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