Tech Salad

With Crunchy Bits and Bytes

Month: January 2013

Fiction to Nonfiction

Yesterday I met with Ms. Thomas to come up with a good way to transition from fiction to nonfiction in her Language Arts classes. I think the resulting project will be great to see executed.

The students are reading the novel Stand Tall by Joan Bauer. In the book, the main character helps his grandfather recover after he has a leg amputated. In the process, he learns about his grandfather’s experiences during the Vietnam War. To transition from fiction to nonfiction, the students will select an event mentioned by the grandfather in the book and conduct some research. Based on the research, the students will write a newspaper article as if the event had just happened. Then they will adapt the newspaper article to film a news segment for a television show.

I really like this project because the students will explore the differences in the portrayal of a historical event in a fictional context, then in a nonfiction context meant for an audience to read, and agin in a context meant for an audience to listen and watch. There have to be stylistic differences in how information is presented and how detailed the language must be.

Look for samples of the newspaper articles and the news reports in a few weeks on Ms. Thomas’s blog.

Words and Stories

Back in December I blogged about a TEDed video explaining why the word “doubt” has a silent B in it. I wanted to create something similar with students. Now I have a teacher who is willing to take the challenge.

I will be working with Ms. Wales and her students to create short animations about vocabulary words. I have not finalized any plans, but I think we’ll be using the iPads and iMovie, Keynote, ShowMe, ComicLife, Adobe Ideas, Doodle Buddy… Whatever the students choose to make their visuals will work. It is an experiment of sorts. We want a product. We will leave the creative process up to the students.


Collaborative Work

This week I’ve been working with Ms. Flaig (blog) on her G21 project. The students have researched buildings around the world and identified geometric designs that make each building unique. They have written a paper, and now we are creating Google Maps with all the buildings identified and linked to the papers.

This has been a multi-step process, and I have only been in the classroom for the online publishing and mapping portion. As I always do when helping someone publish anything online, I encouraged the students to read their papers one more time, very closely, and correct any mistakes. After all, they probably do not want the entire world to find their typos. When a student asked how to spell-check in Google, two others chimed in and helped her turn on her editing help in Google Docs. I had never used this feature, so I learned something new.

When we moved to the creation of place markers with images and links in Google Maps, I went through the process using the projector. Then I walked around as the students worked. Of course, there are two teachers and many more students with questions. However, Ms. Flaig has managed to create a culture in the room where students help each other. Despite never having done anything in Google Maps before, every student was able to get everything done.

Did it look messy? Yes. And it was loud. But it worked. Neat rows and silence are not necessary for learning to occur.

Can You Tell Me How to Get…

Yesterday I got to visit Sesame Street.

I was invited to give an interview for the local radio show, What’s Bugging You?

I had a really fun time talking to Dr. Art Evans and producer Steve Clark about my interest in macro photography and insects, and about my book. I do not know when the show will air. Until then, if you have an iPad,  you can download my free book, Calling Nature,  and learn a few things about bugs.

Technology, Old and New

I walked past the Ceramics Studio this afternoon and caught Mrs. Long making a sample for her students. The process took several minutes. I’ve sped up the video in iMovie.

Watching Mrs. Long reminded me that teachers have used technology for centuries. I wonder how much tech support the ceramics guild needed to provide adequate classes to its apprentices. 😉


What’s the Secret?

What’s the secret? How can I boil down things I do into pithy sentences that make myself sound as good as possible? Here goes: Be curious. Read widely. Try new things. I think a lot of what people call intelligence just boils down to curiosity.

Aaron Swartz was a name I’d seen many times in many different places, but until today, I had never really looked into him. I’m sorry I didn’t. He committed suicide yesterday. He was only 26 years old, and he did amazing things that have made a difference in my own life.

You can read about it on Wikipedia, a place he loved, or in his own words.

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