Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Thing #7

Ok, Thing #7 had us explore the myriad tools that Google has to offer.  

I set up a daily Google Alert, to send me science news.  I figure this would be a great little blurb to read and/or discuss to get students engaged at the beginning of class, especially if there were an article relating to that day's lesson!

Also, I downloaded Google Earth.   I'd played with it a bit before, but didn't realize how much there was to it!  I was very impressed: latitude and longitude, elevation, date of image...  However, it proved to be a challenge for my ol' G4 PowerBook.  Not only does Google Earth require you to download the program, but if you want to go on any of the pre-made KML (Keyhole Markup Language) tours, such as Earthquakes in Real Time, Jimmy Buffett's Hawaii Tour, or Museums of the World, you need to download a separate plug-in!  Trying to maneuver around the globe- and waiting for the image to load for each subsequent move- was pretty frustrating.  Has anyone found this to be true as well?  Maybe it's my tiny, older laptop...

I just had another idea: using BOTH of these apps in class together!  For example, say that I get an alert about a certain volcano in Hawaii.  I share with the class, and ask what they know (prior knowledge or what they glean from the article) about volcanoes, and/or Hawaii (terrain, climate, native plants and animals, etc.).  Then I fire up the Google Earth, and we can go right to aforementioned volcano!  We could even find other volcanoes around the globe with which to compare and contrast!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Thing #6: A few snags, but fun overall!

So, today I explored some of the 3rd-party/mashup sites for Thing #6.
The first one I used was Flickr Colr Pickr, found here.  It was so cool!  I was a bit disappointed that some of the photos were just fields of (essentially) solid color, instead of being particular objects having said color.  Ah well.  
I did find a really cute pink photo, though!  I couldn't figure out why I couldn't save it onto my computer.  Turns out, it's copyrighted.  I thought all the photos on this 3rd-party site were for public use!  In case you are curious, you can find it here.  I just love the color, the texture, and how close the objects seem to be to the camera.
Next, I was super excited to try out the trading card creator!  Try it, you'll love it!  For some reason, regardless of what portion of the photo I chose to be visible if cropped, the trading card creator rotated it.  Again, things didn't go exactly as I planned, but I actually like the result:

Friday, June 26, 2009

Keepin' Cool

Hey friends!  So it is summer in Texas, which means it is HOT HOT HOT (today's high temp is forecasted a toasty 103).  Staying cool and hydrated is a priority if you want to avoid being a total sweaty grumpster!  Since kicking the Diet Coke habit a week or two ago, I've found a new, refreshing beverage of choice.  Enter the Arnold Palmer: half lemonade, half iced tea, all delicious.  BTW, a quick internet search revealed that there are canned Arnies available.  Blarrrgghh!  Nothing less than homemade for this treehouse-dweller!  What is your favorite frosty beverage for the summer?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thing #5

Thing #5 was an exploration of Flickr.  I'd had a vague idea of what it was, but never realized how much there was to it!  Exploring it was a lot of fun.  I could do a search for something, browse thru the results, then I'd get sidetracked looking at someone's photostream, which would inspire me to do another search, etc.   I am amazed at the sheer volume of images, the different levels of copyright/utility, the groups and clusters.  
It seems like it'd be a fantastic tool to use in the classroom.  I am hoping to teach middle school science.  How fun would it be for my students to do scavenger hunts, and post their results?  Each class could be in a group, and each student could have their own individual profile.  Then they could look at their classmates' pics and make comments.  This would really get them engaged and excited about learning.
This image came from Flickr's Creative Commons section, from the user CaptPiper.  I thought it was a strong image not only aesthetically (those blue eggs- gorgeous!), but in showing part of a bird's life cycle!

A bit about the title...

So, my blog is titled Notes from a Texas Treehouse.  Do I really live in a treehouse?  No, but my apartment is one with so much whimsy that I sometimes feel like a character in a fairy tale!  
I call it my treehouse because it is a finished attic apartment with windows on every side, each with a view of leaves and branches.  I feel like I am perched in the treetops.  Sometimes, when I wake up to birds chirping, I like to imagine that I am in the middle of a forest, instead of Fort Worth!
I love this little apartment, built in 1930.  My favorite thing about it (besides its aforementioned loftiness) is the built-in bookshelves.  What is your favorite thing about your abode?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Thing #3

Thing #3 included setting up this blog, and creating a Yahoo Avatar.  I already had a Yahoo Avatar, but I did update her clothes and surroundings a bit. (She was formerly a mermaid underwater!)  
I resisted having a blog for a long time, honestly.  I assumed that they were merely the medium of choice for poorly-punctuated diatribes against this or that piece of pop culture.  Since that time, I have discovered a few funny and/or interesting blogs that I read pretty regularly:
Needless to say, my idea of what a blog can be has expanded greatly.  I look forward to doing my own blogging about all the cool technology that can be used for teaching!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thing #2

I really enjoyed the slideshow on The 7 1/2 Habits of Lifelong Learners, available here.  I personally have no intention of ever ceasing to learn!  Of the 7 1/2 habits detailed, all made sense, but some I found to be easier, and some more difficult.

The easiest one for me would be Habit #5: creating a learning toolbox.  Doesn't that just sound like fun?  It does to me!  My treehouse has two lovely built-in bookshelves, which I take great pleasure in stuffing with volumes of all sorts.  I'm also a frequent student of TCU's Extended Education Department: I've taken courses in bellydance, copperplate calligraphy, book collecting...

The hardest habit for this treehouse-dweller would be the very first one: begin with the end in mind.  I suppose that would make me a true dilettante, as I usually learn just for the fun of it, without any specific goal or objective.  Now that I think about it, it was an accomplishment in itself when I decided to focus all my running efforts towards completing a half-marathon this November!  Goal-setting is a habit I must definitely develop, especially if I'm going to teach school!

So there you have it.  Stay tuned this summer for more Texas Treehouse fun!