theorem from Matt Townsley on Vimeo.

(Technical notes:  It only took a few minutes to setup a Vimeo account.  The free version limits the amount of video a user can upload each week, so I had to use iMovie to shrink down one of the videos to fit within my quota.  The uploading process itself did not take long, but shrinking one of the movies ahead of time took about 45 minutes of computer processing time.)

Day 2:
Overlapping triangles rounded out our unit of study on triangle congruences and proofs, so the tripod and Flip camera were setup again.  A few minutes into the lesson, I noticed that the red light on the camera was no longer glowing.  The batteries were dead!  I paused to check out the situation. Things turn a turn at this point in the class:
Student A: "Mr. Townsley...let's Skype with E____.  We did it in Spanish class earlier today!!"
Me: "How are we going to get a hold of her?"
Student B: "I've got her cell phone number...can I call her right now?"
A few minutes later, the absent student was Skyping in from her couch at home.  She "saw" everything we did as a class was able to say hi to her classmates and didn't miss a beat of instructional time. 

At the end of class, several students asked if they could Skype with the class if they were sick in the future. I have a strange feeling I may start to see more "sick" students in the future. :)