Dare to Care

create, communicate, collaborate, and think critically

20/Apr/2012
by Denise Krebs
7 Comments

Ah, Friday! Australia Treats

I’ll never forget about six weeks ago when three girls came running up to me, telling me about their next genius hour adventure. “We are going to send chocolates to people around the world, so they can taste our chocolate. Then we are going to ask them to send us some chocolate from their country. We can compare the tastes and packages.” So, they were off!

Thanks to some of the students’ friends and relatives, plus members of my awesome PLN, the students have received packages from South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Argentina, France, and, the latest, from Australia.

I met Lyn Howlin last year when we completed the teacher’s blogging challenge together. Later my seventh graders hosted her third graders’ Flat Stanleys. Now we’ve been Flickr photo friends and email penpals. She’s now retired, but she’s still a teacher. Look at the beautiful letter she wrote, engaging my students in learning about the world.

Thank you, Lyn!

(Students are still working on their comparison and taste test.)

This post is also published on The Global Classroom Project blog, “A Letter From Oz.”

14/Oct/2011
by Denise Krebs
3 Comments

NaNoWriMo YWP – Virtual Classroom Scavenger Hunt

The Virtual Classroom is loads of fun. It was new last year, and I learned how to use it with the help of good tutorials and plenty of NaNoMailing with the always helpful staff of the YWP. The how-to instructions for using the virtual classroom can be found here on the YWP NaNoWriMo site. The step-by-step explanations with screenshots are better than any I would give, so go with those. Questions? Ask me or Chris Angotti and staff.

Anyway, once I successfully set up my virtual classroom, I like to start out with a scavenger hunt late in October to get the students figuring out what’s available in our virtual classroom.

I send them to explore, where I have hidden a few items (in plain sight) using features I want them to practice.

In the Forum:

  1. Begin your first thread something like this…”Welcome to the Forum. We can have discussions here and reply to each other. Reply to this thread and tell something you are good at. Then see Mrs. Krebs for________.” (A sticker, extra credit on an assignment, a free-time pass, a sucker, or whatever suits your fancy.)
  2. Make a two-part post: Ask students to respond to a thread (favorite sport or favorite food or anything), and then, Part 2, reply to a reply of a friend. The goal for this is just to get them experimenting with the features of the Virtual Classroom.
  3. Ask students to upload an avatar to their author info for another prize or points good for something. Or add novel info or set their goal or whatever else in their profile you want them to complete.

In NaNoMail:

  1. Send a NaNoMail with something like this: “Send Mrs. Krebs a NaNoMail telling about one character who might be in your novel. When she reads it she’ll put a coupon for _______ in your mailbox.”
  2. Here’s another one: “When you read this NaNoMail, tell Mrs. Krebs your favorite color and she’ll give you a piece of gum.”

My goal in using this scavenger hunt is to get students familiar with the virtual classroom, to add their author and novel information and practice with NaNoMail and the Forums. When a student comes up and receives a stick of gum from me, others inevitably say, “Hey, how come s/he gets gum?” Then they quickly begin to dig a little deeper.

Links

The virtual classroom also has a section where you can add links for students to help them with their novel. Good ones I put in this section:

Name Generator
Who is Yanko Nedelcho Borisov? A potential character in my novel thanks to the “Behind the Name” Random Name Generator. What a thesaurus does for adjectives, the Random Name Generator does for characters. I told the name generator that I wanted a Bulgarian man’s name–first, middle and last. They gave me Yanko Nedelcho Borisov. His wife is Zaharina, and his two children are Gardza and Marta. If I decide I don’t want Bulgarian characters, I can generate Frisian or French, Japanese or Jewish, Roman or rapper, hillbilly or hippy, and so many more! Great fun, especially when I need a lot of characters and get tired of using all the names of my friends and acquaintances.

Music
I do not like to listen to music while I work or write. That may be a generational preference or that I just don’t regularly listen to music anytime. However, I appreciate that NaNoWriMo encourages us to consider what novel writing music we listen to, so I actually tried it a few times. Depending on what scene I wanted to write, I listened to some triumphant classical pieces or some sad and mellow ballads. I think it added a few hundred to my word count (especially during Beethoven’s 5th) and perhaps some inspiration, as well. I have links for AOL Radio and Pandora in my Virtual Classroom, so students can easily access music (even though Pandora is blocked at our school). They are allowed to bring headphones and mp3 players in November.

So, that’s about all I’ve done to get ready to use my virtual classroom in November. How about you?

Can you share additional items for a virtual classroom scavenger hunt?

Do you have any helpful links for student novelers to share?

Photo credits: What’s in a Name? by Kathy Ponce & Headphones by Dylan Cantwell

30/Jun/2011
by Denise Krebs
16 Comments

Welcome to New Bloggers

Welcome!

Welcome to the blogging world! Some of my blogging teacher friends have been creating resources for new bloggers, so I thought I would contribute my ideas. My simple advice is to get in there and start blogging, find your own way, and enjoy the journey.

Although I’ve been blogging for about 18 months, it’s just been in the last six months that my journey has become more engaging and rewarding.

First, I became involved in Edublogs teacher challenges. It started with the Kick Start Your Blogging last January. Next it was 30 Days to Get Your Students Blogging, next, with my students, the Student Blogging Challenge in late March through May. Then I even became a guest blogger in the Free Tools Challenge. Currently I am lurking about the PLN Challenge. I’m hoping to begin participating, but, yikes!! There are too many opportunities to take advantage of all of them. However, as a result of the blogging challenges I have tried, I’ve discovered a whole world of educators out there connecting and collaborating. I’ve met some incredible friends like Nancy Carroll, Sheri Edwards, Lyn Howlin, Theresa Allen, Joanne Selig, and Kathryn Trask—educators from all over the world.

The second thing that happened on my blogging journey is I realized I was unclear on the purpose of my blog. Was it for personal or professional reflection? Was it to give assignments and write model blog posts for my students? Yes, it was all of those things, and it was a little bit crazy. Along the way it became clear to me that I needed two blogs: one for professional entries and the other for classroom work. You are reading my professional blog, and you can find my student blogs at http://krebs.edublogs.org.

So, my advice is to get started and find your way. Maybe you’ll choose to join a blogging challenge and define your purpose earlier than I did. You are unique and your blogging journey will be too, so have fun with it and good luck!

Sheri Edwards recently wrote a post called “Five Tips for New Bloggers
She also started a Diigo group you can join intended for folks to share information that will help bloggers. It’s called ebchallenge

Finally, here is a Voicethread started by Nancy Carroll to gather blogging advice from others:

08/Jun/2011
by Denise Krebs
5 Comments

Thanks, eltpics!

krebssmaller

All these images were taken by @mk_elt and shared on #eltpics.

The more I learn about being part of the 21st century digital world we live in, the more I firmly believe it is about creating, contributing, connecting, collaborating and curating. It is so fun to learn something new and to join with others who are doing and sharing these things, as well.

This morning I learned about a resource that dedicated ELT educators are contributing to the world! Thanks to others who were willing to join the conversation, those of us involved in the June, July and August Project (Twitter hashtag #JJAProject) learned about eltpics today. I had never heard of the eltpics Flickr Photostream for teachers until I saw these tweets come by this morning:

eltpics tweets

Thank you to Sandy and Chiew for telling us about the wonderful photos available for educational use from eltpics.

I created the image at the top of this post with photos in a set called “Things Shaped Like Letters” by eltpics shared on Flickr with a Creative Commons BY-NC-2.0 License. I used Big Huge Labs Mosaic Maker to put them all together to spell my name with these lovely organic images. Can you read it?

I’d like to learn how to contribute my own educational photos to the eltpics. Can anyone help me get started?

03/Jun/2011
by Denise Krebs
3 Comments

June, July, August Project – Photo a Day

I am having so much fun taking a photo a day. When I wake up in the morning, I’m full of wonder about what the day has in store for my camera and me. I have never done anything like this before, so it’s great fun! Another perk in this project: I am learning to use Flickr. What a great program! The slower pace of summer is allowing me to learn all the ins and outs, so I can be a better curator of my photos.

Thanks to a discussion between Paula (@plnaugle), Mary (@scitechyedu) and Barbara (@BarbaraDay), I was able to join other teachers in a mini version of the 365Project. In this shorter challenge, we are taking a picture a day for June, July and August, Twitter hashtag #JJAProject. Read more about it at Welcome to the #JJAProject. It’s not too late to join in the fun. Grab your camera and start today!

Special thanks to Sheri (@grammasheri) for inviting me to participate! And now, before further hyperlink abuse, I will leave you with a few of my first photos! Thanks for viewing!
06-01-11

06-02-11

06-03-11

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