Parabolas in Nature

Algebra II students in Ms. Talbot-Paul’s classes look for parabolas in nature; take images; and bring them into Geogebra to plot their graphs. They are free to choose any presentation tool to share projects with the class.

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Rate of Change Project

Students in Ms. Talbot-Paul’s Algebra I classes let their imaginations run wild in the Rate of Change Project. Requirements: choose a favorite activity (hiking, climbing, cycling) and identify related events that can be represented in a graph. Next, create a story around these events and share it and the results in an iMovie.


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GoAnimate Rocks World Languages!

GoAnimate rocked in Middle School French, Spanish and Chinese classes this year.  We started with free account:  1 teacher + 40 students, but soon upgraded to the Super Teacher account: 2 teachers + 48 students for $99.00/year. Seeing the enthusiastic  student response, two more teachers jumped on board, making GoAnimate one of Middle School’s favorite technology tools.

Tips for implementing GoAnimate

Projects that use any cloud-based platform can hit a snag or two.  Most snags can be avoided by checking out the list below prior to launching your GoAnimate activity.  I’ve found trouble-shooting “out-loud” together encourages students to find and share their solutions.

Laptop & teacher workstation requirements

  • up-to-date browsers (Firefox, Chrome; avoid Internet Explorer)
  • up-to-date Flash plugin
  • microphone settings
  • set to allow pop-ups from the GoAnimate website
  • set to allow Adobe access to laptop microphone and voice recorder
  • ask the IT department to whitelist the domain for both web and email traffic

Project Planning and Time Management

  • allow class time for students to check technical requirements and assign a due date for meeting technical requirements for those using personal computers
  • provide rubric with clear expectations
  • break down the project into a checklist of short term deadlines (final script, storyboard, scene/timeline check)
  • allow class time for introductory experimentation with creation tools
  • allow class time for work in progress
  • pair or group group students in class to share animation expertise

Download GoAnimate’s Getting Started Guide here.

French teacher, Sarai Gutierrez-Rodriguez share’s her GoAnimate story and resources here.

See sample student projects below:

Note:  Spanish students were required to expand on the story and characters from a unit in their textbook. The text was about two American students going to Spain to live with Spanish families.

GoAnimate educators share lesson ideas and rubrics.  See an American Government lesson plan and rubric here.

GoAnimate was fun to use as an intro to my workshop.  Have fun!



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Space and the Solar System

7th grade Earth Science students enjoyed an interactive videoconference with the North Central Ohio Educational Service Center (NCOESC). They explored gravity, life in space, and other concepts through a variety of engaging activities.


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Three Cups Project

Ileana Lavender’s Visual Arts students experiment in clay.


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Floor Plans to Scale

Dennis Perry’s Foundations of Algebra students describe how they use the tools on to recreate and remodel their bedrooms.



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Featured Creatures!

IMG_1397 2What better way to wrap up the school year and a unit on Invertebrates, than to create an original invertebrate of one’s own?

Susan Vicelli’s 6th Grade Life Science students did just that.  After studying the earthworm, squid, sea star and crawfish, students worked in pairs to imagine an original creature that had characteristics from each of the four they studied.

The creatures were drawn out in colored pencil with detailed diagrams and labeling of body parts.  Students wrote amusing and informative stories describing their creature’s evolution, habitat, feeding habits and defense mechanisms.  The drawings and stories were presented in class during the last days of school.




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A Busy Year

The 2013-14 academic year flew by and EdTechTurista is way out of date. Sorry about that!  It’s time to showcase a few projects. But before I begin…

iPhone’s iMovie App

One of my favorite “job-related” discoveries this year was the iMovie app for iPhone.  I used my iPhone and the iMovie app to shoot, edit, and post these mini-videos to our school’s Vimeo account.  Many of the videos were later posted on our Middle School’s blog.  Who knew how convenient that could be?

Since I support grades 5 – 8, I am usually in several places at once.  Last year, it was confusing and time consuming to sort through the images and video clips on my camera roll to add to projects on my Mac.  I sometimes didn’t get around to editing a project for days, and when I did I had often forgotten which images and clips pertained to which project.

The iMovie app allowed me to start several projects on the fly.  When I was in different grade level classrooms, I could take pictures or record video spontaneously and immediately bring them into an iMovie project timeline from my camera roll.  The fact that the images and clips were brought in sequentially made it easier to edit later.

I liked the fact the using my phone was less intrusive.  Students frequently use their phones in class for projects.  As long as I told students what I was doing, where the video would be posted, and let them see pictures or clips, most became comfortable with the process. Those who were not comfortable, I respected and stayed away.

Granted, there are negatives.  The microphone has a limited range. Editing drains the battery.  Using the editing tools in the small iPhone display screen is hard on the eyes and requires a special touch.

The editing tools are basic. Music and audio options are limited. No backgrounds are available which make it necessary to overlay titles on images.  Without the ability to import my own audio, I usually opted for silence.

At any rate, this year had some great projects and I loved working alongside students in the classroom.  Teachers appreciated seeing highlights of the projects they worked so hard to implement.    It felt like students and teachers could be themselves in these videos and I was happy to make it happen.



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Gaming and Motivation Lesson Plan

According to Deci and Ryan’s Self Determination Theory, humans are intrinsically motivated.  If we feel autonomous and competent on our own, we are more likely to interact and relate our knowledge with others.  We are also more motivated to engage in learning activity when our emotions are involved.  When we feel a learning goal is achievable and the actual “doing” is fun we are more likely to persevere and master challenges.

When planning my game lesson I reflected on a skill that is critical to learning success in the 21st Century: the ability to apply appropriate problem-solving strategies in a variety of situations.  Students need to come up with alternative solutions, assist and encourage others, and be willing to compromise and move on.

I designed the game, Outposts, to give 6th grade World Civilization classes opportunities to exercise these skills in a team game activity.


Game Title: OUTPOSTS


Pacing:  The game is played in one class period. Each 6th Grade Ancient Civilization class (approximately 26 students each) is divided into six Nomadic Tribes. Tribes begin the game at the same time from an Outpost to which they are randomly assigned.  Tribes follow a set path from Outpost to Outpost.

Instructions: Prior to game day, the teacher instructs all students to choose a role and create an avatar on  They may choose any role they like as long as it comes from the list: Warrior, Hunter, Healer, Gatherer, Thief/Spy. On game day, the teacher explains the rules and procedures.  A copy of the rules is included in the Outpost Log folders.

Story: The peoples of earth are nomadic tribes, fleeing calamity and natural disasters.  All that is left of civilization can be found in six remote outposts: Mountain, Valley, Cave, Island, Ocean and Desert.  You and your tribe have just arrived at an recently abandoned outpost. There is little time to create what you’ll need to survive the unknown calamity due to strike at any moment. What tools and resources do you have already?  What additional tools and resources do you need?  Offer your avatar’s talents and skills in service to your tribe. Beat every challenge and get first pick of earth’s remaining outposts to start a new civilization.

Timing:  The teacher controls the timer, which counts down 5-minute intervals. At the end of each interval tribes must abandon their current Outpost, drop their Outpost log form in the box, and move on to the next Outpost. The teacher can adjust timing if it becomes evident that one or two additional minutes are needed.

Controls: The game space is clear of furniture with six distinct areas marked with Outpost signs. Tribes are assigned to an Outpost at the beginning of the game and sit in circles on the floor around the sign.

There are three items at each Outpost: the Outpost Log (a folder with a copy of the rules and forms for each tribe to complete) and two stacks of index cards. One stack represents individual tools. The other stack represents the tribe’s consumable supplies which must last them the entire journey.

During the first round, tribes have five minutes to assess their skills, make their first tool selections (only two allowed per tribe) and take inventory of consumable supplies. At the end of five minutes each tribe draws a challenge card and has five minutes to resolve it. Before leaving the Outpost tribes must sacrifice one of their tools.

Autonomy and Randomization:  The learner is given autonomy by choosing his role in the game and customizing an avatar.  Sharing the Voki recording with the class reinforces identity.  There are randomized elements in the game.  Smart Notebook’s Random Group Generator tool creates the tribes. Outpost Challenges are drawn from a deck of cards.  Tools left at Outposts are unpredictable.

Assessments:  The first assessment is the successful creation of an avatar. Did the student customize, name and record a message? Did he post his link or embed his Voki on the class webpage to establish his identity to future tribe members?  The remaining assessments are based on teacher observation of group dynamics and a review of completed Outpost Log entries.

Achievements:  Did your tribe devise and accurately describe its solution to the Outpost challenge within the allotted time frame?  If so, move on, but don’t forget to sacrifice one tool. Finished early?  Keep both tools.  Ran out of time?  Sacrifice two tools.

Knowledge:  Learners come to the game with a distinct identity and role to play: they know the skills they have to offer the tribe.  During the game, learners expand their problem-solving skills by having to adjust their strategies based on selection of resources and available abilities in the group. Not every tribe will have all the roles represented and may in fact have duplicates, due to randomized creation of tribes at the beginning of the game. By the end of the game, learners should have a greater sense of self, beyond their original avatar identity, and a heightened awareness of how their personal contributions were vital to group success.

Endgame:  Successful completion of each Outpost challenge is measured by who has accumulated the most tools.  The tribe with the most tools gets to pick the Outpost to start a new civilization.  They can explain why they’ve chosen that particular Outpost.  A follow up activity might be Tribal Review of log entries from each Outpost with a vote for the most creative solutions at each Outpost, excluding one’s own.

Fun and Motivation:  The elements of story and student identity within the story, along with time restrictions and uncertainties built into the game should make Outposts a fun and motivating activity.



















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The Electric Art Project

Electricity and Art collided in 8th grade science classes in May.  Science teacher, Victoria Eng, along with teammate Jon Sikora, launched the Electric Art Project
which Victoria created ten years ago in collaboration with colleagues at the Archer School for Girls.  See Parts 1 & 2 below:


Students were taught how to wire in series and in parallel; how to make a switch, set up a circuit, and make schematic diagrams.

Electric Art Project Requirements:
Use electricity
Use recycled materials
Must light up, move, or make a sound
(wiring, batteries and other supplies are provided)

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