One the most exciting units of study in my 5th grade classroom was our insect and butterfly unit. We didn’t just study the body parts and learn about how the butterfly emerges from the chrysalis, we searched in fields around the school for butterfly eggs, then we watched them emerge. We captured butterflies, tagged them, released them and submitted our data for research. One day we even met at the Fort Worth Wild Life Refuge during fall break (yes… on a school holiday) to be interviewed for a news piece. (The video below was captured from an old VHS tape, so it is not the best quality.)
Weather Station in my room.
I was extremely surprised to get a call one day from the Instructional Technology department asking me if I would like to have an Internet connected, Weatherbug weather station in our classroom. I asked what the catch was and what they would expect of me, but did say a resounding, “Yes!” Having a weather station in your classroom certainly makes learning about the weather more interesting. They moved my classroom so many times we finally decided to place it in the library, which gave everyone in the school more access to it. In September of 1996 we were featured on the news.
NASA STS 65 – Talking to the Astronauts
Video produced by Instructional Technology Coordinator Jane Nauman in Birdville ISD to present our earth to space talk to the school board members.
Complete downlink communication between Richland Elementary staff and students and STS-65 crew aboard Columbia Space Shuttle on July 11, 1994
NASA Downlink July 11, 1994. The day NASA astronauts aboard Space Shuttle Columbia communicated with elementary students at Richland Elementary and me, Sandra Hines. What an exciting day!
A memory from June 10, 2011.
I had just spent the week splitting my time between middle school students in robotics camp and teachers in our iPod touch Academy. I wanted to be in both places all the time, there was so much excitement and learning going on. Students were introduced to the Lego Mindstorm NXT robots and NXT software through a great program called Terraformers. The campers were extremely engaged in programming their robots to move around other planets accomplishing various life sustaining missions. It was a pleasure to see them testing, measuring, programming, adjusting physical features and program sequences. We had three testing boards, allowing plenty of space for them to test their programs after each minor change. This was our first time to offer a robotics camp, but I definitely want to offer one again next year. We will have to find or develop a new curriculum so that the students will have new challenges.
One day at camp, I was talking to a student and mentioned that while they were learning robots, there were teachers in another building attending an iPod touch Academy. He looked at me so funny and said, “Why would anyone attend an academy to learn how to use an iPod? You just use it!” I briefly tried to explain that while an iPod is easy to use, it is a different story when you are trying to manage a classroom set of them. The teachers at the iPod touch Academy were also engaged and excited about learning how to use the iPod touch in the classroom. They took them on a morning outing for a scavenger hunt, studied Gifted and Talented teaching strategies, explored the app store and created lesson plans to be ready to use them. Each lesson plan was peer reviewed and edited. Now we have a number of lessons ready to share with other teachers. We have started a resource for teachers.
At this time, we have one cart of iPod touch to check out to teachers one week at a time. The teachers at the Academy get first choice on checking them out. A few schools are also beginning to purchase their own. The use of the iPod touch and the iPad seems very promising for education.
This was a week I got to do what I love most about my job and that is learning along with teachers and students as we explore ways to learn with technology