Filed Under (Collaboration, Internet) by Lee Kolbert on 26-09-2009

Ever wonder why some teachers feel strongly about using technology with their students? Ever wonder why what is so popular today is “so yesterday” tomorrow? There’s a huge shift going on in today’s world. It’s not the world our parents grew up in and it’s not even the world it was 5 years ago. Preparing our students to live in tomorrow’s world today is everyone’s responsibility. The video below is 4:46 long. I recommend that everyone who has children, teaches children or lives in today’s world watches it.

Original presentation of “Did You Know” by Karl Fisch, remixed by Scott Mcloed. More information and sources can be found here.

Filed Under (writing) by Lee Kolbert on 20-09-2009

The movie, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, is making a big splash in theaters! How kind of Columbia and Sony Pictures to time the release to coordinate with our writing lessons as we learn to incorporate idioms and metaphors into our writing. Idioms are phrases that mean more than their words put together. If you take them word for word, they might not make much sense! Idioms are a little like puzzles. It’s fun to figure them out and even more fun to use them in our everyday language.

Have you heard of “The Buck Stops Here?” It means “taking responsibility for something, instead of blaming someone else.”

The Buck Stops HerePresident Harry S. Truman invented this phrase and had a sign made for his desk with those words. Truman liked to play poker. In poker a marker called a “buck” was placed in front of the player who would be the next to deal the cards. A player who didn’t want to deal could pass the buck to the next player.

On more than one occasion President Truman referred to the desk sign in public statements. For example, in an address at the National War College on December 19, 1952 Mr. Truman said, “You know, it’s easy for the Monday morning quarterback to say what the coach should have done, after the game is over. But when the decision is up before you — and on my desk I have a motto which says The Buck Stops Here’ — the decision has to be made.” In his farewell address to the American people given in January 1953, President Truman referred to this concept very specifically in asserting that, “The President–whoever he is–has to decide. He can’t pass the buck to anybody. No one else can do the deciding for him. That’s his job. The sign has been displayed at the Library since 1957.

What are some idioms you know? Can you tell us the origin? I look forward to reading your comments.

Filed Under (science, social studies) by Lee Kolbert on 15-09-2009

As we prepare to make our Public Service Announcements, our students are in the process of organizing their thoughts and creating Hurricane Preparedness brochures. Last week, I shared some interesting hurricane tracking sites with them and one of them has since become my latest favorite. The day I shared it with my class was also the day we taped our first show of the season for PalmBreezeCAFE (our web and tech local cable TV show). I decided to ditch what I had previously planned and show this site instead. Here I am with co-host, Lee Keller, showing the site from National Geographic.

In addition to the National Geographic site, some other useful sites are:

In class we are studying hurricanes and my students will begin to create preparedness brochures and Public Service Announcements. I think it will be a great learning opportunity for them to condense all they’ve learned and prepare a few points to share and help others. I’m not sure how familiar they are with PSAs but they most likely will have seen a Safety on the Internet PSA while watching TV. When I was really young, I can remember watching Smokey The Bear tell me that –only “I” could prevent forest fires.– That PSA actually had the unintended consequences of making me feel guilty because I wasn’t in the forest and I wondered who would prevent them if I wasn’t there.

After we spend a few minutes discussing what a PSA is, the students will be divided into small groups, storyboard their ideas, write a brief script and shoot their videos. I own two Flipcams and have asked my students’ parents if they have any they’d be willing to loan us for the project. At some point, I hope to raise some money to buy 5 or 6 for the classroom to do projects such as this.

Below is a PSA some of us might remember. Do you know of any PSAs and if so, what did you learn from them?

Filed Under (science, Uncategorized) by Lee Kolbert on 05-09-2009

View of the shuttle from Boca Raton, FL.

View of the shuttle from Boca Raton, FL.

The other morning, Lilly’s dad sent me this picture. It’s a view of the shuttle launch from his home. He took it using a 30 second exposure and a 300mm zoom lens. The picture got me thinking about the space shuttle and how we take for granted all that NASA does. It wasn’t too long ago that there was no space program. It was only 50 years ago that Dwight D. Eisenhower established NASA in response to the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik.

When most people think of NASA, they usually just think of astronauts walking on the moon or flying in space shuttles. Did you know that NASA’s space programs have helped advance medical technology as well?

There’s a lot you can learn by visiting the NASA site. As a matter of fact, there’s an entire section just for students in grades K-8 with games and homework help, too! After you visit the NASA site, come back here and leave a comment. Did you learn anything new? Did anything surprise you? Did you find anything useful that you can use again in the future?