Monday, April 25, 2011

Take a trip with Google Maps

Fourth graders are learning about the states and also studying the midwest region specifically. Three classrooms planned trips and the other two focused on their states.

For the trips, students worked in teams to map out their itinerary, including where to stay, what to eat and what to do. Using my staff google account, we created individualized maps to illustrate the plans for each team. Students composed informational captions and selected the map icons.

Classrooms studying the states shared the state capital and one fact to create a class map.

When the option to view maps in Google Earth is selected, a .kml file is automatically generated.

Kathy Kaldenberg, Librarian

Visual Verse

Language Arts - Aaron Farnsworth

Here it is, finally, the creative project of a lifetime. Call me Zamboni/Call me Ishmael/Call me what you will---at some point, just make sure to call me poetry!-----it is in your veins, it is a part of you, it controls your every move and your daily thinking-We’re going to bring it to life!

You will take a poem and turn it into a cinematic production: a song, rap, mini-movie, dramatization, etc.—all done through a mini-film.

Your Undertaking:

1. Select two partners to work with on this assignment---please make sure your schedules are somewhat the same because all of your work will be done outside of the classroom. Also be sure that at least one of your trio has a video camera so that the recording can be uploaded to a computer.

2. Each person needs to find a poem for the group, one that could be turned into a video production.

3. The group needs to read each poem and vote on the best one. Once the poem is selected, please approve it with Mr. F.

4. Brainstorm as individuals and as a group and create ideas of what could visually be done with the poem.

5. Take these thoughts, sort them out, and narrow down your idea to create a final product proposal—this is what you want to create for your poem: the visual product and what it will look like. You will need to write a one page rationale explaining what you are going to do with the poem and why (a solid overview).

6. Learn basic information about filming and storyboarding.

7. Create a scene-by-scene storyboard, documenting how you will shoot your movie (actions, scenes, locations, style, music, etc). You will need to use at least six different types of shots in your filming and each person in the group must appear at least once. PLAN-PLAN-PLAN. You must also include what parts/lines/words of the poem will be read/heard during each clip.

8. Approve your storyboard with Mr. Farnsworth.

9. Start planning your shoot (dates and times). Remember, it does not have to be shot sequentially.

10. Shoot your film and re-shoot as needed. Use your storyboard to guide you. If you change shot ideas, these must be reflected in an updated storyboard.

11. Upload your material to a home (or school) computer and start the editing process. It is up to you to be creative and sell your product idea to others through visualization. You will need a title screen and a credits screen that shows the actors, any helpers, and a work cited for the poem being used.

12. Put your video together and include sound, voiceovers, and whatever else is needed. The final product must display visually or aurally the poem you are working with.

13. Continue to Re-shoot and add any needed scenes and work those into the film.

14. Create a finalized copy that can be viewed in the classroom. It may be created via: Windows Movie Maker, IMovie, etc. you may choose to upload it to youtube as well.

Point Value: 100 Pts.


Storyboard 20 +____

1Pg. rationale 10 +____

‘Film’ Complete and on time 10 +____


Camera time-all participants 10 +____

Professionally Done 10 +____

Creative 10 +____

Title screen 5 +____

Credits screen 5 +____

Effectively Accents the Poem 10 +____

Six types of shots 10 +____

TOTAL +____/100

Dragon Dictate

With a purchasing grant funded by the Solon Community School District PTO, I was able to purchase a new computer program that allows me to better facilitate students’ writing. Dragon Dictate (once called MacSpeech Dictate) by Nuance offers the ability to speak text and commands as I am grading academic work such as essays. The traditional route of feedback is to sketch out comments that end up being very vague and to then use many abbreviations hinting at needed corrections without specific guidance. This technique, which can become very effective when paired with a student writing conference, is somewhat idealistic, but it often doesn’t offer the full benefits as individual time to meet with students is very limited. Dragon Dictate has opened the doors of teacher/writer communication by providing the ability to articulate a full sentence or lengthened idea about a section of the student writing without the cumbersome process and limitations of written comments. These ‘new age’ written comments allow the teacher to describe, to give voice, and to incite new direction in a student’s academic success. And if used effectively, it can also reduce the need for many writing conferences—ones that focus on deciphering the ‘assigned’ comments.

Although any new application of technology has a learning curve and the dedication to understanding and manipulating its components is time consuming, the possibilities here are remarkable. In the time it takes to traditionally grade and create written comments for an essay, DD users (such as myself and Mr. Erickson) have been able to generate twice the amount of quality feedback in the same amount of time. With continued use, mastery, and innovative nature, this program can persist in its effectiveness. For a sample of how this tool has been used in the classroom, please contact Aaron Farnsworth at:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Comic strip characters make up math problems

A middle school math teacher asked students to use MakeBeliefComix to illustrate math problems. The best ones were used for the test.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


As a final project in my Stride for Freedom class I wanted kids to create a timeline of what they felt were the 20 most important events/topics we covered in the 9 week course.

Rather than have kids do the old fashioned poster board with markers, glue and scissors I took the advice of Mrs. Cannon and decided that a digital version might be of more interest and less mess to my kids.

Mrs. Cannon had recommended to me as she had used it in the past and thought it worked well. When I tried it I found it to be not as user friendly as I’d hoped so I tried another site called Timetoast.

It’s very easy to create specific points as well as time spans along a timeline. It also allows the user to add photos to each point as well. It updates in real time so losing progress is never an issue.

Viewing a finished product can be done in timeline format or text format. The timeline version is visually captivating and draws the eye to it as each event magnifies as your cursor draws near the points on the timeline. The text format however is much easier from a reading standpoint and more importantly for me a grading standpoint.

Having used it I’ve already thought up a number of different ways I could incorporate this to use as a teaching tool as well as other lessons for students to use it in other classes. is the website. It’s free to sign up and all a person needs is an email address.

Here’s an example of one of my students projects.

Todd Kopecky, High School Social Studies