Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Welcome 2011-2012 Sunfish

Hello Sunfish students and parents! I hope you all had a restful summer and are ready to head back to a great year at BCMS on the Sunfish Team.  Our team has a lot planned for you this year, and I’m certain it will be a year filled with learning opportunities for you.  The important part is for you to choose to be involved in our classes. It is up to you to accept the challenges and struggles that may come with the school year, over come them, and have the best year for real learning you’ve ever experienced.

Are you up for the challenge?

It’s coming… 🙂


Blood Types Quiz


Questions will be focused on:

  • Determining a Blood Type using Antibodies
  • Determining possible donors for a transfusion
  • Calculating percentages of donors

Tuesday night there will be a review session in Edmodo beginning at 8 pm (after I get my kids in bed :))

Signing up for Edmodo

This year, one of the new things we will be trying out is a service called Edmodo. Edmodo is a private microblogging network, similar to our own private Twitter network. You will be part of two groups on Edmodo. The first group will include all the students in your Core. The second group will be all of the Sunfish team students. Today in class, you will be signing up for your Edmodo account, joining your Core group and the Sunfish Group, and completing an assignment examining three different websites.

To Sign Up for Edmodo

  1. Go to
  2. On the right side, near the middle click “Sign up now, I’m a STUDENT”
  3. A student sign-up form will pop up.  In it, enter the following information:
  • Group Code: found on the board for your Core
  • Username: Your username will be your first name followed by your first initial of your last name and the number 15…for example my username would be: toddw15
  • Your password is up to you, but make sure it is something you will remember as I CANNOT RECOVER YOUR PASSWORD!
  • Enter your First Name
  • Enter the first INITIAL of your LAST Name

Once your account is created, log into Edmodo using the Username and Password you just set up. When you Log In the screen will look something like this:

Edmodo001This area is very similar to a Facebook Wall.  You can type messages in the box at the top, select who to send it to (generally to the whole group rather than an individual), and see the messages appear in the bottom half of the screen.  On the left, you have an area of with the groups to which you belong.  Clicking one of these groups will filter the messages in the list.

Across the top of the Edmodo Screen you will see several options:

  • Edmodo – takes you to the main Edmodo Screen
  • Calendar – is a calendar where events can be added for groups or individuals
  • Files – is an area where files (presentations, documents, etc) can be uploaded for groups
  • Settings – Allows you to put in an email address for receiving notifications, set up Edmodo to send notifications to your phone via text message, change your password, or upload an avatar image (please don’t use a REAL photo for this)

Once you’ve logged into Edmodo and looked around, post a quick Note to our class group to let me know you’re up and running.  Then look for further instructions for the day’s activity in Edmodo.

Podcasts are posted!

They’re all available now! At least all the ones that have been recorded to this point. Well…many of them are. I’ve still got about 10 that are finished that I need to get up this weekend. To access them, click the “podcast” tab above and then follow the link to “2008-2009 Podcasts”. The older podcasts are still available as well, just click the other link. Feel free to listen to as many as you’d like. There is lots of good information to be gleaned from your classmates. Enjoy!

Body Systems Podcasts

As an example of a podcast about a system of the Human Body, I have created a podcast about Synesthesia.  Later this week you will be working on research for your podcast topic.  Be thinking about what you’d like to research and take a look at the list in the previous post for topic ideas.

I’m also including some links to more information about synesthesia for those interested. Hope you enjoy! The intro and outro music for the podcast is “Some One Turning” by the band Arctic from their album Music for Rain, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution License 2.5.

Mr. Williamson’s Synesthesia Podcast

More info on Synesthesia:

The Synesthesia Project FAQ

Rare but Real: People who Feel, Taste, and Hear Color

Scholarpedia Article: Synesthesia

Also, there is a novel about a young girl with synesthesia called: A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass.

1-to-1 iPod Project???

Apparently a school in Chapel Hill is attempting to get funding for the purchase of an ipod Touch for each and every student and teacher in the building. The goal of the project is to develop curricula around the use of the ipod Touch.  This is an amazing idea to me, considering the ipod Touch has more power than most school’s computers did even 5 years ago.

One of my concerns is that I’m not sure if the school has a clear direction in place for the program.  What is the need they are filling by purchasing the ipods?  Sure I can think of a dozen ways I could use them in my own classroom: audio textbook, student created videos of class concepts, harnessing the power of the Web in the classroom…but is the ipod Touch the best solution for this?  At $229 each (lowest price I’ve seen for an 8GB Touch) are the students going to get as much for the money as they would with a $299 Asus Eee PC (Company site/Wikipedia entry)?  Which are they more likely to be using in the future for computing?

What are your thoughts?  In what ways could you see using an ipod Touch in the classroom, for educational purposes? Which do you think would be better the Touch or a netbook computer?

Talk about Service!!

Laura Stockman would have no trouble being a Sunfish student. Well, except for the fact she’s only 10 years old. While I’m advocating each Sunfish student put in 8 hours of work with the community, Laura has been actively involved in service for a long time. Last December, she decided to honor the memory of her grandfather by doing one good deed a day in December leading leading up to Christmas. The results of her efforts are chronicled on her blog “Twenty-Five Days to Make a Difference.” Rather than just being a place to chronicle her journey, the Twenty-Five Days blog has become a rallying point for community service throughout the world. Take a look around and see if you get any ideas for projects you could get involved in here for your service project.

Welcome New Sunfish Students!

Welcome to my blog! I hope you all had a wonderful summer and are ready for a busy year in 7th grade. Feel free to take a look around the site at what’s left over from last year. Also, feel free to leave me a comment telling me what you’re most excited about for the upcoming year.

To leave a comment, click on the Comments button under the post title. At the bottom of the page will be a comment form. Please only leave your first name and do not include a website (this is for safety reasons). It does require you to enter an email address, but it doesn’t have to be a real one 🙂 Please try to spell and punctuate your comments correctly, as there are MANY people who read my blog and I want you all to show them your best!

Blog Comments Tutorial Video

Google to the Rescue

Okay students AND parents, here’s what you’ve all been waiting for…the chance to know what is going on here at my blog and in our classroom without having to search around and look all over the place. Our dear friends at Google are developing ways to make life easier and easier…here are three programs that they offer that will do just that.

First, one some of you are already familiar with, Google Calendar. If you look to the right, you can see exactly what I’m talking about. When you follow the link to the Sunfish Team Academic Calendar you will see a monthly calendar that can be updated with due dates for assignments, daily homework, notices about school events, and pretty much anything else Sunfish or BCMS related. This is a Google Calendar. Though only the Sunfish teachers have access to edit it, all of you have access to see the items posted to it. This calendar can be used as a base calendar for you to schedule events around or you can just keep checking it to see when things are due for our team.

Second, is a newer offering from Google: Google Reader. One of the latest things to hit the web is RSS, which stands for Really Simple Syndication. My two blogs are updated nearly every day. However, on the off chance that I don’t update it one day, how is one to know when things change around here? Google Reader allows you to do just that. When you subscribe to my blog’s RSS feed everything I post shows up in Google Reader. Think of it as a newspaper sending you just the articles you want, when they’re published, right to your doorstep. Subscribing to both of my blogs (or just the homework blog) will allow you to look in one place for anything new whenever it’s added.

Think all this sounds great? Think all this sounds like way too much work? Enter the third of Google’s new programs: iGoogle. iGoogle modifies your regular Google homepage (assuming Google is your homepage, like many people) to add things you are interested in right at your fingertips. Your iGoogle page can display your Google Reader files, your Google Calendar and a daily agenda, your Google Docs (I won’t even get into this one right now, but will tackle it later), and any of hundreds of other items. My iGoogle page has a search box for Wikipedia, links to my del.i.cious bookmarks, and a tab devoted to daily news which displays the top headlines from 12 different online news websites.


Want to set this up and make your life easier? Here’s what you need to do…

1. Sign up for a free Google account. To do this, go to and in the upper right hand corner, click “Sign In”. At the bottom on the right, click “Create an Account Now”. The next page will ask you for a current email address, have you set up a password, and have you type in a list of letters to verify that you really exist. Google will send an email to the address provided which will include a link that activates your Google account.

2. Switch over to iGoogle. From the classic Google homepage you should see your email address near the top right. Beside your email address it should say “iGoogle”. Click this link. You will be given a list of “Interest” options and the chance to select a theme. You do not have to select any of these or change your theme. Each “Interest” will add a tab to your iGoogle page with news from several sources about your interest (like my News tab, mentioned above). The themes just change the look of the Google page. For example, the Beach theme (the second option) shows a beach scene surrounding your Google search box that can be customized to this time zone so that whenever you look at it, the sun has moved to match the time!

3. Set up your iGoogle. Once you have the tabs and theme set, it’s now time to make sure you have Google Calendar and Google Reader available. There are seven things that come standard with iGoogle: Google News,, Weather, Google Calendar, How To of the Day, Date & Time, and YouTube videos. By clicking the ‘x’ in the corner of any of these boxes, they can be removed. DON’T get rid of Google Calendar if you want the Sunfish Calendar available. Each item is moveable so if you want Google Calendar near the top, it can be moved to the top of any of the three columns and the other items will adjust to the new position.

4. Add Google Reader. To add Google Reader, click the link that says “Add Stuff”. On the right is a search box that says “Search for Gadgets”. In this box type, Google Reader and hit search. The first option should come back as Google Reader (Labs) and on the left should be a button to “Add it Now”. Click this button and then return to your iGoogle home page.

5. Set up Google Calendar. From your iGoogle page, click the link to Google Calendar. Google will ask for your password again. Type your password and Sign In to Google Calendar. Google will then ask for your Name and another verification email will be sent to your email address. Google Calendar sets up a personal calendar that you can edit, add to, change, etc. To add the Sunfish Team Academic Calendar, click the button on the left that says “Add”. In the dropdown menu, choose “Add a Public Calendar”. In the search box at the top, type “Sunfish Team Academic Calendar”. When you click “Search Public Calendars” only one should show up. Clicking “Add to Calendar” will give you access to see all events posted to the Sunfish Team calendar, but not to edit them. That’s all you have to do to add the Sunfish Team calendar to your iGoogle page. Clicking the “Web” link at the top left will take you back to your iGoogle. Click “Show Agenda” to see a weekly agenda for your Google Calendars.

6. Set up Google Reader. In the middle of the box, click the link that says “Sign up for Google Reader”. This will take you to the Google Reader page. On the left is a link that says “Add Subscription”. This is where you will add my two blogs (or just the homework one if that’s all you’re interested in). In the textbox, type (or copy and paste): for this blog OR for the homework blog

Click the add button and you should have a list of recent posts to either blog. If you want to add the other blog, simply Add another subscription. Return to your iGoogle page and it should be all set up for you.

7. Pat yourself on the back! YOU DID IT! That’s all there is to it. You now have the option of setting iGoogle as your homepage by clicking Yes beside Make iGoogle your homepage, or logging in to your Google account to check all the goings-on at Mr. Williamson’s Science Blog.

Please leave me a comment if you decide to set up an iGoogle page and feel free to let me know if you have difficulties, I’ll try and help you get through the process. Check back for screenshots of the process in a few days.

Congrats to new National Board Teachers!

Today was the release of the names of the teachers receiving certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Congratulations to all those teachers who achieved National Board Certification, including Broad Creek’s own Neil Davis for Early Adolescent Social Studies! Hopefully this time next year I will be receiving the same good news these folks got today.