make beliefs comix dot com

22 05 2007

Just learned of a online comic strip creation tool,  Seems like a simple, but potentially valuable, tool for students.  I could see uses for anxious learners.  I have researched interventions for students who are anxious, and have found that when they can take the role of someone else, that the deeply rooted sources of anxiety can come to the surface (giving professionals a chance to deal with them).  With a tool like makebeliefscomix, I could see offering a kid a prompt and letting them create a comic that goes along with the prompt.

I have already tried to give students story prompts for the aforementioned reason, but have not had luck, as it seems that my students in the “anxious learners” spectrum have a great aversion to writing.  This could be a possible way for them to get ideas down in a creative and novel way while avoiding writing.

We’ll see how it works.



21 05 2007


Week of May 20th, 2007

20 05 2007

Social Studies – This week we will be looking at some of the larger Revolutionary War events such as Valley Forge, Bunker Hill, Yorktown, and Battle at Sea (and others).  Students will each be assigned a battle, given 1 1/2 days to research, and then present.  On Friday, we will have a short multiple choice quiz on the battles presented by all class members. 

Here is the copy of the information students need to look up on each battle. 
revolutionary war battle information template

Here is a copy of the end of week quiz.
Revolutionary War Events Quiz

Math – From now until the end of the school year, we are going to complete, as a class, the final test from the basic math skills book.  We will do about 8 problems per day.  If we finish early, class will play a game such as blackjack or cribbage (something involving math and problem solving). 

Here is a copy of the final test we’ll be working on.
Basic Math Final test

Social Skills – Students are working on electronic portfolios of their 21st Century Skills.  Below are links to a few pieces of student work – keep an eye on them, as they are just beginning the process and will be updating like mad for the next 2 weeks.  Final project presentation will be June 5th.










Behavior vs. Rights of Others

17 05 2007

A student made a video today discussing how behaviors affect the rights of others – it has been uploaded to

Here is a link to the TeacherTube site.

Here is the video embedded into this post:

Download:Posted by malcore at

Week of May 13th, 2007

15 05 2007

Social Studies – Students are considering the interior motives of the colonists during the Revolutionary War times – what made people think that they deserve freedom from Monarchial Oppression?  Similarly, what makes people think today that they deserve rights just because they’re human.  Things like a right to safety, a right to choose one’s path in life, etc – why do we U.S. citizens feel we have the right to those things and much more? 

Math – Students took the final test for fraction operations this week.  Please go to and login with your student’s information to see grade results of this test.  Students have seen their tests and all have been given the chance to improve scores by making corrections (but work must be done within my classroom to avoid cheating).  For the rest of the week, we will be creating a template that can be used when determining the amount of square footage in a room.  Our purpose is to estimate the amount of paint it will take to cover the walls of our cafeteria, but we want the template to be universal – so that others can use it in the future to estimate needs for other rooms.  We will publish the final draft at in .pdf form – be watching!

 Social Skills – The last big push for Washington Students Dog Treats.  Students are working Tuesday and Wednesday to produce the last of the treats, and the last day of official public sales is this Friday, May 17th.  The other days this week, we will be working on the beginnings of our 21st Century Skills Portfolios.

Here is a link to the Word file students received this week for the unit: 21st Century Skills Unit

Week of May 7th, 2007

7 05 2007

Social Studies – We have been working with a online collaboration tool, Vyew (see the previous two posts).  Our goal is to have the wiki updated with our interpretation of the lyrics to “The Rebels” by Tuesday.  Following that, students will be delving more deeply into the events of the American Revolution.

Math – We have been given some authentic tasks by our administration lately.  Last Friday, Mrs. Hooper asked us to estimate the amount of fertilizer she would need to take care of her lawn.  This week, we’ve been asked to estimate the amount of paint it would take to cover the walls of the cafeteria.  On top of that, we will be creating a slick template that one could use to quickly estimate paint quantities for future jobs. 

This Friday, we will have our final test for our Fraction Operations Unit – we’ll review for that on Thursday.  Below are links to a .pdf copy and a .doc copy of something similar to the test for student practice.

Fraction Test – Word format
Fraction Test pdf file

Social Skills – Students are considering their strengths and weaknesses as employees.  Last week, we talked about them using me, their teacher, as a reference on job applications.  Students wrote a short paragraph detailing my opinions of them and their employability.

This week, we are to dig deeper into summer jobs and how they can lead to careers.  I have only 7th and 8th graders in the classroom.  In the 9th grade, students spend more time finding interest-driven jobs that they can do for a) work experience, b) networking, c) potential paid positions (after meeting some extra requirements).  I am trying to get them ready for these experiences now by talking about what to expect, and what to improve on.

What is your role in your child’s work experiences? 

Anti-Bully Quote of the Week:
“The most important thing in any relationship is not what you get but what you give…In any case, the giving of love is an education in itself.”  – Eleanor Roosevelt 1884-1962

The Vyew – Part Deux

4 05 2007

Another social studies class period spent today with Vyew, the desktop sharing application I discussed yesterday.  Today was a bit more successful, in some far-fetched way, than yesterday.  Today, students were able to work collaboratively in the workspace, which is our overall goal.

I started by selectively giving them each “contributor” privileges and giving them an instruction, such as “draw a large box.”  Mind you, all instructions were given via the chat box on the side of the screen, which adds a whole new element to the conversation (as my students are neither great readers nor great typers).  However, they were already better at this today than yesterday.  Once each student got his chance at writing in the workspace, I moved on to having them each take turns with the “textpad” tool.  This worked fairly well, too; students were patient while others wrote their two cents in the text box.

During the entire lesson, we ran into some troubles with losing connections – at some point, each of the 5 students were kicked out of the room, and it took just a little bit away from instructional time to teach them to get back in. 
In my small class, such interruptions occur proportionally less frequent than a regularly-sized class, so I am able to put the little fires out pretty seamlessly.  However, I could imagine that in a class of 20 or more that students losing connections and coming and going to and from the room would be a great deterrent to any possible learning.  I would love to hear if any other teachers have had experience with Vyew or any other similar application.

 Really, we are using Vyew, more of a desktop-sharing application, to have an online collaboration workspace.  I would like to try something like Google Docs, but students do not have access to the workspace unless they have e-mail addresses…unless there is a way around it.  Truthfully, I have not invested a great deal of time into that Google application.  But, if someone else has a useable online word processing/collaborating tool, please share.