Sunday, November 27, 2011

Comments Welcome!

Made with DoodleBuddy
It has become almost an addiction! Everyday I check my blog to see if anyone has left a new comment.  When someone leaves a comment it lets me know that people are interested in what I am writing, but more importantly, they are helping me grow and learn through their thoughts and ideas!

  • Add to the conversation by providing views and and opinions not already expressed OR validate ideas being shared.
  • Extend the conversations as people leave links to sites that will guide or lead to further enlightenment.  
  • Involve the reader and writer in conversations about topics of interest.  
  • Compliment the writer or the topic.  It's nice to give and receive compliments so feel free to leave one on a blog!
Several people who follow have expressed a desire to leave a comment, but they have had some difficulty with the commenting section.  So I thought it might be a good idea to explain HOW to create a successful comment.  Hopefully, this will help.

Directions for posting:

1) Choose "Comment As" first. If you don't have a Google/Blogger account, you can choose Name/URL and type in your name, then place the web site that best describes you in the URL (i.e. If you do not have a URL you can leave that blank.  You can also choose "Anonymous" which will leave the comment but not your name.

2) Feel free to "Preview" your comment to see what it will look like when posted. 

3) Select "Post Comment" when you're ready. (Sometimes this might need to be done more than once.)

4) NOTE:  Before posting a comment I will copy it, in the event there is a problem, that way I haven't lost my comment and can try to post it again.

Created with Crayola Digi-Color
5) Thank you Tracy Watanabe for these directions to post!

I have also created this VIDEO Screencast which walks you through the process. (There is also a plug at the end to sign up for my blog via email!)    Click here: HOW TO CREATE A COMMENT

Good luck and happy commenting!  Please feel free to leave a comment on this post to try it out!  If you do, please check back as I try to respond to all comments!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Fire Drills - Safety is Free!

Discovery Education's Clip Art Gallery created
by Mark A. Hicks, illustrator.
Went shopping today at a local mall with my daughter and her friend.  We were in the mall for about two hours when all of a sudden a loud, blaring alarm was ringing out!  I looked around and the shoppers and store workers were nonplussed.  Clearly, it was a fire alarm and no one seemed the least bit bothered by it as they continued to go about their business.        

Since my daughter and her friend were in another part of the mall I texted them and told them to leave the mall immediately.  "Already leaving" was what I got in return. (Most likely because they had practiced what to do at school.) Outside the mall, as I waited for the girls, I noticed there were only a handful of shoppers who also left the building.

In the distance sirens blared as fire engines were making their way into the parking lot.  Still hardly anyone had exited the mall.   I wondered WHY.  Did they think it was just a 'false alarm'? Was it inconvenient? Why would they put their family and themselves at risk?

(Although the video below happened at a Walmart in Maryland it depicts a similar reaction to the event that happened today in our mall. Please note that people react is if nothing out of the ordinary is happening.)

Keeping our students safe is of an utmost priority. At school we practice Fire Drills, Bus Evacuations and Lockdown drills several times throughout the year.  Children learn how to proceed calmly and act appropriately in these emergency situations.  The practices are taken very seriously by administration, students and staff.  We know that students feel safer when they are prepared.

It is also a good idea for children and their families to practice fire drills at home.  Having an escape plan and meeting place are important and reassuring for children.  Below are some resources that may help.
Created using DoodleBuddy

RESOURCES:   How to Be Prepared (for teachers)  What to Do in a Fire (for kids & parents)  Fire Safety for Kids (for kids with coloring pages; activities)
Scholastic: Sparky the Fire Dog Comic Book (children can make comic strip to help practice fire safety skills) Family Stuff (for kids & families - create a home fire escape plan; coloring pages) Fire Safety Resources (a list of sites for teachers, families & kids)

Please take fire alarms seriously.  Although they may be a nuisance,  leaving the building may just save your life....After all....SAFETY IS FREE! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Teachable Moment-Apollo 7 Splashdown!

Crew of Apollo 7 (NASA photo)
Schirra, Eisele and Cunningham may not be household names, but they are names that are now known in our fourth grade classroom thanks to one 10 year old girl and her Grandpa.  These gentlemen were the crew of Apollo 7, the first manned Apollo space flight!  Our young fourth grader shared a piece of their incredible story, but shared it through the eyes and stories of her Grandpa who was fortunate enough to see the end of Apollo's mission.

In honor of Veteran's Day our class wrote letters thanking a veteran in our family (or neighbor).  My student wrote to her grandfather (who happens to also live with her) and he wrote back.  Not only did he write back but he sent in his yearbook from the ship on which he was stationed, pictures of that vessel and some amazing photos of Apollo 7's splashdown from 1968!

As this young lady shared the photos (via the class document camera) she spoke knowledgeably about each one of them. The photos were taken from the ship (where her Grandpa was assigned) the U.S.S. Essex on October 22, 1968 as they recovered the space capsule from the waters. She fielded questions from her classmates and answered them intelligently.  It was clear that she spent time listening and learning from her Grandfather. 

Splashdown - Navy Frogs
Of course this was not the planned lesson of the day, but the impact this had on the students was far greater than the scheduled instruction.  The class couldn't get enough information and wanted to learn more. They asked questions about the astronauts, the spacecraft, the aircraft carrier as well lots of other questions.  It became a social studies lesson on primary sources, a science lesson on space,  a math lesson on elapsed time, a language arts lesson (we wrote poems) and more! But, perhaps what made it most exciting for students, was knowing that their classmate's Grandpa was really "there"!  It made that instant connection with them.

It is important sometimes to forgo the plans and capture the excitement and enthusiasm for learning that comes from those teachable moments.  What was your last 'teachable moment'?  Please share it in the comment section below!

Learn more with Apollo 7 Resources:
Encyclopedia Astronautica:  Scroll down to see a great timeline beginning in March 1965
Astronomy Top 100: This site speaks about Apollo 7 being broadcast 'Live'
NASA Video of Apollo 7
Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum A brief summary of Apollo 7's mission.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Virtual Field Trips! A Great Alternative! Part 1

Screen Shot of the Djuma Safari with Mark the guide
This morning I went on a Safari at the Djuma Game Reserve in the Sabi Sand of South Africa!  Riding along in the back seat of the open jeep, feeling the bumps of the dirt road, I witnessed Water Buffalo and Hippos basking in the watering hole,  an impala hiding in the brush and a pair of female giraffes eating from the tops of trees.  The whole time I thought, "My students would LOVE to do this!"   Well, they actually can as the safari is broadcast LIVE (twice daily for 3 hours each) through WildEarthTV.    What a way to learn about the animals in Africa!  (AS of November 2011 the Live Safari is no longer available due to funding).

Virtual field trips such as this safari, allow the students to experience different opportunities without having to actually BE there.  Students need not travel far or wide to be exposed to new adventures and gain new understanding of topics they might once have only read about.  It's engaging and fun for students to see things first hand and in 'REAL' time.  
Screen shot of Giraffe (Speech bubble added using Big Huge Labs)
Extensive list of Live Animal Webcams broken into categories such as Aquariums, Horses, Bees, Penquins and more! Clicking on one of the categories will bring you to several options.

Check out more livecam virtual animal sites:
Africam:  Elephant Plains 
Africam: Nkorho Pan

Check out this website full of livecams:

Trinity Mountain Outdoors: Links to all kinds of  Animal/Bird Cameras

Screen Shot of Polar Bear Cam on
Check out these this site for webcasts to learn more about polar bears:
Polar Bear International Tundra Connections:   Sign up for live broadcasts during the polar bear migration.

Learning by doing is best, but experiencing something "LIVE" is a great alternative.  Part 2 will explore other exciting options as virtual field trips!