Farm'ers Market

fly downAddress standards, challenge students, and instill a love of learning in young people through engaging, innovative technology-rich resources and activities that don't take much time, but have high impact across content areas.

Help students evaluate, synthesize and apply classroom content to address essential questions using digital scraps, primary sources, photographs, charts, graphs, audio, video, and other multimedia elements to create meaningful and powerful communications using free and low-cost tools.

Transform the teaching and learning process!


Exuberance: Passion for Life and Learning


The stresses of teaching have caught up with many educators and student interest in school is at an all-time low. How do we transform our schools into motivating learning environments were educators are passionate about teaching and young people excited about learning?

Use the Visual Thesaurus to look up "exuberant, " passion," and "enthusiasm".

exuberanceIn Exuberance: The Passion for Life, Kay Redfield Jamison explores how exuberance fuels our most important creative and scientific achievements. She states that "by its pleasures, exberance lures us from our common places and quieter moods; and - after the victory, the harvest, the discovery of a new idea or an unfamiliar place - it gives ascendant reason to venture forth all over again. Delight is its own reward, adventure its own pleasure." (p. 4).

What are the traits of an exuberant person? Are you exuberant?

"Science, like the arts, is rooted in the desire to understand and then create; society requires that this desire be transferred to succeeding generations. It is teachers who convey it, especially the exuberant ones." (p. 229)

What do you see as your most important role as educator?

"To teach well, I heard early and often, is to make a difference. To teach unusually well is to create magic. It is a magic often rooted in exuberance. Great teachers infect others with their delight in ideas, and such joy, as we have seen - whether it is sparked by teaching or through play, by music, or during the course of an experiment - alerts and intensifies the brain, making it a more teeming and generative place. Intense emotion also makes it more likely that experience will be etched into memory...To teach is to show, and to show persuasively demands an active and enthusiastic guide." (p. 226-227)

What do you do with students that’s magical? What are the characteristics of this environment?

Transform Classrooms Assignments

Traditional Approach

comic1In some ways, classroom assignments haven't changed in nearly a century. Students are assigned a topic or questions. In the past, they went to go to the library shelf to find World Book Encyclopedia. Today, they search Wikipedia or google the topic. In the old days, they'd copy excerpts by hand. Today, students simply pull down the Edit menu and choose Copy. Finally they turn in the project to their teacher for a grade. This activity doesn't take much time, but it also doesn't excite students or address the standards.

Let's explore alternative approaches. Go to Virtual Inquiry for an entire course full of examples. Also, go to the Information, Technology and Lifestyle page to examine ways to move from traditional to transformed assignments.

Let's explore "snapshots" of projects that stimulate thinking, encourage imagination, and promote transfer of learning to new situations.

Comic Life software was used for creating these examples and is available for Mac and Windows (soon) from Plasq. Be sure to check out the educator buy program. Click on each of the images below to learn more.




Explore a dozen student experiences that engender exploration, engagement, wonder, and curiosity:

  1. The Science of Bubbles Inquiry (Grades K-2)
  2. Colonial Life: Then and Now (Grades K-2)
  3. Animal Inquiry (Grades K-3)
  4. Butterfly Migration Project (Grades 3-5)
  5. Civil Rights Movement Inquiry (Grades 4-6)
  6. Almanac Inquiry (Grades 5-6)
  7. The Freedom to Choose (Grade 7)
  8. Native American Tribes and Regions (Grade 8)
  9. Utopian Societies and Literature (High School)
  10. Spanish/Portuguese Study (High School)

You may say that these types of projects take more time. However think about the time spent reteaching concepts that students don't "get" the first time. How many times in the curriculum to we teach the life cycle? What if we could build on each experience promoting a spiral of learning?

Explore ways to collaborate with your colleagues to design effective inquiry-rich learning environments:

Make it Happen

John MuirThe classic assignment - "Read about a famous person and write a report" . Although this assignment might meet reading, writing, and social studies standards, its lack of context and meaningfulness make it a chore. Both John Muir and Snowflake Bentley were known as exuberant people.

Let's design an assignment to match their passion for life. Also, let's focus on very specific learning outcomes. Ask students to compare the book with online sources. Ask them to compare the book illustrations with primary source documents and photographs. How will did the author and illustrator represent the people?

Help young people move from being consumers to creators of Internet content. You might start by getting students involved with reading biographies across the curriculum. For instance, Stone Arch Books has a series of graphic novels on famous people such as scientists. Rather than simply reading biographies about people, consider a project where students read and write their own biography in a non-traditional format such as a graphic novel. Examine the Laura Wilson biography and Louise Hancock Diary. Then, look for an authentic audience for your project.

John Muir

Snowflake BentleyWilson Snowflake Bentley

Autobiography and Memoir


The Value of Biographies in the Classroom Setting by Kathleen Krull


Developed by Annette Lamb, 11/07.