Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Space Camp for Teachers




In 2009, when I was teaching fourth grade math and science, I applied for, and got, a scholarship to attend Space Camp in Alabama. I had a great time (read my post in 2009 here) and used a lot of resources in my classroom. I even planned a potluck space night for parents (click here to read my post on a separate blog I kept up during my years as a classroom teacher) and got a grant for "build it yourself" telescopes. I love studying space and being able to go to Space Camp...for free...was a unbelievable PD opportunity. I made a video of all my pictures to share with folks who were in the program with me (click on the link above...or here if you want to see what it was like).

I'm writing a post about it because it is that time...time to apply for a scholarship! Each scholarship covers the following: tuition for the 5-day program at U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama; round trip airfare; meals and double occupancy accommodations; program materials; and...wait for it...a flight suit :)

To be considered to receive a scholarship you must be a current or practicing educator that is teaching science or math to students ages 10-14 years old and will continue to teach these subject areas through 2017.

Here are some things I remember....I was the lowest grade level represented...there were a lot of middle and high school teacher (so I felt a little overwhelmed on the intelligence level...but I was able to hang...barely :). The dorms we stayed in were COLD...I mean freezing. A teacher from Michigan (super skinny) had to put on her flight suit to keep warm during the night. I didn't even think of that. I shivered through my first night. I could have used a space blanket :). Those were the only two negatives everything else was fun and we were kept going from sunup to literally sundown (I remember the insane schedule!).

Anyway...if you are interested in applying the window open in November and here is the LINK if you want to apply (they try to pick teachers from every state...the year I applied I was one of two teachers in the state of SC to get the scholarship).

Friday, October 23, 2015

Studio in a Box




I am super excited...I finally got my Studio in a Box by TouchCast. I ordered it this past summer when I went to the ISTE conference in Philadelphia and attended a TouchCast session (read my rave review of that session HERE).

The session attendees were offered "Early Bird" pricing for this product with the understanding that they weren't finished in production yet (hence why it took awhile to get). The "Early Bird" price was $59 (fabulous price). I was hoping that my department would reimburse me for the purchase but apparently it is easier to get permission to buy something then it is to get reimbursed for something. I purchased it at the time knowing that I might have to absorb the cost and I was fine with that.

I bought it to evaluate it for school/teacher purchasing purposes. A lot of our schools and classrooms want to set up green screen rooms for projects and morning new programs and this looked like an inexpensive way to make that happen (in conjunction with the free and totally cool TouchCast app).

I am in the processes of setting it up and playing with it (look for annoying test video posts coming soon!) but I love it. I recently attended a webinar put on by TouchCast and I feel more confident using their software (we have one school using it to do their morning program and they love it...here is a link to one of the morning programs that aired this week...they are working on the sound issue but you get the general gist).

During that webinar someone asked about the price and apparently they are still introducing it at the Early Bird price of $59. Please note that they do tack on $15 for shipping and handling but I still think it is a good deal at $75. I think the price is certainly reasonable for a school to set up a green screen studio. It isn't too bad for a single classroom to purchase either. I would definitely use grade level money (if that is an option), get a grant, or split the cost with another teacher if money is an issue.

To see a video of unboxing everything - CLICK HERE (I found it helpful when setting up my home studio). I am on the TouchCast email list and they sent a link to this video about how not to make a TouchCast video which I thought contained some really good advice - CLICK HERE.

I am hoping to start posting sample student projects soon so stay tuned!

Art Project/Report Presentation Idea






I saw these outside an art room in one of the schools I visit. I thought they were super adorable. The art teacher, Mrs. Thomas, incorporated large notecards into a project where students expressed their goals for the new school year. I loved the faces, the notecards, and the drawn hands on the side making them appear like they are being held.

I was thinking anything could go on those cards (they are much larger then the standard 4x6 notecards). Maybe a short report or book review? I was also wondering if the cards could be switched out throughout the year (the fingers on the cards were throwing me off when I started thinking along those lines). I thought I would pass the idea on in case some enterprising teacher wanted to try it out!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Green Screen App and Science








Today I worked with a Lego Lab teacher introducing the Green Screen App by Doink ($2.99) to students in grades 3-5. All of the iPads in this particular school have the app and are testing it for possible purchase on all our 3-5 iPads in the district.

Since today was an intro day we didn't get a lot of finished projects but the Lego Lab teacher and I created a sample project using content covered in the 4th grade (Solar System). To view the project CLICK HERE. One fourth grader did finish one project about going to Egypt that turned out pretty cute. To view that project CLICK HERE. I got silly with my sample project and became a reporter viewing the destruction of the Eiffel Tower. To view that project CLICK HERE.

The project idea came from the school's media specialist who saw it presented at ISTE this summer. She forwarded the Wiki site to us and we ran with it. The teacher got pizza boxes donated that we covered with green contact paper...until we ran out of it and then switched to green plastic party table cloths. We looked high and low for the green gloves she mentioned in her Wiki site but no dollar store - and we have a lot in our neck of the woods - carried those mythical green moisturizing gloves (I even checked their websites). I did find these stretchy green gloves at Walmart and purchased five pairs (see last picture).

Since we were working with small lego pieces it turns out that the green plastic straws she got at Publix worked best. Students taped the pieces to the straws using green painters tape and put the green gloves on just in case while manipulating their characters on the screen (we thought that paint stir sticks painted green might work as well).  

Students created a series of small videos...each a part of a larger movie...and saved them to the camera roll. Once all their mini scenes were finished we imported them into iMovie so we could add background music and sound effects.

Now that students have experience with the app the teacher is going to have them create content based green screen movies as their final project.