Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Sharks live in a FOREST?!?

Thanks to the power of social media, today our students experienced the passion of a woman who abso-poso-tutely LOVES her job! Ms. Jillian Morris from Sharks4Kids is a marine biologist, explorer, photographer, educator, and all-around shark advocate.

A couple of months ago, my students were learning about oceans, and came up with some questions. Part of their solution to finding the answers, was to create a video posing questions for ocean experts. We were so lucky to have Ms. Jillian respond!! (And how exciting that the kids are starting to realize how to leverage technology as a tool for learning!)

Her energy and love for sharks was exciting to experience, and our kids were rapt as she taught us all about sharks, especially how to see them in a new way.

Check out some of what we learned!
Say Cheese! Sharks smile, too!

This is the island of Bimini, where Ms. Jillian lives and studies sharks.
And YES, some sharks live among the mangrove tree roots, hence
in the forest!!! 

These were lots of images from her work, studying sharks,
and helping them. 

Skyping with a shark scientist was definitely a first for
 our third graders. 

Whoa!!! Look at Ms. Jillian in the middle of the picture!!
What a cool job! And, as some of my students said, "It's
cool that a woman can do that!" 

Taking pictures of her friends,  with her special underwater
camera equipment.

Jillian had load of pictures of different sharks,
and she took the time to explain them,
then answer questions from our curious students.

Here are some thoughts from the kids. Have a look at some of their takeaways!

Our feedback for today was 4-fold: 1 question, 2 facts, 1 way cool
thing they were planning on telling someone later today, and
an illustration showing what they thought the "coolest part
of Ms. Jillian's job" is.

The fact that over 100million sharks are killed in a year left
quite an impression on many of the kids. 

Ms. Jillian presented sharks in a new way for us. Instead of scary
wild animals, we learned that humans are not on the menu and
would prefer not to hurt us.

We learned about different types of sharks, such as the Nurse
Shark and the Lemon Shark!

Did you know that sharks have belly buttons like us?

Examples from student feedback: The coolest part of her job,
taking care of sharks, swimming with them, and taking pictures
of them.
The range of questions after her presentation. :)

Ms. Jillian, thank you once again for your time, and your many efforts to teach kids like us about sharks, and how to help them. We learned so many different things today!!

And hey, by the way, THANK YOU for helping us see how technology can be used as such a fun tool for learning and reaching out around the world!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Using the Olympics to teach homophones!

Yes! What better way to talk about homophones, than in conjunction with the Olympics?

Tying in the history of the Olympics naturally lead us to Greece (not grease!). We discussed the meaning of the word homophone, and how English likes to steal (not steel!words and word parts from other languages, especially Greek and Latin!

Homo means "same" in Greek
Phone means "voice" in Greek
Put them together, and homophone means a word that sounds the same as another, but means something different.

We also learned about
heterographs: "different" "writing"--words that are spelled differently and have different meanings (too/ two)
homographs: "same" "writing"---words that are spelled the same but have different meanings (saw--the tool and saw--the past tense verb of see)
homonyms: "same" "name"---same as homographs

We even realized that Plato and play dough can be considered homophones, too! We are learning just  how many words sound alike!

One way to tell which word is being used is to read the sentence for context clues
Another way is to go old school and use a dictionary

Collaborating to find definitions of homophone pairs. "So THIS is
why we need to know ABC order!", said one of my boys.
Can you see the words above that are in bold? They are homophones and homonyms. Do you know their different meanings? How many can you find?

And do you remember why we linked the Olympics to homophones? (hint: think Greek!)

Do you have homophones in your language? We would love for you to share some!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Who (or what?!) is Sir Walter Wally?

Sir Walter Wally hanging out in sunny Raleigh on
February 2, 2014. Alas, he saw his shadow. 
Groundhog Day is certainly one of those unusual holidays that folks celebrate. The most famous groundhog is known as Punxsatawney Phil. He lives in Gobbler's Knob in Pennsylvania, and this year was the first time Groundhog coincided (was the same day as) with the Super Bowl (famous football championship game).

Although statistics say Punxsutawney Phil has been accurate (correct) with his predictions a mere 50% of the time (or less!), people still eagerly await to learn whether he sees his shadow or not.
If he "sees" his shadow, there will be 6 more weeks of winter. If not, then prepare for spring!

Which you would prefer that he sees? His shadow? Or not?

Punxsutawney Phil, strange as he may seem, is not the only groundhog busy prognosticating (Isn't that a great word? It means the same as "forecasting" or "predicting"!) the weather.

Our closest groundhog to home is Sir Walter Wally, who lives in Raleigh, NC, also saw his shadow.

And now you know what that means---6 more weeks of winter!

Do YOU have any similar traditions? Are there any readers from Germany who can tell us about the origin of Groundhog Day?