Friday, February 27, 2009

Using Vocaroo to Give Students a Voice

We are reading the novel Holes in class. In the story the main character Stanley's great-grandfather was robbed by the outlaw Kissin' Kate Barlow. Although Stanley tells us his great-grandfather was robbed, we don't know how it happened. Since this was a "hole" in the story, we decided to fill it.

We used the incredibly useful website to record the stories we wrote to fill in what really happened when Kissin' Kate robbed the first Stanley Yelnats. Vocaroo allows us to easily record and post audio, something that I have real trouble doing with Blogger. We used a Blue Snowball microphone to record the audio. Here is the link to the stories my students wrote and recorded.

Career Day Live Streaming

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Our Solar System

Time to explore the internet to learn more about our Solar System. Follow the directions to gather the necessary information. Make sure you have at least three different sources that confirm your information. Also, make sure you write down the web address of the sites you use to add to your report.

1. Go to
2. Type in "planets" into the search bar.
3. Use the sites that are identified to find the following information about your planet.
A. Diameter
B. Mass
C. Length of year in Earth days
D. Number of moons (if applicable)
E. Distance in miles and kilometers from the sun.
4. Write down the web addresses for each site you use. There should be at least three.

Wednesday, be prepared to create a PowerPoint presentation. You may use the chat below to share information and links among the class. Remember to keep the information on topic because I plan on saving and posting the chat.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I Know That!

We are working on identifying parts of speech. We have been identifying them in the context of sentences, but some testing requires students to identify parts of speech from a list such as multiple choice questions. Here is a website that we can use to drill on parts of speech in that context. Here is the link.

The site also has all sorts of math and science games as well. Here is a link to the home page.

While sites like this should not replace other ways of teaching these concepts, they still have a place for students to have a little fun while reviewing or being introduced to the concepts.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Practicality of a Teachable Moment Part 2: What Do They Sound Like?

This picture shows how we played and recorded from the 45's. I used the Ion TTUSBOSxL to play the 45's and record them as mp3's. I then uploaded the snippets to GCast and created a podcast which I embedded below.

Here is the conclusion to our experiment. Listen to each of the snippets recorded from the 45's and you decide which ones sound best.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

For the Love of History: Pea Ridge National Military Park

I had intended to write a blog post explaining the history of the Battle of Pea Ridge. I have several pictures I was going to post with explanations about the events that took place where the picture was taken. I was going to give some interesting facts about the battle such as the large group of Cherokee Indians that fought on the side of the Confederate States. I changed my mind.

Instead I want to focus on the love of history. When you watch the video below you will notice that the history interpreter, David Lewis, gives much more information about the Elk Horn Tavern site. He talks about cowboys and cattle drives, families, and stills. It was obvious to me that this gentleman loves history.

Not every student that passes through my fifth grade class appreciates history. Some find it downright boring. I can accept that, there are many things I don't care to learn about or experience that other people think is worthy of their time. It is important to realize that everyone has the right to choose their interests. That being said, I do think that more of my students would truly love to learn about history if they were more exposed to their national parks.

The Noel History Club in the last three years has traveled to Pea Ridge NMP, Wilson's Creek NMP, Fort Scott NHS, Tsa-La-Gi Cherokee Heritage Center, Central High School NHS, the Clinton Presidential Library, and other sites of local importance. I have loved every minute of it.

That is why I encourage you to take your children, the local scout troop, or even your homeroom class to a history site near you. That trip may start a life long love of learning about history for you or one of the children you take.

If you are interested in the battle of Pea Ridge, here is a link to information you are looking for.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Practicality of a Teachable Moment: How Can I Clean These Records So I Can Play Them?

Rarely do I take a teachable moment and create a full blown production out of it. Usually it is a matter of time, since I rarely have enough. Today I made time to do the experiment and record it as a lesson.

Saul found a bunch of 45 records on a piece of property he is helping to clean up. He brought them to school to show me. He asked me, "Can we play these?"

Unfortunately, the answer was no. One reason was because we didn't have a record player at school; the second reason was because the 45's were incredibly dirty. I decided we could do an experiment to see how we could best clean them.

You can watch the video to see the start of the experiment.

If you watched the video you noticed that I quickly discussed the PH balance of the solutions I used. I felt that this was a good way to introduce the information, without having to do a full blown lesson on acids and bases. I don't have anything against lessons on acids and bases, it just isn't what we are concentrating on now. Remember this started as a teachable moment, not a planned lesson.

Hopefully, when the students do have a unit on acids and bases they will remember this lesson. I suppose they are much more likely to remember me trying to play the 45's in class. That reminds me... Do any of you have a record player I can borrow?


Here are some pictures I took after the records sat in the solutions for about 18 hours. The solution that is brown looking was the lemon juice. It looked like that when I poured it. I thought it was interesting that the labels held up as well as they did. Draino was the solution that basically dissolved the label . After I rinsed the records off in the sink, Saul wiped them with a soft paper towel to see how clean they were.

Watch this video to see and hear Saul's conclusion to the experiment.

We still need to borrow a record player to see if they will play.

Exploring Simple Machines

What would happen if you found out you had a test tomorrow on simple machines? Questions you would have to answer include:

What is a simple machine?
2. How many simple machines are there?
3. Can you name all the simple machines?
4. Can you identify five simple machines in this school?

How would you answer these questions and be ready for the test? You would need to do research! Here are sites you can look at to find some of the answers to these questions. Answer these questions on paper with your partner and be ready to post your answers on Monday.

You may not need all the information from each site. Make sure you are only using information about simple machines.

Remember to not follow links off the web sites and do not click on any ads.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

ERWIA Presentation from February 10: Watersheds

Here are the videos I recorded with Ustream from our live video feed. We streamed Roger and Sandy Hughes' presentation with chat enabled. (First time!) We had five different people come to the ustream page to watch.

This is a picture of the chat room that I set up for the presentation. My daughter, Teal, who is a student at the University of Arkansas showed up. I asked her to find a link to an online version of the video we watched.

This is a picture of the setup I had for doing the streaming. I used my laptop for the audio/video and the desktop to take care of the chat room.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Elk River Watershed Association Live Stream.

Today we are joined by Roger and Sandy Hughes from the Elk River Watershed Improvement Association. (ERWIA). Roger and Sandy have graciously allowed me to stream and record their presentation to the class.

If you would like to ask questions I have set up the chat at

Here is a link to last years post on the ERWIA visit. Click the picture below to go to an interactive map of the Elk River Watershed.


The Elk River Watershed Improvement Association visited our class today. The showed us the video "After the Storm" produced by the EPA and the Weather Channel. If you would like to order a free copy of this video click here. You can download a version on your computer click here. You can find information from the video here.

The EPA has a kids site found here you may want to check out.

History Club Trip to Pea Ridge National Military Park

The history club will be visiting Pea Ridge National Military Park on Friday, February 13. Pea Ridge was a very important battle which helped keep the state of Missouri for the Union. Here are some interesting facts taken from the web site:

Almost half of the enlisted troops and many of the officers in the Union Army of the Southwest at the Battle of Pea Ridge spoke German as their first language.

When Confederate General Van Dorn heard news that Curtis pushed Price out of Missouri, he set out to take personal charge of an attack on Curtis, along with Price and McCulloch. He arrived at Price’s headquarters in an ambulance, braving a severe illness resulting from falling into an icy stream.

There were four Medal of Honor recipients in the Battle of Pea Ridge: Private Albert Power, Captain William P. Black, Colonel Eugene A. Carr, and Colonel Francis J. Herron.

Reposted from Noel History Club

Keep your eyes out for a post next week with tons of new info on Pea Ridge.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

First Semester Honor Roll

These are the students that earned all A's (superior) for the first semester.
These are the students that earned only A's (Superior) and B's (Above Average) for the first semester.

Terrific Tigers for January

Third through eighth grade Terrific Tigers for January.How did they get to be Terrific Tigers?



Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Repost: Postcards from Stanley: Is It Ever Okay to Lie?

My students wrote postcards pretending to be Stanley Yelnats. Stanley's letters lied about his activities at Camp Green Lake. He told her that he was swimming and canoeing instead of digging holes. He did not want his mother to worry about him.

We had a good discussion in class about if Stanley did the right thing. We decided that Stanley really had three choices: to lie, to tell the truth, or to not write at all. Which would you have chosen? Explain your answer.

This was reposted from the blog A Novel Approach to Reading.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Boys Basketball and Cheerleading

Cheerleaders performing at halftime of the 7-8 grade boys game.

7-8 grade boys playing against Southwest City.

5-6 grade boys playing against Southwest City.

Are Dams Necessary? Taking Sides on this Controversial Issue

One of our fifth grade objectives is to examine the human role in nature. We looked at the role the Bureau of Reclamation played in the creating of dams, specifically here the Hoover Dam. We read an excerpt from John McPhee's Encounters with the Archdruid and discussed the reasons why some people were for the creation of dams while others were against their creation. The students were asked to create persuasive paragraphs taking one side of the issue.

Here is Zac explaining why he is for the creation of dams.

Here is Megan explaining why she is against the creation of dams.

Here is a link to a great video created by the Bureau of Reclamation as the dam was being built.
Video of the Boulder Dam (Hoover Dam) construction.

Here is the link to the persuasive paragraphs.

Academic Accolades for February 3

Congratulations Natalia, Shayla, and Wendy!