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.
A group of educators recently completed a KQED workshop, stop motion animation in the elementary classroom. Our focus was on creating stop motion animation films to demonstrate scientific concepts and transformations. While some teachers used animation to represent plant growth and weather patterns, others created videos for use in other subject areas, such as Spanish and video production classes.
Stop motion animation is an artistic activity that can be applied to many subject areas, and is a hands-on way to introduce students to how animation and films are created. It also requires a low level of technology and can be done simply using digital cameras or mobile phone cameras, and free editing software.
Check out our teachers' videos below, and send an email to ArtsEd@KQED.org to learn about future educator workshops on stop motion animation.
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.
What does the start of a new year bring besides resolutions? The beginning of another orbit of the Earth around the sun! Use this timely hook to explore the solar system. Not surprisingly, NASA has cornered the market on high-quality, free astronomy teaching resources. Here are just a few of our favorite NASA education sites.
NASA Solar System Education
A national team of educators and scientists worked together to create this one-stop shop for NASA solar system exploration education resources. Activities, background information, career exploration, lesson plans, experiments and mission details can be accessed by grade level, curriculum standard, mission or theme.
Do It Yourself Podcast
NASA's Do-It-Yourself Podcast activity sets the stage for students to host a show that features astronauts doing experiments on the International Space Station or NASA experts explaining scientific concepts. NASA provides a set of audio and video clips along with links to images and information about a STEM-related topic. Students can choose as many items as they want to include in a project and download them to their computer. Students can use the information provided or conduct their own research to write a script for an audio or video production.
NASA Kids’ Club
A new offering from NASA, the Kids’ Club features games, interactive activities, and images for students to explore, play, and learn from. At the center of the NASA Kids' Club is a set of games and interactive activities arranged on five skill levels. The activities range from simple things like guessing numbers in "Airplane High Low" to more difficult tasks like identifying planets based on some clues provided in prompts in "Go to the Head of the Solar System."
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.
K- 5 educators can connect learning with what is going on inside and out. Weather can be used in science and in english language arts or as a bridge between the two. Explore the phenomenon of weather with these 5 multimedia resources from PBS LearningMedia.
Lots to work with this resource. Students use daily observations, videos, and activities to learn about meteorology and the changing nature of weather. Students also identify weather events that are commonly reported in the news and discuss how weather affects lives.
In this interactive activity from the American Experience, students learn about the unexpected geology and weather-related challenges faced by Army road crews as they built over frozen earth and swampland in the midst of changing temperatures. Lots of great information about the challenges that weather can bring.
This video shows a 1st-grade teacher using the Internet to gather data for a lesson about weather. Observe how the teacher fosters critical thinking and cooperative learning skills. This can be used to begin a new lesson or as a professional development piece.
This video clip can be used to introduce students to a meteorologist, Howie Bluestein who is excited by all sorts of weather phenomena, particularly tornados, hurricanes, and other severe storms. This professor of meteorology, specializes in the observation and physical understanding of weather phenomena. Howie is also considered an expert "stormchaser," and has actually flown directly into the eyes of six different hurricanes.
A PBS LearningMedia favorite, use this animated poem from Between the Lions as a resource for bolstering vocabulary, understanding informational texts and for building on other foundational skills. At 18 seconds this rhyming poem can be a great jumping off point for many lessons.
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!
At teacher training workshops, the question always comes up, "What grade can you begin to teach students how to produce their own digital media?" Of course, this is a loaded question as there are several different types of media, each with its own set of learning curves. But, in general, I default to fourth grade as my response.
This past Spring, my perception shifted.
Monina Salazar, a 3rd Grade teacher at Live Oak Elementary School in San Ramon has raised the stakes and lowered what I thought was the age requirement for students to produce rich audio podcasts.
In this video, Monina describes how she teaches her students to create audio podcasts about biomes that explain a variety of ecosystems, referencing the climatic conditions along with the types of plants and animals that live there.
In her class, her students produced three different audio podcast assignments. They go through the process of researching and reading about specific biomes, writing a script that incorporates relevant sound effects and perhaps music to convey a sense of place and mood, research the internet for these sounds, and then they record their voice and edit and layer all of the sounds using Audacity.
Monina also reflects about the value added for integrating technology and multimedia, specifically media project assignments, into her teaching practice.
Monina's students use other great media formats for their projects like Google Presentation as well as develop individual websites that function as e-portfolios. To view some of this great work, go to her class website.