5-8, Education, Reading, Student Products, Teaching Tools, Videos

iMovie Trailers for The Giver

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In our district, most 5th grade GT students read the book, The Giver, by Lois Lowry.  This amazing piece of dystopian literature spawns endless discussions about topics from the meaning of freedom to the potential consequences of genetic engineering.  I have read this book with a group of students every year for 14 years, and I have never heard the same conversations twice.

Lisa Johnson at TechChef4u recently featured some iMovie trailers, and included some that were done about The Giver by Mr. Weinert’s 8th  grade class.  I hope to use them to get my class excited about the book next year, and perhaps have them create some of their own for one of the sequels to the novel.

Lisa Johnson also included a link to some storyboarding templates for iMovie on the iPad by Timothy Jefferson which you might want to check out as well.

5-8, Education, Motivation, Philosophy, Student Products, Teaching Tools, Universal Design for Learning, Videos

The Passion Project

from "The Future Project Playbook"
from “The Future Project Playbook”

Sometimes I start reading a blog post and my jaw drops. I am constantly amazed by the work of educators around the globe, and Sonya Terborg is one person I deeply admire.  From her blog, I learned about The Passion Project, and I am absolutely convinced that I must somehow find a way to include this in my plans for my gifted fifth graders.

There is too much involved for me to eloquently explain The Passion Project.  Here is one sentence from the “About” page of their site, “Our goal was to give our students the opportunity to explore their passions in a meaningful way, with freedom to explore and the chance to use this time to connect to themselves as learners and as members of a community.”

On her recent post, “Gearing up for Passion!”, Sonya shared a link to a wonderful “playbook” from The Future Project, another website that has similar goals.  This 60 page free download has many thought-provoking exercises.  The image above is one excerpt.  I can’t wait to use this with my students.

I am also “passionate” about the idea of having my students create a video like the one below, “Dear World…Our messages to the world!”  You must watch this!

5-8, Critical Thinking, Education, Games, Math, Problem Solving, Websites


image credit: http://games.cs.washington.edu/Refraction/

I first learned about the web game, “Refraction“, from Julie Greller’s post on “A Media Specialist’s Guide to the Internet”.  Since my 5th grade daughter happens to be knee-deep in fractions right now, I was intrigued by Julie’s description of the game, which involves guiding lasers to power spaceships.  I followed her link to the game to check it out for myself.

Big mistake.

I really didn’t need another internet addiction, but “Refraction” has all of the elements that make it worthy of adding to your Favorites list.  First of all, your mission is to help the poor, lonely spaceships of animals drifting along with no fuel.  So, that should appeal to everyone’s heroic inclinations.  Secondly, the game slowly introduces challenges that keep it from becoming boring, but also make you do some mental gymnastics.  More and more spaceships need fuel, and some need a quarter of your laser beam or a third or a half.  Math and logic are definitely necessary skills in order to succeed in this game!

5-8, Critical Thinking, Education, Games, Problem Solving, Websites


Peter Reynolds, author and illustrator of The Dot, as well as many other books, is the mind behind SuperThinkers.  This website, designed for students in upper elementary and middle school, includes, games and activities that encourage: reading for meaning, logic, and reasoning skills.  According to the site, it “offers activities that require that students THINK before they click. Do not be surprised if some students find this site “too hard.” An important lesson in authentic learning is that it IS a challenge to think.”

The featured game on SuperThinkers is The Peetnik Mysteries, and I think students will enjoy making deductions based on the clues that are given.  The site also includes:  a creativity workshop, posters, and parent and educator pages.  In addition, there is a section on getting involved by helping others with your SuperThinker powers.

3-5, 5-8, Math, Teaching Tools, Websites

Math Apprentice

Math Apprentice is designed for students in grades 4-7.  According the producers of this site, “the goals of this project are to connect math with real world careers, introduce students to more advanced mathematical ideas, and provide additional opportunities to apply math concepts they have already learned.”  If you have a student who asks you, “How will I use this in the real world?”, you will probably want to give him or her this link.  The activities will definitely appeal to tweens, and there is a great guide for teachers to facilitate using this in the classroom.

3-5, 5-8, Science, Teaching Tools, Videos, Websites


This site from the Science Alberta Foundation describes itself as follows:  “Wonderville is a fun, interactive destination for kids to discover the exciting world of science. This award-winning site encourages exploration and curiosity, while helping kids discover how much fun science can be.”  The site include videos, games, comics, and other activities about topics such as “Milk Mystery” and “Tree Cookies”.  This would be a great link for a teacher to suggest to parents, or to use as a supplemental resource in the classroom.