Snakes, PBL Activities, and Symbaloo


Welcome to  a combination of two of my favorite things:  Project Based Learning and Symbaloo.  Check it out...

Combining PBL and technology can be a glorious thing.  
You just gotta make it work for your kids.

Research stinks for young kids on the internet.  It's vast, ridiculously complicated, and really easy to end up just watching cat videos.  That's why I'm such a fan of Symbaloo.  I can drag and drop links all onto a single board for the students to use and make research simple (but effective).

This is exactly what I've done with our next research project for some of my boys:  SNAKES!  Yessssss, everyone'ssssss favorite reptile now has their own Symbaloo board with links to articles, listicles, uber-kid sites, and videos from You Tube and National Geographic.  I've almost filled up the board with a very wide variety of topics about snakes from habitats, invasive species, and information on their toxicity of venom.
           
Check it out below.  If you're new to Symbaloo, make sure you take a couple of minutes and see how it works.  It might just change the way you teach researching and/or computer work.  I love it.

One of my favorite features is that each link opens in a new window.  When a kids finished they just close out the window and they're back to the main page.  It seems to speed up the process just a bit.


Direct Link:  SNAKES Symbaloo



Snake Search: Around the World is a Project Based Learning activity I'm using to tie in this Symbaloo board.  You can check it out HEREIt's a combination of specified research and individual learning/choosing.  There are over 20 activity pages for students to search around the world for all things snake-like.   


Included: 
--simple research on prominent snakes 
--how to take care of a snake as a pet 
--the invasive Burmese Python in the Everglades
--designing enclosures at a zoo  
--a mix of everything minus the crippling venom of a pit viper

Project based learning puts the choices and independent work into the hands of the students.  
I recommend lots of collaborative-type work with (at the beginning), but over time students become acclimated and the results are incredible. 

You can find and see more Project Based Learning Activities here or click on the image below.





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Rise of the CelebriTeacher








I'm here to tell you it's okay to think of teachers as celebrities. 

-It's okay to be impressed. 
-It's perfectly acceptable to obsess over a teacher's blog post that warms your soul.  
-Unadulterated excitement when a new lesson is created or tip is shared for integrating interactive notebooks is allowed. 
-Don't suppress your inner-child giddiness.  
-Just admit you have your own favorite celebriteachers.
-I do.

There's an interesting phenomenon that's taking place in the educational community where teachers are transformed into celebriteachers. Just like Kimye or Bennifer, I took the words celebrity and teacher, mashed them together, and created the CELEBRITEACHER. Official definition below:



Celebriteachers are a good thing.  Actually,  they're a great thing.  They might be the heroes that we need based on the way education is treated these days. Celebriteachers motivate and captivate, they make us stretch our ability to think and teach. They make us want to be better teachers.

Easily defined, a teacher that other teachers admire or find motivation from is the essence of a celebriteacher. Almost everyday I hear/read/partake in discussions about celebriteachers around the globe that are affecting thousands of classrooms. 

We've entered a time where we (teachers) are more interested in other teachers than the most recent issue of InTouch.  Teachers even have their own fashion blogs with What Are You Wearing link-ups.

Celebriteachers are everywhere from a teacher on your grade level team to someone that has 90k followers on Facebook.  Their presence  and size may vary but you (and me) look up to them because they energize your inner craving to be the best you can. These celebriteachers fit your sensibilities.  

I'm old enough to recognize that typical celebrities don't do it for me anymore. (Except for maybe Channing and Pratt, they're family guys like me). I'm not enticed by sports and movie stars, I find no interest in them.  I like their work, but that's about it.  Long ago is the day when I used to record Entertainment Tonight on the VCR.  

BUT I LOVE discovering a teacher that challenges my teaching and makes me want to grow. I've got quite a few celebriteachers that I need to get an autograph from, but I'll get to that later. 


Ten years ago, this isn't even a topic of discussion, which is sad because because our professional learning network probably only consisted of teachers at our school or districts. That has all changed with social media and the access that teachers have with one another. And it's not just the access, it's the sharing, collaborating, and imagination. 

As more teachers turn to blogs, TeachersPayTeachers, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter we're seeing the endless numbers of teachers that bring fresh ideas and unlimited possibilities. These teachers find their niche and dig deep, materials they're producing from content to products and even interactions.  More teachers are being recognized throughout this teaching community and creating a buzz about themselves and they're ideas. It's exciting.

Accessing social media creates interconnectivity.  Ten years ago it would be unheard of to interact with teachers in Australia, England, and Africa (all on a daily basis), but now it's commonplace.  Social media is what you make of it.  Teachers make good use of if.

Go follow Laura Candler, LuckeyFrog's Lilypad, or Learning With Mrs. Leeby on Facebook.  Look at the content they're sharing or ideas they're discussing.  Check out Ideas by Jivey, Tried It Tuesday by the Fourth Grade Flipper, and the amazing ThinkerBuilder.  This is just a tiny sample size of the access these celebriteachers have shared with us.  There are (literally) thousands of others out there too.

Here's some more...
Teaching in the Early Years
Education to the Core
One Lesson at a Time
The Schroeder Page
Tales from Outside the Classroom
FlapJack Educational Resources
Hippo Hooray for Second Grade
The Brown Bag Teacher
Teaching With Love and Laughter
Miss Vs Busy Bees
Kathy Griffin Teaching Strategies
Primary Inspired
Mrs. Wheeler's First Grade
Crayonbox Learning
From the Pond
The Cornerstone For Teachers
Growing Firsties
Fifth in the Middle
The Write Stuff Teaching

My other favorite thing about celebriteachers: they're accessible. You can follow them, ask questions, and interact because they are really people too. They don't have stylists and assistants following them around all day.  Plus, they won't charge 50 bucks for a photo and an autograph. If you're lucky enough, you might even be able call them your friend. (and not in the creepy stalker-friend type way).

Luckily, I'm a consumer and curator of the information they're providing.  I will drink their milkshakes (movie reference).



The tide is turning. As educators we're recognizing the need for moving past the multi-billion dollar corporations of Pearson and going straight to the source: Teachers in the classroom.  What a great concept!  Teachers at the ground level doing the heavy work.

Celebriteachers represent the changing of the guards.  We use these teachers to further our own teaching, learning, and professional/personal growth.  I don't need the Pearson corporation to tell me what I should use to teach a standard.  I've got my favorite celebriteachers that have already shown me.

Think of this as a gigantic food web of teachers where we all feed off of one another's ideas.  Ideas are consumed and regurgitated into classrooms and tailored to fit specific needs.  Within this web we also find more celebriteachers to follow and rave about. It's a never-ending circle of life.


Dave Burgess writes about Reticular Activating System (RAS) in his book, Teach Like a Pirate.  RAS involves your neurological system picking up "thoughts, images, words, people, and places that you never noticed before...suddenly, your mental radio (RAS)--it's tuned into your subject of interest."  Which is exactly what happens when you begin following celebriteachers, you're tuned in to a whole new community you didn't even realized existed. Then the realization hits, "there is so much much out there."

Call me melodramatic and overaly optimistic (I don't care), but I look forward to what they'll do next. I think we might need TMZedu to keep me updated. 


One of the biggest gripes I've heard sitting in faculty meetings deals with professional development.  Lack of time, topics, and access.  Those are the three main points.  Okay.

Let me tell you, when you've got a couple of celebriteachers filling your bucket on a regular basis--all is well.  My professional growth and development is at an all-time high with the content produced.  

Implement Technology, check!
Daily 5 integration, check!
Apps for writing, check!
Mentor writing pieces, check!
CCSS 867.5309, check!  (not a really standard, but if it was it'd be covered)
QR Codes, got it!
Blogging tutorial, yup.
LEGOS in the classroom, uh-huh.
Power of positive relationships between students and teachers, done.
(These were topics I just pulled off of my FB feed).

The rise of Celebriteachers has impacted education in percentages that aren't quite quantifiable.  This is data you can't really correlate to a number, sorry research based enthusiasts--you just gotta trust me.

And just wait, because more is coming.  Pretty soon we'll be discussing and raving about a a teacher giving a TedTalk...and it will be dynamic.  Something and someone new hits the radar that will cause us to rethink and rec

Ciera of Adventures of Room 129 recently wrote an article Blogging Doesn't Make Me A Better Teacher. It was perfect.  From her post:

Blogging has made me become a life long learner.   Before I was a blogger, I was a blog stalker.  Being a blog stalker, this led me to a multitude of educational articles that I read, the latest researched based instructional practices, and cutting edge technology advances in the classroom.
Blog stalking your favorite teachers ignites something in you.  You want to be on the front line.  You want to make a difference.  You want to throw yourself out there.  You want to grow.  You want to be.  You feel energized.

We teach in tumultuous times.  New initiatives. More testing. Worsening economic structures.  These all hang over us.  Then something phenomenal happens.  We turn on the computer, pull out our phones, and suddenly we forget about everything outside of our control.  Why?  It's because we see teachers doing amazing things.  


And we like it.  

And we like them.  
And we're enamored with it all.  
And then, we do it.

When I first began these are a couple of the people that became celebriteachers to me:

Kate at Purely paperless. She had one of the first in-class technology blogs that I started reading. Some of her posts jumpstarted plenty of ideas with my students.  Not to mention, she answered plenty of silly questions I had about blogs. 

Greg at Kindergarten Smorgasbord:  The first time I visited his site I was blown away...so many mustaches and a man-blogger in kindergarten! The man is fearless. I have no clue how he does it all and the ideas are endless. 

Susanna and her Whimsy Workshop. She is quite possibly one of the nicest people I have ever spoken with. Her in-class art ideas and how she focuses on the whole child are incredible. Seriously, I wish my own kids could have her as a teacher. 

Condensed Version (Too Long; Didn't Read [TL;DR]):  More teachers are being recognized, celebrated, and followed like a celebrity on TMZ.  This is a good thing.  


So, a question still remains for you.  Who is your favorite celebriteacher?
Don't worry, we all have them.




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Geometrocity, The City of Made of Math



Geometry + Metrocity = Geometrocity, the city made of math.

My favorite memories as a kid in school always involved building things, even a final exam in college required a team of us to build a bridge.  Projects, creating, and imagining are kind of important factors for kids in school.  Just kind of important, because we have to give those really important state tests.

Lately on Instagram, I've had a few teachers share the incredible cities their students have been building.  The time, size, and enthusiasm has been amazing to read and see especially when you consider all the work the kids have put in.




If you feel inclined--go read about Geometrocity in my original post HERE.  If not, just take a look (again) at those incredible cities being built.  Honestly, I'm a bit jealous with some of the architecture and engineering that took place.  Well done.







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Newsela, A Digital Newspaper For Kids

Newsela is a free website that is a digital newspaper for students.  Kids can read up to date articles on science, art, pop culture, current events, and sports.  The articles are of high interest and thought provoking.  They're filled with informational text, text features, and images with every story.  It's an age appropriate newspaper filled with real world connections.  It is perfect.  It is completely free.

Newsela does a multiple things extremely well, the first being leveled readers.  Most articles have exile levels that students (or teachers can choose between.  Below is an example using everyone's favorite villain/hero, Tom Brady.

I like seeing how the opening paragraph increases in complexity.  BUT I really love seeing each opening paragraph morphs into an US Weekly story.  Just really good stuff.

This site offers many other bells and whistles such as quizzes, annotating text, and easily creating differentiated material.  There's quite a lot to it and many other teachers rave about it.  I'd highly suggest checking it out and then spend a little time and figure out how you can incorporate this into your classroom.

Their tagline is spot on: Read Closely. Think Critically.  Be Worldly.

Check it out.

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Where in the World with GeoGuessr

Geoguessr is web-based game that pulls in images from Google Maps and players must guess where in the entire world this image is from.  It's a simple premise, but a lot of fun.  My fifth graders showed this to me and said they battle against their brothers and sisters for the top scores.

It is really simple:
  1. Go to GeoGuessr.com
  2. You don't even have to log in, just click play.
  3. See an image from one of Google's camera cars.  You can move it around too, but I like to consider that cheating.
  4. Use the visuals in the photo to predict the location.
  5. Click on the map with your guess.
  6. Then see how well you did, or in my case, how poorly you did.
Here's how I scored on the image at the top.  Not bad, only 1.5K miles away.

That's it!  The game is that simple.  You normally have five turns in a game and it can move quickly, which is perfect for all students.

I've taken to love this game for kids and adults because you've got to use your prior knowledge about geography, road types, landscape, and more.  

At the bottom of the site where it says "more maps" scroll down to find even more challenges such as a single country, landmarks, cities, and more.

This is a great little game for individuals or whole class and everyone can participate.
Check it out, play, have fun, learn.  Just don't lose to your students.



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