Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

One of the challenges in doing video projects with students is having enough cameras for every group. Often, there is one or two cameras for an entire class meaning there are a bunch of students standing around waiting to use the camera which is frustrating for both the students and the teacher.

If students are allowed to use the technology they already own, the sharing of school cameras will not be a problem. This week, two of my classes are making videos to demonstrate satire. I have 9 groups filming and not a single one of these groups is using a school camera. The majority of them are using either an iPod or an iPhone to do their recording.

I’ll admit, I was a little bit skeptical at first. I expected a bunch of shaky film work with barely audible soundtracks, but the result of the videos was outstanding. The pictures were clear and crisp and surprisingly stable, at least as stable as most student made videos even when they are using a tripod. On top of this, the audio was loud and clear, even better than a few of the actual video cameras that we used.

Teachers and administrators often look at the technology that students bring to school as a distraction, and I’ll be the first to acknowledge that it can be.  However, not using the technology that students have at their disposal is asinine! The students have it. They have paid (or their parents have paid) a lot of money for it. Why not show them how to use it productively? Why not put it to good use? I do know this from personal experience: when students get the opportunity to use their own technology as a tool for learning, they become totally engaged in whatever they are being taught. Actually, when this happens, they take great ownership in their own education.

First, teachers need to be educated in how to use the technology that students use. Those iPods in the student pockets are not just a fancy Walkman (I bet you haven’t thought about one of these for a while!). They are tech powerhouses, almost as powerful as the desktop computer or laptop you are reading this on right now. Though this video is a few years old now, it gives a great overview of what can be done with an iPod in the classroom:



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Examples are the best way to show students how to make a Fakebook page. The problem is that making one takes time, something that is a premium for most teachers. Here are a few sample pages that will help get the creative juices flowing for students. From the looks of them, most of these were created by students, so there are some grammatical errors, as well as errors in some of the content. However, these should give students a pretty good idea of what is expected.


History / Social Studies



P.E. / Health


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Earlier this week, I wrote about using Prezi Meeting with a middle school class. One of the challenges we faced was figuring out how to post the links, which were insanely long to try and type in, so that other students could access the links. Here’s what we did.

1. Create a pirate pad (or equivalent). Go to

2. Click on the big frog

3. Once the pad is created, copy the URL for the pad

4. Paste the URL for the Pirate Pad to a blog or web page where all student will have access

5. Now, have one student in each group set up an active Prezi presentation and make sure you are in edit mode

6. Click on the “Meeting” tab at the top of the page

7. On the drop down menu, click “invite to edit”

8. A box will come up with a special URL for that Prezi. Copy the URL

9. Now, go to the Pirate Pad page and paste this URL along with a group name. This is important if several different groups are going to use the same Pirate Pad.

10. The rest of the group can now go to the Pirate Pad, copy the URL for their group Prezi, and past it in the address bar. The students will then be taken to the appropriate Prezi to work collaboratively as a group.

I think this will do it! My middle school students did this several times this week, and it worked great. The best thing about it was that they all got to participate in the construction of the project, which gave them much more buy in when it came time to present as a group.

If you try this and think of another step I may have missed, please let me know, and I will do some editing. Thanks!


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This week, one of my classes has been working on a website using the Lifeyo. That might not seem like something worth writing about, but what is cool is that they are all able to work at the same time. They all log into the site and are able to add content to the site.

These students are in my Current Issues class, and I have asked them to go out on the internet and find different current events from around the world. They then write down the title, author, and a two sentence summary on a Word document. After that, they cut and paste their “event” onto the website which has several pages named after different classifications of world news that the student came up with like education, crime, and government.

I have 12 students in the class, and they are all able to get on at the same time and post their events without much trouble. Sometimes it does get a little messy as events tend to be place on top of each other. However, this is quickly fixed after everyone is done posting.

Basically, we are using the website as a place to post the student’s assignment. By doing this on the internet, the project is much more real for the students, and their engagement level is quite high. To be honest, they are loving it!

There are lots of applications for a project like this in most any classroom. Here are a few more ways to try this in your classroom:

1. Math: Have students work out problems and post the instructions on the website. Your class could have their own “Math Instruction” site. I am guessing that this would also serve as a good reference for them in the future.

2. English: Students could make a “Grammar Guide” site. Each student could find one grammar rule (or be assigned one), research it, and post the rule along with examples. Maybe they just all find examples. There are lots of places this could go.

3. Science: The teacher could give a topic and have the students go out and find information relating to a topic to post on the site. This is a great way to pre-teach a topic!


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Video projects do not have to be limited to older students. Young students also benefit greatly from the process of writing and acting in their own production. This video was produced with a group of first graders. It is an excellent example of how video can be used to not only help students learn a concept, but help motivate them to do so.

A project like this serves several different functions:

  • Students learn the names of the planets
  • Students learn vocabulary, especially orbit, since they perform that action at the beginning of the video.
  • Students learn key facts about the planets.
  • Because the video is student created, students will be motivated to watch the video over again, reinforcing the concepts they learned while making the video.

While this video project was focused on science, the same thing can be done with any subject. Just getting out a camera will motivate the students to work and help them learn.

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fakebookphoto © 2010 Sean MacEntee | more info (via: Wylio)Saturday, I wrote about the several different apps for making a fake Facebook walls in the classroom. I started to explain some of the ways this activity could be used with students, but didn’t dig too deep, so today I thought that we could get out the shovel and pick. Let’s get started:


  • Students can pretend they are a famous scientist and explain a particular finding or experiment from that persons perspective.
  • Students can be a certain chemical in a compound and explain, from the chemical’s viewpoint, what happens when mixed with other chemicals. This one will really stretch the mind of the students and probably the teacher.
  • Have a student write from the perspective of an earthquake, a tornado, or a tsunami. This may sound silly, but it will show the teacher whether or not the student understands a concept.

Math: This one might seem like a stretch to some, but there are students in the math classroom that will benefit greatly from this kind of activity.

  • Have students be a number in a math problem and tell what happens to them through wall posts. Their friends can be the other parts of the problem.
  • Students could be a geometric shape and explain what functions that shape serves.

Social Studies:

  • Students could act as historical figures. This activity has great potential. Students could be a civil war general, a ruler in ancient China,  or slave on a ship crossing the Atlantic ocean.
  • Students could be a country and explain what the people within the country are doing.
  • This one will test the student mind for sure. Have them be a rock on a hill overlooking a valley. Explain what is happening there as it is settled by the people. Maybe a rock along the Oregon trail, or on the coast near Cape Horn.

Language Arts:

  • Students can write from the perspective of characters in a story.
  • The RAFT concept can be used here to have great potential in the English classroom. Instead of being a character in a story, maybe the students can write from the perspective of a fly on the wall, or a chair in the room, or the family cat.
  • Students could be a comma and show how it is used in the comma’s own words. Again, this is a mind bender.

I’ll admit, some of these ideas are a little on the crazy side, but that is what makes them so fun. I guarantee that students will take an idea and totally run with it using a fake Facebook app. They will be engaged in what they are learning and eager to share their knowledge with others. This is one of those activities that will not only be fun, but also be one of the best learning opportunities for particular students.

As always, I am open for more ideas. I would love to hear how you have used fake Facebook apps in the classroom. Leave your ideas for the rest of us in the comments.

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Here is a great example of how stop motion animation can be used in the science classroom. Just a little background info on the video. The student who made this is a 4th grader, and did all of the film work on his own. He did get some help in recording his script, but beyond that, this is his work.

I want to emphasize the point that he did this on his own, not to show how extraordinary the student is, but to show that this is possible in every classroom if the teacher will allow it. This video is the result of real reasearch. The project included art, writing, reading, and some serious thinking which equates to real learning.

If you haven’t tried something like this in the classroom yet, do it this week. Find a way to work it in. Your students may learn more from this experience than any other thing you do in the classroom this year!

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