Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Making Webquests

I LOVE using webquests in the classroom, and I'm lucky to be in a district that has valued technology for years (the first SmartBoard I ever used was when I was in 5th grade in the late 90s!).  I teach in an eMINTS-esque classroom, but my district has created it's own eMINTS-esque program, so I won't be eMINTS certified when I graduate my current program.

Anyway, one of our projects was to create a webquest that could be used for the next school year.  I created one about animal classifications and characteristics to enhance my "create-a-zoo" project that I've mentioned earlier on this blog.

You can find the Classification Zoos webquest by clicking on the name.  This webquest has students distinguish between vertebrates and invertebrates, classify animals by their characteristics, research area zoos, create a budget, and develop and design a zoo. I've still got a few things to add to this webquest, but all of the info should be on there.  I'm still working on the rubric.

I really love making these webquests.  There is so many amazing resources available online and it's a great way to bring them into the classroom.  I've also started working on a Pioneers webquest and a What's Your Name? webquest.

The name webquest is what I'm going to start the year out with in social studies.  Students will research their names, interview someone about the importance of their name, write an acrostic poem that doubles as a biography, create a personal trading card, and make a name glyph.  I just started working on this one yesterday, but it has a pretty good start.

I borrow a lot of ideas from Zunal, which is my webquest mecca.  However, most of those webquests are made for a specific classroom, which is why I use what I like and tweak it to make my own webquest.  The webquests I create are general, they rarely mention specific programs, things in the classroom, or prerequisites.  I want them to be available for anyone to use!

What's your favorite webquest you've used, are planning to use, or would like to use?
Monday, May 21, 2012

Tomato Nation: RedOps

It's my favorite time of year!  And no, it's not entirely because of summer vacation!  Tomato Nation has launched its annual campaign to support DonorsChoose!

For those of you not familiar with Tomato Nation, it's an awesome website featuring a fantastic question and answer column called, "The Vine," grammar help, and news about movies, baseball, and all things cool. The site is run by Sarah Bunting, who spearheads the DonorsChoose campaign.  Each year, this project raises THOUSANDS of dollars for DonorsChoose!

AND every time you donate (even $1 dollar!) you can win one of many fabulous prizes!  All you have to do is forward your receipt to Sarah.  This site gives you all the information you'll ever need to know about Tomato Nation and RedOps.  

Each day RedOps will feature a different, high-need city.  The first city, featured today, is Albuquerque, NM.  Simply donate any amount to a project on the RedOps giving page, then forward your receipt.  Today's prizes include a copy of Breaking Bad on DVD and a $100 Apple giftcard!

BONUS: Use the code purple at checkout to DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!!!

This is the project I chose to support today:

Oviparous Animals are Engrossing: Kindergarten Science Fun 
Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Wordle Goodbye

This was such a great activity for the end of the year!

I had each student pull up a blank page.  We don't have enough computers for everyone, so some students pulled up two separate webpages and then made them smaller so that both could be seen at the same time.  Then they typed their name ten times.  We numbered the computers and carouseled around the classroom.

The rules were simple:
  1. Only use positive words or comments
  2. YOU cannot say the same thing for each person
  3. You MAY repeat a word that SOMEBODY else has used (because this will make the word bigger on Wordle)
  4. Move when the teacher says switch, and do it quietly
My kids loved reading what everyone wrote about them.  Some people came up with some really thoughtful things!  I even had my computer set up, and the kids left me comments and I left them comments.

Then, everyone played around with the layout, font, and color scheme until they were happy with it, then they printed it.  Some of them wanted everyone to sign it, since most of my class didn't buy a yearbook.

We also completed a 5th grade Wordle.  Everyone wrote down at least 3 things the liked best about 5th grade.  Some of the things they wrote surprised me!  Some things were from the first of the year, and some things were quick activities we did as fillers.  The class Wordle is below, and I'll post some of the student Wordles soon!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

It's the End of the Year as We Know it...

And I feel fine!

Our last day of school is FRIDAY!  All my teacher friends are already tearing up about losing their class, but not me.  I've never been one to get emotional about promoting my kids!  It's what they're supposed to do.  It's our goal.  I'm glad to see them move on...and not in a bad way!

At our last eTECH meeting, we talked about ways to use technology during the last week of school.  One suggestion was to use  Ideas were tossed around, and there were some great thoughts!  I'm planning on using Wordle with each kid.  We'll set up a carousel with the computers.  Everyone will have a Wordle open and will type in their name 6-7 times.  Then we'll all go around the room leaving a positive word or phrase about each person in the room.  *Hint*  to connect multi-word phrases on Wordle, use a ~ mark instead of a space.  After we've finished, everyone will play with the fonts, colors, and layouts until they get the perfect Wordle.  We'll then print these out and send them home.  It'll be a great way to end the year!

Another idea was to have kids type into one Wordle.  You'd start by typing your grade level (5th Grade) over and over.  Then kids would type in their favorite things about the year.  We could print those out and send home, too.  And, you could use it as an introduction to the next year.  Next year's kids could look at the Wordle from last year and then make a NEW Wordle about what they want to learn in 5th grade.  If you did another Wordle at the end, it would be neat to compare the want to learns with the favorites.

Anyways, I created a Wordle based on this blog.  I was kind of surprised to see what came up as the most popular words typed!  Here you go: