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TeachNet Grant: Pandas, Flamingos and Blogs
Bruce Wilson

P.S. 112  The Dutch Kills School
25-05 37th ave
Long Island City , NY 11101

Grade/Subject: Grades 3-5 Science, Language Arts, Technology and Art.

About the Grant:

 This science unit gives children an opportunity to observe and record animal behavior using web 2.0 technology through the use of blogs and webcams..  Children observe animals through live webcams. They then record their behavior on a daily basis in a blog. They then conduct research on the animal that they are observing. Finally, they make a digital picture book on their animal (using powerpoint or Pixie). If using Pixie the pages can be exported to Imovie or another movie program and turned into a slideshow.

This program makes learning about animals exciting and fun as webcams allow children to peek into the enviornments of many different animals both in natural settings and zoos.  With the availability of free blogs websites such as  21classes.com or gaggle.net blogging can be monitored by teachers and is an excellent medium for children to keep daily diaries.

How This Grant was Adapted:

 What's great about this unit is it allows children to learn about animals in a fun and exciting way. This program utilizes webcams from zoos or animals preserves giving children easy access into the environments of animals they are learning about. The internet can be an exciting place allowing one to travel the world and with animal webcams available teachers can take cybertrips with the click of a mouse.

  The children get to use a blog to record the daily behavior of their animals.  Anytime you involve writing on the computer you find the children really tuned in. I found the children to be very enthusiastic to log in to " their" account.They really enjoy writing comments to their classmates. You certainly don't get that enthusiam with  everyday writing in journals. Once the blog accounts are set up you can continue to use them even when the project is done.  Students really only need  a computer with internet access and a mulitmedia program like powerpoint or Pixie to showcase their work.Once children have conducted their research on an animal they can use any multimedia program to showcase their work. I used the drawing program Pixie from Tech4learning.com , but Powerpoint can be used along with canvastic.net for the children's drawings.


Project URL



Objectives:  Students will

  • improve in their expressive writing skills.
  • be able to set up and maintain  a daily blog.
  • be to conduct research on an animal using an animal database on the internet.
  • learn how to construct a digital book.
  • learn how to add audio to a multimedia progam.
  • create a bibilography of the websites used in their book.

Websites Used

These animal  webcams links have animals in captivity as well as in their natural habitats.  Keep in mind the time zone difference when viewing these sites. Let the childen view the sites at different times to see when their animal is most active. There are many animal cams out there but I found these cams to be the most reliable with the most action. Check out the cams before starting your lessons to see that links work and to download the appropriate media player off the internet to view the animals.

Elephant at the San Diego Zoo - www.sandiegozoo.org/elephantcam/index.html

Pandas at the San Diego Zoo - www.sandiegozoo.org/pandacam/index.html

Orangutans at the San Diego Zoo - www.sandiegozoo.org/apecam/index.html

Polar Bears at the San Diego zoo.    www.sandiegozoo.org/polarcam/index.html

Otters at the Montrery Aquarium        www.montereybayaquarium.org/efc/efc_otter/otter_cam.aspx

Penguins at the Montrery Aquarium  www.montereybayaquarium.org/efc/efc_splash/splash_cam.aspx

Animal webcams at the national zoo nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/WebCams/default.cfm

Wild Cam Africa  - Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana Africa  video.nationalgeographic.com/video/wildcamafrica/

Afri Cam - A Variety of live cams all around Game Reserves in Africa www.africam.com/wildlife/index.php

When having children conduct research on different animals these search engines will help narrow down their searches.

Animal Websites for Elementary Research   www.stmary.pvt.k12.de.us/Lib_Animal.html  ( courtesy of Librarian Lauren Bott)

Yahoo kids   kids.yahoo.com/animals

Kidsites www.kidsites.com/sites-edu/animals.htm

Animals database at Kidsbiology.com www.kidsbiology.com/animals-for-children.php

Copyright free photos bookbuilder.cast.org/resources.php

How to make a biblography lps.lexingtonma.org/Libdept/elem.lib./ebib.html

Standards Addressed:

N.Y.S. Standards  Grades K-5

ELA Standards  1.  Students will read, write, listen, and speak for information and understanding.

                       2.   Students will read, write, listen, and speak for information and understanding.

                       3.   Students will read, write, listen, and speak for literary response and expression.

Science          4.   Students will apply technological knowledge and skills to design, construct, use, and evaluate products and systems to satisfy human and environmental needs.

Technology     5.  Students will understand and apply scientific concepts, principles, and theories pertaining to the physical setting and living environment and recognize the historical development of ideas in science. 

 Arts                6.   Knowing and Using Arts Materials and Resources
Students will be knowledgeable about and make use of the materials and resources available for
participation in the arts in various roles.

Lesson 1:

Lesson 1   Animal Cybertrip

Objectives: Students will improve in their expressive writing skills.

Materials:   computer, internet

Procedure: In this introductory lesson children get to visit animals through webcams with live streaming video. They will be looking at the different webcams to get an idea of which animal they would like to learn more about.
The teacher begins by discussing what a webcam is. Children then are introduced to the following vocabulary words  ( environment, habitat, diet, conservation) All the webcams have been previously bookmarked through portaportal.com so children do not have to type in addresses.  Children are told to look at the different webcams to see the different animals. The children are told that they will being making an ebook based on research done on  one of the animals in the webcams. Children end the session by filling out a questionnaire. The teacher can then group students by the results of their surveys. At the most there are  6 or 7 webcams that are active so students will have to double and triple up on animal choices.

Assessment:  Students will fill out a questionnaire after viewing the webcam of their choice.

Lesson 2:

Lesson 2: Lets Blog it!

Objectives:  Students will improve in their expressive writing skills.

Students will be able to set up and maintain  a daily blog.

materials:  computer. blog account.

Procedure: The teacher will first register his or her students on a blogging site like http://gaggle.net/ or http://21classes.com/. The teacher will demonstrate to the students how to set up their blog account. The teacher willl talk about how the students will go on their blogs daily to write  about the animal that they are observing. The children are told to make positive comments on their classmates blogs. They are to share information with other children who are observing the same animal. They can also comment about other animal blogs as well.

Assessment: The teacher will write comments in each of the children's blogs to encourage them to write and to give them direction in their writing. Remember to praise children who have made positive and encouraging comments to their classmates. Besides motivating the children to write you also want to discuss internet etiquette.

Homework:  Students can go on their blogs at home as well since their will be limited time given in class to working on their blog.

Lesson 3:

Lesson 3:  Conducting Animal Research

Objectives: Students will be to conduct research on an animal using an animal database on the internet.

Procedure::   Students are introduced how to use an animal database as well as some other animal websites.To guide students in their research they are given five categories to base their book on. Each book should include the animal's habitat, description, diet, enemies (predators), and conservation. Give out at least one storyboard sheet for each category. (see documents)

Materials:  computers, internet, storyboard template

Assessment:  Students are given a storyboard to fill in the information needed for their book.

Lesson 4

Lesson 4: Making a book with Pixie

Objectives: Students will be able to construct an ebook.

 Materials: computer, Pixie or powerpoint.

Procedure. Each child will be writing no more than 7 pages for their book. The children will type their text into Pixie by clicking on the T in the menu bar. They will copy their storyline from their storyboard. After that they can draw a picture to match the text on the page. They can also retrieve copyright free photos and insert them into their pages. as well. Next have the students make a folder on the desktop.  Students will then hit the export button and click jpeg. Each page will be ready to be inserted into a Imovie so that you can make a slideshow of the different books. You have the option of adding audio to each page. Students can practice reading their books and then they can record themselves reading each page. This is great as they can share their books with children in lower grades.

Lesson 5:

Lesson 5:  Adding audio.

Objectives: Students will learn how to add audio to a multimedia progam.

materials: computer, Pixie, external microphone ( optional)

Procedure: Adding audio to Pixie is quite easy. Alll the student has to do is click the red button in the right hand corner of the screen. Just make sure the internal microphone  is turned on in your computer. Just go into the preferences of the Pixie program to make sure the recording quality is put on high. Have the students practice reading each page before recording. Pages can then be exported into a jpeg file and then played in a slideshow in imovie or any other movie program.

Lesson 6:

Lesson 6  Creating a Bibliography

Objectives: Students will create a bibilography of the websites used in their book.

Explain to students the importance of citing sources when writing a book report. It's never to early to start having students understand the importance of putting together a bibiography. Students must understand that even websites are not there for the taking. A guide for elementary students is available at lps.lexingtonma.org/Libdept/elem.lib./ebib.htmll that shows all sources and how to cite them in an uncomplicated manner.

Bruce Wilson is currently a Computer/ Technology teacher at P.S. 112 in Long Island City Queens. He has been a N.Y.C. teacher since 1986.. He recently completed his M.S. in Educational Technology from the New York Institute of Technology.In his spare time he  enjoys photography and traveling the world.

Lesson #1

Webcam Questionnaire

GrantImages/userfiles/file/Animal Webcam Questionaire.doc

Lesson #3



Lesson # 4

Story Checklist


Sample Pixie Story



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