Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wax Museum

Yesterday we started working on our Wax Museum projects. I love this project because it is really different from a lot of others that we do. For this project the kids are researching revolutionary war figures. They then create a business card for their person and a short speech as if they were that person. The final step is to create a costume. The costumes are the really fun part. There is a $10 limit. I DO NOT want the kids to rent a costume. I want them to make it. Some of the best costumes I have ever had are ones that were made from a $3 suit jacket from the thrift store or from a brown paper bag. You can bet that I will be posting pictures of the costumes. For our presentations, the kids will become their person and will give their speech whenever someone “pushes their button” (Stickers on their desk). We basically have all of our research done and now the kids can concentrate on their speeches and costumes.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

KMH: Band of Vultures

Today KMH: Patriot News got an opportunity to present our program at the Show Me TechKnowledge Student Showcase. This is a type of lobbying event put on my MoreNet. They are the people that provide all of the Internet connections for schools. Basically they want to show what great things the students of Missouri are doing with technology.

We left this morning at 4:30. Yes, you read that right. We left liberty at 4:30 in the morning. A huge thanks to the parents for getting the kids there. We also traveled with the broadcast students from South Valley Junior High. We set up our booth in Jefferson City at about 8:00. We had a quick breakfast in Boonville at McDonalds. I have to say, our booth looked really good. We had a big display board, an “on air” light, a clacker, a stack of handouts and business cards as well as a laptop with our broadcast playing on a loop all day long. Last week the kids began working on a little speech that they could use to tell people. We were so busy getting other stuff ready to go that the speech got put off and only got finalized last Thursday. On the bus on the way down, the kids started practicing and almost immediately after getting set up we had people coming to our booth to see our project. After a short bout with the giggles, the student did amazing. I cannot tell you how proud I was of them. We were keeping tally marks to keep track of how many people the kids talked to (31 was the winner and a total of over 94 people that we told about KMH). I stressed with the kids that they had to stop people to tell them about our program. They did AWESOME! They were actually nicknamed the “vultures” because anyone that came within 50 yards got tracked down and told about KMH. There is no way that I could have gone up to adults – much less state senators and representatives – and started a conversation but the kids did it and it was really cool to see them get more confident all day long.

There were several highlights of the day. Highlight #1: Representative Tim Flook stopped by the booth (he is a former Manor Hill student) and asked us if we wanted to go into the chamber for the opening of the House of Representatives. Representative Flook then got the attention of the speaker of the house and introduced us to everyone and they gave us a big round of applause. Our names will actually be in the official register. I’m not sure how to find that online but if you know, please email me. Representative Flook then stopped back by the booth to do a mini interview. Highlight #2: Representative Holsman took the time to stop by the booth for a photo op with the kids and a quick interview. I have bad feeling that the audio from that interview may not turn out but he was really great with the kids.
Highlight #3: Seeing the kids really embrace the roll of representing Manor Hill, and Liberty Public Schools and do a phenomenal job with it.

Highlight #4: Senator Luanne Ridgeway stopped by our booth and talked to the kids and did a mini interview. When she was done she asked us if we had a couple of minutes. We of course said yes. She said, “follow me. The Senate isn’t in session right now lets go onto the floor and take a look around. Bring your cameras.” So we followed her down onto the floor of the Senate and got to go to her desk and she gave a great guided tour of the room. This was way cool. I had never been in the Senate Chamber before and to be on the floor was really a great experience for the kids. Then she said follow me again and took the kids up to the podium at the front of the room. Podium is the wrong word, it is really the dais. She explained how to preside over the senate. She then banged the gavel and took several pictures with the kids. She then took us over to the House floor and showed us around there, and finally took us into the Thomas Hart Benton mural room. She was fantastic with the kids.
Highlight #5: Our final stop of the day was at Central Dairy. If you have ever been to Jefferson City and have not stopped at Central Dairy, you haven’t really been to Jefferson City. They have the best ice cream in the world. My dad used to take my brother and I there when we were kids and we would get a banana split that was larger than my head. We all got a large ice cream (4 scoops) and it only cost $10!
Overall it was a great trip for everyone. We got a lot of compliments from everyone not only about KMH but also about how well the kids did. Almost every adult that talked to the kids came up to me and told me what a good job they did.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Top Ten

A friend of mine, Eric Langhorst has a podcast that he produces that is unbelievable. If you want to check it out, go to . Many of the ideas that I use in class, I have “borrowed” from him. I have been lucky enough to attend several technology conferences with Eric and many times I get more out of our conversations than I do from the sessions. Eric has been named the Missouri Teacher of the Year and I cannot think of anyone who is more deserving.

Recently on his website he talked about his top ten pictures from 2007. I thought this was a great idea. Anyone who knows me knows that I take a TON of pictures. (1500 in a week at Disneyworld, another 1200 in a short week for the space shuttle launch, 800 over two weeks of class in Colorado Springs with the majority of those being taken while scared to death going up Pikes Peak.) I thought it would be a cool idea to do a top ten pictures of 2007. Now I will say that I didn’t take all of these pictures. I will give credit where credit is due. Some were taken with my camera, just not by me. I may end up adding a couple others later just because it was SOOOO hard to narrow it to ten. Here they are.

Number 10
This picture was possibly taken in 2006 but it was really close to midnight. This one was actually taken by my wife at my cousin’s wedding. On the right is my dad, and on the left is my uncle Paul who has since passed away. Even in the last year of his life, he was one of the toughest guys I have ever known. He had the strongest hands of anyone I've ever met.

Number 9
This picture just makes me smile. I took this one using Steve’s camera. Steve is the guy in the picture. Steve has a great camera. While I was in Florida for the space shuttle launch, we had some time to go to the beach. I don’t swim so I became the official group photographer. I think this picture looks great, like a real surfing picture. I say a “real” surfing picture because the truth is that while they were really surfing, where this picture was taken they were close to shore and there was only about a foot of water. Number 8A
Okay, so I was having some technical difficulties in finding the picture I really wanted to use for number 8 so for now I've included this one (which is one that I wanted to include anyway but didn't know where). This is of my wife, brother, and sister-in-law. The part that I really like on this one is where it was taken. It was taken by my cousin at a creek near Jefferson City. Actually near my mom's hometown of Loose Creek (this might actually be Loose Creek). Anyway, when my brother and I were kids my dad would take us to this creek to skip rocks. I was way better than my brother.
Number 8
This picture was taken actually by nobody. While we were going up Pike’s Peak, we stopped at this beautiful valley (not really a valley but I’m not sure what else to call it, actually it was more like the top edge of a valley or at least we could see the valley below.) No one took this picture because we sat the camera up on a mini tripod. I love this picture because even though I’m smiling, I’m scared to death. The actual name of the place where this picture was taken was Devil’s Playground and it is the last stop before you get to the top of Pike’s Peak.

Number 7
This one was taken from the rehearsal dinner at my wedding. In it are my dad and brother, my cousins, Mr. Eltiste, my wife’s brother and cousin, and a couple of my other good friends. We had given everyone baseball bats as gifts for being in the wedding.
Number 6
The only thing I don’t like about this picture is that it is taken over a parking lot. What you want to look at are the clouds in the sky. They actually aren’t clouds. That is the trail from the Space Shuttle 4 or 5 hours after the launch. They were completely lit up at sunset. It took us a long time to get back to Cocoa Beach after the launch and we went to this little place on the beach to have dinner and as we were walking to the car we noticed the clouds, there hadn’t been another cloud in the sky all day long. It was an absolutely perfect way to end a great day. Number 5
This one was taken by the photographer for Zero G. I just love this picture because I think it pretty much sums up the microgravity flight.
Number 4
Okay, so I had to include a couple of Disney photos. I read that something like 4% of all pictures taken are taken at Disneyworld! I don’t doubt that, I definitely added my to that total. I actually don’t know the name of the person that took this one, it was a member fo the Dream Squad. As my wife and I walked into the park these two people came up to us and asked us if we were going to be riding one of the roller coasters. We said yes and they asked us which one. We told them Tower of Terror. The whole time I’m thinking, “sweet – we’re going to get front of the line passes” Boy was I wrong, they asked us to help open the park. We got to be the first ones into the park, had to say some lines for the opening ceremonies and got to ride in Walt Disney’s car to the front of the Tower of Terror. Then we were the only two in the car to ride it. Talk about amazing. This picture is fairly rare, notice that there is no one in the background. You never see that, there are always people in all of the pictures. Number 3
I took this one and it is one of my favorite pictures of all time. My wife, Sarah, latched onto this HUGE stuffed animal and started to give me those puppy dog eyes. It is a good thing that we flew to Florida because otherwise I’m pretty sure that Eeoyore would have been coming back to Liberty. Number 2
Nothing can ever come close to capturing the power and awe that you experience at a Space Shuttle launch, you truly have to be there. I love this picture, it is one of only 4 that I took during the launch. The first three just show little bits of smoke coming out and then I got this one.

Number 1
No explanation needed.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Internet Safety Night

Tonight is Manor Hill’s first ever internet safety night. I am really excited about this event, I think it is going to go really well. My only concern is how many people are going to show up. I know that other schools have had similar events and have had really low turnout. I think this is an incredibly important topic, one that a lot of parents are not aware of. If you were on the fence about coming, even if you have smaller kids, I would definitely encourage you to come. First let me say that there is going to be free babysitting for school age kids available. Second, we are going to be giving away a door prize to someone that comes tonight. Office Depot donated an MP3 player for us to give away. Finally, I am doing the first 45 minutes of the presentation and I frankly, scared myself with some of the information that I found. I like ot think of myself as a technologically savvy guy. I use technology extensively in my class and at home. My wife and I actually set up a wiki page so that we could keep track of shopping lists, recipes, etc. I was absolutely amazed at some of the things I learned while researching this presentation. I read three different books and looked at a bunch of different articles and web sites and every one of them presented something new. I am anticipating many gasps tonight when parents see what I have in the presentation. I have some acronyms that kids are using for text messaging that will blow some people away. I surveyed the entire 5th grade at Manor Hill about internet safety and the statistics are startling! Next, I have a mini presentation called “The Orange Penguin” that shows one scenario of what could happen online. Finally, I end the presentation with a list of hints for parents to help keep their kids safe. Many of them are common sense things but I am hoping that after the first part of the presentation they will really sink in. I told my class yesterday that don’t be surprised if their parents come home tomorrow night and want to talk.

The presentation tonight will end with Mrs. Green, our school librarian giving a talk about all of the really cool things that can be done online. She is going to show how to access some of the library resources, pay lunch accounts online and hopefully end the evening on a really positive note. If time permits, I also want to show a short (5 minute) video called “Shift Happens”. There are two versions of this video and I like the original better than the updated one. They both have basically the same information in them. It is basically statistics put to music but they are amazing, especially when you put them into the context of what our kids are up against in a global society. I don’t have a link to put below but if you search on youtube for shift happens, you will find it. Also, check out the link below to the Internet Safety Night web page I have set up that has the handouts and presentations that I will be using tonight.

Internet Safety Night Web Site

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Post Number 100

This is officially my 100th post. I never dreamt way back over the summer that I would actually get to 100 posts. Not much to say today, other than thanks to anyone out there who is actually reading my ramblings. It seems like I have gotten a lot of great opportunities since I started writing this blog and I have really enjoyed sharing them. I know many days it is just about the normal stuff going on in Room 42. I hope that in the future I will have more interesting adventures to post on here. Nothing really big coming up yet, other than a few presentations that I am making. Next Tuesday is Manor Hill’s first Internet Safety Night. I am actually really excited about this and hope that we have a great turnout. We just found out today that we will have an MP3 player to give away that night to someone in attendance. I am also presenting a broadcast “how to” session at a technology conference in Lee’s Summit next month and probably will be doing the same presentation at our Empowering Excellence conference in February. KMH: Patriot News, the broadcast club that I sponsor was selected to go to Jefferson City at the end of January to present to the state legislators. And finally, I am presenting a microgravity class in march at a gifted student conference. As you can see, even though I don’t have any immediate plans to see a shuttle launch, or be weightless, it is already a busy 2008. Thanks again for reading!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Triangle Trade and Millionaire Project

I wanted to post a couple of pictures of the triangle trade lesson we did today. I don’t know that you can really tell what is going on. To illustrate the triangle trade I put pictures up to represent each of the countries involved (Africa, Colonies, Britain). Then I strung yarn across the room representing each of the trade routes. Then I hung signs and arrows on them telling the goods that were traded and the direction. The coolest part of this (besides having yarn strung all across the room) is that to illustrate what happens when one of them decided to not trade any more, I cut one of the strings. We then see that quickly the rest of the triangle collapses.

We also worked on the millionaire project today. I have put most of the information online. Click on the link above to go to the class web site and then click on Millionaire. This is where all of the information is housed. Ask your child what there theme is and how they think they are going to spend their million dollars.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Less Zombie Like

The kids were definitely less zombie like today. We were able to get a lot accomplished. We learned to use slide rules today to add and subtract fractions. This was the first of many steps to becoming proficient in addition and subtraction of fractions. Next up will be common denominators. I like the slide rule lesson, even though it can be confusing, because it really shows that we are putting the two pieces together to add. We will be using the slide rules later in the year to add and subtract positive and negative numbers. Today we also started working on another science experiment. This one involves lifting books to see how much force was used. We didn’t get to the experiment today because we spent our entire time planning the experiment. We had a little trouble with the fact that “hard” or “easy” aren’t measureable and we need to use terms like more force, or less force. Tomorrow we should get done with the planning and actually get to the experiment.

Monday, January 7, 2008


I guess I should expect this a little bit but the kids were a little on the zombie side today. I’m always excited to start back and I had a work day on Friday of last week to get back into the swing of things, which helped. The biggest thing that we accomplished today was reviewing the expectations. I literally pulled out my list of procedures and expectations from the first day of school and went over them. I always like reviewing those when we start back. We also had a good discussion today about forces that effect movement, mainly gravity. We had a lot of fun figuring out how much we would weigh on different planets and the moon. Just think, Hope would only weigh a little over three pounds on Pluto (I know, not technically a planet but old habits die hard, and I have a letter from Jim Christy who discovered the moon of Pluto)

Friday, January 4, 2008

Happy New Year!

I hope that everyone had a great break, ate a lot of good food, got some rest and is ready for a great 2008. I had an awesome break myself. I got to spend a lot of time with family, got caught up on some sleep, and did a lot of stuff around the house. I am totally recharged and ready to get started next week. We will be finishing up a few units when we start back as well as starting a few projects. The biggest project will be the millionaire project. There will be lots more information about this later but basically each kid will need to spend a million dollars on one theme.

Already looking at my calendar for the next couple of months, it is going to be a busy 2008. January 15th is the first ever Manor Hill Internet Safety Night. I am busy working on a presentation for this evening. I applied and was accepted to present at a technology conference in Lee’s Summit in February and I will be doing the same presentation on February 15th at our district in-service, Empowering Excellence. And the most exciting news, that I just found out today, is that KMH: Patriot News has been accepted to travel to Jefferson City to present to the state legislators at the Show Me TechKnowledge Student Showcase. We have done this before and it is a really fun day for the kids. We will probably be leaving really early in the morning and coming back late that night. It is a really long day but a lot of fun. I will be putting more information up about that, and will likely blog while we are there.