Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Play's the Thing: Using Scripts in the Classroom

My local library has fabulous resources. Yesterday I scored a stack of Plays Magazine, drama scripts for young people.

Occasionally our library goes through old magazines that have had poor circulation and makes them available for patrons to take for free. Recently stacks of business magazines were set out. These can be used for clip art projects, actual clipping and pasting with glue as opposed to the digital copy/paste but not anything I needed.

Then I saw a stack of Plays magazines! These are fabulous resources for and school drama class. Published monthly, each edition includes eight to ten scripts arranged according to grade level. Some scripts are modifications of classics works and others are simply dramatic stories. When appropriate, staging direction, costuming and props are described.

Even if students do not put on a full scale performance, reading scripts in a round table setting is a great way to engage and develop reading skills. Drama encourages students to identify a character's emotion and motives, developing empathy. Students become creative participants instead of passive readers.

By combining video technology, students can easily share their creativity with a larger audience. And the more students engage actual scripts, the better they will become at planning and writing their own stories. Stop motion, animation or puppet shows are all creative ways students can demonstrate critical reading skills.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Build A Time Line

Timelines are for more than history class, they allow students to create a graphical representation of related events in sequential order. Timeline is a great web tool to use available from Read, Write, Think.

Projects are saved and loaded from personal files so there is no need for student accounts. Printouts are also available or students can email the finished time line to their teacher. The interface is simple to use.

One option would be to have students combine time lines into one longer series of events. Another idea would be for students to sequence major events in a story. They could also document their progress on a particular project. Science labs could document progress over time.

Students could list step by step instructions for completing a task. Another application would be planning a vacation or perhaps a multi-course meal. Anything that needs placed into sequential order would work well.

Timeline does require Adobe Flash, so it does not work well on mobile devices.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other

K5 can make a game by drawing items that begin with certain letters and one item that doesn't.

This week the kindergarten class is using TechnoKids to write a letter of the alphabet, then draw items that begin with that letter. They will also draw one item that does NOT begin with that letter. Then students can try to figure out which item doesn't belong.

For this project, students could use the built in stamps or draw pictures from scratch. They were encouraged to use multiple colors and be creative. This was a nice project to photograph and send home through Homeroom so that students could quiz their parents.

In case you can't figure it out, the penguin does not belong in this student's drawing.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Book Review: Yellowstone Guidebooks

Sometimes the best part about a road trip is the planning. Trying to decide what sites to see, where to stay and how to get there fuels the anticipation.

After a trip to Yellowstone National Park two summers ago, my little herpetologist has dreamed of becoming a park ranger, especially at our nation's premier park. And so we've begun planning a daddy/daughter road trip back. To assist in the planning efforts, I picked up four books from the library.

Explorer's Guides Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and Jackson Hole  was the most helpful of the four books. I appreciated the way the book included the area south of the parks. This book was well organized and used engaging narrative to explain what travelers can expect, both in summer and winter. The comprehensive index made it easy to navigate outside the regional narratives.

Insider's Guide Yellowstone & Grand Teton functioned well as a regional directory. Organized by cities, each section listed lodging, dining and entertainment options. Where appropriate, price ranges and websites were included. While not as engaging to sit down and read, this book provides a wealth of information to help plan activities along your route.

Frommer's Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks was the least helpful but only because it contained the most detailed information. Full of contact information, directions and pricing, This book would best be used while on the road. It's less of a planning guide and more of a travel guide. I will probably use their website more for planning purposes.

Best Easy Day Hikes Yellowstone would be my favorite book of the four. While not for everyone, one of our favorite activities are short day hikes, usually less than five miles. I appreciated how the hikes were ranked and grouped by region. This allowed me to eliminate hikes, narrowing the options quickly. The book was small enough to carry on hikes, but remember to take larger maps on any actual hikes.