I haven’t updated this blog in a long time. I used this blog to share the projects my middle school students and I did over my eight years teaching middle school. However, last summer I took a position teaching film, media and English at Blair High School. If you’re interested in what my current students and I are up to please CHECK OUT OUR NEW CLASS WEBSITE.
My 7th grade Reading students and I are featured in a recent article in Edutopia, “High Tech Reflection Strategies Make Learning Stick.” The article is about the power of getting students to honestly reflect on their learning using new technology tools, like weblogs and podcasts. Sam, one of my 8th grade students from last year, was also interviewed for the article. Sam is one of a few student bloggers from last year who have continued to blog on the blogs we set up in my Language Arts classroom.
Here’s a quote from the article from one of my current 7th grade students reflecting on how her attitude toward writing has changed this year: “Before I started this class, writing was my enemy, but now I like writing. Writing all this makes me feel that I know more.”
In other developments, my 7th grade Reading class is finishing up production on their claymation projects. Check out the first completed film from Anthony and Jonathan, “Super Dude and the Plot Diagram.” This week, students will complete their claymations, embed them into their blogs, and then write reflections about the whole process.
Here’s a short video we created last week as a way to review some vocabulary words. We have these same words, and a few more, posted in our classroom. This is the digital version of our classroom word wall.
Our after school stop-motion club, the Longfellow Ten, is continuing to churn out excellent short films about important literary terms. One of the best aspects of our club is experimentation. Practically every film is made in a new way. We’ve created stop-motion films this year using Windows Moviemaker, iMovie, PC’s and Macs, still images and video. We’ve used everything from clay, to old Lego characters, and now in this film shown above colored wax sticks. This week a few students are finishing production on our first human stop-motion film. Students have created their own songs to use as background music, as well as lots of sounds and tunes from the Freesound Project and ccmixter used with permission through Creative Commons. Basically, we’re just playing around.
The Longfellow Ten welcomes video submissions from other classrooms. Some 6th grade students in Massachusetts, calling themselves the Northern Contingent, have added some excellent films to the official LF10 website. If anyone wants to join up, please let us know. Even if you just want to make one movie. We would love to have more students from across the globe be part of the LF10, and help us in our mission to spread knowledge of important literary terms through absurd stop-motion films!
My middle school students and I share many of the projects we do in class via the World Wide Web. (check out the new LF10 Video!) Opening up the classroom and sharing student work is one of my favorite parts of teaching. In this new age we live in, it’s important to model appropriate ways of sharing content online. Students become more motivated when their work is shared online. The Internet is our new classroom bulletin board.
Last week, I compiled some of the stats from our various projects over 2008 into an annual report as part of Dan Meyer‘s Annual Report challenge. I collected as much data as I could on the projects my students and I worked on in 2008. Here are some highlights: Our collective hit count for our various projects in 2008 was over 40,000. We collaborated with over 900 k-12 students from across the globe on different projects. There were over 400 blog posts written about our different projects on technorati.com. We also created tons of content: more than a hundred blogs, over 50 movies, 2 full-length hip-hop albums, published two books, and recorded many podcasts.
Walking into my room this morning, I couldn’t help but notice the smell of pancakes and bacon wafting through the hallway. Mr. Stelzner, aka Cherry Valence, was cooking breakfast for his 8th grade “Nobel Laureate” students.
Chocolate chip pancakes, red and green pepper eggs, English muffins and crispy turkey bacon. Stelzner, as we call him, came in an hour early to cook up this feast using the Home Economics classroom down the hall. He even did the dishes. He then carefully wrapped tin foil over the plates, folded the napkins, and carried it all back to his room. All before the bell rang at 7:35 am!
I love being a teacher. I get to hang out with kids all day, and work with people like Mr. Stelzner.