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How do you spell…..? March 25, 2010

Posted by twinsunplus1 in Digital Natives, Education, Technologies.
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My own children are in second grade and Pre-Kindergarten.  With the second grader we are in our second year of spelling tests.   Spelling does not come naturally to them.

We have tried LOTS of techniques–flashcards, repetition, writing, crying, yelling, more flashcards.  All of these usually ended with someone crying…and not always the second grader….   Then, our lives changed.  We found Spelling City.  

Spelling City is an online spelling resource.  Parents and teachers can import spelling lists OR they can use pre-established lists.  There is  “teach me”, “test me” or “play a game”.   The visual and audio component is a great new technique to add to the study skills. 

We have been using Spelling City for a few weeks now and I have to say, from my vantage as a parent, I LOVE IT!    My second graders can work independently on the words and take responsibility for their work.   If you are a parent or teacher with students who are struggling with their spelling, I encourage you to visit spelling city.

Name: Spelling City

Cost: Free Version & Membership Version

Pros: Allows for independent work, can print selected activities to work offline,

Cons: Selected activities cannot be printed, adds to student screen time. 

Digital Native Rating:  4 out of 5 .



Happy Ada Lovelace Day–Celebrating the Mercury 13 March 24, 2010

Posted by twinsunplus1 in Uncategorized.
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The space race has just begun.  NASA is training a group of men, the Mercury 7 to fly into space.   They must pass rigourous physical training.   At the same time, Dr. Charles Lovelace begins a similar training program although it was privately funded, for women.  Twenty-five women the program and thirteen will complete it. They are: Jerrie Cobb, Bernice Steadman, Janey Hart, Jerri Truhill, Rhea Woltman, Sarah Ratley, Jan and Marion Dietrich, Myrtle Cagle, Irene Leverton, Gene Nora Jessen, Jean Hixson, and Wally Funk.

Women in the US are, at the time, considered the weaker sex.   The women, who became known as the Mercury 13, passed the same rigorous flight standards and tests as the men who eventually flew in space.   All of the women were recognized as excellent pilots and many had recieved awards, prizes, and trophies before heading into the astronaut training program. 

Although it was a private program, Dr. Lovelace believed he could gather a group of women, prove they could pass the strenous testing just as the men did.  With these results, he hoped to create a team of female astronauts.   The Navy decided against pursing the program any further and the women were told not to report for further training.  They appealed to Congress for further funding, but were denied.

The work, determination, and drive of the women would pave the way for women to enter NASA’s space program in 1978, for Sally Ride to become the first US women in space in 1983, and in 1995 for Eileen Collins to become the first female pilot in space.  Despite not flying in space, the women proved that female astronauts would be as capable and hardy as men. 

Bravo and thank you to the Mercury 13 women.   As a young girl, I remember Sally Ride shooting into space.   One of my dreams was to become an astronaut and be the first women to land on Mars.   I have no doubt women will continue to make strides and impact NASA and further space exploration.  

If you’d like to hear some of the women share the experiences about the training, visit NPR to hear their stories.   You can also visit the Mercury 13 website to read the individual biographies all the women and read how the women had been recognized and honored. 

A little history about Ada Lovelace Day.  Ada Lovelace is thought to be first person to write an algorithm for Charles Babages analytical machine–the precursor to the computor.   She is considered to be the first computer programmer and her work is important in understanding the history of the computer.    Ada Lovelace Day began as a way to honor women in science, math, and technology.   It is a great way to showcase women of all ages and times who have promoted and furthered the women’s movement in a traditionally male dominated area.  If you’d like to learn more about Ada Lovelace, check out the wiki entry:Ada Lovelace wiki.

Better get back to the natives,

Service Learning —> Project Learning? March 18, 2010

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I attended a lunch meeting of the Guilford County Council of PTAs and the last item on the agenda was an informational update about the county’s move toward a greater integration of character education. 

The presentor stressed that teachers would not be asked to do something more, just build peices of character education, like service learning, into their curriculum.  

What is service learning?  From the Guilford County Schools website, it is defined as

Service Learning is teaching that connects meaningful community service experiences with academic learning, personal growth, and civic responsibility. Service learning goes beyond extracurricular community service because it involves participants in reading, reflection and analysis; provides students an opportunity to develop a personal connection to what they are learning; and creates a context for the application of concepts introduced in the classroom.

She did not give an example of  how to integrate the service learning into a specific project learning in the classroom.  I can see where there would be great potential in a classroom that had some freedom–i.e. no EOG test.    I can also see the other side where it, the service componen,t is a GIANT flop.  

The question is, how do you engage the students in a project where service is a key component?  Is it the starting, middle or end section?  

I’d love to hear how other educator’s whose district is requiring this character ed peic, are incorporating it all.  Can it be done?

The digital natives are calling,

Looking forward…. March 15, 2010

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I’m trying to get into a schedule for blog posting.   Looking forward for the second half of March, I’ve got several new web applications that I am investigating, playing around with, and writing about how to integrate them into the classroom.  Stay tuned for new blog posts about how to get your digital natives really hooked in–both in class and at home. 

1.  Glogster

2.  Prezi

3.  CoboCards

Time to get back to the natives,

Collaborative and Real Time Learning March 9, 2010

Posted by twinsunplus1 in Digital Natives, Education, Project based learning, Science, Web 2.0.
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As a science teacher, my goal is to get students into the lab for a hands on experience.  Often times students miss out on the experience of gathering enough data during a lab.  Without enough data, they cannot  interpret the information they have gathered.  The Center for the Innovation of Engineering and Science Education allows for collaboration and real time learning.   It also allows a way for students and teachers to gather enough information to see the results Gregor Mendel saw in his famous experiment. 

There are several different collaborative projects, however, the one I was immediately drawn to was the Human Genetics.  I was drawn to this particular project for several reasons.  First, it was ongoing and had open registration.  Second, the genetics analysis section of the curricula is popular and fun, however small class sizes sometime prohibit the correct analysis of the traits the class is observing.   Getting involved with the CIESE program keeps that problem from happening.  Now instead of a class size of 24 students, there is a data pool of thousands of students.  

The CIESE program explains how to get the project going in the classroom, a discussion area where classrooms can communication and share data, an area for tying into current events, and a reference area for both teacher and student use.  If you don’t feel up to participating in real time, teachers also have the opportunity to use data from past project runs.  

Have you used any of the programs and projects developed by CIESE?  How did it work for you and the class?   What other collaborative and real time learning are you using in your classroom?

Better get back to the natives,

Teaching the Digital Native March 6, 2010

Posted by twinsunplus1 in Digital Natives, Glogster, Prezi, Science, Teaching, Technologies, twitter, YouTube.
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The Teaching Science to Digital Native blog is my way of keeping up with the latest ways to bring science to the students. 

Most of us have heard the term, “digital native”.   Do we really know what that term means?  It refers to the generation of students who have grown up with technology–cell phones, laptops, home computers, digital cameras.   Since they have been using these tools since they were toddlers, in some cases, they understand the technologies better than the adults. 

Teachers have always worked hard to bring their students new experiences.  In the age of the digital native, the students are bringing the experiences to the teachers.   Teachers are the ones who are learning how to operate, integrate, and incorporate technologies into lessons and classrooms. 

Classrooms where the student and the teacher are using digital technologies are classrooms where project based learning or PBLs are the norm rather than the exception.   PBLs allow the student to enter the learning rather than being a passiver participant of the learning.   Technologies such as Twitter, YouTube, wikis, and blogs allow the student to go out and find the experts and learn more up-to-date and current information then was possible ever before.   Once the student has gained information and experiences, they can then utilize services like blogs, wikis, YouTube, Glogster, Twitter, and Prezi to get the information back out and incorporate it to a new situation.   That synthesis and redistribution of information is what learning is all about.   


Join me on my journey as I return to the world of education and learn to teach the digital native all about the world of science.   Over the next few weeks, I’ll be exploring some of these technologies and figuring out how to incorporate them into the NC standards and a High School Biology curriculum.   If you know of a technology that’s not listed, I’d love to hear about it.  If you use one of these in an “out of the box” kind of way, I’d love to hear about it too. 

In the meantime, I better check on the natives,