Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Storytelling and String Figures

Our fifth grade classes are studying Global Native People at the moment, so I began investigating storytelling websites in the hopes of doing an oral telling for a lesson. While investigating, I came upon a lot of information about string figures. Basically, these are the fun things that many of us remember doing as a child-- taking a piece of tied string and creating Jacob's Ladder or Cat's Cradle. Well, who knew that all these string figures were all based on native tribal tradition? Kids' Easy Guide to String Figures has a number of design options as well as videos to demonstrate how to make them (the key part, I think, as it's not as easy as I remember!). I chose to focus on a story called Moth, The Fire Dancer from a book called Keepers of the Night by Michael J. Caduto and Joseph Bruchac. There is a moth string figure design that goes nicely with it. The plan is to slowly be making the moth design while telling the story. Kids can then use the site themselves to make their own designs.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

International Living Website

Here's something related not to the classroom, per se, but to the international teachers in general. One of my favorite websites to peruse when wanderlust sets in is Tales from a Small Planet . It's a free website with stories of global nomads' adventures, as well as detailed information provided by people living in various countries around the world. A great way to get a window into the nitty-gritty important questions about a country such as how long the flight is from US or Europe, what the schools are like, whether or not you can save money and pollution and security concerns. Of course, some people have an axe to grind with a country and may be venting their culture shock on the page, but I have found most entries to be helpful and interesting. Readers can add their own reports on a country by answering the questions provided.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Adding a YouTube Video

Adding a video to your blog is one more thing that looks a lot harder than it really is. I used to let those technology tricks that looked too complicated intimidate me, but I've discovered that many really are very easy to use. To start out with, all you need is an account with YouTube or some other video site (I hear Google is good). Once you have started an account, here are the instructions to have a cool video on your blog in just minutes.

1. Once you are in YouTube, click on the button in the top right that says UPLOAD

2. This step will ask you to write the information about your video. I tend to use the same word for each category, so the same one each time is just fine. For the "video category" step, choose people and blogs.

3. Scroll down to UPLOAD A VIDEO.

4. Browse to find your video and upload. This takes a few minutes.

5. Now paste the html code provided and paste it in your blog entry. You're done! (insert cheering)

NOTE: Perhaps because I live in China, but it takes a while for the video to upload to the blog. Patience is key.

Friday, 14 September 2007

FBA for High School

Anderson, MT. Feed. City: Candlewick, 2004

Wow--what a great read for techies and non-techies everywhere! The world of the future is one where we all have a chip in our head that allows us to access and download information directly into our brains with a mere thought. The "feed" is constant and sponsored by the corporate world of advertising, so each person's feed is customized to their buying history. Head to the moon on a trip and be bombarded with advertising about what to do and where to stay when you get there. A female protagonist is the lone dissident of this Brave New World-like book that had me hooked from the beginning. Although the language is pretty strong, I feel it would be a great companion to Brave New World, We, The Handmaid's Tale or simply a great read on its own.

Monday, 10 September 2007

Citations Made Easy

An oldie but a goodie in the citation department. Gone seem to be the days of requiring students and adults to memorize MLA and APA format. Instead, you simply enter your information into the Citation Machine website or the Ottobib website and the computer does it for you. Voila--citations made easy.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

The Flip Camera

Finally, an affordable video camera for schools! The Flip is compact, lightweight, runs on double AA batteries and downloads directly to your computer instead of using tapes or memory cards. For about 150 US dollars, you get 60 minutes of video capability. It's incredibly easy to use--just point and hit a button to record--and for this low price, librarians and tech teachers could order several for the price of one digital video camera. I bought one myself and while the quality is not the same as a digital video camera, it has VGA (640x480) resolution and is more than enough for what the majority of teachers and students would need and use.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Bulletin Board Idea

For a fun beginning of the year bulletin board display, I put a note in the teachers' boxes asking them to write down a book title that was a favorite for them when they were in elementary school. I then took pictures of them reading that book and put the pictures outside the library as a display. It was great fun finding out more about the teachers, especially in my first year in a school, but it also is so fun for students to see pictures of their teachers reading their favorite book. A big thanks to my husband and daughter for volunteering to be my blog picture for this post--he loved any and all Berenstain Bears books as a child, so I'm sure my daughter will hear many of those stories in the future.