Thursday, May 28, 2009

See a Turkey Vulture and a Salamander

By James, Shane F., and Sean

Thursday, we had Ms. C. from the Wildlife Experience program. She will be visiting us five times before school is out and will share animals from North America. This is a complement to our science unit on Animal Adaptations.

We learned that a fly has a compound eye. That means it sees many of the same images at one time. Above is a picture of a fly's compound eye.

They are difficult to swat because they really see you coming.

She told us that snakes are reptiles, and that they shed their skin as they grow.

Here is the turkey vulture, the only bird in North America that can smell. It can smell something two miles away. It eats dead things off the ground. If you look closely at its right wing, you will notice it is deformed. He was injured when he got hit by a car. Luckily, someone called the Wildlife Experience group and they saved him. Its predators are bobcats and red tailed hawks. Because he had a hurt wing, he could not fly away and a predator could have killed him and eaten him.

The salamander is an amphibian that has holes on its body so it can breathe in water and on land. Interestingly enough, the salamander had tiger strips that were yellow and black. These beautiful stripes give it the name the tiger salamander. The tiger salamander had a long, lizard-like tail that the class got to stroke. The Wildlife Experience was fun and great for learning about animals from North America.

Have you ever seen these animals in the wild?

Do you know anything else about turkey vultures or salamanders?

If so, please comment!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Blogging Tips for Teachers

This week I will be teaching a class about educational blogging at my school.

I created several informational pages on my website.

Please use the links below to gather information about setting up and maintaining an educational blog.

A few of my third grade students have started blogs! I hope they use these tips too!

* * * * *

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Welcome to Our Classroom!

Open House 2009!

What was your favorite?

Frozen Fractions?

Pot of Gold Essay? Favorite Figure Essay?

Our Blog's Visitors and their Fractional Flags?

Color Adaptation of Fish?

Four Habitats and the Animal Reports?

The Biography Time Line?

Here is a close up of the Biographies!

Washington, D. C. and the Three Branches of Government?

Which project was your favorite?

Please comment!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mobile Marine Lab

The Mobile Marine Lab visited our school today as a complement our habitat unit.




KELP! (Used in ice cream!)



(With and without the spines.)

What did you learn at the Mobile Marine Lab?
Comment about it!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Meet Louis Braille

By James

Below is the second in a series of biographies from Mrs. Yollis' Class. Each student researched a person, wrote an informative report, and created a sculpture of the historic person.

This pictures shows Louis Braille's brilliant invention used at our school.

I created a beautiful biography about Louis Braille, who is famous for inventing raphigraphy. Raphigraphy is a raised dot system (also known as Braille) so the blind can feel it, and the people who aren’t blind can see it. To go with the biography, I made a dazzling scupture of this character. Please enjoy the surprisingfacts about Louis Braille.

* * * * *
Meet Louis Braille

Do you know who invented raphigraphy? If you guesses Louis Braille, you are correct. Louis Braille was born on January 4, 1809, in Coupvray, France. Louis became blind by poking his eye with a dangerous tool. Eventually, in 1812, his eye became infected, and his infection to his other eye causing total blindness at the age of three.

Also in the early 1800s, France was at war with Russia. When Russia won, they invaded Coupvray and demanded to be housed and fed. Louis’s house now had Russian soldiers in it. As you can imagine living with soldiers was tough, considering young Louis can’t even see them.

In 1819 Louis was sent to live and learn at a blind institute. In this new school, Louis learned sonography, a raised dot system for soldiers so they didn’t need a lamp to read a message during war.
Later, in 1825, Louis and his friend invented the first blind writing board so the blind could write too. The writing board was like a 3-D array of squares to help form something similar to a letter. A year, in 1826, Mr. Braille became a teacher for the blind institute.

In 1839, Mr. Louis Braille invented raphigraphy. Raphigraphy is raised dots symbolizing letters so the blind can feel them and the people who aren’t blind could see them. Raphigraphy today is also known as Braille.
Unfortunately, Mr. Braille died on January 6, 1852, in Coupvray, France. Louis died from a horrible coughing disease called tuberculosis. Louis Braille was only 42 when he died and I wish he was still alive right now to see all of his success.

I enjoy learning about Mr. Braille’s system and I am happy it is still used today. Raphigraphy is even used here at my school. I think his six dot system, raphigaphy, changed the world because it made it easier for the blind to read and enjoy books as much as the people who aren’t blind.

Below is a presentation of my sculpture of Mr. Braille.

What do you think of James' report?
Do you have any questions for him?
Please comment!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Meet Senator Feinstein

By Matthew

Below is the first in a series of biographies from Mrs. Yollis' Class. Each student researched a person, wrote an informative report, and created a sculpture of the historic person.

Meet Dianne Feinstein

Dianne Feinstein is a U.S. Senator for California and works in the Legislative Branch. Senator Feinstein was born on June 22, 1933, as Dianne Emiel Goldman. As a young child, she attended an elite Roman Catholic High School even though she was the only Jewish person enrolled there.

After graduating from Stanford University in 1955, she gained her first political experience as an intern at the prestigious Coro Foundation. She was elected to the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors in 1969, and shortly thereafter married Berman Feinstein, a prominent brain surgeon. In 1978, she became the first woman elected Mayor of San Francisco.

Senator Feinstein entered the U.S. Senate in 1992, where she continues to serve today. She has earned a reputation for helping strengthen our nation’s security and as a protector of our environment. In addition to creating and helping to pass numerous important laws, Senator Feinstein’s greatest accomplishments include chairing the Senate Select Committee and presiding over the inauguration of President Obama.

In my opinion, Dianne Feinstein is a very intelligent woman who, in dedicating much of her life to serve the government, has made our country a better place to live.

Here is a hyperlink to Senator Feinstein's website.

Below is a presentation of my scupture of Senator Feinstein.

Please leave a comment for Matthew. How did you like his blog post? Do you have any questions for him?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fraction Fun!

Mrs. Yollis' class earned a pizza party.

It was a perfect time to think about eating fractions.

We had four whole pizzas!

The pizzas were sliced into twelfths.

That meant we had many twelfths!

To be exact, we had forty-eight twelfths.

Some students chewed one twelfth.

Other students devoured two twelfths.

Two twelfths can be simplified using factors.

Here see for yourself!

If you don't remember what factors are or you'd like to practice your division facts...

Venn Factors is a fun way to review factors.

* * * * *
Do you see fractions in your house?
Comment about them!

Friday, May 8, 2009

What We've Learned from Blogging

On April 28, our class shared "How Does a Story Get Published on this Blog" at the School Board Meeting.

After the presentation, the local newspaper contacted us and wanted to write a story about our educational blog.

The reporter wanted to know what we have learned from our blogging experience.

As a teacher, I see many benefits:

  • Students have an authentic audience for their writing and that has an impact on the quality of their posts.
  • Students revisit and reflect upon the lessons when they read the posts on the blog. The learning doesn't stop when the chapter or unit ends, commenting keeps the learning alive.
  • Students learn how to navigate around the Internet and how to present digital information in a variety of ways.
  • Students have opportunities to participate and contribute to an online community.
  • Students practice a letter-writing form, when they comment.
  • Students learn about geography by tracking our visitors and sharing comments with our blogging friends.
Here are some thoughts about blogging from my third grade students.

Clementine: I learned that a blog is an online log. If you put the words web and log together, you can see where the word comes from.

Matthew: Students around the world can be learning the same thing as us. For example, our blogging buddies, 2KM in Australia, were learning origami the same week we were. They made a swan, and we made a cup. We learned how to fold a swan from our 2KM buddies.

Here is an image of the origami swans. See the pen, the cob, and all their cygnets?

James: I learned about adding jpg images to a post. It is important to limit personal information on the Internet. Rather than having close-up images, we can crop a photo, go to PhotoShop and alter it, or recreate the photo with faces turned away from the camera.

Emily: I learned about how a Voki works. A Voki is an animated avitar. Look on our sidebar, and you will see the orange Comment Kitty, our Voki. Press the red triangle, and she will tell you how to comment.

Shane J: I learned not to put a lot of personal information on the web because the web is international. I know that the web is international because we have a ClustrMap on our blog, and it shows you who visited and where they live. I was shocked to see we got a reader from Japan.

Chloe: I learned about plagiarism through this blog. For example, one group researched a topic and copied a sentence right from the source. That's plagiarism. We have learned to use our own words.

Marcus: I learned how to type on an AlphaSmart computer.

Taylor G.: I learned that sometimes people make mistakes, when they write a post. It is important to check your facts.

Warren: I have learned that you should never click on advertisements on a blog because they're just selling something. Also, you could download something to your computer that you don't want.

Amanda: I learned that sometimes people comment on our blog because they want you to buy something.

Kyle: Comments make a writer feel happy. When I comment, I always include a greeting like, "Dear Shane J.," and a closing like, "Sincerely, Kyle". Here is a comment I got on my travel post about Palm Springs.

Lexi: Learning how to make a hyperlink is very important. A hyperlink is an underlined word in a blog that when clicked, will take you to more information about that subject. In my blog post, Circling the Sun, I made a hyperlink to an image of the bright sun.

Shane F.: I learned that you can’t copy sentences from other sources. That is called plagiarism, and it is against the law. We have learned to use synonyms to make new sentences.

Garrison: I learned that if you have a lot of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation errors in your comment, it will get rejected by Mrs. Yollis. We make exceptions for commenters who are NOT in our class.

Bethany: On this blog, I learned about copyrighting. It is important to ask for permission if you want to use someone's photograph or music.

Sean: Typing paragraphs is easier now because I know how to type. I used to type with one finger, and that was slower for me.

Alasia: I learned how to post a comment. A comment is a way to talk to a blog. When you comment you can give a compliment, ask a question, or give more information. Here is someone commenting on Mr. Salsich's educational blog in Connecticut. They are another group of educational bloggers that we follow.

Taylor S.: I learned how to follow a hyperlink to gather more information. Also, I’ve learned how to add a jpg image to a post.

Jonah: I used to not be good at taking pictures and I never knew how to type. Now I know how to zoom in and out on a digital camera, what angle should be used for certain pictures, and how to take a screenshot.

Behyan: I learned that Mrs. Yollis rejects people's comments if they are selling something. Our blog is an educational blog, and we're trying to give knowledge, not sell products.

Mrs. Levenson: Searching for new information can sometimes be frustrating, but I recently learned how to narrow my search simply by adding quotation marks around the words I'm searching. For example, if I want information about Lewis and Clark, I will search like this: "Lewis and Clark".

* * * * *

It has been interesting to follow other education blogs. (See the Blogs We Follow in the sidebar.) Our favorite is our 2KM buddies from Australia.

Click here to listen to "The Hello Song" we sent to them!

We realized that students all over the world learn similar things.

* * * * *
Parents enjoy visiting and participating in the blog, too.
I asked parents if they wanted to submit their thoughts for the Acorn post.

Here are the letters I received:

Dear Mrs. Yollis,

While we initially had reservations regarding security and the policing of the blog postings, we’ve found that everything has been handled appropriately and most importantly, our child has been made aware of the power of the Internet in a very positive environment. We couldn’t be more pleased with how this program has turned out.

Gil Gagnon

* * * * *
Dear Mrs. Yollis,

I'm writing to let you know how wonderful I think the class blog has been this year. As you are aware, I had reservations at the beginning of the year but since then I've done a 180 degree turn around. I initially had concerns about Internet privacy and predators given the fact that we're dealing with children and the web. I became more comfortable when I realized that only first names would be used and that my son was also permitted to use an alias. (He actually enjoyed selecting a "new" name. )

I was further encouraged by the fact that all posts to the blog, both outgoing and incoming, are cleared through you. It has been both interesting and fun to participate in the class project. As students get older, there become fewer opportunities to participate in their classroom learning. Sure you can check to see if their homework is done or pepper them with questions for an upcoming test or quiz, but this has been different. My son comes home excited to tell me about what he or his classmates have posted to the blog that day and can't wait for me to see it and post a comment back.

I'm amazed at the kids' creativity and have tried to encourage their efforts by regularly posting comments on their projects. I can't tell you the number of times my son has thought outloud about ideas for potential new projects he could post to the blog. He's always been a writer, but this has given him an outlet to be creative and practice his skills without feeling like it's work!

I especially enjoy the tutorial movies where the kids get to teach others something they've learned. What a clever way to reinforce concepts. I hope his fourth grade teacher has a tech interest as well. I'd really like to see this continue to develop. Thank you for a fantastic year!


* * * * *
Dear Mrs. Yollis,

My husband and I would like to thank you for introducing the world of "blogging" to your students this year. Our son has thoroughly enjoyed the experience! Not only has it helped develop his writing and vocabulary skills, he has learned how to navigate through a computer.

He has also learned a lot about geography while blogging with other countries around the world. It is so much fun to see the class communicate with other students in places such as Russia and Australia through the blog! We were amazed to see that there is even a translation button which can be used to communicate with students in countries where English is not the primary language.

Lastly, we love how blogging helps children share their experiences with their classmates. Whether it be from a trip they took with their family, or an assembly they attended at school, blogging provides a safe and fun way to share with others.

We hope that more teachers will get on board with this exciting way of teaching.
Congratulations on winning the Digital Voice Awards. You are an inspiration to all!

The Huntington Family

* * * * *
Dear Mrs. Yollis:
Kudos to you and your class for an outstanding job. Your article for the Acorn is very impressive. I read all of the blogs and agree wholeheartedly. This was a tremendous learning experience for Garrison, especially, how to write a blog with accuracy. The skills he learned from participating in this project will transfer into many subject areas that will remain a positive part of his learning for a lifetime. It was a surprise to the whole family to see how well he had enhanced his computer skills, as well as his typing. Thank you for all of the time, effort and hard work you put into this project to make it the ''Gold Standard". I hope it can become a part of the curriculum for all children in the future.

* * * * *
What have you learned about blogging? Please leave a comment!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A New Shiny Penny!

By Shane F., Sean, Behyan, and Matthew

A few months ago Shane F. and Matthew published a post called the “New One Dollar Coin”. In one of the comments, Mrs. Harding mentioned that a new penny is coming!

Here are some interesting facts about the new penny.

The U.S. Mint made the new penny to honor Lincoln’s 200th birthday. The penny has been around for one hundred years. The U.S. Mint revealed the penny on September 22. It still has the same face, but a different reverse, or back.

The reverse of the penny has four different pictures, so try to collect all four!

On the reverse of one coin is Lincoln's log cabin.

Abraham Lincoln was born in 1809, in a county in Kentucky. He lived in a log cabin from the time he was two-and-a-half until he was nearly eight years old. The cabin and his birth date are shown on the reverse of this coin.

On the reverse of another penny is Lincoln cutting wood

In this image, young Abe is taking a pause from rail splitting and is reading a book. He did not go to school, but he learned by reading books. He was perfect at plowing and using an axe in the woods. He used the axe and rail splitter for cutting wood. This coin tells a lot about his former years in Indiana.

The reverse of the third penny is the Illinois Capitol.

Early in his life, he took on several jobs. One of his jobs was piloting a steamboat, but the thing he admired most was politics. In September 1836, Abe got a law license. In 1834, he became a member of the Illinois General Assembly. He was elected President in 1860.

The final reverse has a picture of the U.S. Capitol.

In late 1863, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation announcing that slaves would be free on January 1. Pictured on this coin is the unfinished U.S. Capitol building. It was being built while he was serving his term as President during the Civil War.

The pennies will come out over three month intervals in 2009.
Has you seen one of these new pennies? If you have, please write a comment.
Which reverse did you get?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Visit Palm Springs, California!

By Kyle

A few students have written travel posts about places they have visited. One student wrote about Washington, D. C. and one wrote about Lake Tahoe.

Kyle and his father created a travel post in a special way. He uploaded his vacation photos to iMovie and then narrated the show using GarageBand.
Great use of digital media!

For those of you who don't know, here is some general information about the popular vacation spot.

Palm Springs is a desert community located 111 miles east of Los Angeles. The population of Palm Springs is about 42, 807 people. Even though Palm Springs is really hot, many people go there to play golf. In fact, Palm Springs has 125 golf courses! When I was there the temperature was in the 90s.

Please enjoy my slide show!

What do you think of Palm Springs?
How do you like Kyle's slide show?

Add a fact about Palm Springs in the comments.

* * * * *
Mrs. Ranney, one of our commenters, mentioned Tahquitz Canyon
in Palm Springs. That's where the Cahuilla Indians used to live.

Here are some photos she sent us of her trip.

Thank you Mrs. Ranney!