Archive for May, 2008

Moon, Mars and Beyond!

Posted on May 29, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

by Tim Van Heule

5… 4… 3… 2… 1… Blast off!

The third grade students in Mrs. Presnell’s class at Berea Elementary School were successful on Wednesday, May 28, 2008 in their e-Mission: Moon, Mars and Beyond!

The Moon, Mars and Beyond! mission engages students in a live simulation. Students are a group of scientists/astronauts working to find a disabled spacecraft somewhere in the solar system.

Students were broken up into six teams; five of the teams had three participants, all with a different role – Cargo Specialists, Navigation Specialists, and Transmission Specialists, and the last team was the Communications Team.

Cargo Specialists had to calculate the amount of food, water, and oxygen that would be needed to reach the lost spacecraft. Navigation Specialists had to plot unidentified objects on a grid using X,Y coordinates. The Transmission Specialists decoded messages that helped to identify which of the unidentified objects was actually the disabled spacecraft. Lastly, the Communications Team was responsible for relaying the findings from each of the teams back to Mission Control at the Challenger Learning Center.

The students were able to locate the disabled spacecraft, saving the lives of the crew on board.

Mrs. Presnell’s class worked diligently and enjoyed the opportunity, as was apparent in the debriefing session that followed as the students discussed their roles and responsibilities, what they liked the most about their assigned role, and what was the most challenging aspect of that role.

Live simulation through the use of videoconferencing is a great project-based learning opportunity, benefiting the students as they apply their knowledge gained in the classroom to real life.

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Videoconferencing in the Classroom

Posted on May 9, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

by Tim Van Heule
Coordinator of Distance Learning

This post is also available on GCSDL, the blog for Distance Learning in Greenville County.

Collaboration isn’t always easy.

Collaboration between two classes with the same content isn’t always easy either.

Collaboration between two classes with the same content from different schools really isn’t easy at all… or is it?

Recently the Greenville News ran an article about some of the collaborative efforts that are being realized within the district in our foreign language classrooms. The article, Virtual Classroom Connects Blue Ridge, Hillcrest, focused on two of our schools that are using videoconferencing in an effort to provide Latin to students in a school that does not have a Latin teacher. The article also mentioned the efforts of two of our other schools that are doing the same thing with a German class.

These opportunities are made possible with our Tandberg 770 MXP units. Each classroom that is participating in these opportunities has one of these units. The camera can be controlled by either the class that is receiving, or the class that is presenting – including the options to pan and zoom. The external microphone is highly sensitive and makes the two-way verbal communication possible. We have been very pleased with these solutions that are offered by Tandberg.

Is this limited to foreign language classrooms? Absolutely not, in the coming weeks one of our third grade classrooms will be involved in a videoconferencing activity, e-Mission: Moon, Mars and Beyond! Our students will participate in this exciting program that focuses on math and science skills with the Challenger Learning Center in Kentucky.

Videoconferencing is a great way to bring students together from across the county, and even from across the country. One of goals for the 2008-2009 school year is to increase the videoconferencing opportunities that are available to our students.

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GCast – An easy to use podcasting site

Posted on May 9, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

by Cathy Arnold

Podcasting is a great idea…but let’s face it…for the average teacher (and me!), it can be a little intimidating! RSS feeds, MP3…sounds hard! However, as I was reading my November Learning News today, I read the short clip on GCast and I thought “what the heck…I’ll try it.” Wow was it easy to use and what a wonderful and easy way to communicate with your parents, community, showcase your students and most importantly enhance their learning. I myself created a short (and not so interesting) podcast to try it out. Click here to listen. WARNING…it’s not that great! 🙂 …and there are many many more educational ways to use a podcast than the one’s I mentioned in the audio. Be creative…be motivating…I think your students will like it.

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Musopen! Copyright Free Music

Posted on May 2, 2008. Filed under: Elementary School, English/Language Arts, General, High School, Instructional Coaches, Middle School, Teachers | Tags: |

by Tim Cushman

MusOpen! (www.musopen.com) is a growing collection of online music, completely free of all copyright restrictions. MusOpen! is maintained by a non-profit organization with the express goal of “setting music free” by making recordings of sheet music in the public domain. In short, MusOpen! works with artists that are interested in making copyright-free music available to everyone. You can read more on the legal stuff here if you are the curious type.

The quality of the songs is surprisingly good (320kbps bit rate) and is available for streaming or download. Sheet music is also available for download and may be of interest to music teachers and students alike.

MusOpen! is “setting music free” as claimed, but it is hardly a large scale jailbreak. The collection is currently limited to roughly one hundred, classical performances. The sparse library is a bit disappointing, but the idea is innovative and has potential.

I am pleased to see sites like MusOpen popping up on the Internet. It is difficult to find no-cost, legal audio sources to direct students to as they create technology-based projects. You can read more about sources for multimedia in the classroom in a previous posting.

You may also have occasion to use a copyrighted work for instruction or in some way to promote your school. Copyright law still applies, regardless of your intentions. There are several good sources on the web for educating yourself on your legal limits of fair use. I found one good site here.

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