Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Information for Kids

As Hurricane Irene is making her way down the East Coast, many people are preparing for a serious storm.  While there are those excited by the prospect of high winds and torrential rain, others, like elementary students, may be nervous and confused about what to expect.  As always, providing information may alleviate their fears.

NASA Science Files for Kids: An interactive site that describes Hurricane Structure, Formation and Movement. 

Saffir-Simpson Scale: This NASA site explains the rating scale used for hurricanes.  Hurricanes are rated on a scale of 1-5.  A category 1 hurricane is less intense than a category 5.

Hurricane Names: Learn how hurricanes are named and find a list of names that have been or will be used.   Is your name here?


Discovery Channel Video:  This video explains how hurricanes form and describes some of the damage caused by them.

Hurricane Minute: A series of video clips from the Weather Channel Kids that are each one minute in length.  The content is more suitable for older children.

KidsKnowIt Network: This short video pairs animation with words to explain how hurricanes work. (Although there are ads on the side of the site this might work for younger students).

Video Explaining How Hurricanes Work and How they Get their Name
         (Two commercials are embedded in this video)


Family Education:  This site gives clear directions on how to prepare for a hurricane. This is more for parents to use with their children.

Ready America: This site is also for use with your children.

FEMA: A site that helps kids plan a 'disaster kit' and family 'disaster plan' and more.


The Weather Channel Kids Look up the weather in your location using your zip code, play weather related games and more.  This site offers all kinds of different resources for kids and teachers.

FEMA for Kids:  This site has information on hurricanes and other disasters.  It has pages to show how to prepare for emergencies, how to protect your home and pets and more.

Weather Wiz for Kids Learn all about the wonderful world of weather through this site designed especially for kids (teacher & parent resources as well.)

Kidstorm:  Provides links and information about storms. For kids, parents & teachers.

Weather Coloring Books: This site has coloring books in PDF form to help kids understand severe weather.   (Should probably be used with parent as there is a lot of information.)     

National Weather Service: Here you will find the National Hurricane Center with all kinds of information. 
StormPulse:  Track Atlantic & Pacific Hurricanes, other storms and more.

Hurricane Resources:  A collection of sites compiled by @Cybraryman1

Putting the power in kids' hands by helping them learn about natural phenomena like hurricanes will hopefully ease their fears through understanding and at the same time create interest an interest in their world.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Citizenship Starts Early

At the start of each new school year my students are introduced to a lesson in Citizenship.  This lesson will lay the groundwork as we work together to establish rules in our classroom. 

made with Doodlebuddy
Here are some definitions which help students understand this often-confusing term.  The highlighted definition will be the focus of instruction this year.

"Citizenship" as defined by  
 noun:  1. the state of being vested with the rights, privileges, and duties of a citizen.
            2. the character of an individual viewed as a member by society; behavior in terms of the duties, obligations and functions of a citizen.

Students will be introduced (via a Smartboard Notebook lesson) to the following 5 categories that help define citizenship; Respect, Fairness, Caring, Responsibility,  and Honesty (categories based on information provided by the Scott Foresman Social Studies, 'Regions' text.)

While there are numerous resources available to teach character education/citizenship in our classrooms (see below),  my GOAL this year is to take that lesson further than the classroom and expand it to our community in an effort to show what a difference good citizenship makes.  In this instance, there is no better way to learn than by doing!  It has been my experience that children love to help and be a part of something bigger.  (See my post about The Generation Changing the World for an example.)

I'm looking for your suggestions, ideas and resources about how to incorporate Respect, Fairness, Caring, Responsibility, and Honesty with my pupils in relation to the general public.  What do you think would be an activity that would be beneficial to both?  Please share via the Answer Garden at the bottom of this post or in the comment section!  Thank you!

Good Character:  A great resource for guiding questions and activities on all of the above areas and more.  It is broken into categories such as K-3; 4-8; K-5 (offers some pages in Spanish).

Respect Song via Youtube: (see below)

The Six Pillars of Character:  A youtube video, mostly text and music, sharing ideas about Citizenship (geared for older children).

Inspirational Quotes:  These quotes for Character Education by Leah Davies, M.Ed., can be used in a variety of ways.

Children's Book List:  compiled by Lane Public Library for the Hamilton Schools,  and categorized by age: K-6; Middle School; High School then further broken into categories (respect; responsibility, etc.)

Characters of Character Online Games: Play games with Warm-Hearted Walrus, Manners Monkey & other friends to learn about Character Education. Although the characters look young they have lots of big concepts to share. Read this review!

Citizen Power: An interactive website that provides information about basic citizenship.  Although this is a UK site there are other features that are appropriate for children everywhere.

I look forward to learning new ways and ideas on expanding Citizenship beyond the classroom walls.

How can I involve my students to help in their community?... at

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Social Media for Educators/Forty Years Later

There are all kinds of opinions out there about using Social Media with your students.  The Case for Social Media in Schools is one example by someone who has outlined very valid reasons to use sites like Facebook, Edmodo & Edublogs in the classroom.  Here is a post about the recent Missouri Facebook Law which "limits teacher-student interaction online".     

My post really doesn't address the above thoughts except that it IS about teachers and students interacting online via Facebook!

Back in the beginning of July I received a Facebook invite from one of my 6th grade teachers...okay, well, one of my former sixth grade teachers.  He and another one of my former 6th grade teachers, decided to start a Facebook group for those who belonged to our little neighborhood school from the years between 1971 - 1981 (I'm sure I'm dating myself NOW!).

Little by little the group started growing.  In just a short month over 180 now adult, former students (and teachers) of the Fisher School joined the group. Posting after postings are filled will all kinds of memories and memorabilia (photos, newspaper articles, pics of buttons and more).  One might think that this was just a group 'going down memory lane', but it is far more than that.  Here, on Facebook, is where a group of people (in their 40's & 50's) have found a way to let some very special educators know the important role they played in their lives.  

This is a group of extraordinary teachers who have not forgotten their students, who have kept in contact with a few people, sporadically over the years.  They have been invited to weddings, attended the funerals of our classmates and even seen some of us at retirement dinners.   I guess the point here is: I  think the use of social media (in this case Facebook),  has provided an outlet for many more of us to thank those who made a difference in our lives. 


Imagine...Tom Monaghan, Suzanne Gillam, Ellie Muldoon  and the other teachers in this group might never have known the impact they had in our lives were it not for the likes of Facebook!

Henry Adams once said,  "A teacher affects eternity he can never tell, where his influence stops." I'm thinking in this case, by using social media the influence doesn't have to stop!