Monday, January 25, 2010

New ideas and old stories

Here are a few random thoughts I'm submitting for your review. I hadn't posted anything in a while, so here is a little of "this and that" as my great grandma used to say. :-)

Last week I acquired a set of ActivExpressions which are devices which can send messages to my interactive whiteboard (ActivBoard). Their basically little texting devices with which they can send text messages to my board. When everyone has answered, it pops up a graph showing what percentage gave what answer. The kids love it. In fact, it's hard to keep their hands off of them. I take away about 2 of them a day for kids pretending to talk on their "cellphones." Seriously, it is amazing how much time 7th graders still spend just playing. Craziness. I'm still learning how to use them effectively as a learning tool. (I'm open to any suggestions!)

This week we started an immigration project, since we're studying the Industrial Revolution. My students are researching the story of particular immigrants during the late 1800's, and then they're choosing someone they know who's family has immigrated to the US sometime in the more recent past (in the last 75 years :-)). Then they'll interview that person (or someone in their family who knows the family immigration story) and compare and contrast the two stories. Theoretically, this is the plan. I'm having a hard time getting the kids to understand that the person they interview doesn't have to be 1) a family member, or 2) someone who personally immigrated themselves. We spent forever clarifying that today. Some of the kids themselves are immigrants, while the families of other students have been in the country for many generations. I think that when all is said and done, they should be great stories, but it'll take some time. We're actually struggling to find good stories from the late 1800's. Anyone
have any immigration stories from that era? Here's hoping for the best on that project!

Then tonight, from my wonderful PLN (personal learning network) of individuals that I follow on Twitter, I found a great new way of displaying students writing in images, called FlickrPoet. You paste or type in text (poetry or otherwise), and then it chooses related images from Flickr to illustrate your writing. I tried it with some rain poems my kids wrote on a very rainy Thursday last week. Below are screen shots of the images that it produced for one of the poems. Pretty cool, huh?

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