Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dance to Advance - In Action

Here is a video of the game being played.

Dance to Advance - Video

Here is a video of one of the children explaining the game.

Dance to Advance - Redneck Version

I went to high school last week in our district that has computer center that is pretty cool. One of the things that they had the visitors do is play a game called "Dance to Advance".

On the floor were dance mats like "Dance Dance Revolution". You stood in the middle and looked at the interactive white board. A question popped up in the center and you had to jump/touch the square with the correct answer. It was automated for two minutes with questions coming up and the mats - which were connected to the interactive white board - recording who touched the right answer first. It was a lot of fun and I definitely want them for my classroom. Sadly four mats plus a site license cost $947 (which isn't a lot considering but in our budget crunch most likely would not be approved).

I told a friend of mine about the game and we put together a "red neck" version of it to play with her extended learning math class (extended learning is offered to students during our fall, spring, and summer break as a form of remediation). She said the kids really enjoyed playing it and I popped in to see how it was going and to take pictures. This could easily be adapted for science questions.

She marked off the floor in a large square and marked out a center box (where the child would stand). In the eight boxes surrounding the center square she put three piece of different colored tape (silver duct tape, green painter tape, purple painter's tape). Each color would represent a different game. In one game she was doing percent to decimal. In another she was doing fraction to decimal. In another she was just having them jump side to side to indicate if the number was "prime" or "composite".

If I was doing it for science. I might use one tape color to answer questions about the water cycle. Another tape color for planets and the third for vocabulary.

She had three "boards" layed out on the floor so three students could play at a time. She had three additional students act as judges in front of them (they raised their hand as soon as the child has jumped). The rest of the class had to keep track of which judge raised their hand first, second, and third. If the first person made the incorrect jump it would go to the second person. If that person was incorrect the third jumper had the chance to win. This was a good opportunity to talk about how being the first is not necessary better. It is better to be right then first. Many times the third jumper (who had taken their time) was the winner.

I was glad to observe this teacher because it gave me a better idea of how I would manage it in my classroom if I played it. I would probably plan to play this on a Friday/Monday as part of my end of year state testing review or as part of an end of unit review. It definitely got the children up and moving (and with the week long of rainy weather we've had that is a GOOD thing :)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spring Break - My Guilty Pleasure

We have just started Spring Break here in Beaufort, South Carolina. Sadly our weather is not cooperating with rain and cooler then normal temperatures forecasted for the week (no beach on this break! In fact I have been wearing a sweater for the last couple of days.).

I know this doesn't quite fit into the science, education, and notebooking theme I have going here on this blog but I thought I would share anyway :)

About two weeks prior to the break I call the local cosmotology and massage schools in the area. They give reduced rates for the services with pedicures running $10, facials $15, and massages $35. I book what I can during the week that I am off. Typically they offer their services during the school day so the only time I can take advantage is when we do go on break. They book up EXTREMELY fast in our area, hence why I have to call at least 2 weeks out in order to get any services done. They rarely run services during the summer and holiday months (when they are on break) so I load up during spring break (it gives me something to look forward to and I usually use it as an incentive to get some household spring cleaning done).

YouTube Downloader - Part II

There has been a problem recently with the YouTube Downloader that I use and recommend. Someone told me about another site for downloading YouTube vidoes ( and I decided to give it a try.

I have started using it with success and thought I would pass on a tutorial (pictures above) on how to use. To see any of the pictures in a larger format simply click on it.

3D Invertebrate Project

Last year I did an invertebrate poetry unit and students created paper versions of their invertebrates for a giant wall display. This year two groups of fourth grade teachers took it further and had their students create three dimensional models of invertebrates for display in our front display cases (the display cases are rotated among grade levels throughout the year and fourth grade has April). They also had to choose their favorite invertebrate poetry and make a good "clean" copy for the case.

I thought this was very brave of the two teachers involved :) They did it on the Friday before Spring Break and it asked parents for supplies from paint to clay to recycled goods. Students were encouraged to be as creative as possible.

I popped in their classroom during the day and took some pictures of the action and put together a little video (above) of their work (I used The students did an excellent job. My favorite were the snail, stick bug, and squid (toward the end of the video). One parent worked with thier child to make a giant firefly that was quite impressive!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bill Nye - Part II

I got this GREAT comment on an earlier Bill Nye post.

Mr. Catania said... Hey! I use Bill Nye videos often when introducing a unit too. I found his great website that has most of the Bill Nye videos you can download in parts and it's not blocked by the county on my school computer. Here it is:

I have passed this on to ALL the teachers in my school and the science coordinator. Thank you Mr. Catania for sharing.

Science - Tech Projects

Our school district, like most, are strongly encouraging the use of tech integration in the classroom. As a "tech" person I am always looking for ideas to incorporate the science curriculum I teach with our districts tech requirements.

Above is a picture of a third grade newsletter project that one of our teachers worked on with her children (click on to enlarge). She actually used it in her ELA class (they were talking about feature articles, summarizing, and parts of non fiction text). She used the National Geographic Kids - Animals website and had the students pull out facts that could be incorporated into a newsletter. I really liked the idea and thought it would be something I could do with my Organisims and Their Environment unit.

In my search for tech ideas I came across this sample LESSON PLAN from Teacher Created Resources that I am actually going to do with my fourth graders in the next few weeks. Using the same National Geographic Kids site students will fill out a graphic organizer and then develop an animal report similar to the finished project in the lesson plan. Once I have students samples I will post and go over how the lesson "looked" in my classroom.

Bingo Boards - Large Version

I have a friend who also teaches fourth grade science who plays vocabulary bingo with her students a lot (see earlier post on playing/setting up vocabulary BINGO). She decided to use poster board and make a giant BINGO board to put on her wall for each of the units of study. When she plays with her students she uses sticky pad paper to cover up the words she has already called.

The poster serves two purposes for her

1. It is her vocabulary word wall for the unit

2. She can use it to keep track of what she has already called during a game

I have not seen it in use but I really liked her cute board and drawings (she is WAY more artistically gifted then I am :)