Here’s a site that looks like it’s worth following up on:  http://www.classroomearth.org/

…and an article from the NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/09/garden/09Bees.html

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I’m just playing around with my phone to see how pictures work. I’ve not had this ale, but the box is awesome!

Headed to NCSS tomorrow. That’s a bit different…

Nothing much to say here (what’s new?), but I wanted to record this date for posterity.  On August 24, 2010, I told my wife I’m ready to drop “technology” as a major part of my third-grade teaching effort.  I know that students at this age are doing incredible things with technology…but so what?  I’ve done blogging, wikis, and programming with Logo and Scratch.  We’ve beaten MS Word and PowerPoint into the ground.  Movie Maker or Photostory? Done that…big whoop.  When I tell my students we’re going to the computer lab, there’s absolutely no enthusiasm.  When I tell them we’re going outside, though, I get a totally different reaction.  Tech is out, outdoors experiential learning is in.

The source of my blasphemous thoughts: Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv.  My class and I are returning to my first love (which was established when all phones were attached to the wall and we had 4 channels to choose from).  I don’t even need parent permission to embark on this new endeavor!  See you outside…

The blogging’s been a little light this summer…ya’ think!?

Who’da thunk it?  Another year has passed us by, and summer vacation is here. 

I’ve spent the last half hour or so looking back over my oft-neglected blog and have been surprised to see the topics that have come and gone.

  • A lot on technology.  That’s an eyebrow raiser, because for me and my classroom, technology has come a long way toward becoming a supporting element of what we do; that can be contrasted with past years when is was something we did as a standalone activity.
  •  A bit of blathering about standardized testing.  I think I’ve just been beaten down about that one–I don’t worry about it nearly as much as I should.  I think I even slept through the night a few times during this year’s testing cycle.  To clarify, I’m comfortable with a belief that I constructed a while back: if I’m teaching what I need to teach, testing sort of takes care of itself.  There are a few exceptions with regard to students who don’t test well, but that’s a whole different topic.
  • Math.  Can’t get enough math.  I truly enjoy teaching it, and look forward to doing it even better next year.
  • Writing.  I’m looking forward to taking another shot at it in a few months.  Last year wasn’t bad, but this year will be even better.  I have settled one thing in my mind: in order to teach writing, I need to model it.  I know that lots of folks would say, “Duh,” but, hey, at least I now know from experience.
  • A mention or two of the term “Digital Native.”  That’s a laugh, as well.  …just my opinion.  Facebook does not a student capable of using technology make.
  • School 2.0.  That term’s fallen by the wayside.
  • A few poems.  Good stuff.
  • Pictures of my dogs who have gone on to where all good dogs go.
  • Notes from a few reading and writing conferences.  Good things, those conferences.

What topics do I anticipate looking at this summer?  Environmental education and writing are two that come to mind. “Scope and Sequence” is another.  I’ve never been able to “reuse” lesson plans, but think that it’s time to begin to formalize a scope and sequence that can be used as a basis for future learning.  I have one every year, of course, but am ready to settle on something that doesn’t involve reinventing the wheel every year.

I apparently went over 10,000 hits in the past month or so. Popular little comic, that one is…

I’m taking a class through E-Learning for Educators (Alabama) on measurement.  Here are some thoughts from today’s readings.  They are in no particular order.

Students need to develop a concept of measurement that includes the idea that measuring requires consistent units. An inch is an inch is an inch, but an inch isn’t the same as a centimeter–they can’t (practically) be combined when measuring the length of something.

Geometry (“Earth measure”) has its roots in spatial measurement.  It helps develop an understanding of 2- and 3-dimensional space. 

Measurement links math with the world, especially with science.

The idea of a unit of measure is fundamental, as is the notion that measurement involves the organized accumulation of standard units.  http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=9822&page=281#

Developing the student’s ability to select an appropriate unit is critical.  This is not simple a matter of using inches vs. feet when measuring a paperback book; it involves developing an understanding of the units of length, area, and volume as well as well. 

Subdividing a space according to a unit and counting those units is called iteration.

Young children tend to think of a measurement as a position on a ruler, rather than as a measure of the space between the beginning of the ruler and that position. This can lead to trouble when they are measuring a length that begins at a point other than “0” on a ruler. It is notoriously difficult for students to correctly measure a line that extends from 2 to 5 on a ruler. Many say 5; others count the inch markings and say 4.  http://edtechleaders.org/documents/elemmeasure/Reading_Units.pdf

The idea of reciprocity refers to the fact that larger units require fewer units to measure a specific aspect.  A particular distance might be 1 yard or 3 feet or 36 inches.

Yesterday saw the second of two tragedies to strike Huntsville schools in just over a week: successive Fridays with school shootings.  The first was a student at Discovery Middle School, and the second was a trio of faculty members at UAHuntsville.

I don’t have any statistics or evidence to present, but it seems to me from what I’ve seen over the past 4 years that schools can be places of tremendous conflict.  Faculty, staff, students, parents: all seem to experience tension that I wouldn’t have thought possible when I was outside of the educational community.  Why is this so in an instituion that has a mission of fostering personal growth?

How can we as “insiders” reduce the tension and conflict?

But it was a beautiful snowy day of the sort we don’t see too often around here.

It melted by 2:30, but it was beautiful while it lasted!

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