I had a great summer traveling across the country to California going the northern route and making videos for our 5th graders who are studying the regions of the United States. Last summer I went the southern route with the Virginia Trekkers and those videos are on our website. I haven’t finished editing the videos from this summer’s trip yet, but there are lots of other updates on the Trekkers site. We filmed 5 videos in southwestern Virginia telling about the Indians (VS.2), the European immigrants (VS.4), and westward migration (VS.6). We filmed a whole podcast about the life of Patrick Henry (VS.5b) from his birthplace in Scotchtown to his famous speech in Richmond and ending with his death and burial at Red Hill. We also filmed at the Maggie Walker house (VS.9d) and Gunston Hall, home of George Mason (VS.6b). Our most recent podcast was done back in May where we visited the Midlothian Mines to talk about coal production at the first coal mine in Virginia (VS.10b). Several teachers have written to us telling us that they have been having trouble playing our videos. I produce them using an old version of Flash, so that could be the problem. Over the summer I uploaded most of our videos to Vimeo, and hopefully they will play better there. Finally, be sure to enter our 2014 video contest this year. Your class will learn a lot making their own video and you could win a dance party, like our 2013 winners.
This weekend I attended the VSTE Conference in Virginia Beach. It was a great conference, and I learned lots of new ways to use technology in the classroom. I also presented a session with Alfonso Favale. The title of our presentation was “Make Meaningful Media with the Virginia Trekkers.” You can see our entire presentation here. The tool we used to create that website is actually one that you and your students could use too. It’s called Tackk and doesn’t require a login to use. It has lots of cool features like embedding videos and maps which I tried to include in our sample site. We started our presentation by sharing some of the latest updates to the Virginia Trekkers. This summer we traveled across the country thanks to a HEF grant. We went from Virginia to California, passing through seven other states along the way: Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada. We added those videos to our USA Trekkers page to help 5th graders with their study of the United States regions. After telling about the updates, we wanted to show teachers how they could create videos with their students like the Trekkers do. So we gave them a variety of resources and web tools that you can find linked on our Tackk page. Try some of them out and let me know how I can help you. You might even consider entering one of your videos to our Video Contest. After our presentation, the Trekkers took a Polar Plunge into the ocean and we made a “pop-up video” using a cool web tool we learned about at VSTE called Popcorn Maker. Students can use it to add pop-ups to their videos including maps, twitter feeds, text, pictures and more. Check it out!
Fifth graders are now required to learn about the fifty states, so the Virginia Trekkers have decided to venture beyond the borders of our state to make videos about the other states as well. We have already been to eleven other states including New York, Florida, Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado. You can see those videos on our newly updated USA Trekkers page. However, all that travel costs money, so we applied for a grant from the Henrico Education Foundation (HEF), and they were generous enough to fund a trip out to California for the annual ISTE Conference in San Diego (June 24-27). So our plan is to leave June 19th and drive through Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada, finally arriving in California five days later in time for the conference. Some of the cool stuff we’ll film along the way: the Mississippi River, a full-size replica of the Parthenon, the Petrified Forest, Pueblo Ruins, Meteor Crater, and the Grand Canyon! So stay tuned because we’ll have lots of video resources for you to use in your classroom next school year. Have a great summer!
Each year the Virginia Trekkers have a video contest where students create their own Trekker video about sites of historical significance near their home town. We got some great submissions this year, but the winners for 2012 were from Lovettsville Elementary in Loudon County. They did a fantastic job filming about their German heritage. They even had their own “Lovettsville Lookouts” tshirts! You can see their winning submission here. Today we drove up there to present them with their reward… a dance party! It was a lot of fun, and we captured all their crazy dance moves on film! If you would like to enter our contest for 2013, you can download the application here. While we up in that part of Virginia, we also filmed at Harpers Ferry (VS.7a) and the George C. Marshall (VS.9b) Center in Leesburg. You can check out that video here. By the way, if you’re ever up in Leesburg, be sure to stop by Mom’s Apple Pie Company. Their homemade pies are amazing!
Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and several kindergarten classes have been working on technology projects (K.1b). Today at Holladay, they put themselves back in time at the first Thanksgiving and set food on the table in Pixie. They also recorded their voices telling about their Thanksgiving traditions and what they are thankful for. Click to watch a few student samples: Cameron, Fatima, Jace. Next week at Johnson we will be working on Thanksgiving Past & Present using Comic Life and a folder of pictures that you can download by clicking here. You can actually use those photos for a variety of projects… use them as a background in Photobooth, create a Keynote, or make a Thanksgiving video in iMovie. Did you know the first official Thanksgiving was actually held right here in Virginia? I filmed a video for the Virginia Trekkers at Berkeley Plantation where you can find out all about it. I also included several kid-friendly links for your students to research Thanksgiving. Hope you enjoy your holiday next week!
The Virginia Trekkers have been working hard all summer to create a website for 5th Grade Henrico Studies. It’s finally finished and you can check it out by clicking here. We have a total of 21 videos from different places around the county of historical or geographical significance. Each short video (1-2 minutes) is accompanied by additional written information and links for more research. There is an interactive Flash map as well as a Google Map that you can embed on your website or download to view in Google Earth with pushpins marking the important spots. We will continue to add to the site throughout the year. You could even have your own students create videos about Henrico County and submit them to the Trekkers. We’ll be posting some of them on our website!
This is the second year that the Virginia Trekkers have had a video contest. If your class creates an educational video about a place in Virginia, they can enter it into our contest and the prize is a DJ party hosted by the Trekkers. This year we had some great entries, and it was difficult to select just one winner… so we picked two. I think you’ll agree that their videos are excellent. Check out The Congressional School of Virginia’s video about historical Alexandria. Below it you’ll see some footage from the DJ Party that we had at their school today. It was a lot of fun! Our other award-winning video was Mullen Elementary’s tour of historical Manassas. We’re going to have our party with them on June 10th, so stay tuned for that! Be sure to enter our video contest next year!
I’ve been busy this spring break with moving, but I was able to upload two new videos to the Virginia Trekkers website. We recently went to the Highland County Maple Festival (March) and made a video about how maple syrup is made. If you are learning about natural resources (SOL 1.8, 2.7, 2,8, 4.8) or even about changing states of matter (evaporation is a big part of the process SOL 2.3, 3.9) you might want to check it out (click here). And earlier this month we traveled up to Manassas to make a video about the Battle of Bull Run (VS.7b). Several teachers have been asking for the Trekkers to film there, so we did! We also met with the fourth grade students at Mullen Elementary in Manassas and included them in our video. Click here to watch it.
Today the Virginia Trekkers were invited to Education Day at the Diamond by the Central Virginia Waste Management Authority (CVWMA) to help promote recycling and our recent podcast at the landfill. We had a great time meeting students from all over the Richmond area. Nancy Drumheller, the Public Information Coordinator, had a cool model of a landfill. We spoke with the students and passed out literature. We even got to pose with the Flying Squirrels’ mascot, Nutsy (that’s me dressed up as Recycling Man). If you are learning about recycling and conserving natural resources, be sure to check out our recycling video as well.
This Sunday Alfonso, Frank, and I presented a workshop at the VSTE Educational Technology Conference in Hampton, Virginia. It was called “Web Tools that Work in a Real Life Classroom.” You can see my website with all the links by clicking here. We basically shared many of the great web tools we’ve been using in your classrooms and which I’ve mentioned on this blog several times. One of the cool new things that we did during the presentation was use Today’s Meet. This site allows people to easily post questions during a presentation and have them displayed live so the presenters and audience members can respond instantly. It really encouraged participation and it might be a tool you’d like to try in your classroom. The Virginia Trekkers also presented Sunday and Monday and shared some of the new podcasts we’ve created this year: Frontier Culture Museum (people groups in Virginia VS.2d), McCormick’s Farm (technology and agriculture VS.9a), Richmond Slave Trail (with a special guest Trekker who traveled all the way to Africa VS.4a), Rock Quarry (the rock cycle 5.7), Ashland Bike Route (map skills), Monticello (Thomas Jefferson VS.5b), Richmond Squirrels Game Night (goods and services), Virginia Volcano (plate tectonics 5.7d), Pow Wow (Monacan Indians VS.2d), Appomattox (VS.7b and Veterans Day 3.11c), Museum of the Confederacy (Civil War VS.7), and Big Meadow in Shenandoah National Park (Blue Ridge Mountains VS.2, VS.10). Check out the all the latest podcasts and please consider submitting a class video to our Junior Trekkers Contest. It would be a great Henrico 21 project!