Thursday, October 21, 2010

Green Screen!!

With parent/teacher conferences behind us and Thanksgiving on the way, the Charter room has been busy with multimedia projects. Students were introduced to Prezi, a web based presentation tool with a map-like layout that allows users to zoom, add pictures, and move from slide to slide in a fun, interesting format. When presented on the classroom Smartboard, the presentations took on a futuristic look, with students able to interact with and move their slides using touch control. Their Prezis were titled, “30 Things about Me,” and each was encouraged to add their own personalities to the slide show via pictures, quotes, activities they found interesting. Presentations lasted for the majority of the week in Humanities, and students enjoyed watching and learning more about their classmates. .

Last week, they also worked on their “Humanity vs Inhumanity” video projects, where they worked in teams to uncover acts of humanity and inhumanity around the world. Filmed in a News-show format, students became reporters and news anchors as they uncovered information about topics that ranged from the Holocaust to animal abuse. After the research and filming were completed, students had to work on the MAC computers using professional video editing software to perfect their films, as well as add backgrounds onto the green screens. It took some time to get the hang of editing out the green and inserting a new background in its place, but all of them did a fantastic job! Some of the kids included a blooper reel and some even put commercials into their productions. We watched the videos in class and everyone was very proud of the work they had done! 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Busy Bees!

The fear of bees is one of the most common phobias suffered by children and adults alike. Whether it be the fear of the pain of a stinger, or the reaction to the sting, or maybe just the mystery of the insect itself, few people can stand stationary when a bee is poised to attack. It was with this knowledge, and the fact that I personally have had an irrational fear of bees for the majority of my life, that we set out to visit the Poy Sippi Apiary run by Reverend Lance Buccholtz.  The day was gorgeous, we couldn’t have asked for better fall weather. With temperatures in the 70’s and the sun shining brightly, everyone was excited to learn about the intriguing apis mellifera (honey bee). Students were greeted by a hooded figure covered head to toe in a khaki suit. His face was screened and hidden, his hands were buried beneath thick gloves, and his feet were in,  strangely enough, sandals. Everyone gasped, wondering if they too would have to don such an outfit in order to be around the bees. I was hoping someone would offer me one! After exiting the bus and making ourselves comfortable on haystacks and picnic tables, we unpacked our lunches and awaited our lesson. Mr. Buccholtz explained the basics of bee farming, and students were wowed by the sheer numbers of bees that  he cycles through in one short year. With a lifespan of only 6 weeks, on his small farm he goes through literally millions of bees, some of which never even leave the hive. He not only farms for honey, but also the byproducts of that the bees produce, such as beeswax, pollen, and propolis. Students were able to taste fresh bee pollen, hold a large disc made of wax, and view a queen cell. They learned that all of the bees are sisters, and that one bee is selected from each colony to become the queen.  They learned of the dangers of swarming, the best way to tell if a colony is healthy, and all of the heath benefits that come from bees and their byproducts. Afterwards, we were all able to taste some fresh, raw honey, with one lucky student even able to take a small jar home. As usual, the bus ride home was almost as much fun, with the students breaking into song and discussing their favorite parts of the trip. All in all, it wasn’t as scary as I thought, and even the students that also confessed to being afraid of bees said that they had an awesome time :)

Come Sail Away with Me!!

If you ask any student at Green Lake Global & Environmental Academy what their favorite field experience day is, I'll bet that the vast majority of them will say Sailing! Every year, students are taken down to the Green Lake Pilgrim Center for a comprehensive lesson on sailing and how to navigate on the water. They are taught how to put together a small sail boat, what the different parts are and how they are used, how to effectively sail, and what to do if they tip over. This year, you could almost taste the excitement in the air, both for the kids that had been on the trip the year before, and for the "newbies." After  the lesson and being outfitted with life vests, the kids were partnered up and set loose on the water. Smiles were all around, especially when one of the first groups tipped over and the other students noticed! I was excited, because about half way through the trip, I was able to go on a sail boat as well! It was my first time, and I was guided by a very experienced 8th grader. :) Seeing all of those happy faces, the look of accomplishment in their eyes, and the pride that they had in themselves and their classmates was truly a surreal experience. Kids that had been afraid the year before comforted those that were nervous this year, advice was thrown out over the water to capsized vessels instead of insults, and the camaraderie that built up between the students was remarkable. On the way home, students couldn't stop talking about the trip and how much fun it was. This was one of those bonding moments that really helped build friendships and brought the students closer together. :)