Monthly Archives: October 2013

Website Evaluation Lesson

Parts of a Website & Why Evaluate?

I began a multi-part website evaluation instruction this week with 5th grade students, beginning with “Parts of a Website”.  I tried a couple of new things this time, starting with a new motivation.  I showed the State Farm Insurance commercial that features 2 young adults talking about State Farm apps and the young lady stating that she heard (on the internet) they didn’t have apps.  She says they can’t say anything on the internet that isn’t true and of course the commercial ends with her date she met on the internet, “He’s a French model.”  The students loved it and it let to a discussion about the kinds of information on the internet.

Kathy Schrock’s “The Five W’s of Web Site Evalation”

The second new thing I used was Schrock’s “The Five W’s of Web Site Evaluation”.  I wrote them on a large paper and marked with sticky notes which ones we were covering that day.


We’ll cover the other W’s in the next few lessons.  I started with our school system’s website and discussed the head, the body, and the footer of the webpage and where to look for the Who and the When.  Students then went to computers to look at websites of local organizations (Chehaw Park, Albany Museum of Art, Dougherty County Public Library, etc.) that I had already pulled up.  They have to find the pertinent information by filling out the worksheet I’ve created.  The have to find the URL, the name of the organization, mailing address, phone number and email contact.  They must also determine the date the page was created and if and when it has been updated.  In all the lesson took about 25 minutes.

Next week I start to cover purposes of websites and more about authority issues of website information.  Stay tuned!

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Creating a Prezi about Wangari Maathai with 3rd Graders

This week we are completing the instruction activity begun last week, which incorporates science standards, ELA standards (summarizing), and technology standards (creating a Prezi). The 3rd grade classes last week practiced summarizing what they had read about Wangari Muta Maathai, a Kenyan environmentalist, politician, and Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Two students reading a Britannica Student Encyclopedia article about Wangari Maathai.

Students rereading an encyclopedia article from Britannica Student about Wangari Maathai and writing a sentence on an index card along with 5 summarizing words

I copied their index cards (see blog entry from October 20th) and gave them to the teachers so that they could help the students edit their sentences.

Organizing a Paragraph

When the students returned to the library media center this week, each one had a copy of their sentence in their hand.  We talked about what a topic sentence is and what it should do for the reader.  I asked if anyone thought they had a good opening sentence and we proceeded to put all of their sentences in order to form a paragraph.  Some sentences were very similar and we combined them.

Creating a Prezi

I showed them a completed Prezi and then we created one together.  I went through the steps of choosing a template and entering their first sentence.  I have a projector and a large screen so that the students could follow along.  After the first frame the students started checking out books and I instructed the students to come over and watch me after they had checked out. I had students watching over my shoulder and I had them tell me what to click and what steps to do next.

Students watching library media specialist enter their sentences into Prezi

Students watched me enter their sentences into the class Prezi about Maathai.

I had collected photos of Maathai using Creative Commons and saved them to a folder.  I told the students about why we were using these photos and the rights that authors and photographers have.

The 3rd grade students will be creating their own Prezis later this year, so this was their first introduction to this technology.

Here is link to one of the Prezis: Wangari Muta Maathai Mrs. Orme’s 3rd Grade

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Summarizing Activity: Wangari Muta Maathai

Sometimes you have one of those inspiration moments.   I was wondering what to do with the 3rd grade classes following a week of running the Scholastic Book Fair.  If you haven’t done a book fair, let me tell you, it leaves you drained and uninspired.

I had read the book, Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya to 2nd grade classes who are studying about people who make a difference in their communities.  Being a IB/PYP school I try to broaden the idea to a global scale and had thought of Maathai, an environmentalist and the first African woman to win the Nobel Prize for peace.

The 3rd grades are in a unit covering the Georgia Performance Standard in Science:

S3L2. Students will recognize the effects of pollution and humans on the environment.
a. Explain the effects of pollution (such as littering) to the habitats of plants and
b. Identify ways to protect the environment.
• Conservation of resources
• Recycling of materials

I thought I would be able to use this book by Donna Jo Napoli to show them how one woman made a huge impact on the Kenyan environment.

Utilizing Encyclopedia

Mama Miti book next to desktop displaying Encyclopedia Britannica article on Maathai

The book I read to the class and the online encyclopedia article on Maathai that we read together.

I read the book to the class and then pulled up Encyclopedia Britannica Student via our Galileo Kids online database.  There was a short article on Maathai that was appropriate for 3rd graders to read.  I projected it onto the screen and the students took turns reading it aloud.  We stopped if necessary to clarify a word or to emphasize a point.  I gave each student a lined index card and directed them to a desktop or laptop which already had the article pulled up.  Some chose to work with a partner, while others wanted to work alone.


I wanted them to  summarize what they had heard while I read the book and what we had read together in the encyclopedia article.  They were to write one complete sentence in their own words which would tell an important fact about Dr. Maathai.  I then asked for 5 words that described Maathai.  I modeled this by using their teacher as an example.  I asked for one word that would tell a stranger something important about their teacher.  The first word supplied was teacher.  I called on 4 other students until we came up with 5 words or phrases that would describe important features or characteristics of their teacher.

Index card with summarizing sentence and 5 descriptive words or phrases.

Each student summarized our readings about Maathai by writing one complete sentence and then a list of 5 descriptive words or phrases.

Tagxedo Word Cloud

After the class left, I then typed all of the words into the word cloud creator, Tagxedo.  This website allows you to create a word cloud in a shape.  I chose a tree shape and created the word cloud which I emailed to the teacher so that the students could discuss in class which words or phrases were used most often to describe Maathai (the words that appear larger).

Wangari Orme Tagxedo word cloud summarizing

This Tagxedo word cloud was created using the 5 words written by each student in the 3rd grade class, who were learning to summarize readings.

Follow Up Activity

I wanted to do more with this information literacy instruction, so I spoke with the 3rd grade teachers and we decided that we could use the sentences written by the students as content to create a Prezi.  The teachers wanted their students to create a Prezi for their next unit,  so this would be a good practice for them.  We’ll be doing that next week and I’ll blog about it.  Stayed tuned!

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They did it!


My hens’ first egg!


My chickens have finally laid an egg (well. one of them did anyway)!  I know this is off-topic from by blog’s purpose, but I had to share the news.  I received 5 chicks the week of Mother’s Day and have been feeding, cleaning, building (the coop) for 5 months.  Finally… as my son said, “We know the chickens work.”


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3rd Graders Learning about Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling

Introducing 3 R’s to 3rd Grade and I Don’t Mean Reading, ‘Riting and ‘Rmetic using “10 Things I Can Do to Help My World”

Our 3rd grade students are beginning a new International Baccaulareate Primary Years Programme (IBPYP) unit of inquiry which covers the Georgia Perfomance Standards Science  S3L2. “Students will recognize the effects of pollution and humans on the environment” . I found a great book to kick off this unit, 10 Things I Can Do to Help My World by Melanie Walsh.  The book has bright, graphic illustrations and simple acts students can do themselves.

cover of Melanie Walsh's book

Melanie Walsh’s 10 Things I Can Do to Help My World

Introducing the 3R’s: Reducing, Reusing, & Recycling with Jack Johnson

I found a wonderful song on YouTube, Jack Johnson’s The 3 R’s.  It is so clever and catchy that the students were singing along right away, “Reduce, reuse, recycle” (even now I can’t get it out of my head).

I showed the video and then wrote the words:  reduce, reuse, and recycle on a white board with the number 1, 2, and 3 next to the words.  I explained that as I read the book the students would indicate by raising their fingers (1 finger for a reduce action, 2 fingers for a reuse action or 3 fingers for a recycle action) what the action was showing.  The students enjoyed it and I think they were getting the concept.  I also showed them one of my reusable shopping bags and a sheet of  copy paper that had been used on both sides.

Students connecting content

I heard from another teacher who worked with this 3rd grade class later in the day that some of the students were able to make the connection between what we discussed in the library media center in the morning and what they saw in a different context.  This teacher had run off the current week’s vocabulary words on copies of last week’s vocabulary lists that weren’t used and the students remarked that she was conserving natural resources by reusing the paper! Somebody got it!!  Let’s hope the continue to make connections in the real world.




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