Are you interested in having students learn outdoors--beyond the classroom walls? The Bay Area’s diverse ecological landscape is an ideal place for students to develop their understanding of the environment, its importance to our lives and our effects upon it.
Join SFUSD and the San Francisco Science, Sustainability, Stewardship (4S) Collaborative as they host the first Ecoliteracy Conference For All, focusing on environmental and sustainability education. The conference is on Saturday, May 4, 2013 from 10am-2pm at James Lick Middle School in San Francisco. SFUSD and other local teachers, grades Pre-K-12, are invited to register for the event.
Free, hour-long workshops will be presented by teachers and environmental education experts from organizations including the Lawrence Hall of Science, Aquarium of the Bay, Exploratorium, PEAK, Nature Bridge and California Academy of Sciences. Explore the reality of plastics and recycling, learn how to identify low- or no-cost energy saving behaviors, gain a better understanding of the carbon cycle and discover holistic place-based approaches to developing ecoliterate students. The conference will also feature a recorded performance of a student-written and performed opera created in partnership with the San Francisco Opera’s ARIA Network Program.
Creating and reading a timeline is a skill introduced in elementary grades. For a second grader her first timeline might be autobiographical, which is a good way for students to begin understanding what a timeline is - a linear graphic representation of major events in chronological order. Students are exposed to more timelines as they study historical events, biographies, and cultural trends. The information can seem like a cluster of dates and facts. But delve deeper and timelines reveal relationships between sequences of events to show shifts and changes from one occurrence to the next.
Turning the timeline format from pencil to digital is easy with online timeline generators. They make learning interactive, engaging, and provide students another way to report research information.
Capzles is a free timeline creation tool that’s fairly easy to use. It allows users to insert videos, music, blogs, photos, and documents to create a multimedia timeline or story.
Timetoast allows users to create a timeline in minutes. The look of the digital timeline is similar to a traditional drawn timeline - the layout is simple. Images and text can accompany each mark on the timeline. This allows users to include more information for explanations. The format can also be converted from timeline to a text version - dividing the information as a table.
Tips for starting a timeline:
Choose an event, process, or trend that has a strong chronological sequence.
Gather research information.
Write a short description of each event.
Include occurrences leading up to significant events.
In the 1950s, Art Clokey created beloved claymation character Gumby and sidekick Pokey for a stop motion claymation television series that ran in the 50s and 60s. Since then, stop motion animation has made it to the big screen with movies like Wallace & Gromit and Fantastic Mr. Fox. Can this digital art form make it to the elementary classroom? The answer is an emphatic yes! Making a stop motion animation is now easier than ever. All it takes is a digital camera, simple art materials, and editing software such as iMovie or Windows Movie Maker. JellyCam by TicklyPictures.com is a free online stop motion maker that’s simple and easy to use. For the iPad, an app called myCreate by iCreate to Educate is a great starter for making stop motion animation.
One of the major reasons stop motion animation is worth trying with students is because it’s a lot of creative fun yet requires conceptual thinking. It’s “undercover learning” - students are so engaged they don’t know they’re learning. Planning the animation challenges students to visually lay out a scene frame by frame so the viewer understands the story or concept as it unfolds. Writing also becomes more meaningful since every animation starts with a script.
With stop motion, figurines, crafts, or any hands-on materials can be used to tell stories, recreate a historical event, or explain a science concept such as the life cycle of an organism or transformation of a solid to liquid to gas.
It’s a way for students to take full control of their learning and communicate a concept in an artistic way. It may not be for everyone since it takes time, patience, collaboration and hundreds of frame shots for a one-minute piece. But it may be the one multimedia project that makes a difference for the student who discovers the love for creating artistically and digitally.
Check out Pea Soup (time to get serious), one of the winning clips from Science Centre Singapore's stop motion animation competition Scinemation 2011, and see how a team of students visually expressed climate change.
Most of us talk about the weather at least once a day. It affects us in many ways.Weather guides the way we dress, what we do, and in some cases, how we feel. We’re lucky here in the Bay Area that we don’t get a lot of variation on weather conditions. When it rains or thunderstorms we pay attention. A good way to take advantage of the weather is to explore it! Here are five sites that have lessons, activities, and videos to teach weather. For more multimedia resources check out Five K-5 Resources to Explore Weather.
Weather Watch includes activities for students to observe, investigate, gather and analyze data on weather. Have students make wind vanes, anemometers, rain gauge and other tools used to measure and observe weather conditions.
National Geographic Education
This collection hosts a beautiful photo gallery and videos of extreme weather conditions on earth and in the solar system. Vocabulary and background information on tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, and floods help students understand the different types of weather conditions and forces of nature we experience on our planet.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
This site features an entire section on weather and atmosphere. There is a collection of educational lessons on daily weather observations, global and local weather patterns and systems, severe weather and weather safety.
Have you ever wanted to know how a weather reporter forecasts the weather? Find out by watching this video. SciJinks is a kid-friendly site from NASA and NOAA that focuses on explaining weather conditions using interactives,satellite videos, and includes games and weather jokes. The site is targeted to middle schoolers but upper elementary school students will find it informative and entertaining.
Weather Wiz Kids
This is another kid-friendly site created by a meterologist who has a passion for weather. A robust collection of experiments, kid-friendly explanations, games, and jokes for the budding meteorologist and weather-curious.
Today, science demands sophisticated skills not generally taught as part of standard science curricula. Ideally, classroom instructional strategies in the sciences should teach a scientific body of knowledge and cultivate other abilities required for the practice and process of science. There are many connections between the skills used for media making and those required for scientists. For this reason, student media-making projects are an excellent way to introduce these 21st century proficiencies, many of which are also recognized in the Common Core Content Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in Science.
For example,both scientists and media makers must collaborate with colleagues, be able to make critical and focused observations, use technology for data collection and analysis, understand and evaluate information and processes and create multimedia content to communicate their idea. (see Media Making in the Science Classroom for more on this topic).
How do we go about coaching our students to create meaningful science-based media that enhances their own understanding of a topic as well as promotes understanding by others?
One answer is to scaffold media making projects so that the desired outcomes are reached. We have polled our KQED science colleagues to break down the process of scientific storytelling and to guide the development of the following resources:
Choosing Content - how do you choose the right subject for your media project? Explore the five general categories that science journalism reports fall into.
Choosing Your Media Format - once you’ve decided on the story you want to tell, how will you decide to tell it? Use this chart to determine what type of media will be best to use to communicate your story.
Choosing Equipment - you’ve got your story and type of media decided, the final step before producing your piece is to find the equipment and software that fits your needs. This document guides you through some options based upon the type of media you are creating as well as your budget and technical needs.
Rubrics - finally, it is important that you are very clear with students on what is expected of them. Adjust these rubric templates so that they communicate your goals for slideshow/video projects and/or mapping projects.
These documents are just a sampling of all the resources available to assist you in leading media making projects in your science classroom. Additionally, be sure to check out:
Creating User-Generated Media Workshop - on Teachers’ Domain (free registration required); This workshop shows teachers how to use Teachers' Domain media to produce their own videos, and then encourages them to think about how they will organize a similar experience for students.
Building Video Literacy - on Teachers’ Domain; explore strategies for teaching students about how videos are created to help them make smart decisions when creating their own media
Building Blocks - on Teachers’ Domain; search the term “building blocks” to find 99 pieces of media you and your students can download, share and remix into new media projects (select Download, Share, & Remix on the Permitted Use filter)
KQED Education and Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) are working together to present a workshop at this year’s California Science Education Conference on October 19 - 21 in San Jose. We'll introduce open-ended, creative activities that explore K-2 students’ understanding of physical science and math concepts in structures they see everyday, such as buildings, playgrounds, and bridges. Workshop participants will use two and three-dimensional shapes to design, construct, test and evaluate their own structures.
We’ll introduce online PBS videos that explain the kinds of shapes used to build strong structures or what it takes to be a civil engineer. We'll also watch how Curious George solves a problem by constructing a toothpick bridge! By exploring the science of structures in the classroom, educators can keep young children’s fascination with building and construction alive.
Use this slideshow of different man-made structures as a way to introduce children to identifying geometric shapes all around them. Try the dowel design and toothpick/marshmallow activities from LHS’s ‘Build It! Festival’ guide to explore strength and stability. For more challenging activities check out PBS's Design Squad Nation's activities on structures. Finally, here is a list of children’s books that would go hand-in-hand with all of these lessons!
If you’re attending the conference this year, come join us on Friday afternoon at 1 pm for ‘Shapes, Strength, & Stability: Bringing Out the Builder in All of Us’.
Ellen Blinderman (right) guides Linnea Burnett on a geometry activity using pattern blocks.
As the Early Childhood Coordinator at Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) in Berkeley, Ellen Blinderman has been inspiring educators and students to love science, engineering, and math for the past 22 years, but describes herself as a ‘reluctant tech-user’.
Through a collaboration with KQED Education, Contra Costa County Office of Education and LHS, at a STEM workshop titled, ‘Shape, Strength, and Stability: Bringing Out the Builder in All of Us’, Ellen was able to explore the use of technology and creating media to enrich academic content.
During the workshop, educators had opportunities to design, construct, test, evaluate structures using two and three-dimensional shapes with various materials such as toothpicks, newspapers, and dowels. Using mobile devices to take snapshots of their findings, educators created a narrated slideshow using iMovie or MovieMaker to tell their story. Ellen explained, “We all became engineers and applied our knowledge of shape, strength,and stability to design and construct large structures out of newspaper dowels. This project gave teachers the opportunity to solve problems and work together as they discussed ideas and tried solutions, which are real life practices in STEM career fields. During this process, teachers also tapped into their creativity and imagination, which are vitally important in scientific and technological innovation.”
After successfully creating her first narrated slideshow, Ellen shares her perspective on using media and creating media in this brief interview.
Q:What was it like to create your first narrated slideshow? Ellen: It was fast and fun, but the best part was how empowering it was! Even though the slide show I made was very basic, I felt proud of myself for learning a new skill and creating a finished product. I appreciated the supportive learning environment. Nancy, from KQED, walked us through the steps of using iMovie, and helped with any questions that came up. I loved seeing all the different ways people chose to tell their stories, and was inspired by the unique talents and individual expression of each slideshow.
Q:How do you feel about using technology in your professional work? Ellen: I want to embrace more technology in my personal and professional life, but tend not to be motivated to figure it out on my own. I prefer a class or one-on-one instruction to encourage me through the learning process and provide tech support. I believe that as an educator, I need to develop my technology skills or I risk becoming a dinosaur.
Q:What benefit does media-making have in your work? Ellen:I love the idea of taking photos of my students throughout an investigation to tell the story of the group's collective learning adventure and to validate each child's contributions.
Q:You used a couple of videos from PBS LearningMedia to support science concepts. How has using media influenced your work? Ellen: At the workshop, I discovered what an amazing resource PBS Learning Media is! Teachers can find videos, photos, and classroom activities for any age group on a HUGE selection of subjects. As an early childhood science specialist, I am excited to incorporate PBS media (and media from other sources) into the curriculum at The Lawrence Hall of Science. I've become a big Curious George and Sid the Science Kid fan. I can use these programs to strengthen and enhance hands-on classroom experiences, using them to spark curiosity, promote scientific practices, and help students make connections between their experiences and the bigger world. With the tips and strategies I gained at the KQED workshop, I know how to go beyond having students simply passively watch videos, to keep them actively engaged and focused during the viewing.
All participants in the 2-day workshop were first-timers with creating narrated slideshows. All were successful and had a great time. Below is participating Kindergarten teacher, Lynn Alamillo’s narrated slideshow:
There was a buzz in the room even before the workshop started - an extra level of excitement filled the air. Congressman George Miller, Representing the 7th District in CA, stopped by for a visit. He briefly addressed the educators on the importance of STEM education and commended their commitment to strengthening their professional practice. His inspiring speech was a great way to start the workshop!
Science Lab in San Mateo County - a collaborative partnership between KQED Education, STEM Center of San Mateo County Office of Education, and Marine Science Institute.
Just a few weeks before the start of another school year, 22 teachers across San Mateo County gathered at Marine Science Institute, located in Redwood City. This group of Pre-K to 3rd grade teachers registered for KQED Science Lab and were excited to plunge into four days of professional development.
The teachers came dressed in layers for unexpected Bay Area weather and sat outdoors overlooking the San Francisco Bay Estuary. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. The warmth of the sun, clear blue skies and the occasional sighting of brown pelicans gliding above the shores, set the stage for a jam-packed day of learning about marine science. Sharing the space with the teachers that morning were 50 young children participating in the Shoreside program. Both teachers and children were on a mission to learn from the bay, find cool critters and have fun.
Building partnerships with local science museums, such as California Academy of Sciences and Lindsay Wildlife Museum, can add great value to the development of meaningful educational programs. As the project coordinator of Science Lab, I enjoy collaborating with museum education specialists to construct educational content for educator trainings. My role is to provide educators training on shooting and editing video using Flip camcorders to create content for the classroom and introduce PBS and KQED science media resources to enhance science curricula. The science museum education staff and/or STEM coordinators not only offer educational strategies to integrate science skills and processes but also offer the educators access to the animals and exhibits in the museum. I believe the collaboration is what makes Science Lab a strong and unique program for educators.
Connie Loosli, Education Manager at Lindsay Wildlife Museum, also shares my views. “I am a big believer in sharing knowledge and skills with my colleagues. Therefore, I really appreciate a good partnership between organizations with similar goals. This was definitely the case with the professional development partnership between KQED, Contra Costa County Office of Education and Lindsay Wildlife Museum education department. I personally learned so much about using media and technology... I like to feel that my contribution of science content and pedagogy is also beneficial to the participants...Our teacher participants were enthusiastic and came ready to expand their skills and expertise. Thanks to KQED for the opportunity to be part of this.”
Venturing out of the classroom and learning on-site at a museum allows educators to experience science concepts up close and in person. Educators get just as excited as their students do when they are inches away from turkey vultures and gray foxes. With an experiential approach to learning, educators are more engaged and motivated to explore ideas based on their interests.
The most recent cohort of K-3 educators from Contra Costa County was able to use the Lindsay Wildlife Museum as their place of study. Teachers worked in teams to observe, inquire, and film animals. Alexandra and Mary, two third grade teachers from Mt. Diablo school district, were fascinated by the Great Horned Owl and wanted to research its adaptations for their project. They used PBS LearningMedia videos on owls to support their research, interviewed Lindsay Wildlife Museum staff, and used the Flip camcorder to create their final digital media projects. Check out their final project below. Just like learning in the classroom, professional development for educators happens best with purposeful and engaging hands-on experiences.
KQED Teacher Tech Trainings are a series of free workshops offered to K-5 teachers interested in learning how to use digital media tools to enhance science learning. The trainings are designed to focus on a specific digital media tool, such as slideshow or audio recording, and build the confidence of educators to use and create multimedia projects in their classrooms. Many participants walk in to workshops with very little experience integrating technology and learning. By the end of the second class, teachers walk away impressed with what they learned and proud of what they produced.
“Wow! I learned how to create a PowerPoint in 2 days. This technology seemed so hard just a few days ago. Now I feel I can really use this technology in the classroom.” - Participant in TTT series one.
In two Saturdays a group of teachers learned how to create a narrated slideshow using iMovie and Windows Movie Maker. Educators examined how images, narrative, and voice weave together to produce engaging and informative content. Participants watched an example of a science-related narrated slideshow produced by KQED QUEST titled Mud Snails featuring an invasive species from Japan affecting Bay Area shorelines. This slideshow demonstrates the role images and narration play in explaining science information effectively and leaves you curiously wanting to know more. Take a look at QUEST’s segment on mud snails:
Using slideshows in class can add a new dimension to lessons. As mentioned above, it can help teachers create their own content for teaching, and older students can even create their own multimedia project as a means to digitally express their learning.
To start planning narrated slideshows in your classroom, download the script template and other tips to implement multimedia projects from our Media-Making Toolkit. Or if you're interested in joining KQED Education in a future workshop, visit KQED ScienceLab for a schedule.
Take a peek at some of our educators' finished projects in our playlist. Below, you can see Monina address 3rd grade life science content standard on biomes. Helen's interactive slideshow engages her first graders' inquiry of balance. Minda ties in the study of bison to spark interest on an upcoming social studies unit on Native American history. Anne provides a visual connection for her speech class who are interested in dinosaurs and fossils. Mimi demonstrates the science behind breath and voice for her music class. Sylvia shows her kindergarteners the everyday items that comes from a tree. Laurie looks at the various kinds of penguins for K-2 science students.
There are seven videos in this series although you can only see one player. The single player hosts all seven videos (thank you YouTube playlist). To access the other six videos, you must click on the text that reads "Playlist" on the bottom left corner of the video player.