This week’s Fun Friday post is a link to the “Technabob Blog“, where Hazel Chua posted an image gallery of the many unique billboards Science World is using in its new advertising campaign. How can this be used in an educational setting? Well, you could have students research and expound upon the facts cited in each ad. After showing the kids a few examples, I bet some of them would be more than happy to develop their own delightfully shocking ads – based on research, of course. Or, if you live in the United States, you could just have them convert the metric measurement of snot into customary units – so it will make a bigger impact…
The Ark in Space – A Compendium of Creatures is exactly that. If you have any students who are researching animals, or who have any kind of passion for them, this is the site for them. There are astounding photos and videos that will fascinate any nature lover. The articles are short, and certainly not as comprehensive as other sites, but many of them are unique to this site. For example, take a look at Synchronized Swimming in the Animal Kingdom, or Sea Slug Symphony for collections of stunning photographs that I doubt you will find anywhere else. Or, browse the small collection of videos, and you will find Two Unlikely Friends at the Zoo, a touching video that might bring a tear to your eye.
Photographs or videos from The Ark in Space are a sure way to grab the attention of your students!
One of my favorite new blogs to follow is Sonya Terborg’s. Every time I read a new post from her, I feel like we are kindred spirits. Recently, she wrote an article called, “Teaching Without a Plan…What???” in which she addressed how we, as teachers, can approach being “the guide on the side”. I think that her Inquiry Cycle poster, which you can download as a PDF from her site, will be a perfect resource for me as I guide my gifted students through Genius Hour this year. I highly recommend reading her entire article, and to visit some of the other posts on Sonya’s site.
I ran across the video for The Independent Project yesterday, and was immediately intrigued by the idea. Some high school students basically created their own “school-within-a-school” in which they pursued their own interests. One student developed the idea, and 8 students ended up participating in the pilot project. This excerpt is taken from their “White Paper“, which details the process of developing The Independent Project, “His intent was to design a school in which students would be fully engaged in and passionate about what they were learning, would have the experience of truly mastering something, or developing expertise in something, and would be learning how to learn. He felt that the most important ingredient to a school like that would be that it was student-driven.”
This idea runs along the same lines as the Genius Hour, but is even more expansive, as this became the format for these eight students for their entire school day, every school day. When you watch the video, you will see the impact this project had on a very diverse group of kids – which also reminds me of the philosophy of Universal Design for Learning.
The video, which you can also see at the project’s website, is 15 minutes long, but well worth watching.
According the the above website, “PechaKucha is a presentation format for creative work originally devised in 2003 by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein-Dytham Architecture in Tokyo, Japan. The name derives from a Japanese term for the sound of conversation or chit-chat.”
I first heard about Pecha Kucha from some of my fellow G.T. teachers, and was fascinated by the concept – a presentation of 20 slides with 20 seconds for each slide. At the time, I was already caught up with end-of-the-school-year projects, and did not have a spare moment to do more research. This summer, I ran across this great blog post that gives 10 great suggestions for how to create an awesome Pecha Kucha.
I love the idea of giving this option to my students – particularly for their Genius Hour projects. I also think this is a great way for teachers to introduce a new topic – or even review one. Or, you can do what the professionals do, have a “Pecha Kucha Night” at which your student present their most inspirational slideshows. If you can think of any other ideas for Pecha Kucha in the classroom, I would love to see your comments!
“Scrap It” is an iOS app that you can get for any iDevice, and even in HD for the iPad. I must admit that I had not thought about its educational value until one of my students decided to create a recent project that she did on Rosa Parks using this app on her mother’s iPad. If you are looking for something that is a bit different than Powerpoint, Keynote, or Prezi, then “Scrap It” might be a good value for you at 99 cents. Using the tools provided, the user can create a virtual scrapbook that can then be e-mailed, shared, or saved to the camera roll. Since each page is saved as a .jpg, the images could even then me imported into some kind of slide presentation, such as the aforementioned Powerpoint, Keynote, or Prezi. Or, you can use an iPad VGA adapter to hook it directly to your projector.
Below are some examples from my student’s presentation.
For a great internet research challenge, try “A Google A Day”. At the bottom of the search page, there is a question for that day. You are timed on how long it takes you to submit a correct answer. You can get hints as well as tips for how to search for the solution. If you are looking for a particular date, you can change the date in the URL in the address bar. This would be a fun quick challenge for kids in a 1:1 classroom. You could also do it at a station, and have students record how long it took them. For further differentiation, assign students to create their own challenges.