Friday, January 27, 2012

Bringing Relevance to our 7th Graders’ Study of Africa

Thanks to the efforts of our 7th grade social studies teachers, Ms. Manzelli and Ms. Medla, students have been involved in many cross-team activities. One of Ms. Manzelli’s students had actually visited the African nation of Rwanda, and Ms. Manzelli arranged a visit from Andre’s father so their experience could be shared with the classes.
On January 5, 2012, Dr. Andre Sofair and his son addressed both 7th grade teams on the topic of the presenters’ recent trip to Rwanda. Of course, one of the highlights of the presentation was the viewing of pictures of the gorillas that have a habitat in Rwanda. However, during the presentation, Dr. Sofair and Andre also told the students about their visit to Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Kigali (CHUK) where great strides have been made in increasing the wellness of the children of Rwanda. Students’ interest in helping the clinic by running a fundraiser prompted a follow-up visit.
On Tuesday, January 24, Dr. Sofair returned to visit with the social studies classes. He was joined by Dr. Emmanuel Kamanzi, of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Kigali (CHUK) in Rwanda.
Dr. Kamanzi discussed with students his education, experiences, and daily life as a medical doctor in Rwanda. It was so gratifying to hear him explain how he chose pediatrics as his specialty. Dr. Kamanzi told of how very ill infants and young children would be brought to the clinic, but as a result of treatment available, most children would be greatly improved within a few days, laughing and playing; it was like a miracle. These successes so affected Dr. Kamanzi emotionally that he just knew that helping young children was his life’s mission.
Students greatly enjoyed the presentation and did indeed hold a fundraiser for CHUK. Hopefully, the generous donations of students and teachers at BMS will help to, in the words of Ms. Manzelli, Help the children of Rwanda see a brighter and healthier future!”
Just in – The seventh graders raised over $250 for the clinic in just four days.
We hope to stay in touch with Dr. Kamanzi through email even after his return to Rwanda.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Talented Students Create Wonderful Projects Showcasing Study of Ancient Egypt

As I walked by Ms. Manzelli's classroom this afternoon, I noticed a lot of engaged students busy with an activity, so I stopped in for a moment. The students had created wonderful projects as an activity tying in with their study of Ancient Egypt. What was so great was how they were moving in rotations from one project to another, viewing the project, and critiquing each one.This helped them to really focus on other students' projects as well as their own - a collaborative activity. I asked Ms. Manzelli to write a blurb about the project, and this is what she said:
" Seventh graders on the Blue Team have been studying Ancient Egyptian culture, government, and history. As a culminating project, students were asked to create a model project which illustrated in 3D an aspect of ancient Egyptian life. Students brought in items ranging from a diorama of the Nile River Valley to the interior of King Tut’s tomb, to a bust statue of Queen Nefertiti. At their “Ancient Egypt Fair,” students rotated among projects, constructively evaluating their peers’ work and commenting on the strengths and weaknesses of other projects. In addition, the class period ended with a short discussion on the structures, people, and geography that shaped the lives of ancient Egyptians more than 3000 years ago."
There were many wonderful projects produced. Enjoy the pictures that Mrs. Manzelli captured with her iPad -I was only able to include a few in this post, but she has archived them for posterity in a folder at school. So - long after the projects have been thrown away, there will be a visual record of them. I encourage all of you to document your children's work. You never know when it might come in handy.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Windows Live Movie Maker Works Great on the New Computers in Lab 21

The Life Arts Team sponsored a field trip to Sleeping Giant State Park in the fall of 2010 for all 7th graders. Mrs. Vescovi and some students captured video clips to commenmorate the day. She returned the flip camera with the video clips to me, and I'm embarrassed to say that I didn't get time to work with them until the fall of 2011. Last year we had a lot of problems trying to edit video using Windows Movie Maker. The computers had been upgraded such that we were running Windows 7 on top of the old XP operating system. Most everything worked great except for Windows Movie Maker Live, the version that came with Windows 7. Unfortunately, almost every time we'd get a project started, it would crash and all the work would be lost.
I am very pleased to announce that editing the video clips on the brand new computers in Lab 21 with native Windows 7 operating system and using Windows Live Movie Maker worked like a charm. It still took a lot of time for me to watch all the clips,edit them, put in transitions and titles, and render the final product, but it was worth it, and it went seamlessly. I look forward to working with the students this year as they produce their own videos to enhance curricular projects.
Enjoy the trip to Sleeping Giant:

Monday, January 9, 2012

Experimenting with Animoto

Here is another blog post that is out of sequence. Last June, as you'll recall, we had many snow days to make up, and the teachers were in session for three days after the students were finished for the school year 2010~2011. In those remaining three days, the teachers were engaged in a number of professional development activities. The middle school teachers from both Bethany and Orange gathered at Orange Middle School for a day of sharing. While every teacher in the district has wonderful projects to share, time allowed for a select few to present, and there is a quick slide of each of the presenters in this video clip.
I have been wanting to try Animoto - a web 2.0 tool that allows you to upload a number of pictures, select music, and add text, and then the tool puts it all together for you. The free version is limited to a 30-second video, but there are pay options that allow you more features. The next step up from free is available for $5.00 per month or $30.00 per year. That's not too steep a price if you want to produce a number of these videos. You can save them to your computer, email them, share them on Facebook, etc. I requested the embed code and am pasting it into this blog post, so I can share this with you. I hope you enjoy it.

Try our video maker at Animoto.

Thanks for watching.

Creating Gingerbread Houses in Mrs. Frank's Art Club

This post is a little out of order,but I wanted to include this cool activity that Mrs. Frank sponsored for our students here at BMS. You can see in the video below what a wonderful time the kids had. Except for a few sugar highs, the kids were extremely well-behaved, and they all participated in clean up which made Mrs. Frank very happy.
The iPad was used to capture the video clips, and then the iMovie app for the iPad was used to combine the clips and add the transitions and titles. Enjoy!