Filed Under (science) by Lee Kolbert on 08-12-2010

By Lily

Ahhhhh!  I am bouncing of the walls right now. It is finally the time I get to go on vacation and visit my aunt, uncle, and 2 lovely cousins. We were going because it was Thanksgiving week and we haven’t seen them in a long time. Today on this amazing Saturday, I woke up  at 4:00 to get ready for my flight to Colorado. My friend’s mom drove us to the airport so we can ride a Frontier Airlines airplane. It was finally 7:00 when we boarded our plane. We are on our way to have a wonderful time I thought to myself.

We finally arrived around twelve o’clock Florida’s time and 10 o’clock Colorado”s time. Right as soon as we got off the airplane I grabbed my luggage and ran to give my uncle a great big hug. Then we headed back to their house and had a little snack. When we were eating their dog named Dutches sprinted up to us and started to lick us like there was no tomorrow. My cousins and aunt soon bolted through the door from my older cousin Sabrina’s indoor soccer game. She scored the winning goal for her team. How lucky is she?

It was soon the next morning and we were packing their cars to drive up to the Y.M.C.A of the rockies. There we were going to stay in a cabin for Monday- Wednesday. Finally, when we arrived we went and checked in at the lodge. The lady at the front desk gave us our key which had the cabin name on it. The name of it was “The Osprey”. The moms got handed a map of all the cabins. We hoped back in their cars and found our way to the cabin.

It took us a long time though… we kept saying the names of the cabins we saw so hopefully my mom could look on the map quick enough and see which direction we were going. One our first day in the mountains, my couisin Emma and I woke up first and saw a nice thick layer out bunny tail white. It was my first time seeing snow and it was an exquisite sight. When the whole family woke up, we decied to get bundled up and go sleding. We had to put on an under (longed- sleeved) shirt and pants. Then sweat pants and another thick shirt. And then our sledding pants. We definitely got bundled up like snowmen.My uncle lugged some sleds up when we came so had got those ready. We went around town looking for a good hill to go around.

After we went to millions of places back near our cabin we drove. What do you know right above our cabin we found a perfectly steep hill. “Wahoo!” we all shouted when we went down the hill. Their dog Duthches loved the snow most of all. You might ask how a dog loves snow. Well she would hop out of the car before we even had a chance to. She digs her snout in the snow and gets covered in white. The second day we were there it snowed even more. As I said yesterday, the most amazing sight I had ever seen. Since yesterday everybody in our family loved sledding, we decided to go sledding again. My Uncle Irv and I got ready first so we plugged in the air pump and blowed up our sleds. Out back at the field we had a ball. Today when the kids waited for the parents to slowly walk up the hill we got ready and aimed some snowballs to throw at them. YES!!! Our snowballs landed on our moms and dads. But then the had to give us revenge. They had even bigger hands then ours, so their snowballs were gigantic! Ahhhh! The four kids ran. Because of all the layers we had to put on, it was tough to run up such a steep hill. Our parents ended up hitting us. Good thing us kids had our hand and feet warmers or we would have froze. After a few hours past, we went back to our cabin.

We were so pooped we all layed down on the couches and read. We read when we were eating or when we had free time. The four kids, read so much they called us geeks. Ha!Ha! Bright and early we woke up the next and headed back to their house. It felt like forever! We alot did much more but that was just a bit. I LOVE my family!

Filed Under (blogging) by Lee Kolbert on 04-12-2010

I’m very excited to announce that our class blog has been nominated for the prestigious EduBlog Award in the category of Best Class Blog. Please take a moment to vote for our class blog.

ThEdublog Awards is a community based incentive started in 2005 in response to community concerns relating to how schools, districts and educational institutions were blocking access of learner and teacher blog sites for educational purposes.

The purpose of the Edublog awards is to promote and demonstrate the educational values of these social media.

The best aspects include that it creates a fabulous resource for educators to use for ideas on how social media is used in different contexts, with a range of different learners.

It introduces us all to new sites that we might not have found if not for the awards process.

Previous winners: 200420052006200720082009

Filed Under (Internet, technology) by Lee Kolbert on 13-11-2010

Also posted here on Huffington Post

This video by Bill Genereux greatly illustrates the potential risks of leaving digital literacy up to chance by allowing our children to explore technology within a walled-garden. “I’m not techy,” is frequently heard among clusters of adults whose primary responsibilities include supervising children/students. Do parents have a responsibility to learn their way around technology as it relates to what their children are required to do? Does it really matter? After all, our kids can do a lot of things we can’t.

Although this video is aimed at parents, it could just as easily target today’s teachers. Are we educating ourselves in such a way so that we can guide our students in the safe and effective use of technology? Or are we leaving it up to the kids to learn on their own while we maintain the status-quo in our classrooms?

Thanks to Martha Thornburgh for bringing this to my attention.

Crossposted on Huffington Post

The term “21st Century student” or “21st Century Classroom” sure gets thrown around a lot. We’re so used to hearing and supporting our pedagogy with it, but have you ever stopped to think about what it really means? There are many qualities that make up a 21st Century student. In 1956, Benjamin Bloom headed a group of educational psychologists who developed a classification of levels of intellectual behavior important in learning.

The new taxonomy supports the idea that not all learning objectives and outcomes are, nor should be, have equal in value. Effective teachers frequently refer to this taxonomy to design their instruction to emphasize important learned capabilities (more useful for adults in the workforce) rather than, for example, to emphasize memorization of facts (which makes for easier testing).

With expectations of the future workforce and the proliferation of inexpensive and readily available technology, a new and revised taxonomy (2001) emerged. It plays down the consumer-emphasized, single-player-sport idea of “educational objectives” (in Bloom’s original title) and points to a more interactive idea of what an effective curriculum provides.

Notice that “remembering” although certainly a necessary component to learning, sits at the bottom of this pyramid to higher-level thought processes required for true learning to occur.

Even with today’s emphasis on testing, it’s more important than ever to push our students to achieve higher level thinking. What are some ways that can be done today?

  • First and foremost, parents/families must be involved in a positive way. Students must learn that their parents value their learning beyond the grades achieved on report cards. Parents who engage in competitive conversations regarding which schools their children attend, what page they are on, or what grades they received, might be better off focusing their energy on the learning outcomes of their child’s achievement or lack of. Even with a poor grade on a test or report card, for example, parents can ask, “What did you learn from this?” or “What can you/we do better next time?” rather than, “Why did you get this grade?” The cartoon below from Daryl Cagle had me wondering how I am supporting my own children through their educational journey.
  • Understand and accept the fact that although it pains us (teachers) to reduce children to a grade or score, it’s currently how our system functions and there are many ways to deemphasize grades and focus on the whole child.
  • Effective teachers are harnessing the Internet, specifically the power of blogging, to provide students with opportunities that simply weren’t available even a few years ago.
    • I have my class blog and more importantly, my students have their own blogs where their writing brings them attention, global conversation and motivation for writing more effectively. Check out Lily’s post on bullying, Caroline’s post on Tourettes and Joey’s post on his Karate test. Don’t just read the posts, but also read the relevant and encouraging comments from readers, near and far.
    • Marie Knee, kindergarten teacher, uses video and blogs and interactive sites to create an enriching and transparent classroom where her young students can share their learning with their families and the world.
    • Check out Kathy Cassidy, first grade teacher, for how she shares her students with the world. Teachers, like me, learn daily from these teachers who so generously provide those insights so that we can model our own instruction after theirs.
    • Dan Meyer, high school math teacher, makes math relevant to our real world.
    • George Couros (school principal) blogs regularly. His insights as a school principal create a ripple effect where other school administrators, teachers and students regularly engage in conversation and benefit from his transparent offers to share.
    • There are many, many more examples that you can explore. Scott McLeod’s compilation of exemplary blogs is a good place to start.

So what does all of this mean for you, your classroom and your children? That’s what I’d like to hear from you.

  • What are children able to do today that you have yet to learn (or even understand)? Does that make you feel inferior or empowered to engage in conversations with your children and allow them to teach you (and perhaps move forward in your goals towards success)?
  • What characteristics do the successful adults in your life (family, friends, coworkers) have that make them so successful? Are your children on their way to learning those strategies? What are you doing to help foster this?
  • In your opinion, what ineffective methods are being used with children who would be better served by engaging in flexible grouping, collaborative projects or simply being able take an active part in their own learning?

I look forward to your comments.

Filed Under (writing) by Lee Kolbert on 02-11-2010

Today’s post comes courtesy of student, Joey.

On October 16, 2010 I took my senior dan black belt test in Tang Soo Doo. My test lasted over 5 hours, and consisted of doing

4 different forms of Korean fighting moves. The 4 forms are basic one, psi, pydon chodan, and pydon edan. I also had to do 18 combinations and a weapens form. I did basic one with the bo staff. A bo staff is a big stick. I also needed to break 5 hand breaks and 5 feet breaks.