Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Google Maps Ready

One thing I forgot to do was create maps for the Google Map enrichment project. However, I just did that for all students. So if they want to work on this fun project, it should be all set.

If you need a reminder of the instructions for the project or help/tips, those can be found on the blog. Just scroll down below this post.

Have fun!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Google Map Help

If you're working on the Google Map enrichment project over the break, here is a tutorial video that might help:

Christmas Break Work

I sent home a note today about work for Christmas Break. Sometimes these things don't make it home, so here's a copy of exactly what the note contained:

Homework for Christmas Break:

Finish Book Club book and be prepared to discuss it and start a book project when you return to school. Also, continue discussing your Book Club book on Edmodo by posting questions, responses, and comments.

Here’s a great enrichment activity about the book we just finished, The Maze of Bones, using Google Maps. Google Maps is something the students are familiar with. What I want them to do is create a Google Map of the places Dan and Amy visit in the book.

The following places should be on the map:

Boston, Massachusetts
Dan and Amy’s hometown
Bristol, Massachusetts
Location of Grace’s mansion
Fairmont Copley Square Hotel, Boston
Where Irina met with the Kabras
Library Company of Philadelphia
Dan and Amy did Franklin research here
Franklin Institute, Philadelphia
Scene of the explosion
Independence Hall, Philadelphia
Dan and Amy met with Mr. McIntyre
Charles DeGaull Airport, France
Where Dan and Amy’s plane lands
Ile St. Louis, Paris
The cemetery in Paris was located here
Catcombs of Paris
The Maze of Bones!
St. Pierre Church of Montmartre
Church where Amy climbs to the lightning rod

Here’s what to do:

1.     1. Go to
2.    2.  Log in with email/username curran302 and password 302302302
3.     3. Click “My Maps”
4.     4. Click the Maze of Bones map with your initials next to it
5.    5.  Search for each of the places in the table
6.    6.  Save them to your map by clicking on them, clicking “save to” and choosing your map.
7.     7. Add the notes from the table to each of the placemarks (To do this, click “My Maps” then click the name of your map, then click the “Edit” button and then click the name of the place and type your note in the bubble).

Want to do more?  Search using Google for facts about each of the places and add those to your notes for each place. OR Change the icons to images from like we did in class or think of other ways to make your map more awesome!
If you have trouble with any of this, send me a message via email, the blog, or edmodo!

Final Maze of Bones Video

We just wrapped up reading The Maze of Bones and we'll be moving to a new read aloud next month. Here's a video we put together this week about students' favorite parts of the book:

AND if you haven't seen our Animoto movie yet that shows us working on our Ben Franklin glogs with Mrs. Martin's class, here it is:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Strange Mysteries

I hope you saw the published book that students brought home today. It's a collection of everyone's mystery stories. We worked really hard on these and I thought it would be nice if they had a way of keeping them for posterity.

They are certainly entertaining and having a nice book like this will give us all something to look back on in a year or more to see how much they've grown as writers.

I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Note on Report Cards

Our school's report cards have undergone some fairly drastic changes. They still include narrative comments, but we've added skills checklists to give you some more specific feedback on your child's performance in many areas within each subject. I hope you find this helpful when you see them on Thursday of this week, and I'll be creating a survey to get some of your thoughts and impressions, too.

I did want to give you a bit of a sneak preview of one thing in particular: the rating system. In the checklists, students are rated "Needs Improvement," "Developing," and "Secure." As I'm filling them out this weekend, I'm noticing numerous students rated "Developing" in many areas (especially writing) and I want to let you know in advance that in the Fall/Winter of fourth grade, "Developing" is good. It means they're where they're supposed to be and making the proper amount of progress. 

A rating of "Secure" is not very common this early in the year. The goal is to move students from "Developing" to "Secure" during the course of the year so that their fourth grade skills are solid and they are ready for fifth grade. I feel pretty safe in saying that none of my students are ready for fifth grade yet, nor should they be. But they are well on their way and making terrific progress.

Some of this might not make sense now, but it will when you get the report cards on Thursday. If you have any questions once you see them, please let me know. I'll be available Friday of this week from 9:00-10:00 a.m. if you want to call or stop by and I'll also be checking my email fairly regularly during the Christmas break.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Social Studies Project

We're starting a new social studies project today. The students have a worksheet to fill out doing some research on the Internet. They should use this custom Google search engine for their research:


The final product will be an interactive Google Map of the Northeast United States. It should be pretty cool. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Exhibition Feedback

Monday, December 6, 2010

First Book Club Meetings

Our first "Book Club in a Bag" meetings will be held Thursday for the Wayside School group and Friday for the Justin Fisher and Flying Solo groups. These meetings will be about 15-20 minutes long and will involve a simple discussion of what we've read so far.

The reading requirements have been posted to edmodo. Students know exactly what they're supposed to read. This week, the requirement is about 30 pages or so. In the future, that amount will increase. (Students are encouraged to read their books during Independent Reading time at school, too!)

By Friday, they also must have posted at least once on edmodo. Keeping up with their reading and staying involved in the online discussion is really important. Remember, participation in "Book Club in a Bag" is required, so please check with your child to make sure they are keeping up with their reading.

There is no record sheet for this. I expect them to read, post on edmodo, and participate in the discussions. They will receive credit based on these things. Students who haven't read won't be able to participate in the book club meetings.

Finally, I thought it would be fun to have light snacks during our book club meetings each week. So I'm seeking donations. If a few of you send in some light treats for me to keep on hand in the classroom (juice, crackers, mini carrots, etc.) I think that would last us for a few meetings.

I'm excited to see how this turns out. I'm hoping it encourages more of them to complete extra reading at home each week. Enjoy! And let me know if you have any questions.

Going Global Update

I haven't updated you on our "Going Global" project efforts lately, so here you go...

We are still reading The Maze of Bones as part of our Online Book Club. We should be finishing it up soon. Students have shared podcasts and a digital poster with the other members of the club. The digital posters (called "glogs") turned out really well. Students researched the life of Benjamin Franklin, who the characters in the novel must learn about, and then made something that looks like this:

(Special thanks to Chase J. for letting me share that!)

We'll be wrapping up the book shortly, but before we do, we'll be participating in a first (as far as I know) at UPA Elementary...we'll be talking to another class via Skype! On Friday afternoon, we'll be using our microphone and webcam to discuss the book with Mrs. Temske's class in Georgia. This is very exciting and should be lots of fun. I'll definitely be sharing the results with you after Friday.

Another first for us is our new connections with classes in Asia. One involves a school in Taiwan. Over the next few months we'll be learning about their school, their community, their language, their culture, etc. And they'll be learning from us. Their class sent us Christmas cards this week and we'll be returning the favor soon. We'll also be making a slideshow that shows them our school and city.

The other Asian connection is with a student in Russia named Denis. He and a couple groups of my students have been trading emails. It's going to be a great way to practice our writing and communication skills AND learn about another country and culture.

Finally, our bagel sale went really well. We now have raised over $60 for the entrepreneurial project in The Philippines. Students will now decide if we should have one more sale to support this cause or to choose another project to donate to.

Wow! That's a lot. Sometimes I don't realize how much it is until I type it out. And there's more to come, of course. Stay tuned!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Book in a Bag--Relaunched!

As promised, I have re-invented the Book-in-a-Bag homework program. I hope that this change will a). encourage more students to complete the assignment every week and b). provide a more meaningful and challenging learning experience.

Book-in-a-Bag will now be known as (cue the trumpets)...BOOK-CLUB-IN-A-BAG!

Students will select a book (and they'll get a new bag) but this time there will be groups of students reading the same book. So each student will be in a "book club." They'll still have to complete the reading log, but with this new format they'll meet every week or two with their group to discuss what they've been reading. We'll also be using edmodo to have online "conversations" about the books. Also, at the end of each book, students will have to complete a project. (Imagine a book report like we used to do when we were kids...but with a Mr. Curran technology twist!)

I'll be starting this up by having kids pick their books tomorrow and then begin their reading on Monday. We'll have a record sheet for next week for parents to sign and students will be expected to contribute to the edmodo group every week. We'll try to have our first book club meetings the week of December 13. (I think the book club meetings should involve snacks, don't you? I'll be seeking donations for those coming up soon.)

If you have any questions about this, please let me know. The main things for you to know right now are that there WILL be a book coming home every night starting Monday and there WILL be a sheet to sign every night starting Monday.

I'm pretty excited about this and I think the students will enjoy it (and learn a lot) from it, too.