Saturday, December 19, 2015

Free Digital Paper Set (until January 1)

If you're looking for a new set of digital papers, I just posted a new set that is free until New Year's Day (January 1).  These three papers are available in both 12" x 12" and 8.5" x 11" sizes and were created at 300 dpi.  Six coordinating frames are also included in this set.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Winter Holiday Cards & Animations

With Winter Holiday break just a few weeks away, it can be tough to keep students engaged in their work.  It doesn't matter whether they celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or just being off school for two weeks, they need something fun as we head toward break that still benefits their learning.

This year, I expanded the lesson I usually do to offer a few more choices for students to create a holiday greeting.  Their choices include creating a standard, printable greeting card in Microsoft Word or creating an animated greeting using PowerPoint or Kizoa, a cool new FREE (no need for download!) Web 2.0 tool.  

I have the benefit of each student having their own computer in my room, but all these options could also be completed in partners or on iPads.  

Animation has my 8th graders fascinated this year after an earlier unit where they wrote and animated a Choose Your Own Adventure in PowerPoint.  Lots of them wanted to do more with that and have chosen PowerPoint for this project, but I also have a sizeable percentage that want to try something new in animation and have opted for Kizoa.

If you'd like to do use this with your own students, you can get the full lesson here.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Building a Musical Instrument

One of my students' favorite units is our unit on the Physics of Sound.  Middle schoolers LOVE music, whether they are in the Fine Arts program or just active listeners to their MP3's.  So, when I tell them they are going to have a chance to learn more about those sounds and then design an instrument of their own, they're pretty excited!

We start with learning the physics of sound by doing several online simulations along with some research.  Then, with that knowledge, we learn about sound waves using a Slinky toy.  Be prepared to address potential silliness with this BEFORE the lab.  We always review the difference between having fun and being immature :)  

Designing the instruments, requires some research, but most students jump right in to figuring out how their instrument can be the best.  The instrument needs to be able to play three different notes and repeat those notes three times.  YouTube videos are great for this if your school has access to that.

We used a variety of recycled materials - some that I provided in the classroom and others that students chose to bring themselves.  During the planning and design phase, students draw their project and create a materials list before construction begins.

One of our more interesting final products was this carrot recorder:

If you'd like the full lesson, it is available here to download.