Tuesday, December 13, 2011

7th Grade Language Arts Uses Publisher

Seventh Grade Language Arts Classes worked for several weeks on writing and publishing a completed news paper using Publisher.  Students had to research a topic of interest, write about that topic, and then they had to create a feature article that included their writing.  To see some examples of student work, click on the links below. 

Communicating Through Art

One of Ms. Blackwell's students who has a hard time communicating, has found a way to communicate with the rest of the world through her art.  She has her own website, which features her computer artwork, short films, and stop animation videos.  Ellie can communicate endless amount of information through her drawings and art with little or no words.

Here is an example of one of her stop animation videos where she makes Mickey and WALL-E do the same thing.  

Deerpark Middle School in the School Library Journal

Deerpark Middle School's participation in the virtual book club on the Hunger Games turned out to be a hit.  Our book club and our librarian, Amy Lott were given a nod by Joyce Valenza in the School Library Journal. Check out the article here.  School Library Journal


Monday, December 12, 2011

Theater Digital Portfolios

When you go to your evaluation for your job, you are given a grade.  It usually isn't like the grade our students get based on a percentage out of 100, but it is usually based on a portfolio of your work.  Mrs. Hadzi's Theatre Classes are getting ahead of the game and creating portfolios using Foliospaces.  Students have to create a resume', compare where they are in their acting from the beginning of the year to the end of the year, and add information about their skills and what they have accomplished during the year.

In the end, Mrs. Hadzi hopes that they leave her class with a tool to help them gather, organize and display all of their talents in one place.  This certainly is a tool that will help them in their pursuit of a career, college education and much more.

Check out work from one student's portfolio here...

There will be more previews of student portfolios as they continue to develop throughout the year.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Constitution Animotos

Mrs. Huffman's classes have been studying the constitution.  They have had to research a particular part of the Constitution and come up with concepts and pictures that represent their piece of the US Constitution.  Each group had to research and them put all of their information into an Animoto that they would use to teach the rest of the class about their part of the project at the end of the week.  Here are a couple of examples of student work.  


These students took their own pictures to go with their teaching experience.  

Read All About It! DMS Goes Digital

Deerpark Middle School Newspaper students have produced their first online newspaper for everyone to see!  Students have worked hard on articles about Dance, Basketball tryouts, the STAAR test, Ranger Football, and much more.  Check out the Ranger online Newspaper!

QR Codes on Campus

First, let's discuss what exactly a QR code is.  A QR code or Quick Response code is a two-dimensional matrix bar code that is used to identify products.  This code is different than a traditional bar code because it does not matter the code's orientation.  QR codes were developed in Japan and eventually used in the automobile industry.  However recently, QR codes can be found everywhere, from you junk mail coupon pack to a highway billboard.  

This is the first year we have started using them in a school setting.  All you need is either a QR code reader for a webcam, or a free QR code reader app (iTunes/Android) for a phone or tablet device.  Student council recently used a QR code to have the student body request songs for the Winter Wonderland Dance, and our library has used them to find out more information about the Twilight Trivia contest.  

QR code to request song for Winter Wonderland Dance

Student scanning the QR code for the Twilight Trivia Contest

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Video Conference with Jason Henderson

For Deerpark's Literacy Night, Night of the Living Books, students and faculty had the opportunity to participate in several interactive activities regarding literacy throughout the evening.  One of the sessions offered was a Skype with author Jason Henderson who wrote Alex Van Helsing:  Vampire Rising.  Mr. Henderson shared the processes that he went through to write the book and took several questions from adults and students alike.  Through a feature in Skype, he was able to share a digital presentation from his computer over our screen as he was talking.  

One student inquired about what steps she needed to take to publish her own writing.  Mr. Henderson gave gave her tips like finding an agent and never paying someone to read your book.  Our principal, Mrs. Hayes was very eager to ask some pressing questions like, "When is the next book coming out?"  This was an amazing experience for all who participated.  

Students, Parents, and Teachers listening to author, Jason Henderson

A student getting writer's advice from a published author

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Robotics Tournament at Westwood High School

Deerpark's robotics teams attended the First Lego League Tournament on Saturday, November 12th, at Westwood High School.  They used their math skills, flow charted, and programmed a robot to make one of the best showings our school has ever made at a qualifying tournament.  Students were judged in four categories.  In Core Values, students from both teams received high marks on their clear definition of team roles, and one of our judges commented after the tournament about how amazing our teams were in her room.  In Robot Design and Programming, both teams received all 3's and 4's for their innovation and strategy for their programming.  The students were judged on a research project, team Corrupted OS researched making the transport of sushi safer and team The Most Interesting Robot in the World, researched how to keep coffee fresher from harvest to table.  Both teams fared well in this category with The Most Interesting team getting high marks for their engaging presentation and the Corrupted team getting high marks for their in depth research.  The last category teams were judged on how well they did on the First Lego League Food Factor Mat.  The Most Interesting team paced 7 out of 24 teams and Corrupted OS placed 18 out of 24 teams.  Well done Deerpark Robotics!

Student Explore Writing with Storybird

Mrs. DeCuir's students are using Storybird, to practice their writing skills this week. Storybird is a web-based program where students can choose various types of artwork and layouts and write a story inspired by the artwork.  The artwork is donated by artists who are trying to get more exposure.  Students can also write their story first and find images from the artwork to put with their stories.  Storybird offers writing contests throughout the year for aspiring writers.  Here is an example of what Storybird looks like.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tweeting the President!

Mrs. McMorris, who stated to me last year, "The one thing I don't get, is using Twitter in the classroom," has moved beyond her initial ideas and allowed her students to Tweet the President of the United States!  What an amazing tool to use in a United States History class.  This is truly beyond the textbook and allows students to  understand 21st Century ways to communicate with our community.  Students voiced their opinions via tweets, e-mails, and phone calls and were surpised how quickly they were given a response to their messages.  Some students agreed with the President's policies and some did not and they expressed those opinions in their communications.  Mrs. McMorris wanted the students to see that although they are not old enough to vote, they can still have a voice and be heard. 

Map Pencils and Paper to Virtual Posters

Some students in Mr. Quezada's World Cutlures classes were given the opportunity to move beyond map pencils and paper and create virtual posters using Glogster for their studies on South America.  Glogsters are virtual posters where students can not only display pictures like a traditional poster, but they can insert links, images, audio files, and videos about a particular country.  Students used Culture Grams, an online database,  to search for the National Anthem, the country's flag, and maps for their countries.  Then they took the paper and map pencil assignment and made digital graphs to display the literacy rate, the precentage of various ethnicities located in a particular country, the types of religions, and other statistical data.  The graphs were then placed into their glogs to be displayed virtually. 

Below is an example of one of two of the students' glog.  

To see more glogs, check out Mr. Quezada's student work page

Hungry for Hangouts

Deerpark's Book Club recently met with four other book clubs across three different time zones to discuss the book The Hunger Games.  The clubs set up a video conference using Google Hangouts where multiple groups can conference on in one location.  Other programs like Skype, allow the same feature, but at a monetary cost to the school.  Deerpark's Librarian and Instructional Technology Specialist worked with the Director of Information Services to make sure Google Hangouts were available so our club could participate in this wonderful opportunity. 

Once on the conference, each school asked questions and gave all of the other schools a chance to answer.  The campus in Pennsylvania even had a student Skyping in from Austria on a different computer, to contribute to their meeting and they would ask her questions through the video conference with the rest of the schools.  This was an amazing experience!

Students use Today's Meet to type in their questions for the team moderator

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Travel to Mexico and Back in a Class Period

Photo by L. Lafond
Sixth grade students in Mr. Quezada's classes recently took a bus tour of Mexico City, Mexico while studying Latin America.  They started off sitting in seats on his "bus" in the library while he showed a power point and audio that pointed out different features around them in the city.  Once they came to their first "stop" students were allowed to get off the bus and had an assignment using Google Earth.  They had to travel from Deerpark Middle School to La Plaza de las Tres Culturas, where they had to answer questions about what they saw in a drawing.  When they were done, they were allowed to examine the street view of the Plaza and see what it would look like if they were actually in Mexico City.  The next day of the bus tour took them to La Basilica de Guadalupe where they were able to get off the bus and explore their surroundings.  Check out a video of what they saw.  

LA EMBAJADORA RONDALLA DEL AMOR DE SALTILLO. "Con Tu Amor Por Siempre." Royalty Free Music Downloads - Jamendo. Web. 26 Oct. 2011. .

Engineering, Robotics and Food

Deerpark is on it's third year for our robotics program, and we have two amazing teams this year.  In the fall, teams compete in the First Lego League Tournament where they are judged in three categories, Robot Design/Programming, Core Values/Teamwork, and a research project presentation.  This year's theme is Food Factor and our teams have been working hard contacting chemistry teachers from McNeil High School, researching the production of coffee and alternative ways to keep it fresh, building two extraordinary robots entirely out of Lego pieces, and figuring out the trials and triumphs of working together in large groups.  In November, 160 teams come together through various qualifying tournaments to show off and celebrate all of the hard work that they have done.  Teams who perform well in all three of the categories will move on to the championship tournament in January.

Robotics isn't for everyone, it takes up a great deal of time, students must be passing all of their classes, and they have to be able to work cooperatively with other students.
Students work on team building to learn how to work as a team better. 
John is working on the team's research project
Rachel works on her program to pick up Pizza and Ice Cream off of the  competition mat.
Rachel's Flow Chart for her program

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Virtual Tutorials

Have you ever gotten home and started working on your homework and then thought, "What did my teacher say about this assignment?"  Mrs. Engelke has started solving this problem by having virtual tutorials using her online course in a program called Moodle!  Mrs. Engelke sets up a time with her students that she will be online.   Students can log in to her Moodle course using a computer from home or a smartphone and ask her questions just like a face to face tutoring session.    It's also beneficial for students who can't always stay after class or come after school to ask questions because of prior engagements.  
Example of one of the tutorial sessions

Mrs. Engelke has come a long way in her trek to become a 21st Century Educator over the past few years and we are very proud of the great things she is doing for our students at Deerpark!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Beyond Blackboards

Mr. Nissim is one of Deerpark's new 7th grade math teachers, and he is paving the way for Deerpark to move into the 21st Century using his Smartboard when he teaches.  While other teachers may use a dry erase marker on a white board for notes, Mr. Nissim takes in interactive approach to taking notes in math class.  Students don't sit behind their desks as active listeners, they are in front of the class as active participants!  

The interactive Smartboard is like a white board, only better!  It is hooked up to his computer and displays what is on his computer screen.  Instead of using dry erase markers, students use special pens that "write" on the screen.  The image, letters, numbers etc, that they write can then be saved onto the computer for later use.  

After taking the notes during class, Mr. Nissim places screen shots of them on his webpage for Unit Help!  Here's and example to the left.    Students are seeing the same notes they saw when they took them in class!

Each of our 7th and 8th grade math teachers has an interactive white board and Mr. Nissim will be giving a lesson on how to better utilize Smartboards in math this week!

To learn more about Mr. Nissim's 7th Grade Math class, visit his website.  

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Schools grapple with growth of Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying grows; difficult to regulate 
For months, Korina Correa was pursued.
On YouTube and Facebook, via text message and instant message, her classmates called her vulgar names. They insulted her Hispanic origin. They told the Wallenpaupack Area Middle School eighth-grader that they would kill her, and then that she should kill herself.
"It just kept going," her mother, Frances Correa, said. "It was a horrible feeling. I couldn't sleep."
In May, convinced that her daughter's life was threatened, she called state police.
Cases like Korina's are becoming more frequent as bullying migrates to the Internet. Serious cases have ended in suicide. Disciplining students for actions outside school can be difficult. And the problem of Internet bullying is going to get worse, experts say.
"Cyberbullying didn't exist a decade ago," said Lynn Cromley, director of the Center for Safe Schools, an office within the state Department of Education charged with helping solve school violence. "Now it's growing exponentially."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as many as 35 percent of teens have experienced some kind of "electronic aggression," threats, rumors or other bullying behavior expressed through cell phones or the Internet.
Kids become less inhibited when using technology, Ms. Cromley said. They use harsher words than they might in person, and the insults can become sexual - "things they would never say face-to-face to each other," she said.
As online bullying has grown, so have efforts to control it. Pennsylvania requires schools to have a policy on in-person and electronic bullying. The policy must list the consequences for bullying and designate a staff member to deal with complaints.
But if students are using their own computers and their own time to bully others, administrators' hands are often tied. Student speech, even bullying, must cause a significant disruption at school before administrators can act, a standard established in a 1969 court case that defined students' First Amendment rights.
"Our efforts really have to focus on the prevention of it, and there's not a lot we can do actively with respect to consequences," said Michael Mahon, Ph.D., the Abington Heights School District superintendent.
Abington Heights uses a bullying prevention curriculum in middle school and invites speakers to both the middle and high schools, he said. Students can report problems to a bullying hot line. The school also reminds students that the Internet is forever: Colleges and future employers could look at how they used Facebook and similar websites.
Still, he said several cases of bullying are severe enough to cross his desk each year.
"We make every effort to run down all complaints to the extent that we possibly can," Dr. Mahon said. "That is difficult when it's done face-to-face. There are huge numbers of issues when we get reports of it happening online."
Serious cases of online bullying are often beyond schools' ability to deal with, Ms. Cromley said. As in the Correas' case, police must intervene.
Since they reported Korina's case to the state police, the bullying has subsided somewhat, Ms. Correa said. But she is angry that Wallenpaupack Area Middle School could not do more.
"They should have stricter rules, stricter laws," she said. "They should take a step in my daughter's shoes and go through what she has been experiencing."
Dr. Mahon praises his district's prevention efforts. By and large, they work, he said. But he doesn't think the problem can ever be completely controlled.
"Every night in the Abington Heights School District, kids go home and they do their Facebook and their e-mails or their texting, and there is some bullying - either real or perceived - that is taking place," Dr. Mahon said.
Contact the writer: lnelson@timesshamrock.com What parents can do about e-bullying
 Don't let your child on the computer alone in his or her room. Keep it in a common area.
 Create a Facebook profile and add your child as a friend, Lynn Cromley, director of the Center for Safe Schools, advises.
  Remember that your child might know more about technology than you. Some kids have one Facebook page for parents and another for friends. Make sure you're aware of all your child's online activities.
  Tell your children they should tell you right away if they're being bullied. Kids can be reluctant to say something, because it might mean admitting they are using technology in ways they shouldn't be, such as texting during class.

Nelson, Libby A. "Schools Grapple with Growth of Cyberbullying - News - The Times-Tribune." Scranton News, Sports, Obituaries, and Shopping | Thetimes-tribune.com | The Times-Tribune. Times-Tribune, 14 June 2011. Web. 29 June 2011. .

How do you think cyber bullying should be handled in schools today? (post three complete sentences with your response)


Postcard to replace tornado sirens

Cedar Park's plan to replace sirens is a postcard

Updated: Friday, 27 May 2011, 5:33 PM CDT
Published : Thursday, 26 May 2011, 8:20 PM CDT
CEDAR PARK (KXAN) - Cedar Park residents should expect to receive a postcard in the next month educating residents about how to stay safe during severe weather and tornados.
The postcard says:
* Have a plan
* Make a Kit
* Stay informed
Emergency management coordinator Jessica Jackson told council that every weekend in June they will have a "how to prepare for a disaster display" at Walmart.
More information can be found on the City's website .
Thursday night , the Cedar Park city council praised a public preparedness plan that replaces its soon-to-be removed early warning tornado sirens.
Currently the sirens are functional and don’t cost anything to activate. KXAN spoke with Cedar Park Mayor Bob Lemon Thursday evening. Lemon said the city would use the sirens until they’re removed, but he said the system is old technology and there are other ways to alert people.
Recent deadly tornados in the Midwest and Southeast did not change the mind of Cedar Park officials. Mayor Lemon said the sirens will eventually come down; he also feels that people seem to be confused by the sirens.
"We want to get so far beyond sirens. I don't think people understand what a siren is. I don't think it registers with people,” said Lemon.
City officials have not said how much its costing to produce and mail the postcards. They also have not said how many residents will receive them. City officials refused on camera interviews to answer those questions.

McHenry, Catenya. "Cedar-park's-plan-replaces-tornado-sirens | KXAN.com." Austin News, Weather, Sports, Traffic | KXAN.com. KXAN, 27 May 2011. Web. 29 June 2011. 

Do you think Cedar Park should remove their tornado sirens?  Explain in at least three complete sentences why or why not.  


Pope’s Message to Priests: We Must Blog

Pope Benedict XVI has a message for priests of the Catholic Church: They must proclaim the gospel by not only having a website, but by blogging and utilizing new web communication tools.

The 265th Pope of the Catholic Church has been an unexpectedly strong proponent of social media. Last year, he launched a YouTube channel, and six months ago, he released Facebook and iPhone apps to spread the Church’s message. It looks like that he hopes Catholic priests will follow his digital example.
In his message, the Pope acknowledges that priests face new challenges due to cultural shifts that have brought the conversation online. Thus, priests must do more than just take the Word of the gospel to the web.
Here’s a small excerpt from the entire message from the Pope:
“The spread of multimedia communications and its rich ‘menu of options’ might make us think it sufficient simply to be present on the Web, or to see it only as a space to be filled. Yet priests can rightly be expected to be present in the world of digital communications as faithful witnesses to the Gospel, exercising their proper role as leaders of communities which increasingly express themselves with the different ‘voices’ provided by the digital marketplace. Priests are thus challenged to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources (images, videos, animated features, blogs, websites) which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization and catechesis.”
We have to give the Pope high marks for his push to make the Church more effective in the digital realm. While the Pope is not on Twitter, his Pope2you initiative is definitely a step in the right direction. He clearly knows that reaching young believers requires going to the places where they spend their time and converse. More and more, that is social media.
[via Yahoo News and The Next Web]

24, January. "Pope's Message to Priests: We Must Blog." Social Media News and Web Tips – Mashable – The Social Media Guide. Web. 29 June 2011. 

The Pope is embracing technology to reach his masses, in what inventive ways can you use technology to reach your middle school audiences?  (Please answer in at least three complete sentences)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Jeopardy Across Town and Campus

Mrs. Hill, one of our wonderful math teachers, set up a Skype Jeopardy game with one of her former colleagues from Chisholm Trail Middle school.  The purpose of the Jeopardy game was to review for final exams.  Students were able to see the Jeopardy board between the two classes with the "share desktop" button on Skype.  Mrs. Hill reported that her classes were better behaved and engaged in doing the review compared to previous review formats.  On class periods where their schedules did not match up, Mrs. Hill's classes competed against Mr. Griffin's classes here at Deerpark.