Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Introducing Document Camera and Digital Microscope to Students

When you think of using a document camera, we think of using it for just that - documents. It's the high tech version of an overhead. Just as folks became inventive with using an overhead with transparent coins and shapes, you can be creative with a document camera.

Here's an activity to try.
Take your students on a safari outside. They are looking for interesting objects to share with the class. When they return - depending upon the age of the students- have them write a few sentences to a paragraph about their object. Instead of passing the object around the class (remember your show-and-tell days) the student would use the document camera to give the class an up close and personal look at their object.

When the activity is complete students have used their...
Reasoning skills- to determine which object to present
Descriptive Writing skills - by writing the sentences or paragraph about the object
Presentation/ Public Speaking skills- by sharing the object with the class

Not to mention the fact that they just used a cool tech tool.

This activity can be modified for use with the Digital Blue Microscopes found in many schools and classrooms.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Online Safari

Want to get up close and personal with an elephant, but can't afford a trip to Africa? Is the zoo too far away for a day trip? There is are simple online tools that can bring your students up close and personal with some wild and exotic animals. Many zoos have web cams that watch everything from naked mole rats to cheetah cubs.

To use this in your classroom, locate an animal web cam of interest. (I've listed several below). Once the video opens, right click on the image and click full screen. The image will then fill your monitor. Leave this up on your computer for students to observe. Have them write down what they observe the animals doing or have younger students draw a picture. They can make notes about behavior, habit, animal movement, or the description of the animal.

There are several good animal web cams available. My favorite links are as follows:
National Zoo Animal WebCams- http://natzoo.si.edu/Animals/WebCams/

Waikiki Aquarium- http://waquarium.otted.hawaii.edu/cameras.html

Animal Web Cams - http://www.exzooberance.com/animal%20web%20cams.htm

Toledo Zoo Cam - http://static.toledo.com/zoocams/index.php

If you're interested in more than just animals there are tons of web cams available for viewing online related to educational topics. There are cameras for cities and various landmarks. A simple search such as grand canyon web cam will help you to find any that are available.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Probability and Graphing

Materials - 10-20 unifix cubes in 3 colors per group
paper bag
sheet for tally marks and to make prediction

Prior to activity fill bags for each group with set of unifix cubes use only 3 colors per bag

Place students in pairs or small groups
Have them empty the contents on the table to view the amount of each color of cubes.
Write the color names on a sheet of paper.
Students must predict which color they think will pull out most often when the randomly select a cube. Write the prediction on a sheet of paper.
Place cubes back in bag.
Have students take turns sticking their hand in the bag and selecting a cube(without looking). As they pull a cube from the bag, write down a tally mark for that cube and place the cube back in the bag. Repeat 20 times.
At the end, have students compare the actual results with their prediction.

Next, have students enter their data into a spreadsheet application.
The spreadsheet should look like this:
Column A Column B
color number
red 4
blue 7
green 1

Have the students graph their data. Most spreadsheet programs will allow you to change the color of the bars, lines, etc. Have the students change the color of the bars on their chart to reflect the colors they had in their bag.

Happy Computing!

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Using Excel for Coordinate Grid mapping

Excel makes a great tool to help extend the old color the square coordinate grid worksheets we give the kids.
The activity I'm including has the students creating a smiley face by using the fill tool in Excel. The activity works even better if you shrink the width of the cell in columns A-Z so that the boxes look like squares. If you don't, your smiley face will be extra wide, but it will still work.

Coordinate Grid Mapping Activity
1. Type your name in cell (A, 1)

2.Use the fill tool on the bottom toolbar to color the following cells yellow. ** ( If you do not see the fill tool or the bottom toolbar click on View - Toolbars- Check Drawing and the tool bar will appear at the bottom. )
3. To change the fill color to yellow.
4. Click on the down arrow to the right of the fill tool and select more colors.
5. Click on yellow.

(A,6) (A,7) (A,8) (A,9) (A,10) (A,11) (A,12) (A, 13) (A,14) (A,15)

(A,16) (A,17) (B,4) (B,5) (B,17) (B,18) (C,2) (C,3) (C,18) (C,19)

(D,1) (D,2) (D,19) (D,20) (E,1) (E,2) (E,19) (E,20) (F,2) (F,3)

(F,18) (F,19) (G,4) (G,5) (G,17) (G,18) (H,6) (H,7) (H,8) (H,9)

(H,10) (H,11) (H,12) (H,13) (H,14) (H,15) (H,16) (H,17)

1. Use the fill tool on the bottom toolbar to color the following cells black.
2. To change the fill color to black.
3. Click on the down arrow to the right of the fill tool and select more colors.
4. Click on black.
(C,7) (C,8) (C,13) (D,14) (E, 14) (F,7) (F,8) (F,13)

Have fun with this activity!

Happy Computing!

Monday, February 14, 2005

Happy Valentine's Day!

Authors realize that schools and teachers are wonderful at promoting their books. Some authors have created wonderful websites to make life a little simpler for teachers.

One of my all time favorites is Jan Brett's site. She has truly created a wonderful site for teachers. Everything from wall alphabets to masks that accompany her stories. Her site can be found at http://www.janbrett.com

Audrey Wood is another one of my favorite authors. Her books are bright and colorful. Her website has the same feel as her books. Her site is found at - http://www.audreywood.com/mac_site/clubhouse/clubhouse_page/clubhouse.htm

Dr. Suess is always a favorite. Suessville is a fun filled place with games and activities. It can be found at http://www.seussville.com/seussville/

Happy Computing!

Friday, February 11, 2005

Tip of the Day February 11th

Planning a multimedia slide is important.

Whether a student is in 1st grade or an adult the thought of sitting in front of a computer with a blank screen waiting for you to fill it with pictures can be a nerve-wracking experience. Without a plan, we spend too much time putting something on the screen and deleting it until we get it just right. By drawing a rough draft of your slide on a sheet of paper, you and your students will save valuable time. You'd be amazed at how well young children can recreate it on the screen.

So the next time you're planning to have your students create either a slide or a complete presentation, give them a sheet of paper and let them plan their rough draft.

Happy Computing!

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Tip for February 8th

Keep your computer healthy. Over time, your computer builds up "extra" files that can slow it down. Windows has a built in system clean-up. To clear away the extra files go to:
Start--> Programs--> Accessories--> System Tools--> Disk Cleanup
Select your hard drive - generally drive C: and click OK.

The computer will then go through and check to see what it finds that needs to be deleted. If you have had your computer and while and have never done this, it could take a while. When it finishes, if you're sure you want to delete all of the files place checks in all of the boxes and click ok.

This should hopefully make things run a little smoother.

Happy Computing!

Monday, February 07, 2005

Tip for February 7th

I've found a great site that is set up by grade level and covers everything from parts of the computer to database activities. The site is Growing With Technology and is found at http://www.growing.course.com/index.html

The activities come complete with worksheets. The site also has a Spanish version.

Happy Computing!

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Tip of the Day February 5th

Using PowerPoint to Create Flash Cards

Set up the slides so that the first slide contains the term or problem. The second slide contains an answer, picture or definition. Continue alternating until you have set up all of the terms you wish. To create the flash cards click on File --> Print. Under Print What select handouts. Make sure it prints six slides per page. Put glue on the back of the sheet and fold it in half the long way. When the glue dries, cut out the cards. You'll find the term is on the front and the definition is on the back.

Happy Computing!

Friday, February 04, 2005

Tech Tip of the Day for February 4th

Go on an in-class safari. There are many great online animal web cams. My favorites are at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park. http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/WebCams
Find a web cam that would interest your students and open it up full screen on your computer. (Right click on the video, click zoom--> full screen. To minimize it again, press the ESC key.)

As your day permits allow students time to observe the animals. Set up a safari journal near the computer where students can write about what they've seen.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Technology and Teaching Tip of the Day

Technology and Teaching Tip of the Day

Todays TnT Tip

Using Spreadsheets to Calculate Perimeter and Area of Rectangles

For this activity cut construction paper into rectangles of varying sizes. Provide the students with a ruler and a worksheet that has the following lines for each shape:

Shape 1: Length_________Width__________
Perimeter_____________ Area____________

Have the students measure the rectangles and write the measurements on the worksheet. If you want to make this a self-checking activity, have the students calculate the perimeter and area before putting the information in the spreadsheet.

To set up the spreadsheet for self-checking use the following format:

In cell A1 type Length
In cell B1 type Width
In cell C1 type Perimeter
In cell D1 type Area
In cell C2 type the following formula - =sum((2*a2)+(2*b2))
Press the Enter key
Click back in cell C2 and highlight enough cells under that cell to equal the number of shapes measured
Click Edit--Fill--Down
In cell D2 type the following formula =sum(a2*b2)
Press the Enter key
Click back in cell D2 and highlight the same number of cells in that column as you did in column C
Click Edit--Fill--Down
Save your spreadsheet.

It is now ready for students to use to either calculate the perimeter and area or to check their work.

Happy computing!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


Thanks for stopping by. Let's get down to business...

Tip of the Day
When integrating technology into your classroom I like to follow the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Silly) principle. Look at things you're already doing in your classroom and see where you can easily extend it with technology.

Today's Examples
1 - For the Kindergarten teacher
Locate or create a poster of a computer keyboard and laminate it. Place it in a location near where you do whole group time. As you introduce new letters to your students point out their location on the keyboard. This helps the students to know the letters are not in alphabetical order and helps them to find their home on the keyboard.

2- For teachers of older students
Reducing fraction self-checking activity
To do this activity students will needed to have completed problems where they reduce fractions to their lowest terms. You'll be setting up a spreadsheet (don't worry I'll give instructions) that will provide the correct answer when they type in the fraction in its original form. During the designated time the students will go to the computer(s) to enter their informatio and check their answers.

To set up the spreadsheet:
1. Open a blank Microsoft Excel workbook or other spreadsheet program
2. Click on the column A heading to highlight the entire column
3. Click Format--Cells
4. Make sure the Number tab has been selected
5. Click on Fraction
6. A Type box will appear
7. Select at least "Up to two digits" otherwise fraction like 1/10 will appear as zero
8. Click OK
9. Save the file to the desired location
10. Demonstrate and provide instructions for completing the activity

Happy Computing!