Middle School Magic or Is It Madness?

This year I moved to teaching middle school science. I teach two classes of each grade six, seven and eight. In addition we are starting a VEX IQ Robotics Team and our first Science Olympiad team. Interest for these two activities has been high and we are hoping to have a successful first year. Feel free to share any tips, tricks or websites to help!

Reflections on a DENamazing Summer!

This should have been written sooner but my summer has flown by. Since I got home from DENSI on July 20, I had two additional adventures. First, I had a booth at the Maker Faire Detroit at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan. After that I was part of a high adventure trek to the Florida Sea Base in the Florida Keys. We spent four days on Big Munson Island. During our adventure we did deep sea fishing, night snorkeling on Patch Reef, kayaking through the mangroves and snorkeling on Looe Key.

The Discovery Education Summer Institute (DENSI) has been the best professional development I have ever experienced. Even though I knew just a few people through online connections, I felt immediately at home. New connections were made and old ones were strengthened. Everyone was willing to share what they knew and help with any challenges you may have.

At many professional development sessions I feel lucky if I can get one good idea to bring back to my school or classroom. All of the sessions here were filled with good ideas I will use in my classroom and school. The keynotes made you think of education differently and inspired you to do more.

The activities (formal and informal) were a blast! We had a great time at Shelburne Museum and Farm. I think the quilt and the circus exhibits were my favorites. We also attended a Vermont Lake Monsters baseball game and got to run the bases afterwards. At the dorms there were late night TV theme song trivia games (Thanks Dean Shareski!) and Artemis missions (Starship simulator Thanks Steve Dembo!).

It didn’t feel like a professional development experience, it felt more like going to camp with the coolest people and learning together. It really was an amazing experience and I look forward to more to come!

Vermont Bound!

Its been a crazy year, but I recently got some great news. I have been invited to attend the Discovery Education Summer Institute in Burlington, Vermont this July. Its going to be a great week of professional development in a state I haven’t been to before. It will also give me an opportunity to visit Cooperstown and some other scenic locations along the way. This is looking to be a fantastic summer. Is anyone else going?

Fabulous Foldify

Foldify by Pixie Foldify App is a great tool for creation on the iPad. A student can use the app to create and decorate a 3 dimensional papercraft. When they are done they can then print it out, cut it out, fold and assemble.

The interface is a split screen. On the left is a rotatable image of the final product. It is updated as the user makes changes. The right side of the screen is the flattened template of the papercraft. There the user can paint and draw with unlimited colors. In addition there are a wide variety of stickers to use to decorate their design.

iPad as a Document Camera

I have been using my iPad a little differently lately in my classroom. I have a document camera in my classroom but due to its location, it’s not the easiest to use. It’s also very difficult to allow the students to use. Instead of using my document camera for activities such as Daily Oral Language or Math Word Problem of the Day, I have been using my iPad.

To do this you need an iPad 2 or later, an art app that allows the use of layers, some way of mirroring your iPad display to your computer or projector (I use Reflection) and a stylus.

It works like this…Take a picture of the document you wish to use with the class using the camera on the iPad. Import it into your favorite art app that allows layers. Create a new layer on top. This will be the layer you use to make your notes. Set up mirroring on your computer and iPad. Use your stylus to make your notes or better yet hand the iPad to students and allow them to make the notes.

Historical Square? FourSquare for History…

Curiosity has just checked in on Mars and is soon to be the Mayor of Mars. Although I am sure Marvin would like to say something about that. “That makes me very, very angry, puny earthling…” Check out the article here: http://thenextweb.com/shareables/2012/10/03/mars-curiosity-on-foursquare/
This made me think what would other historical check ins look like….

Seal Team Six checked in at Osama Bin Laden’s Hideout and ousted Osama as the Mayor.

Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln checked in at Ford’s Theater

Neal Armstrong checked in at The Sea of Tranquility on the Moon

This idea might make for an interesting history activity for students familiar with FourSquare. It could also be used by students studying a novel. Students could write FourSquare check ins for historical events or characters actions within a novel.

Continue reading