Friday, March 27, 2009

Nos Chemins vers la paix: Award Winning Video!

Valley View Middle School French Imersion teacher, Heather Palmer created this award winning video, Nos Chemins vers la paix, for the Tel.A.Vision "Vision For America" Contest.

Powered by One True Media, allows students to create videos that share their vision for the future. Heather wanted to use this video to promote the Wiki she and her students created for "6 Billion Paths to Peace." On the wiki, Palmer states:
Our project was inspired by the program "Six Billion Paths to Peace", an initiative of the Shinnyo-en foundation. We like the challenge the program offers us: commit to making a difference in this moment, in this day, in this lifetime!

Palmer received her award last week at the National Service Learning Conference, in Nashville, TN. Way to go, Heather!

NOTE: A few weeks ago while looking at the copyright free music available on the site, I notice a cover of the "Spinal Tap" song "Big Bottom" as one of the choices. While I love the movie, I was concerned that a song like this was on a site being marketed to students at the Elementary level.
I e-mailed, and within a few days, received a nice response from Tel.A.Vision founder, George Johnson, stating that the song had been removed.

Monday, March 23, 2009

21st Century Class Discussion

8th Grade students at South View Middle school had the chance to discuss Ernest Hemmingway's Old Man and the Sea today, but not in the traditional way. Language Arts teacher, Tess Bademann had the students chat about it using Moodle.

After organizing students into groups of 6-8 within Moodle, she had them log in, randomly dispersed throughout the room, and enter the chat room. Students were given 6 question prompts, but were encouraged to only use those as a starting point for discussion.
For the next 90 minutes, the students debated and questioned each other regarding whether the character, Santiago, is a tragic hero, the choice of title, the significance of the lions on the beach, whether Santiago was a success or failure, religious symbolism, satisfaction with the ending, and whether they saw a bit of themselves in the story. Aside from the clickity-clack of keyboards, there wasn't a sound!
This exercise allowed students who might be less likely to share in a face to face large or small group setting the opportunity to share ideas in a non-threatening way.
Students were engaged, and discussing topics at a much higher level than a typical in class discussion.
It was also an opportunity for students to practice constructed response, a component of the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment math, science and reading tests.
During one chat session today, the following exchange took place:

12:52 Rory: A symbol for what?

12:52 Nick: A symbol of his happiness.

12:52 Morgan: His adventurous past that we don't know much about

12:53 Rory: Elaborate Nick.

How often would a student ask a fellow student to "elaborate" in your classroom?!

Related Post: Backchanneling in Middle School Social Studies

Friday, March 13, 2009

Convert PDF to Word (DOC) Online — 100% Free!

Someone I follow on Twitter posted a link to, a service that does to PDF documents what Zamzar does for video.

You simply upload your .pdf file to the site, enter your e-mail address, and the file is converted and sent as an e-mail attachment. I tested it out with a document that had a table on it, and the table in word was completely editable. Very Nice!

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Notes and Quotes from Educon Mashup

I used to make this mashup of my experience at Educon...

While is an easy tool to use, each time the project is viewed, the images rotate to diferent positions. Also, when you roll over the image, sometimes all of the text doesn't show, and it you "accidentally" click on an image, it takes you to the site. I'll keep looking for a better mashup tool!