I decided to go ahead with an element project using Storybird.  Everything is working out fine so far.  The one day in the computer lab was spent completing the research portion of the sheet.  The majority of students finished the research and all were supposed to log into Storybird to validate/set-up their account.  They have two weeks to finish 5 pages of their Element Baby Book.  The limiting factor to student success here is getting them to complete the rest of the work outside of class.

There is a digital divide in my classes.  I have students with computers, internet, and smartphones with data plans.  I also have students that only have access to computers at school.  Part of what I’m trying to teach is the ability to plan out computer time.  As mentioned in a previous post: not using a computer is no longer an option.  Computer use is the expectation.  Every student is capable of finding a computer with the internet for an hour in the next few weeks, especially with Thanksgiving break coming up.  There is a specific group of students that don’t do homework to begin with AND don’t have easy access to an internet ready computer.  These are the hardest to get working on this type of work.  These are the students that learning how to get to computers is the most important though.
I have realized that students do need a thorough understanding of their element to complete the baby book using Storybird.  You have to use a theme and students that didn’t pay attention to actually researching and learning about there element had trouble choosing.  For instance, one student had sulfur but didn’t know that it smelled.  That one piece of information could have steered the student in the direction of a “smelling” theme.  Another student was researching a more uncommon metal (I don’t recall which) and noted it was used in gears, crank shafts, and moving mechanical parts.  The student chose a robot theme.  That is the understanding I like to see.


Redo, again…

A staple of most physical science curricula is the element research project.  Students get an element and research various facts including properties and history of the element.  I’ve been doing some type of element project for years.  My first year of teaching I came across a project tucked in a file cabinet: Element Album Cover.  The project had students do research and creatively turn the element into a rock band or singer.  I adapted it and turned it into a CD cover project.  Later I used Glogster to have students make a musical group “web-page.”  Glogster became a pay site a few years ago and since then I’ve been stuck.


I also debate the merit of the project at all.  What do students get out of it?  From a standards viewpoint there is little point in doing it at all.  They don’t need to know about any element in detail.  A project like this takes a great deal of time and effort researching and constructing.  That time could be spent doing any number of other things that more directly attack the standards/core.  I’m now at the do or die point with this project.  I either have to revamp the project again or ditch it completely.


I’ve been thinking of doing a writing project.  I’d like to use something like Boomwriter or Storybird, but I’m having trouble getting my mind around what I want students to do and learn.  I want that writing and literacy piece.  Doing internet searches have turned up nothing useful yet.  PowerPoints are over done and mainly involve students just copying and pasting things off the internet.  That and PowerPoint is a visual medium and I want this to involve creative writing.  Here’s hoping something will come up.  If not, though, I’ll just ditch it and move on.