Monday, October 29, 2012

Guest Post: Monarch Migrations

Today's guest post is written by Sixth Grade PBL teacher, Vlad Borza.  For the past six weeks, Vlad and his students have been raising monarch butterflies in order to release them for their yearly south-ward migration to Mexico.  Vlad and his students documented their learning and shared their findings below in a guest blog post.  You can also find Vlad online on Twitter.

- - - - - - - - - -

For the past month, students in the 6th grade Project Based Learning class have been raising monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) caterpillars. They are researching the question-Why do animals migrate? In preparation for the butterflies’ release in late October, students researched various questions relating to a monarch’s life. Some groups were in charge of understanding the butterfly’s life cycle, anatomy, food sources, or the climate and geography that the butterflies will face on their annual migration from Michigan to the oyamel fir forests of the Sierra Madre Mountains in central Mexico.

We are working with a local, non-profit Grand Rapids company called Michigan Butterflies, which raises monarch butterflies and provides butterfly habitats for events at John Ball Zoo, Meijer Gardens, and many other public and private occasions in the West Michigan area. On the second week of school, students of the 6th grade PBL class were presented with nearly 150 monarch butterfly eggs to take care of— as they quickly hatched and needed to be fed a specific type of food daily—milkweed!

During this project, students monitored the growth and behavior of the caterpillars as they changed from small, pale, yellow eggs to rapidly-growing eating machines and on to their dormant phase as an emerald-green and gold-lined chrysalis. The butterflies will emerge after spending 10-14 days in the chrysalis, meaning that we will have nearly 50 butterflies in the classroom by the week of Oct 22nd!

Students will be presenting their research findings near the end of October, with several groups choosing to create works such as children’s books (in Spanish and English-oruga!) or theatrical plays and presentations for the elementary school or Godfrey-Lee community about monarchs’ life cycle or
yearly journey.

Once the butterflies emerge, they will spend several days in the classroom drying off their wings and will be tagged (with a small sticker to track them) and released.

Editor's Note:

At the end of their study, the students released the mature butterflies to begin their migration south.  The 6th grade students gathered on the front lawn of the high school and invited other staff members and students to join in the release.  If anyone lives in Texas or other areas where butterflies congregate on their southern migration, Mr. Borza and his students would be happy to hear from you!

2012 Election Resources

Are you teaching about the election process with your students or discussing the process for how a candidate becomes elected to the presidency?  There are many resources and tools online that can serve as a teaching tool, but I wanted to share just a few of the resources I have collected.

To view a collection of my resources, click here.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

My role as District Media Specialist
Wow...What is my role?  Is it supporting technology?  Is it helping teachers to implement technology into their classrooms?  Is it developing a library that best meets the informational and literacy needs of our students?  Or, is it to support the audio visual needs of our district?  Well, believe it or not, it’s all of the above.  The old fashion practices of a librarian are now almost 100% obsolete and the ability to be open to the ever changing world of information and technology is of utmost importance in meeting the needs of our school district.
When I first started at GLPS in 2003 about 80% of my time was devoted to library work.  This work consisted of cataloging, shelving, ordering and checking in and out books.   About 20% of my time was dealing with blown overhead projector bulbs, setting up the two multi-media projector/anchor weights for presentations, wheeling a TV cart and VCR to a classroom and making sure inappropriate websites weren’t being accessed on the nine colorful and huge Apple computers in the Media Center.   10 years later I can, with certainty, tell you that we’ve done a 180 degree turn and I now spend most of my time dealing with technology, technology integration and information literacy and a small amount doing “library work”.  
As times change and technology enables greater access to resources it is important that the Media Center adapt to what student and teacher current needs are.  This helps to not only keep the media center relevent but to also keep student learning and research skills relevent.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Guest Post: Technology from a Teacher's Perspective

Today's guest post is written by high school Social Studies teacher, Tom DeGennaro.  Tom approached our Technology & Media Team and asked if he could write a post about how he uses technology in his classroom.  Below is his guest blog post.  You can also find Tom online on Twitter.

- - - - - - - - - -

I recently recieved a IPEVO 2 to use in my classroom this year but was not too excited to use the technology because of my limited experience with technology.   I graduated high school in 1983, right before the beginning of the PC craze.  We learned how to type on typewriters that you manually had set at the end of the page.  You had to correct your mistakes with an eraser pencil with a kind of broom on the end.   If you were lucky you would not rip the rice paper you used in the typewriter and have to start that page all over.  Then at the tail end of my undergrad studies, we got to take computer courses at GVSC.  I took a class call BASIC computers thinking it was a course on how to use the computer, you know, simple things like how to turn a computer on.  NOPE.  It was a course on how to write B.A.S.I.C. computer programs (I am still not sure what that means.) So I set in a classroom with 30 "nerdy" looking guys with pocket protectors and filled out my "go to" sheets to communicate with computers.  After that class I did not want anything to do with computers or technology. 

While in graduate school I bought my first laptop with an early edition of Windows.  It was a new revelation.  You could make spelling mistakes and correct them instantly.  WOW!  (Something I am doing as I type this.)  But beyond using the computer for word processing I did not have much use for it.  But since I started teaching I have become more and more familiar with more uses.  I now use email, instant messaging, PowerPoint, video maker, spreadsheets, and many other programs.  I can even buy my baseball cards on the computer.  So I have become more comfortable with technology but still am weary when learning new things.  But I am here to tell ya, you can teach an old dog new tricks.

The IPEVO is evidence of that.  I noticed with the contraption you had to download the software.  I thought "ya right like I can do that."  My five year old can do it but I cannot.  But it was easy.  I just put it into the disc drive and it loaded all by itself.  Next I thought what would I use this for?  But I use it almost every day to look at different historical documents with the whole class or to look at charts and graphs to make sure kids know how to read those things.  It has been a wonderful addition to my classroom.  And I did not have to ask anybody to show me how to use the darn thing. 

So I guess what I am trying to say is don't be intimidated by technology use it.  Try out new programs and put them into your teaching tool chest to help the students to become life long learners.  I do ask one favor, can anybody show me how to use my cell phone?  Na, I ask my five year old.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Quick Tech Tips

Quick Tech Tips

  • Can’t Print from Infinite Campus?
    • Try using Mozilla Firefox as your web browser. Infinite Campus works best when you are using it in Mozilla Firefox rather than Internet Explorer or Google Chrome. All you need to do is open up a new Mozilla Firefox window and go to, then go to Infinite Campus as you usually do from RebelNet.

  • Need to add a printer?
    • If you are using a district windows device your homepage will have an icon on it labeled ‘add a printer’. This will take you to a webpage that has all of the supported printers listed on it. Select the printer you need and click connect.
    • If you are using a different device please contact a member of the tech team for your printing options. 

  • Microsoft Office Upgrade
    • As you may have noticed all of our windows devices have had Microsoft Office upgraded to the 2007 version.  Almost everything you create in Microsoft Office is able to be uploaded into your Google Drive so you can access it anywhere as long as you’re online. 
    • If you are still having trouble navigating in the ‘newer’ version of Microsoft Office browse through these online PDF files I found (must be authenticated if you are in the district) or search what you are looking for on youtube.
    • Word
    • Powerpoint
    • Excel

  • Elementary Wednesdays 
    • Just a reminder that each Wednesday Jesse and Jason will be stationed at each of the elementary buildings. If you are in need of support please email them to schedule a time on Wednesday or anytime. 
    • Also, because the tech team is around the district most of the work day email is the best method to get ahold of us.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Rebel U 2012: Guest Post

This a post in a series about Rebel U 2012.

As part of the Rebel U 2012 evaluation, we asked participants if they were willing to be a guest blogger on our Godfrey-Lee Technology & Media blog.  We were not only interested in hearing (and sharing) first hand accounts from attendees and presenters, but also introducing some teachers to publicly posting content online for the first time and building an online presence.

Today's guest post is written by 7th Language Arts teacher, Alissa Huggins.  You can find Alissa online on Twitter.

This year, I presented in two Rebel U sessions. Last year, I filled in for someone, so this was my first year designing and presenting my own material. One of the best things about Rebel U is that the sessions are developed by teachers, for teachers. That makes the designing of a session very simple. My two main focuses were valuable discussion and TIME - particularly for my Google Sites session. I could have filled up two hours for that session, but it gave me a great springboard to help colleagues after Rebel U was over. The session based on Project Based Learning and the Common Core. It was awesome to discuss how teachers already use project-based learning in their classrooms; our colleagues are such a wealth of knowledge and I think it's such an amazing gift that we are able to share with each other at Rebel U. It's definitely the most beneficial professional development I have ever participated in.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

KISD Media Resources for GLPS Teachers

The REMC8 Kent ISD Media Center has resources available to help supplement your curriculum needs.  Many of these resources are free to use and can sometimes provide access to resources that are not currently available in the district.  Some of the resources they have available are:
  • Recorded and digital media (a great alternative Learn360 or United Streaming!)
  • Laminating services
  • Die-cutting room for visual aids/bulletin boards
  • Many other services!
In order to utilize some of these services though (especially the digital media), a client code is required.  If you do not already have your client code, please contact Sarah Wood.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Power of Information V.1

  In this series we will look at great resources available through the internet.  They may consist of online databases, websites, e-books, etc.  Today we are going to look at a database offered through the Kent District Library and The Grand Rapids Public library systems called Biography InContext.  You will need to have an active library card to use this tool, so get off your butt and get one because without one you’re truly missing out on a ton of amazing information tools.

Biography InContext, as you may have guessed, is a biographical database where you can search for biographical information on any popular figure.  What you may not have known is how comprehensive the information is on this database.   From reference books, newspapers and magazine articles to videos, interviews and Text to Speech read-alouds, Biography InContext is more than just an overview it’s one stop shopping for biographical information.  

Take a look at this video to find out more about how to use this amazing tool.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...