Saturday, October 31, 2009

Google Presentations and the Eighth Grade

I've been using a Time Travel Agency idea for an eighth grade PowerPoint project for the last three or four years. I've modified the project to suit my needs. Each year, I get new ideas and hope to improve on the previous version of the project.

Image License Search
This year, I am going to use the Google Apps accounts I created though my domain. I have enough accounts to assign two students to a decade. Twice in previous years, I had multiple students assigned to one PowerPoint presentation, but it seemed as if some students did a lot of work and others sat and talked. Last year, I had each student create their own presentation but they found it to be too much work.

Last week, the students partnered up and chose a decade. They completed the 2009-2010 Time Travel Form.

Next week, I plan to review what the students learned about selecting a license for their fish animations last year. I want to show them the Advanced Image Search in Google. I will have them do their best to find images using the Usage Rights category to find images that are labeled for commercial reuse with modification. It will give us an opportunity to review copyright, creative commons, and the public domain.

Google Presentations
I played around with Google Presentations a bit last week. I completed three sample slides to share with the class. I was happy to find out that they will have the ability to add speaker notes in the Google Presentation and those notes will download into PowerPoint! The students will have to split up the work so that they have the required slides completed equally. I was happy to see that if they choose a presentation theme, it will download into PowerPoint.

A Chance to Talk About Alternate Search Engines
This week, they will begin to populate the slides with their pictures and notes. As they do so, they will need to delve deeper into their topics. I am looking forward to sharing Noodletools: Choose the Best Search for Your Internet Needs website.

I've been working through a Moodle course from November Learning. I have the opportunity to take their three course offerings through the state of New Jersey. I had a great session with Alan November at Kean University's Creating 21st Century Schools seminar this past week. There are things I want the eighth grade to be reacquainted with before they graduate. The Webliteracy for Educators class is reminding me of many important topics. This project will allow me to combine a variety of search skills in one project.

The fact that these are Google Presentations with creative commons images should help me share the final projects. Something I've never been able to do in the past.

Image Citation:
Kalohi, Leslie. "Time-Freezy Hype Slush." Never Cool in School's photostream. 28 Sep 2008. 31 Oct 2009.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Musical Citation Project

There was a conflict with scheduling my use of the tablets today (a problem I like to have) so I had to come up with an extra project last night. I keep a list of future projects on my delicious account and found an interesting idea.

Reviewing Citations
Last year, I worked on the idea of saying thank you for images in a PowerPoint lesson for the fifth grade. I wanted to extend that thought in a new way. I do not like to over use PowerPoint and felt that I'd like to use images again.

The lesson found on Pics4Learning's website suggests that the teacher selects a piece of music that students can use with images in Pic4Learnings free photos.

I did a quick search for Creative Commons music and came across an article titled Creative Commons Music in Honor of Obama. I listened to a piece titled Taps-America the Beautiful by Obi Best. It is a beautiful piece with an attribution-noncommercial 3.0 unported license. This is perfect for the project. I was able to edit out the taps and have a minute and eleven seconds of song.

I used EasyBib to create a citation for the music and posted the lyrics, music citation, and link to Pics4Learning on our wiki page.

Learning Ahead
I introduced the lesson today. I played the piece and asked the students to think of images that came to mind as they listened. They enjoyed the music, swaying to the beat, humming and singing along. They suggested some images as starting points for each other.

I decided the best way to proceed was to teach them how to make a Bookmarks folder in Firefox. As they found images they would want in the presentation, they added a bookmark.

We're going to import the MP3 into iMovie and add the images to complement the music. The students haven't used iMovie yet. They already have plans to bring the music into Garageband to mix it up. I didn't plan that part of the project. It evolved in class as they asked for the option. It was a great opportunity to talk about the Creative Commons license selected by the artist which allows for remixing of the song.

Overall Plan
We will create a title and a series of images for America the Beautiful. The students will include citations for the music and all the images. We will eventually upload the completed movies to our school podcast page and/or my vimeo account. I'll have to determine this as I see the project evolve.

In the end, the students will have 24 versions of the song. We will do a little analysis at the end. The project is still evolving, but it seems like the students are going to have a lot of fun while they are reminded once again about citations AND begin learning about copyright, creative commons, and the public domain.

Image Citation:
"America the Beautiful..." longhorndave's photostream. 2006 Jul 15. 2009 Oct 27.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

GPS Travel

I saw a message on Twitter today that reminded me of a project I've had in the back of my head since last June. A teacher said that her students' geocache had made it from Florida to Washington, DC. She couldn't wait to tell the students. Since I took a few students on a geocache expedition last June, I've had it in mind to purchase some travel bugs and send them on their way. My son is in the picture holding the first cache we located.

Developing the Idea
I was talking with my husband and sons at dinner about the DC travel bug. As we were talking, my husband suggested that I start by trying to get the bug to move from our school's town to a neighboring town's geocache. I think that's a good idea to start the project. Next, I thought it might be useful to plant a geocache at my home where I could control things (and have a shorter trip to retrieve the bug).

As we ate, I realized that another "easy" trip would be to send the bug down to Florida to a teacher I'm comfortable working with online. As I continued to eat, I thought about other teachers who are far more comfortable with geocaches. My students and I could learn so much from a collaboration.

GPS Travel Wikispaces
I'm not sure if anyone has set up a project like this, so I created this evening as an education wiki. I'm borrowing heavily from my work on and

In my mind I envision setting up some research for the students. They would learn and create artifacts to show what they learn about longitude and latitude, how their GPS unit(s) work, and what, if anything, they have done with

As Anna and I developed the monsterproject wiki, we started including information to help the teachers. Based on that wiki I have a getting started, lessons plans, and helpful hints set of links on the new wiki. As other teachers join in they can add to those links.

Let the Games Begin
I have created the Google Form below to allow teachers to register so I can start tracking interest in this idea. I'll look forward to sharing a Skype call to brainstorm the lessons. We can all give it a try together and see where it leads.