Showing posts from October, 2009

Letter to Future Representative Written with Port Leyden's Fifth Graders

Recently I've been teaching a video conferencing series, "A Kid's Guide to US Government" (Parts 1, 2, and 3) to fifth graders in Port Leyden, NY. I actually taught Port Leyden's fifth graders last year, and it was a fun experience to be reunited with the new fifth graders! Every year, New York fifth graders take a state social studies test, which I found upon reading to be not only informational and interesting but also much higher in its level and caliber than its counterpart, the WASL, in Washington State. Ah well--we can hope for a better new standardized test; they are replacing the WASL.

As part of my presentations, I taught about citizenship and ways for citizens to influence government, such as writing a letter to their representative. Port Leyden currently has a vacant representative seat but there will soon be an election for that area. This is the letter we wrote for the "future representative."


Dear _________,

Imagine this: you’re walking…

Descriptive Passages Written with Fourth Graders Through Video Conferencing

Bob was a tiny, brown, furry gopher with proportionally huge claws (his mother always complained about his inability to trim his claws) and a selfish attitude toward his toys, which were made out of fine wood chips and premium dirt. He liked his toys because they felt hard and rough, with lots of bumps he could file his claws on.

It was a gloomy, wet and soggy Tuesday when Bob scurried out of his burrow into an open
field. He could hear the rumble of thunder in the distance. It was muggy and some of the other burrows smelled moldy. Bob felt sleepy; rain had always had a soporific effect on him. "I think I shall take a little nap," he sighed, and dove into his burrow--just in the nick of time, as
a giant lightning bolt struck from above.


The tree house we recently built is
baby blue. It was as huge as a mansion,
with dark and gloomy shadows playing off
on the rust on the walls. Of course, this was
our Halloween theme; usually, the tree house
is bright and cheery, with lots o…

On the Redesign of CNN

CNN has recently redesigned its homepage. Now, instead of seeing the CNN logo in the left-hand corner of your screen, you're visually assaulted by a mammoth red banner with a bold CNN logo in the center. It's impossible not to see it, which is probably CNN's purpose, but it also makes everything else look small in comparison.

Another thing, besides the smallness, that I noticed on the new homepage is the divisiveness--or should I say the division-ness? It seems like there are more separators--bars or lines--that divide modules on the screen. Whether the point was to make things more clear, or to emphasize differences between modules, I'm not sure.

Finally, as has happened with CNN design changes in the past, not all parts of the website have been completely changed. If you check out some other sections, you'll still see the familiar logo in the corner, not the giant red banner, and you will see the same navigation bar. However, video has been integrated more thorou…

Story Written with Video Conferencing Third Graders

Character List:
Bob the Brontosaurus—main character
Charlie the Triceratops—enemy
Billy the Cat (Charlie)
Setting: Ashland Elementary
Conflict: Bob has the brightest colors; Charlie is arguing.
It was a hot day at Ashland Elementary on Wednesday. Bob the brontosaurus was finishing up a lunch of leaves and salad with a tiny dollop of dressing (he couldn’t eat too much or else his cholesterol would rise) when Charlie the triceratops swaggered into the room.
“Hey, what kind of lunch is Bob having?” he demanded. “Haha. You can’t even finish off a whole bowl of dressing like I can.”
“You shouldn’t eat a whole bowl of dressing, Charlie, that’s gross,” Bob said.
“Oh, come on. You’re the gross one. You’re always eating salad without much dressing, and wearing dull colors—hey, wait a second.” Charlie inspected Bob with wide, surprised eyes.
“What! You’re wearing bright colors!”
“Brighter colors than you, that’s for sure,” Bob’s best friend, Supermonkey, chimed in. “Brighter head, too.…

Short Passage Written with Kentucky Video Conferencing Students

It was an exceptionally warm day in the city of Anthalantern, Ipsnot. Inside the Anthalantern Elementary School, a big argument was going on--about uniforms.

"We should definitely wear uniforms!" Sandy said vehemently. "It makes everybody look neater and cleaner, and it makes our school look better!"

"Actually, a uniform could get worn out pretty fast," her sister, Addie, retorted.

"Come on, I thought you were on my side," Sandy said, sounding discouraged.

"Was on your side. Past tense," Addie said flatly. "How do you like our new campaign banner?" she smirked, holding up a giant banner that was five feet long. In fact, she nearly fell over--it was so heavy, being covered with gold leaf, copper wire, and stainless steel lettering. It said, "No Uniforms--Keep Freedom of Dress!"

"Uh-oh," said Sandy.

What Ever Happened to the Walkie-Talkie?

I know that this question is decidedly random, but I came across the question when I was reminiscing to my family vacation and playing with my cousin, whose family is lucky enough to own a pair of walkie-talkies. Once my sister and I possessed the delightful transmission devices, but battery ran out, and my mother--who is a famous miser when it comes to batteries--declined to replace them. Since then, one pair has gotten lost and I'm sure another's buttons have been broken off.

Putting the personal issue of the decline of our own walkie-talkies aside, I was curious as to what ever happened to walkie-talkies in general. I hardly ever see them in public--I see people on cell-phones instead. While this is understandable--after all, walkie-talkies can only go a certain distance, can have battery issues, shaky transmission, and you have to press off to let the other person talk. But there's something wonderfuly Park Ranger-esque about the walkie-talkie, and (just like park ran…