As I have mentioned in previous blog posts we are in the midst of STAR testing right now, but I am looking forward to next week when my students and I can turn our attention a couple of long-term projects. In many ways I think my students are more excited about these learning adventures than me! After all, standards review activities followed by testing can be a bit mind-numbing for everyone.
During the past couple of days I have spent my evenings tweaking the annual Roller Coaster and Solar System Projects. Solar System projects of the past have involved PowerPoint as the primary technology tool. This year, however I wanted a new spin. Initially, I thought about using Google Sky or Celestia, but the learning curve for these to programs seemed a bit too steep for our limited amount of time. Instead, students will be making documentaries on a particular celestial body using MovieMaker. I’m going to employ their YouTube skills for good. The only problem with student-created videos is finding enough copyright friendly resources. While these movies will only be shown in class and we can therefore freely use quite a bit of copy-written material (we’ll be using a few Unitedstreaming resources), I like to show my kids who are active members of the “remix generation” where they can find material to legally use. A few weeks ago I found the Copyright Friendly Wiki, a handy a collection websites where users can find Creative-Commons licensed images, sounds, and even a few video clips. I used it to create a short list of astronomy resources for the Solar System documentary. I even added a resource to the main wiki. If you know me well, you’ll recognize it.
While revamping last year’s handouts I also found myself in need of a few new rubrics. I like rubrics. As a teacher they help me grade fairly and as a student they help me double-check that I have included all of the necessary project elements to score an A. Rubrics are, however, a bit of a pain to generation. On top of that, for some strange reason I always create them from scratch because I never remember to use Rubistar until I am all done! At that point I am usually kicking myself for wasting an hour…or two!
Fortunately, this year I remembered Rubistar first. I forgot how much I like this site. It is the simplest way to create a rubric! Rubistar has a collection of templates which you can use in their current format or customize completely. For the Solar System Documentary I started with the Multimedia Project template and adjusted it to suit my needs. Within 10 minutes I was all done! It was great.
With the last few days of STAR Testing take a moment to check out these resources. You might even be inspired to create a last-minute project.