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Cougars on a Path of Discovery

What an amazing journey we are on, discovering all the ways technology can help us to learn more, share more, and become more. There is something new and exciting around every bend.

by Mrs. Ruffing
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Article posted October 12, 2013 at 10:17 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 34011

This year the current 7th grade has become aware of the existence of the  Millennium Development Goals and their implications for our brothers and sisters around the globe. Students needed to research the goals by taking notes from assigned websites and videos and develop a post demonstrating not only their awareness of the goals, but an example of some progress that has been made toward one of the eight goals. (Featured student posts for this assignment: Kaitlyn, Alex, and Jacob. ) Although the deadline for accomplishing the goals was set for 2015 and there has been some progress, there is, in fact, so much that remains to be done. On September 25 of this year, a special meeting was convened by the UN General Assembly to follow up on the goals. There is an outcome document produced as a result of the meeting. From the document:  

We gather with a sense of urgency and determination, with less than 850 days remaining for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. We renew our commitment to the Goals and resolve to intensify all efforts for their achievement by 2015.

We welcome what has been achieved so far. The Millennium Development Goals have provided a common vision and contributed to remarkable progress. Significant and substantial advances have been made in meeting several of the targets.

However, we are concerned at the unevenness and gaps in achievement and at the immense challenges that remain. The MDGs are critical for meeting the basic needs of people in developing countries; as we approach the 2015 deadline, unrelenting efforts are required to accelerate progress across all the Goals.

There are organizations making progress toward these goals and the 7th grade students had the assignment of finding one example of such progress and showcasing what has been done, indicating the goal being affected, and linking back to the information source. I feel that I should do what I am asking my students to do, so I  would like to showcase an organization that is working to help those in need. It has become dear to my heart because my own daughter has become personally involved in the cause. The organization is buildon.org, and  through their efforts schools are being built in communities whose children have not had the opportunity to have an education. One of the MDG's is to achieve universal primary education, and this organization works to do just that. My daughter will be traveling to Nicaragua with a group and they will live with host families in one of these communities while they all pitch in to build the community school. In her post she says:  

Education is a powerful thing. We all deserve the opportunity to hold this power in our hands and use it as a catalyst to change our futures. Today there are 1.2 billion people around the globe who are illiterate largely due to a lack of access to education. 72% of those illiterate are women. buildOn is an amazing organization that goes where there is a want and a need before they plan the school construction. They then work WITH the community to build the school and ensure an equal amount of boys and girls will attend. Providing access to education for even one remote village can change the lives of hundreds of children living in poverty year-after-year. In Nicaragua these schools double as hurricane shelters during Central America's rainy season. buildOn has immensely successful After-School Youth Development Programs here in the U.S., and through their Global School Construction Program, have already built more than 500 schools.

We can all help in some way by supporting organizations that are making a concerted effort to better the lives of others and help eradicate poverty. Follow the UN Twitter feed on the goals @WeCanEndPoverty. "We are the first generation that can end poverty."  

John F. KennedyTo those whom much is given, much is expected.

Luke 12:48 ~ Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.  

 Image Credits: Outdoor school, Bamozai, Afghanistan by Capt. John Severn, USAF under Public Domain

BuildOn Book Launch San Francisco  by buildon.org under CC license

Article posted October 12, 2013 at 10:17 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 34011

Article posted May 10, 2013 at 08:55 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 162

This year our seventh grade students learned about infographics: what they are, how they are used, and how to create their own. Some great sites that curate infographics are David Warlick's Infographic a Day, Daily Infographic, Cool Infographics, and Visual.ly, just to name a few. The process of creating infographics can be called information design or data visualization. According to Tiago Veloso, the "infographic explosion" began around 2009. There is now a whole industry that has emerged dedicated to developing the visual representation of information. Here is how our seventh graders tested the infographic waters.

First the students searched for a favorite infographic from a selected list of sources. They studied the infographic using a list of criteria and then presented their findings to their classmates. In order to have some real data to display graphically, they created a Google Form to survey students in the school about technology use. This involved some serious thinking about how to word questions clearly, how to present choices, and how to create survey questions that were age appropriate. This was a lot harder to do than they had anticipated and some realized later that their choice of questions made some of the results a little "questionable".

The final step was to present the data in an infographic of their own creation. Not having access to high end graphics programs, and not wanting to have students create an account at yet another website (they already have many) we used basic PowerPoint to develop our infographics. It was free, accessible, familiar, and totally under our control. Chareen Snelson's Making Video Infographics with PowerPoint gave some clear directions on how to use availabe graphics in the program and the design principles to be considered.

The basic steps we used to create our finished infographics were:

1. Create 4 slides, the first for the title of the infographic and the other three for the three questions posed in the survey.

2. Save those 4 slides as jpgs.

3. Create a new PPT file with one slide.

4. Change the dimensions of that slide to portrait orientation and a size of 10" wide and 30" high. (The default slide dimenstion is 7.5 x 10). We used 30 inches because we were "stacking" 4 slides (4 multiplied by 7.5). To make a longer infographic, add another 7.5 inches for each.

5. Make the background of the single slide match the background used in the 4 original slides.

6. Insert the 4 jpgs onto the elongated slide.

7. Save the single slide as a jpg and upload to a website (We used our Flickr account).

8. Share the infographic on your site. (Students used their classblogmeister blog site to showcase their infographic.)

Here are some of the finished infographics created by our students:







To see the students' explanation of the process and additional infographics see the assignment group here.(Not all students linked their post to the assignment. Some students did not provide a link to their full size image.)

Article posted May 10, 2013 at 08:55 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 162

Article posted January 26, 2013 at 08:38 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 340

Each year third graders learn about the various ecosystems and then create a shoebox diorama to feature an ecosystem of their choice. They write a report on the ecosystem they chose and also share their report in a Voice Thread. Well done, third graders!

Article posted January 26, 2013 at 08:38 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 340

Article posted December 3, 2012 at 04:57 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 138

Last year's Christmas post re-visited:

At this time of year many of us in the USA, as well as in countries all over the globe, are planning for the celebration of Christmas. Even within our own country the traditions can vary greatly. Here is a chance to explore what our friends in other parts of the world may be doing as Christmas approaches. It is wonderful that so many countries have visited our class blog. Perhaps some visitor to our blog would tell us more about their celebrations or correct misinformation that might be found on the websites I have included on the Global Christmas glog here. In addition, we can learn about the history of Christmas celebrations in our own culture.

In some countries of the world the percentage of people who celebrate Christmas is quite smal