Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Lost in Cyber-Space?

Have you ever gotten "lost" while looking up something on the computer? That's what happens to me, especially in the summer!

Today I was looking at some of the other links on our school district website like this Websites to Check Out link: -- just reminding myself what was there, and got immersed in the lesson plans at Education World.
I downloaded a number of PDF files related to Dolch sight words -- Samson's Classroom,  and then noticed the Internet Scavenger Hunts.  I didn't find one that really interested me, but I DID find this link to image editing sites.

The graphic at the right was created with Image Chef using their Word Mosaic. I've created other "word clouds" like this using Wordle and Tagxedo.  They're fun to use with lots of choices for lettering styles and colors. My High 5 afterschool club students enjoyed using these tools also.

This Word Mosaic is a bit different from the other two, as it gives the choice to use a font which mixes styles and sizes of text. Normally, if you want to see a word stand out, you type it into the text box several times. In this Mosaic, it looks like I typed FUN in more often than Reading or Technology, but I only typed each word once and then selected the "mix" font option. Nice result and lots less typing for students. I like it!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mad Science at the Public Library

"Mad Science" was the name of the program at the Spooner Memorial Public Library today. When I arrived the room was full of kids and adults. What fun it was to see some of my students there to learn about science presented by a very entertaining scientist from the Science Museum of Minnesota, whose name I did not catch!

Did you know that there is an invisible elephant that sits on the top of your head? That's a force called gravity and it's pretty powerful. According to our guest gravity is what holds the moon close to the earth and what keeps the earth in orbit around the sun.

His topic today was air and what an amazing substance it is. We saw a smoke tornado that was used it to blow out the light of two tapered candles from across the room. A hair dryer became an anti-gravity machine to suspend a ping-pong ball in the air. That was pretty cool! Then he brought out an even bigger blower, used it to blow air and ping-pong balls at the audience, then attached it to his "hover-craft". A girl in the front row was invited to sit in the center and when the power was turned on, she glided across the floor powered by air.

By taking all the air out from under a giant rubber circle with a handle on it, he was able to lift a wooden library chair high off the ground.

Everyone who attended was invited to pick up two handouts, one with an experiment and Mad Science word find; the other a notice to go to the Mad Science Facebook page to enter in a drawing for a free remote controlled robot. One robot given away for every 100 entries.

Thanks Spooner Memorial Library for another great summer program!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The 39 Clues

The 39 Clues series was very popular at our school last year. The only one that I could find on the shelf to read was #2 which featured clues about the life of Mozart, I thought our music teachers would like that one!

Now that it's summer, book #1 The Maze of Bones has been on my reading list and was found at the public library. Anytime you start a series it's always good to read the books in order. It is especially good to catch the first one which gives you the background information you need to understand the story and introduces the main characters. In The 39 Clues 14 year old Amy, and her 11 year old brother, Dan Cahill are orphans, who live with a strict Aunt, but have a wonderful grandmother called Grace, who they visit at her mansion every weekend.

Grace Cahill's death at the beginning of this book reveals a challenge to her relatives through a video played at the reading of her will. In the video Grace reveals that the Cahill family has had "a greater impact on human civilization than any other family in history." She challenges them to form teams to go on a "quest of vital importance to the Cahill family and the world at large." But, only one team can succeed! "It will be the greatest, most perilous undertaking of all time." The teams will receive the first of 39 clues that leads to "The most important treasure in the world and make you powerful beyond belief...or it might kill you!"

Or, they can take $1,000,000.00 and leave the room. Talk about exciting! They have only 5 minutes to decide. What would you do? One million dollars or a great adventure with the promise of vast wealth and power? Luckily for us, they decide to burn the one million dollar voucher and the quest begins.

Credit: Historical Society of Penn.
The Maze of Bones centers around Benjamin Franklin, so off the pair go to Philadelphia where young Ben spent much of his time. This is a fast-moving story with lots of action and problems that crop up for the siblings. They don't always get along or agree on what to do, just like real life, which adds to the fun.

This Scholastic Books series has been written by nine different authors for 8 -12 year old students and includes eleven titles. There is a second series called Cahills vs Vespers which continues the adventures. A movie based on the series is scheduled for release in 2014. Our school library acquired several copies of The Black Book of Buried Secrets, which is a fabulous guide to all of
The 39 Clues characters, their talents and even some of their secrets.

The 39 Clues link  Takes you directly to a page where you can interact online by signing up, finding out what "branch" of the Cahill family you belong to, and entering into the search. Each new book comes with a packet of CLUE cards to add to the fun. The first contest ended in March of 2010. Take a look at the six lucky  kids from around the world who were the First Series Winners - 39 Clues.

A Scholastic Reading Club link has activities and contests for groups of students. Looks like a great opportunity for a middle school afterschool club. This link also has good synopses of each of the titles. The new series Cahills vs Vespers has three titles so far, plus a stand alone novel called The Cahill Files: Operation Trinity. The fourth book, Shatterproof  is due out on September 4th just in time for back to school.

Rick Riordan author of The Maze of Bones, and other 39 Clues titles. Has also written the Percy Jackson series (featuring Greek Mythology) and The Kane Chronicles (Egyptian Mythology). He has a fantastic website with links to activities based on each of these series. I better stop now, there is a whole new post I could do about Mr. Riordan.

Join the Adventure -- Hunt for the 39 Clues!