Thursday, December 30, 2004

Celebrating Our Heroes: Telling Their Stories with iMovie

While thinking about how to integrate earthquakes/the tsumani in south Asia/natural disaster/ I ran across this idea. Every hero has a story. Heroes are respected for outstanding achievements and personal excellence. The qualities we admire in people usually mirror the values and beliefs that characterize society at a particular time. Therefore, a study of our heroes can lead to a better understanding of the history, attitudes, and forces that have shaped all of us.

This Exhibit brings together four different lessons that address the theme of heroes. They all studied heroes and used iMovie to tell their stories.
Celebrating Our Heroes: Telling Their Stories with iMovie

Perspective: Disaster Relief

Ronald Wolk says, "Policymakers will need all the clout they can muster to wrench high school out of the 19th century and redesign it for the 21st." And seems to hit the nail on the head when he also states: "The traditional high school has not improved. It works only for the most highly motivated, who plan to apply to selective colleges. It's a disaster for up to 40 percent of students, and the rest enjoy the extracurricular activities but do only wha's necessary to graduate." The article points out that high school faculties see departments as "sacroscant". Look that one up! The article mentions that large schools are not conducive to collaboration. Interestingly, in our part of the state, county LEAs been forced to bus students from low performing schools to other small schools at a tremendous cost to all. There are no easy answers. What lesson is in this article for alternative schools. Do not seek to "be like Mike". If alternative schools model themselves after successfully reformed schools, then at least the students that are assigned to the school will bennefit from the experience.
Perspective: Disaster Relief

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Titan-Bound Huygens Probe Detaches From Cassini

December 24, 2004
(Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

Huygens Probe Release

The European Space Agency's Huygens probe successfully detached from NASA's Cassini orbiter today to begin a three-week journey to Saturn¿s moon Titan. NASA's Deep Space Network tracking stations in Madrid, Spain, and Goldstone, Calif., received the signal at 7:24 p.m. (PST). All systems performed as expected and there were no problems reported with the Cassini spacecraft.

The Huygens probe, built and managed by the European Space Agency, was bolted to Cassini and has been riding along during the nearly seven-year journey to Saturn largely in a "sleep" mode. Huygens will be the first human-made object to explore on-site the unique environment of Titan, whose chemistry is assumed to be very similar to that of early Earth before life formed. Huygens will tell us whether this assumption is correct.

"We wish to congratulate our European partners as their journey begins and wish them well on their descent to Titan," said Robert T. Mitchell, Cassini program manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "We are very excited to see the probe off and to have accomplished this part of our job. Now we're ready to finish our part -- receiving and relaying the Huygens data back to Earth."

"Today's release is another successful milestone in the Cassini- Huygens odyssey," said Dr. David Southwood, director of science program for the European Space Agency. "This was an amicable separation after seven years of living together. Our thanks to our partners at NASA for the lift. Each spacecraft will now continue on its own but we expect they'll keep in touch to complete this amazing mission. Now all our hopes and expectations are focused on getting the first in-situ data from a new world we've been dreaming of exploring for decades."

The Huygens probe will remain dormant until the onboard timer wakes it up just before the probe reaches Titan's upper atmosphere on Jan. 14, 2005. Then it will begin a dramatic plunge through Titan's murky atmosphere, tasting its chemical makeup and composition as it descends to touch down on its surface. The data gathered during this 2-1/2 hour descent will be transmitted from the probe to the Cassini orbiter. Afterward, Cassini will point its antenna to Earth and relay the data through NASA's Deep Space Network to JPL and on to the European Space Agency's Space Operations Center in Darmstadt, Germany, which serves as the operations center for the Huygens probe mission. From this control center, ESA engineers will be tracking the probe and scientists will be standing by to process the data from the probe's six instruments.

On Monday, Dec. 27, the Cassini orbiter will perform a deflection maneuver to keep it from following Huygens into Titan's atmosphere. This maneuver will also establish the required geometry between the probe and the orbiter for radio communications during the probe descent.

More information on the Cassini-Huygens mission is available at: and

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. JPL designed, developed and assembled the Cassini orbiter. The European Space Agency built and managed the development of the Huygens probe and is in charge of the probe operations. The Italian Space Agency provided the high-gain antenna, much of the radio system and elements of several of Cassini's science instruments.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Merry Christmas

Originally uploaded by The Blake Slate.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. It is Christmas Eve, and Meredith and Laura are home, Laura is "working from home" via computer, and her cat- Gypsy is chilling. Meredith's Maultese puppy- Gavin, is napping. Kathy is busy baking and cleaning up. I am glued to this stupid computer screen. Have a nice holiday. No time to waste.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Podcasting 101?

The term podcasting plays upon the terms broadcasting and webcasting and is derived from the name of the iPod portable music player, the playback device of choice of many early podcast listeners. While not directly associated with Apple's iPod device or iTunes jukebox software, the company did contribute both the desire and the technology for this capability. Podcasting is similar to time-shifted video software and devices like TiVo, which let you watch what you want when you want by recording and storing video, except that podcasting is used for audio and is currently free of charge. Note, however, that this technology can be used to pull any kind of file, including software updates, pictures, and videos.

In short, podcasting involves the recording of internet radio or similar internet audio programs. These recordings are then made available for download to your iPod or other portable digital audio device. You can listen to the podcast internet radio program while you are away from your computer or at a different time than the original program was broadcast.
Podcasting - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

News & Events - UBC's e-Strategy

Must read: article has links to other good sites related to podcasting.
"The Online Classroom Is About to Become a Noisier Place — Wired (and wireless) for sound: audioblogging, podcasting and education."

By Brian Lamb, Office of Learning Technology

News & Events - UBC's e-Strategy

Bloglines | My Feeds

Bloglines | My FeedsTo keep my readers up to date with what I am reading, check out my new Bloglines resourse for teachers and hackers alike.

Monday, December 20, 2004

NASA Podcasts

Point your iPodder app to this url and subscribe today. Cool stuff for all space buffs.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Tech Team Meeting 12-7-04.mp3

My first attempt at producing a podcast was a learning experience. The topic of the podcast was to provide teachers at my school with an over of our monthly meeting.

Check out my podcast for the week of December 6th. I review the technology teachers meeting.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Portable PowerPoint

Great site I ran across and must share with my fellow educators. They have an article on how the new iPod Photo can be used to deliver slides for our classes using the pricey new tech gadget from Apple. Maybe next year? "hack a day serves up a fresh hack each day, every day from around the web and a special how-to hack each week."
hack a day -

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Blogs and Wikis 101

Thanks to Patrick Crispen at California State University, Fullerton, CA, for making this available to my students and teachers.
Blogs and Wikis 101

Monday, November 22, 2004


The world was their oyster" on Wednesday as students from East
Columbus Magnet Academy (Columbus, GA) and Holmes High School (Edenton,
NC) made outstanding presentations in a live world-wide webcast.
Kudos to all of the students and their proud teachers and schools!

Fascinating sessions by GIS professionals and educators included "What
in the World Is GPS?," "Climate Change and GIS," "Public Health and
GIS," "GIS Careers," and "Visualizing Raleigh's Downtown . . . in 3D."

"We've worked hard to get the entire five hours of presentations made by
students and GIS professionals and educators digitized and archived on
our website. You can relive the excitement (or enjoy it for the first
time) by going to and choosing "Direct Link to Live
Webcast." You'll find many resources, including the speakers'
PowerPoint presentations.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Professional Development- NC Sea Grant

Please take some time to visit North Carolina Sea Grant's web page that lists upcoming workshops. There are some good opportunities in the near future for educators to get some Ocean Education training! Go to , click on Public Education, then on Workshops. This page is being updated all the time!

Ocean Awareness Days, sponsored by the SouthEast Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (SECOSEE), are set for the following days and locations. Get in touch with the contact person for details and registration information.

November 20, NC Estuarium, Washington
January 7-8, Catawba Science Center, Hickory
January 14, Discovery Place, Charlotte
March 5, NC Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh
March 12, Allison Woods EE Center, Statesville
March 19, NC Zoological Park, Asheboro

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

New Tech Toys

After being selected at NWA Teacher of the Year, the school system rewarded us with serveral recognitions. I invested the money on a Apple iPod. After reading the news that a major university in North Carolina had purchased each incoming freshman with an iPod, I was intregeded with how they were planning to use them. Education? I thought it was at first a joke. A music playing device used for educational purposes? I almost laughed. Investigating the way iPods could be used in an educational setting was not something I could Google. However, instructional strategies do exsist. The iPod can be used to upload audiobooks, and many files. Not to bore you with all the things they can do, let me mention how I have used my iPod so far. The first week, all I wanted to do we install all my CDs. That was a task. I read about a program called iPodderX. Wow! I have enjoyed that program with my iPod. Leo LaPorte, the KFI radio station Tech Guy posts daily RSS feeds. iPodderX lets me upload Leo's radio broadcast. I can listen to the shows on the way to work. I would love to do that, with a slant toward using technology in the classroom. Like why use Blogs. When I finish listening to the show, I can catch a few beats from the many tunes I have uploaded. The iPod is nice, but after using my friend's iTalk, I had to have one. ITalk? Yes, it has something to do with talking-- it is a voice recorder for the iPod. I also got a cover for the iPod called an iSkin. The skins are great. I can now stick my iPod in my pocket and not worry abouit it getting scratched. I have been thinking about how I can use the iTalk in class. Do you know of any good stratiegies to use? In the coming days, I plan to surf the net in hopes of finding ways to use our iBooks and an iPod.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

What is a Classroom Wiki?

The simplest online database that could possibly work.

Wiki is a piece of server software that allows users to freely create and edit Web page content using any Web browser. Wiki supports hyperlinks and has a simple text syntax for creating new pages and crosslinks between internal pages on the fly.

Wiki is unusual among group communication mechanisms in that it allows the organization of contributions to be edited in addition to the content itself.

Like many simple concepts, "open editing" has some profound and subtle effects on Wiki usage. Allowing everyday users to create and edit any page in a Web site is exciting in that it encourages democratic use of the Web and promotes content composition by nontechnical users.

Wiki in my classroom: click on the link in the title of this article to view my class wiki.

In an attempt to stay on the leading edge of intructional technology, I have been experimenting with a class wiki.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Classroom Astronomy

If you are up in the morning on November 4th or 5th about 45 minutes
before sunrise, there is a treat waiting for you above the eastern
horizon. Jupiter and Venus will be within one degree of each other. At
one point, they will be only a half a degree from each other which is
about the diameter of the Moon. Both planets are very bright and will be
easy to find.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Bombich Software: Carbon Copy Cloner

Have you ever wanted a simple, complete, bootable backup of your hard drive?  Have you ever wanted to upgrade to a larger hard drive with minimal hassle and without reinstalling your OS and all of your applications?  Have you ever wanted to move your entire Mac OS X installation to a new computer?  Then CCC is the tool for you!  CCC makes these tasks simple by harnessing the Unix power built into Mac OS X. 
Bombich Software: Carbon Copy Cloner

Saturday, October 30, 2004

"Motivating High School Students in Biology and Chemistry with Pharmacology"

Reserve your seat for a full-Day Workshop at the NCSTA Conference on
Friday, November 12, 2004:

The Pharmacology Education Partnership (PEP) Presents
"Motivating High School Students in Biology and Chemistry with Pharmacology"

A Full-Day Workshop
NCSTA Professional Development Institute
Koury Convention Center
Greensboro, North Carolina
November 12, 2004
9 am - 4 pm

The Pharmacology Education Partnership (PEP) provides teachers with tools to teach biology and chemistry using topics (e.g. the chemistry and biology of cocaine, nicotine, and steroids) that captivate high school students. In the short course, teachers will learn about the exciting world of Pharmacology and will be introduced to the PEP teaching modules such as, "Acids, Bases, and Cocaine Addicts"; "Military Pharmacology: It takes Nerves"; and "Steroids and Athletes: Genes Work Overtime!" Participants will receive instruction on using the interactive PEP website and how to integrate PEP modules into their own teaching.

The Pharmacology Education Partnership has just finished a two-year national research study in which ~10,000 students were tested after using the PEP modules. Preliminary research from a pilot study
indicates the more modules used by teachers, the better the students performed on a multiple choice test of basic biology and chemistry principles, compared to the standard curricula.

To reserve a space for the workshop and COMPLIMENTARY lunch at the NCSTA
Institute in Greensboro, please email:
by November 5, 2004.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Textbook Caravan Hits the Road

Textbook Caravan Hits the Road - The North Carolina Textbook Caravan will hold presentations and have samples for K-5, 6-8, and 9-12 Science; Foreign Language 6-12; English Language Development, (ESL) K-12; and Agricultural Education 7-12 at the following eight regional sites:
Nov. 1, Asheville;
Nov. 2, Boone;
Nov. 3, Winston-Salem;
Nov. 4, Durham;
Nov. 8, Greensboro;
Nov. 9, Fayetteville;
Nov. 10, Wilmington; and
Nov. 11, New Bern.
Schools are encouraged to organize teams of teachers to attend. There is no charge for registration. For additional information call Wandra Polk, Instructional Services, DPI, 919/807-3816, or by email,

New No Child Left Behind Flexibility: Highly Qualified Teachers

"Under No Child Left Behind, our nation made a commitment to ensuring that every student has a great teacher. These new policies will help us keep that promise so that every child can reach his or her potential."
-U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige

States are now preparing to meet the 2005-06 deadline for ensuring all of their teachers are highly qualified. Ahead of that deadline, the Department is providing three new areas of flexibility for teachers to demonstrate that they are highly qualified. This flexibility will benefit teachers, local and state administrators, and most importantly--students.
New No Child Left Behind Flexibility: Highly Qualified Teachers

Cyber-Cheating by Mary Ellen Flannery

Years ago, I was called to the media center and was surprised to learn that one of my students had turned in a research paper he had just printed out. I had to hold my breathe to keep from laughing in the students face because he had not even removed the URL printed on the bottom of the suspect document. After a lengthy lecture from the media specialist, and a phone call to the principal, the bottom line was the student earned a zero and was referred to the office for violation of copyright policies. Now, that student owns half the county and makes more before he finishes a hot Krispy-Cream doughnut than I will make the rest of working life. Our students today are even more sly and crafty. A lightening quick text message and deliver the correct answers for all the multiple-choice questions on a final exam that counts one-fifth of the year's grade. High stakes testing requires high tech monitoring. Does your school offer technology training to combat this or are you like most-- still got your head in the sand. Might be time to assess this issue on our campuses.

NEA: NEA Today November 2004

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

HP Tattoos: Personalize Your iPod with Student Art

Want a great new project? Try this idea: Poll your students and determine first if they have an iPod or knows anyone with one. This could be an idea for a special gift. Put a special person on your wiped, or even one of your scanned sketches anything that can be made into a digital file can be used to create your HP Tattoo. Make sure you've got the tattoo supplies and then just follow these steps. In my class, I used the template and had my students design a iPod tattoo for my iPod using what they were learning in class. I will post some examples soon.

HP Tattoos: Personalize Your iPod

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

NCLB Burn-out Blues

Da Dhan Da Da..Got those NCLB Bluuuues
Da Dhan Da Da..SACS plaque on the wall,
Da Dhan Da Da...AYP met and not a call,
Da Dhan Da Da...No Time to teach at All

I Got dim NCLB BlUUUES....
Vote Kerry and Edwards you all.....

Monday, October 25, 2004

Meeting the Needs of All Students

It has long be a best practice to involve students in project based learning. A three-year 1997 study ( To view this study, you must be a registered user on the Edweek site. Registration is free.) of two British secondary schools -- one that used open-ended projects and one that used more traditional, direct instruction -- found striking differences in understanding and standardized achievement data in mathematics. The study by Jo Boaler, now associate professor of education at Stanford University, found that students at the project-based school did better than those at the more traditional school both on math problems requiring analytical or conceptual thought and on those considered rote, that is, those requiring memory of a rule or formula. Three times as many students at the project-based school received the top grade achievable on the national examination in math. Several other studies support this pedigogy. This week, I am trying to have my students think about how they can prepare a three minute radio show to post here on The EduBlog. I have been learning about Podcasting and hopefully, I will be able to use a little xml magic to podcast their "lessons". Each of my student will be picking a topic from a list of science objectives. They will then research the topic and prepare their story/promo. I will be out until mid-week, and our school has a 1/2 day Professional Development on Wednesday. Therefore, it may be next week before they post their intial podcasts. In the mean time, I plan to test this feature. Check back tomorrow for my hopefully my first podcast.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Service Learning

Originally uploaded by The Blake Slate.
This is a photo showing the back of our school. Students and teachers designated a day in October to restraw our azalea beds. We removed weeds and also planted several beds of pansies to add color. Students practiced good character traits such as responsibility and respect.