Wednesday, August 24, 2011

If a leaf changes color and no one sees it, has it really happened?

cross posted at

This is the third post in a series of posts about a summer science camp for teachers that I attended.This summer when I spent the week with the TOTE, Teachers of the Estuary   I learned so much that I have spent my summer blogging and sharing the information. I think I saved the best for last, Picture Posts! Throughout the Wells Reserve  there were 3 posts that are part of the Picture Post Project. This project is something very simple; it complements Phenology, observing nature’s calendar, utilizes simple technology, it is something any class can participate in from preschool to Senior College students. The posts are set up as a stand alone or an existing post surrounding a structure, body of water, forest, garden or school. This project is open to anyone and has the capability of looking at, photographing, and documenting change over time. The change can be a daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal or a yearly change.

Picture Post is a part of the Digital Earth Watch (DEW) network. DEW supports environmental monitoring by citizens, students and community organizations through digital photography and satellite imagery.
You can...
  • contribute photographs to any Picture Post
  • add your own Picture Post
  • measure environmental change in your neighborhood, and
  • contribute to science networks.

Educators can learn a lot about Digital Earth Watch projects. There are so many worthwhile projects I am sure you would find something to interest all the students in your classes.  There are explicit instructions detailing how you can get started and build a picture post.

The Picture Post Project has made this accessible to all with step by step directions, and movies at their site. The recycled plastic post topper with gradients cut out around the 360 degrees setting is a fool proof addition to the project. I was able to snap my 8 photos, then an additional shot of the sky, upload and view my photos all in a matter of 20 minutes from field to classroom. I enjoyed comparing my photos of a summer day  with February photos of someone else.  You will have to check out the site and compare photos from a specific site as there isn’t a way for you to see my comparison.

There is so much one could do in the classroom by participating in this project;  math, geography, poetry, environmental science, but most of all, your students will become the life long learners we all hope for. Check out Picture Post, and let me know if you have heard of it before. If not, please help to spread the word. My students will be building a picture post at Wells Harbor and possibly in our woods on school grounds. We want to have as many students and community members involved  as possible. Now, when leaves change colors we will all be able to see that it has happened!

For more information you can contact at this © Copyright 2011, The University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824  |   About  |   ADA Disclaimer   |   Terms of Service   |   Contact   |  Picture Post is supported by NASA

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Phenology Affects Us All!

cross-posted at

This is the second post in a series of posts about a summer science camp for teachers that I attended. I was really smitten by this next part of the summer science workshop! Phenology! What is phenology?Phenology refers to recurring plant and animal life cycle stages, or phenophases, such as leafing and flowering, maturation of agricultural plants, emergence of insects, and migration of birds. However, I like this simpler description of phenology, it is easily understood as ‘nature’s calendars’. It’s awesome how this hands-on important project-based science work can be done by all ages, all grades, all abilities! I like that we can share this work with our students and they can become Citizen Scientists and lifelong learners-beginning now! No matter where you are in the United States you and your students can join this project. You can learn more about the projects and register here at this link. 

Citizen scientists are individual volunteers (students) or networks of volunteers, many of whom may have no specific scientific training,who perform or manage research-related tasks such as observation, measurement, or computation.”

coakes photo
Signs of the Seasons is in international project,, and has many educational resources available for classroom use including maps, graphs, writing prompts and data gathering and reporting. One of the most famous projects for us in New England is Journey North about the flights and migration of the Monarch Butterfly. Here is the mission of Journey North, Journey North engages students in a global study of wildlife migration and seasonal change. K-12 students share their own field observations with classmates across North America. They track the coming of spring through the migration patterns of monarch butterflies, robins, hummingbirds, whooping cranes, gray whales, bald eagles— and other birds and mammals; the budding of plants; changing sunlight; and other natural events. Find migration maps, pictures, standards-based lesson plans, activities and information to help students make local observations and fit them into a global context. Widely considered a best-practices model for education, Journey North is the nation's premiere "citizen science" project for children. The general public is welcome to participate.”

What does all this have to do with technology? Our students are budding scientists! They have digital cameras at their disposal and a way to publish, write about and share their observations. Signs of the Seasons, Journey North, the USA National Phenology Network and an immediate project, get ready for Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere are all viable networks for gathering all this student data.

You and your students can track monarchs, whooping cranes, hummingbirds, seasonal changes and even plant tulips for spring observations. This is all part of  global study of wildlife migration and seasonal change.

You may even have a state run Signs of the Season project office in your area. In Maine, our project is connected to the University of Maine. So, don’t be the last one left indoors as you and your students head back to school, head outdoors and observe!

A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate to attend a Teachers on The Estuary workshop in Wells, ME at the Wells Estuarine Reserve.   Read further if you are looking for science examples to use in your instruction in your classes. This science information is not just about understanding science, but about being a life long learner and steward of our planet. 
TechLearning post 1 Working outside my Comfort Zone!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Playing with Media - a fabulous read, listen and view!

  Playing with Media - a fabulous read, listen and view! by Wes Fryer, author

Like many of you I saw the Tweet where Wes mentioned that his ebook was ready. It was late and I was all ready to turn in for the night, but I wanted to get this ebook right away, so I clicked to Amazon, downloaded and began reading. I am so glad I started reading this right away, as I am getting ready for back to school, and I do my best planning and thinking at night.

With the cover image, by his youngest child Rachel, I was hooked or you could say engaged! Then the purpose "to inspire and empower",  had me taking notes and planning where in my classroom I would introduce some of the digital storytelling tools for my students to add to their digital toolkits.

To begin with Wes has a chapter dedicated to Tips for Reading and a glossary that my 82 year old mother could understand. Although this could be mundane, ever the storyteller, Wes, gets the information across in an entertaining way.

I like how Wes has examples to illustrate his ideas, which leads the reader, inter-actor, teammate, actor, playmate, viewer, listener,  and creator  to engage with this ebook. Wes gives all of us permission to play in the sandbox. He gives us strategies to try as we move along in the book. He gives us enough history so we are grounded and understand that " we learn deeper when we actively DO rather than passively watch" , ( Wes Fryer, Playing with Media).

His comments about testing, Common Standards, NETS, and 21st Century Skills are woven into the storytelling journey with compelling statements about how we need to incorporate digital media in Transformational ways. Once you begin reading or listening or interacting with this book and begin creating, you will be transformational and part of this story!

Wes thanks for this wonderful inspirational ebook, I will begin  by creating the Flickr group 180schooldays , a public book where you and your classrooms can begin the year long journey of a photo or image  a day. Join the Flickr group 180schooldays and tag your images with #180schooldays.  The power of the crowd going deep into new and transformational interactive learning.