Saturday, October 22, 2011

BP_8 Link to Comments

Follow this link to my comments on Saphreem's RILS on Educator Studio.  He found a great tool called Story Jumper to create digital book reports!

Follow this link to my comments on Amanda's RILS on Educator Studio.  She used Story Bird to teach grammar to English Language Learners!

BP7_Strip Designer Final RILS Project

Relevant and Innovative Learning Scenario
 Cynthia Madanski and Amanda Rhymer

Brief Overview: As part of the National Science Standards students must learn about the form and function of each organelle in a eukaryotic cell.  This can be a daunting task for students who can’t relate to a “powerhouse” or a “control center.”  Using analogies, a camera and a comic application we can turn this into a fun activity.
  • Cynthia Madanski’s 8th grade students will only focus on the nucleus, cytoplasm, and cell membrane.
  • Amanda Rhymer’s 9th and 10th grade biology students will focus on eight organelles.

1.  Target Audience- Rhymer: 9th & 10th grade biology (60 students) Madanski: 8th grade general science
2.  Materials
1.  Background worksheet: The Cell and the City
2.  Student Worksheet: Cell Analogy: The Cell as a School
3.  Technical Equipment:  Cameras (iPod Touches)
4.  Software:  Comic App (Strip Designer, Comic Life, etc.) and/or Comic-making web programs (Bitstrips, Comeeko, etc.)
3.  Objectives
a.  The students will be able to explain the structure and function of eukaryotic organelles
b.  The students will be able to use analogies to understand how cell parts work together
c.  The students will create a comic strip to illustrate their analogies.
d.  The students will analyze each others comic strips and evaluate them for accuracy and originality.

1.  Procedure
a.  Complete the Background worksheet (The Cell and the City) as a whole class. Discuss each organelle and how it is “like” a part of the city.  Go over the concept of an analogy and explain how it can vary by student.
b.  Hand out the worksheet (Cell Analogy) to small groups(4) and have the group brainstorm quickly what part of the school each organelle could be “like.” They should fill out the worksheet before moving to the next step by giving the function of each of the eight organelles and describing why they chose the analogy that they wrote down.
(Cynthia Madanski’s class will not focus on 8 organelles, only 3)
c.  Give students a camera, or iPod Touch, and have them quickly go out into the school to take pictures of their “organelles.”
d.  When students return they can either upload their photos onto one computer, visit the computer lab or use the comic app on the iPod touch to make their photos into comic strips. They should add titles and descriptions to explain their analogies.
e.  Print out the comic strips and share them with the class.  A good follow up activity would be to have the groups swap analogy worksheets and comic strips and have them analyze the final product for creativity, originality and accuracy.
2.  Web 2.0 ToolStrip Designer (iPod/iPhone App) or a comic-strip tool such as Bitstrips that has a free 30-day trial.
3.  Social Participation/Social Learning– This activity requires students to work together to brainstorm the analogy for each of eight organelles.  They must agree on each analogy and record it on their worksheet.  Students will then divide up the organelles (two each) and go out into the school to take pictures.  When they return to class, the group must work together to complete the comic strip, adding titles and captions to explain their analogy.
4.  Making Connections– The scenario must offer opportunities for the learner to connect on different levels. Include the three types of connections below in your plan.  How are the connections being made and how will they help deep learning take place. How will your learner connect with:
a)    Class discussion about the cell-city analogy prior to the assignment.
b)    Relating the function of the organelles to a part of the school that they are familiar with.
c)    Share the finished product with the rest of the class for analysis.
1.  Create/Produce – Comic Strip Analogy: The Cell is Like a School
2.  Assessment –Rubric for the activity:

RubricSuperior (20pts)Good (15pts)Average (10pts)Fair (5pts)
Met RequirementsAll requirements met.One required element missing.Two required elements missingMore than two required elements missing
CreativityProject showed creative choices for all eight cell parts.Project showed creative choices for at least six cell parts.Project showed creative choices for four cell parts.Project showed creative choices for less than four cell parts.
OriginalityFinal project looks completely different from other groups.Final project only has a few elements like the other groups.Final project has many elements in common with the other groups.Final project shows a lack of original thought.
Group GradeGroup divided the tasks and the required work. Every member contributed to the final project.One or two people did not participate in the project letting others do the majority of the work.One person took over the project and completed all of the work on the project.The group fell apart and did not complete the project.

3.  Reflection – The reflection for the RILS must have two parts.
a.     Students will fill out a Google form when they finish answering questions about the activity.  They will have the opportunity to identify their favorite parts of the project, as well as those that they didn’t like.
b.     Teachers will reflect on this activity and determine what should be changed for the next implementation.  When I do this project again, I will make them spend more time on their analogies.  They will need to check with other sources, such as their book or the Internet, for the exact function of the organelle that they are working with.

Click here to see the completed RILS in Educator Studio.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Class Parrot~Check it out!

I found a new great resource that I am excited to try out.  All of my new students have cell phones.  However, I am NOT giving out my personal phone number to text with students.  I found a tool called Class Parrot that solves my problem!  When students text a personalized message to the Class Parrot site, they are enrolled and the teacher can send a message to all students enrolled ~ all while keeping the cell phone numbers anonymous!  Students can even reply to the text and the teacher receives the message through the Class Parrot page.  I am going to ask students to sign up on Monday.  If you are interested, click on the following link to check it out!  Best of all, it is FREE for the first 500 messages, and then an additional 200 free each month!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

PE_5 Strip Design/Animoto

Strip Design is an app that I purchased on my iPhone for $2.99.  I am struggling now to see how to use these technology tools in my new classroom.  The three student computers are not working (don't ask), and there are no iPads, laptops, SmartBoard, or basically anything.  I have overhead projection and one desktop that I can use, so I can at least use Web 2.0 tools (that aren't blocked by my district, those are few and far between) and project them on the screen for the whole class to see.  However, that is not interactive, and I am struggling to make this work.  

So I am hoping to be able to use my own iPhone and MacBook to use Strip Design.  The lesson Amanda and I are working on is to have students use analogies to relate a cell to the school building.  Here is a sample Strip Design page I created from a picture taken a couple weeks ago when I was with my second grade students before my position was cut due to low enrollment.

On my next post, I hope to have a select few students who may be able to handle taking pictures and using Strip Design create their own comparisons of a cell to the school building.  While Amanda's class will focus on many organelles, I have decided to stick to only 3 basic cell parts: the nucleus, cytoplasm, and cell membrane.  Crossing my fingers that it will work, and that my phone and MacBook remain in one piece!

Once I have those pages complete, I would hope to use Animoto or PhotoPeach to put them into an animated slide show.  I have used both apps before on my second grade blog,, and they are a wonderful tool to bring still pics to life.  Here is a sample video of an Animoto video I included on my blog:

Create your own video slideshow at

PE4_Strip Design

The RILS (relevant and Innovative Learning Scenario) project has come at an interesting time in my teaching career.   On Wednesday, I gained a new teaching assignment.  I am teaching at Robinson Elementary School, 8th grade. This school is a SIG (school improvement grant) school for Toledo Public.  This is extreme poverty, and the school has never achieved AYP (adequate yearly progress).  It is designated by the state of Ohio to be in Academic Emergency, and has been since the ratings were established in 1998.  Here is a snapshot of the latest report card:

basically a lot of data to show what the first page stated:

The classroom that I am walking into has had a revolving door with no less than a dozen substitutes all school year.  These students have not had stable instruction at all.  The behaviors exhibited by these 15-16 year old 8th graders can not be mentioned in a non-mature rated blog.  I have my work cut out for me, and me being the eternal optimist hope that I can make progress with them and turn this pattern around.  However, it is NOT going to happen in the week that I am completing this RILS assignment!  So I am going to show what I plan to do in my classroom when routines and expectations have been modeled over and over again, and I start to have some control and authority in the room.  Determination and time will be needed for this to happen.

Amanda Rhymer and I are working together on this RILS, and she has posted a fantastic summary of the  2.0 tool we are using, Strip Design.  Please check out her post here An Apple a Day to view her blog.  

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Drum roll please.....

There you have it, I have successfully completed the iMovie '11 Essential Training course.  I learned a lot about iMovie, and decided to try out making a trailer.  It came together fairly easily, and I definitely enjoyed putting my new skills to work making a short trailer of my 3 boys playing sports.  Now that I am capable of using iMovie to create cool shows, I need to work on getting good video footage in the first place to put into a movie.  Not very easy to do from the sidelines with an iPhone, but here it is anyway and hope you enjoy.  

Aren't you tired just watching them play?  I love being a mom to 3 active boys and they are my reason for being the best mom and teacher I can be.  

In closing, I would like to end this post with a dedication to Steve Jobs.  Full Sail University has introduced me to Apple products, and the work of Steve Jobs.   I thoroughly enjoyed watching him present both product reveals and commencement speeches, and am amazed at his genius in relating to people.  In a commencement speech at Stanford in 2005, he said:

 No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
Rest In Peace, Steve.  You have reminded me to stay hungry, stay foolish.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A cool surprise to use with Google Earth

Check out Justin Fishel's review on Google Earth.  I found something really cool to go along with it.  Just follow the link on my comments for a cool surprise!


Have I said before that I love to stay organized?  Or maybe I should rephrase that to I NEED to stay organized.  I hate clutter; it overwhelms me and makes me anxious.  My classroom reflects that, as it is open, things are filed or shelved, and I do not have that "catch-all" desk or countertop that has a huge pile of anything and everything (it is shoved into a desk drawer out of site if I am super crazy busy and can't deal with it immediately!).  This is why watching Lynda's iMovie Essential Training chapter on Organizing Clips made me jump for joy.  

I have been using iMovie for 3 months now, and everything I have worked on remains just as it was.  I did not know anything about how tagging, keywords, rating, and removing unwanted clips.  This is what my iMovie looked like before I started organizing:

As you can see, my Project Library was filled with creatively named projects (New Project 1, New Project 2...), my Event Library was similarly creative (New Event Day 1, New Event Day 2..), and I still had every video clip that I had ever imported coming up on my screen.  Obviously, the organizer in me needed to fix that after I learned how to deal with this on Lynda.  So I got to work.  

Now my Project Library now has all projects with appropriately named titles such as "Australian Outback" and "Interview with Chad Henderly".  Much better than New Project 5!  I spent the most time organizing my Event Library.  Now I can easily find the clips I want of my son's SJJ Snowboarding Trip, Mudhens Kids Run the Bases day, or Caleb and Will on the Half Pipe.  Much less time consuming than searching through events 1-50.  While this took some time, I agree with the Lynda presenter that it will save me hours in the long run.  I am so happy to be organized in iMovie!


After mucking around in iMovie for the first three months of EMDT, I think I had figured out some of the basics.  The Lynda tutorial was great for advancing my knowledge and explaining some things I was still fuzzy about.  I understand the idea of letting us explore iMovie on our own first before giving us the tutorial, and I had found some YouTube tutorials that had helped me out a bit while first trying iMovie.  This tutorial, however, was far superior to anything I had found on my own!

I must admit, when reading the directions and seeing that this tutorial would take 3 hours and 28 minutes, my first reaction was that of dread (ok, and disbelief too!).  How can a 3 and a half hour video possibly be interesting?  We all lead busy lives, and who has time to sit in front of a MacBook for that long?  Well, it turns out that thought of this and gave the tutorial in short, separated clips.  Watching each section in each chapter separately kept things interesting, and made it so much easier to absorb and take in.
As you can see, the Welcome chapter only lasted 1 minute 44 seconds, and consisted of two sections.  The Getting Started chapter was 1 minute 6 seconds long.  Since the tutorial was easing me into these lessons,  it no longer appeared so overwhelming.  I made a point to watch only one chapter at a sitting so that my brain would have some time to process all the new knowledge.  I am now a fan of trainings!  If you are unfamiliar, check out Lynda for more details.  It is a paid membership; however if you are new to this technology as I am, it is well worth the fee.  Thank you Full Sail University for the membership!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

My Second Grade Edublog

This is a link to the edublog I set up for my second grade class. I only had three weeks with them before my position was cut due to low enrollment. I am so sad to not have the privilege of teaching them, but am looking forward to learning this week where I will be teaching now.

A PhotoPeach Slide Show of my family

My family on PhotoPeach

BP5_Link to Amanda Rhymer's blog "An Apple a Day"

Follow this link to my comments on Amanda Rhymer's blog, An Apple a Day!
She reviewed a great Web 2.0 tool called Popplet.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

BP4_Stick Pick

Introducing... Stick Pick!
How many teachers out there have this jar sitting on your work station? We try so hard to call on all students equally, and many of us (myself included) have resorted to a cup and a popsicle stick for each student. This becomes a problem when you teach multiple classes and need multiple cups. The sticks get physically misplaced, the cup gets knocked over and sticks spilled, "naughty" students can remove their stick when the teacher is not looking, and once you have called on a student in the lesson and move the stick out of the cup, that student ultimately shuts down since he knows he will not be called on again.

Out of this problem comes a solution from a teacher ~ aren't the best teacher tools created by teachers? The app is called Stick Pick, and it goes far beyond the old fashioned can of sticks. When a teacher makes a stick for a student, she can assign the appropriate level of Bloom's questioning for the student's ability. When the teacher taps or shakes the can, a name randomly is chosen. When the student's name is selected, there are appropriate Bloom's question starters ready to go. Taking it even further (and in my humble opinion this is where this app will be most useful) the teacher can record to what level the student answered the question (1-5). The following rubric is used in Stick Pick:

Bloom's & Bloom’s Revised: After selecting “correct,” “incorrect,” or “opinion,” a 5-point "Critical Thinking Rubric" will appear on the screen. Rate the student’s response from 0-5. The choices are:

0= No Response;

1= Shows No Understanding;

2 = Partial Understanding;

3 = Adequate Understanding;

4 = Clear & Accurate;

5 = Insightful & Confident

This can be useful for ongoing, formative assessments. At the end of each day, the teacher has the ability to search the student rosters to determine how many questions each student answered, and how well each student answered. This information is valuable for data-driven instruction.

The app itself is fun to use. The graphics are bright and clear. The sound effects make it really come to life. It is simple and straight forward. Teachers even have the option to randomly OR intentionally draw a student's stick from the can. I have this app downloaded on my iPhone, and the stick can be drawn with a swipe, tap, or shake. It is exciting for the kids to see. After the question is answered, the teacher can place the stick back in the can to use again, or can be placed in the "used" can.

I like the idea of using this app as the teacher, but also having my students run the app in small group settings. Picture a group of 8th graders asking each other thought provoking Bloom's questions, and having those questions starters at hand, all with a shake, tap, or swipe.

I can not wait to start in my new classroom next week. One of the first things I do when I receive my class roster is to put my students' names into Stick Pick. I believe this will be a fantastic tool to take questioning further in my classroom, and in turn collect data to drive instruction. And never again will I be picking popsicle sticks off of my floor!