Students in grades 4-6 may be placed in the Academic Enrichment Program, ALPHA. These classes are for students identified to be academically talented. Students may be nominated by parents or teachers, after which they complete a battery of tests. Dependent on scores, the identification committee then places them.
PODCASTING: ALPHA On the Air
Students and teachers from all over the world are learning from audio and video programs on desktop computers, laptops, iPods, Pocket PCs, Palm handhelds, and other devices. With a PC or Mac and freely available software, it's fairly simple to create audio or video content, complete with introduction music and sound effects. A podcast has a news feed (known as RSS) that allows it to be cataloged in various podcasting directories like iTunes.In addition, the news feed allows podcatching programs like iTunes to automatically download new episodes. Once you have found the podcast you want to subscribe to, simply click its Subscribe button. There's no need to manually check a website to see if there's new content; iTunes does it for you. Each new episode will be downloaded and waiting for you to play. Play the episodes in iTunes on your Mac or PC.
Creating podcasts has many educational benefits. Students are able to create a product to share with a potentially world-wide audience. Their podcast can be listed in iTunes, right along with podcasts from The Discovery Channel, Disney, and NPR. Knowing that there is a real-world audience gives students purpose and motivation to create a spectacular product. The process of putting together an audio recording is extremely valuable and is certainly a cross-curricular experience.
(Creative Commons Licensed BY-NC-SA Tony Vincent, Inc. 2001-2008 )
In November and December of 2008, our ALPHA students competed in the nationwide Wordigo tournament online at www.highergames.com. The game is similar to the game of Scrabble. Students are given a number of letter tiles to spell 4, 5, and 6 letter words. In the Wordigo Tournament, students have 7 minutes to complete words on a board with designated paths. The tournament is a challenge of students vocabulary and critical thinking skills as well as their ability to work under pressure.
Ben Keating, a fourth grader at our school, has advanced to the championship round for fourth and fifth graders taking place February 12-23, 2009. If you see Ben, tell him congratualtions and wish him good luck in this final round! Click here to read more about Ben's accomplishments.
Give Wordigo a try! This and many other critical thinking skills games are free at www.highergames.com. You can register for free or play as a guest.