PuppetPals and Sock Puppets

These are two iPad apps that I truly love.  The possibilities for activities are endless and the ease of use it far better than many of the web-based animation suites.

Here are some ideas that we have tried or will be trying in the new year:

  • French dialogues between two characters
  • an interview with a character from a book
  • creation of original media texts (we did informercials – they were hilarious)
  • role playing social skills
  • sock puppet conversation of the birds and the bees (seriously…)
  • animation of a chapter of a story
  • explanation of a math concept and it’s application in the real world

The list keep growing and growing.  What have you used these apps for?


Debate 2.0

In my first year teaching, I had my grade 8 class participate in a debate.

It sucked.

Not because they didn’t try but because it didn’t seem real.  The topic was decided by me, their stance was decided by me, I was the judge and the format was created by me.  Needless to say… not authentic enough for a positive learning experience.  Plus, it was my first year teaching and didn’t really understand how to do this type of thing.

Over the last several years, I’ve thought about having my students participate in a debate.  Working with at-risk learners means I need to make things extremely relevant and meaningful for them.  Debating always seems like a good idea but I can’t find a topic to commit to or a format that I think will work.

I came across Debate.org in my travels on the internet.  Upon exploring, I became excited about the opportunity to debate with people from all over the world.

The format is perfect.  Create a debate or enter into a debate with someone else.  Once you get started their are numerous rounds to engage in a debate.  In addition, you can comment on a debate going on.  Before sending me students to do this by themselves, I would model how it can be done by starting a debate with someone, somewhere in the world.

These small tidbits of writing are great for my reluctant writers – especially as they can debate each other.  Before starting the debate and during each round, I would have them write out their main argument with their proofs.  In addition, I would have the rest of the class include their feedback in the comment section as a form of peer assessment.

My only concern with this site is that it is not really intended for elementary level students but instead as an open debate site for all.  I can imagine what might happen if you get linked up with someone who was not taking the debate seriously.  My suggestion is to stick with pairing up students.

The Pole By my Desk

The electrical
inspector dropped by my classroom before the break. It didn’t go
well. I thought about this when reading this article about
upgrading from hardwire to wireless – “Wired vs. Wireless.” I had developed
a make shift computer lab in my class with a few computers however
ran into a small problem with electrical outlets. I only have three
and the fuse pops constantly. Good times! Three power outlets
for…. wait for it…. 9 computers, printers, scanner, a projector
and accessories, bar fridge, water cooler and tea pot. Now that I
write this down I realize how ridiculous it is. In one spot under
my desk, I had…

  • an extension chord plugged
    into an outlet.
  • a power bar hooked into that
    extension chord (we’ll call her “The Mother Ship”)
  • a power bar hooked into “The Mother Ship”
  • an extension chord plugged into “The Mother
  • Don’t forget the multiple computers and
    other electronic devices

Needless to say,
the custodial supervisor came by with my principal and gave me
heck. That being said, my innovation and initiative at using the
tools at my disposal to improve student success won me a power pole
next to my desk. Two brand new outlets! My network drop has been
run properly to my computer! Holy smokes. I now have extra power
bars. I never have extra power bars. What will I do with these?
Suggestions? j.

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