Tuesday, January 29, 2013

An Adventure in Student Directed Project Based Learning

Good morning all!

I am really excited to share with you a new project here at the Atlantic Home School Assistance Program.  As you know, in our enrichment time we have been exploring and learning around the theme, National Treasure.  I have been trying to come up with a large project that the students can do sort of cooperatively this spring.  That is a little tricky, since we have 20 families, students of many ages and stages and you aren't all physically here at the same time.

A couple of years ago, you might remember The Castle.  We managed to build a HUGE castle in the classroom and each family became an expert in one aspect of medieval structure or life and added their section.  It just kept growing and expanding until it looked something like this:

So here's my big idea for this year... A HUGE map of the USA.  That's the first step.  A really large floor map of the country, but then, families or individual students will choose something that they want to become an expert about.  It could be a landmark, a National Park, a famous person, a building or institution.  The possibilities are endless and will be directed by the student's interests and passions.  Once they choose that special person, place, or thing to research, the end product will be some type of scale model that will be placed on the map.

All throughout this project, I will attempt to blog, tweet and do some video recording of the process.  I hope to make a short movie at the end.  

The first step is going to be deciding how to make an accurate floor size map of the USA.   In an attempt to make this an authentic experience, I plan to have students propose plans on how we should do this.  In the real world that adult live in, different firms make bids for jobs.  So, students can give me their ideas and proposals on how we should begin.  Once a process is chosen, then we will all work together to construct the map.  When the map is finished, it will be time to commence becoming experts in a narrower field.  The trick for me will be asking leading questions to quide learning without telling them how to do it.  If students take ownership, their learning will be higher.  I know it will be hard sometimes to keep my mouth shut.  I am confident that they will come up with better ideas than I have right now if I just let them and keep an open mind.

If you are interested in our progress, keep checking the blog.  Or, you can follow me on Twitter. (@mom43rs)  OR, you could also stop by and see our progress.  This is exciting!


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Using Pinterest in Education

How many of you are familiar with Pinterest?  How many of you are guilty of letting time slip away while you browsing pins and ideas?  I have to admit I am hooked.  It's a great place to find recipes, craft ideas, inspiration, wardrobe ideas, household gadgets and on and on and on and on.  I find it rather addictive at times. 

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Pinterest, it is basically an online bulletin board where you can save (or pin) things that interest you.  It makes it easier to re-find things that you discover on the web.  It also works as a type of social network, in that you can follow other pinners and see what they are pinning. 

Did you know that Pinterest is a great education tool as well?  There are many pinners out there pinning great resources for teachers of all kinds.  It can actually be a little overwhelming to start with.  I have found a few ways that make finding and pinning teaching ideas a little less time consuming. 

First, it has been helpful to me to follow a few teachers on Pinterest.  That happened accidentally, I must admit.  I have a couple of crafty friends I follow who also happen to be teachers.  Their educational pins started popping up and I started repinning some of them on a board I called, Education Ideas.  (pretty generic and boring name, I know)

Then, I found out through our district's technology guru, that Tina Wahlert, the education consultant for Green Hills AEA, has quite a following on Pinterest.  You can find a link to her boards here.  Tina has 127 boards as of today, with over 10,000 pins.  She has over 5,000 followers and most of her boards are very specific to education.  You might want to browse through some of them.  It is an amazing resource!

So, with a wee bit of inspiration from Tina, I started doing a little bit of an overhaul to my own Pinterest boards.  I now have 4 of them for education.  (and none of them are named Education Ideas any more)  I am not anywhere near as inspirational as Tina, but I am trying to collect some things that you may be able to use in your homeschooling.  A link to my Pinterest boards is here.  If you are already on Pinterest yourself, you can repin interesting ideas to your own boards, or follow me if you want to see what I am pinning.  If you prefer to stay away from the addiction, you can always bookmark pages or ideas that you find interesting.

I have been having fun finding lists of great books for children, websites that list great iPad Apps, art projects, math and science ideas and online storybooks to name a few.  When you have a few spare moments, take some time to browse around and get some new inspiration.  Who knows, you may find just the thing you need to spice up the lesson plans this week.  You may even stumble across a great new recipe for supper along the way ;-)

Happy Pinning,


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy 2013 to all of you!  Hope you had a great holiday and are excited to get back into the swing of school in each of your homes.  I don't know if you have made any resolutions.  I have decided that one of mine is to make better use of this blog.  Feel free to hold me accountable!

In December HSAP students were quite busy illustrating the poem Twas the Night Before Christmas, by Clement C. Moore.  We read the poem and then analyzed some of the artwork of Thomas Nast, who provided illustrations for this famous poem annually for years in Harper's Weekly.  I thought you might enjoy seeing some of the artwork done by our HSAP students.

In addition, Nate M. and Anna I. both made an iMovie in the month of December.  A link to each movie is found below if you are interested in viewing either of those movies.

Nate's iMovie

Anna's iMovie

Hope you enjoy these!  See you soon.