Sister finished a written book report about “China’s Bravest Girl” tonight, which is a book describing the legend of Mulan on which the Disney movie was based. Since mom and I went to China last month, our kids have been very interested to learn more about China and Chinese culture. This was an excellent book, and sister recorded her book report as an enhanced podcast this evening using Garageband. I also tried posting a QuickTime movie version of this to TeacherTube, but the synchronization timing got off in the uploaded version, so I deleted it. I’ve added this as the 12th example in the “Great Book Stories” project.
Nice work sister! If you have feedback for sister on her project you can either leave it here, or on the .Mac podcast page for her report.
Brother has an assignment for social studies in school that is due November 6th. The assignment is to create a salt map of the United States, showing the topographical relief. I’m guessing this is mainly the Rocky and Appalachian mountains, but we haven’t actually seen the assignment sheet yet so I’m not sure. I remember fourth graders at my 2nd elementary school in Lubbock created salt maps for the regions of Texas, so I guess this must be sort of a fourth grade rite of passage. I searched for salt map pictures on Flickr tonight but couldn’t find any, but I did find these salt maps students in Wisconsin made of explorer routes. I can see there is some value in actually creating a physical representation of the U.S. geography in a salt map, but I’m guessing this project is one of those that ends up with the parent doing more of the work and perhaps more of the learning than the child. Perhaps I’m just being cynical and should have a better attitude. I am generally predisposed to NOT like classroom assignments where all the students are creating a product that looks essentially the same. Those types of assignments are very common in school, I think they are often easier to grade, but I think they can be less engaging and more boring since the involve little choice on the part of the student and therefore little buy-in. I would rather see an assignment which is differentiated and gives students some choices.I’m wondering if the goal of the assignment is to better understand U.S. topography, if brother could learn how to give a virtual tour of major U.S. landforms using Google Earth? Then we could use a screencasting program (I recently purchased iShowU) so he could record a movie of his virtual tour. I’m thinking that if he can give a narrated tour of U.S. topography, flying around within Google Earth and narrating what we’re seeing on this “virtual tour,” that would be a more authentic assessment of brother’s knowledge in this area. I think he’d learn more exploring U.S. geography via Google Earth than just making a salt map. I am going to ask his teacher about this and see if she’d support this alternative assessment idea. I’m not sure if his teachers know about and use Google Earth currently, so this could be a good way for brother to both demonstrate his knowledge, learn with a powerful digital tool, and also teach others in his class (including his teachers) about Google Earth and how it can be used for learning.
We have created this family learning blog to provide a space to share many of the things about which we are learning and thinking. Since our local public school does not currently permit student blogging of any kind, and we want to demonstrate the positive potential of blogging to improve student reading and writing skills, creating a family learning blog makes sense. If we are practicing our reading and writing on a daily basis, research as well as common sense says that we are going to improve our skills! Plus, this is a great way to share our ideas and interact with our family and friends. Our kids need the traditional as well as digital literacy skills which can be developed through frequent blog reading and writing TODAY. We’re not waiting for our neighborhood school to change its policy on student blogging: We’re starting NOW.Please come back and visit our blog often. Feel free leave us positive and helpful comments! The images from our homepage header image are from my Signs 2007 Flickr set.