Tech Salad

With Crunchy Bits and Bytes

Month: September 2010

Scratch Movie…First Attempt

Back in the day, I watched the Roger Rabbit movie about a dozen times. Now I’ve made my own clip of live action and animated characters. I did it just as a test, but now that I know it works, I hope to find a group of students willing to take on the challenge. Here is my clip. First, I animated Scratch in a green background and created a screen capture of it. Then I imported the clip into iMovie ’09, and captured  my own footage with my webcam. Finally, using the advanced editing options, I superimposed the Scratch animation over my live footage using the green screen option. Easy, right? Next time I’ll make Scratch bigger and make sure I’m looking in the right direction…

What a Scorcher!

Over the weekend, the Las  Vegas Review Journal reported the Vdara Hotel may be generating a “heat ray” by concentrating the sun’s rays like a lens. It seems there have been reports of scorched hair and melted plastic bags and cups. The article does include a couple of pictures, and a rough diagram of what is thought to be occurring when the sun hits the side of the building, but I wanted something better.

There are lots of  pictures of the Vdara Hotel on Flickr. Furthermore, there is a 3D model available for download from the Google SketchUp Gallery.

It might be a good project for kids in a math, science, or physics class to look at the curvature of the building and find out where and how the rays of the sun are converging between the hours of 11a.m. and 1p.m., when most of the complaints about the “death ray” have occurred. How can this problem be solved?

The building is designed to be energy-efficient to help conserve the environment. Does the danger of severe burns cancel out the environmental benefits?

Vdara, CityCenter, Las Vegas

Day 1 or Day 2?

It is probably the most asked question in our building. I don’t have a schedule bound by blocks and days, so I hardly ever know. Now everyone can look at the GHS or GMS websites and find out for themselves. John Hendron and I worked on this in between G21 plan meetings.

Screen shot 2010-09-23 at 1.31.07 PM

TweenTribune Success

It seems Ms. Stegner’s students are hooked. A few weeks ago, they started reading the news on TweenTribune and posting comments. Now, they demand their reading time, and then beg for additional time to write comments and discuss news items. How often do we hear of students asking for additional reading and writing?

Way to go, Ms. Stegner!

Who Reads Our Blogs?

Earlier this week I added a ClusterMap to my sidebar, and this morning I noticed I had visitors from far away. Neat!

Screen shot 2010-09-17 at 10.58.17 AM

So, I asked John Hendron if we could track visitors to all our blogs. Here’s the map he sent me. We do get visitors from all around the world.


National Arts in Education Week

This past summer, the House of Representatives passed a resolution declaring the week following the second Sunday in September as National Arts in Education week. This is it. The first annual celebration of the arts in our schools.

“Whereas arts education, comprising a rich array of disciplines including dance, music, theater, media arts, literature, design, and visual arts, is a core academic subject and an essential element of a complete and balanced education for all students…Whereas arts education enables students to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills, imagination and creativity, discipline, alternative ways to communicate, and express feelings and ideas, and cross-cultural understanding, which supports academic success across the curriculum as well as personal growth outside the classroom…”

Sounds like the arts are a great vehicle for teaching 21st Century skills. You can read more about the celebration and what other schools are doing at the Americans for the Arts website.

I hope to be able to showcase lots of projects by the end of the week. For now, I’ll promote the Drama Club’s Open Mic Night. It will be held in Ms. Smith’s room, tomorrow, Tuesday at 6p.m.

Google Apps Class

On Monday we will be hosting a Google Apps for Education class at the GHS LMC. We still have seats available, if you are interested. We will cover all the services we have available for teachers and students, ideas for meaningful use, and strategies for management.

We have an online handout on our wiki that teachers can reference before and after the class.

Accessing Shared Folders

Due to a few technical changes, we have modified the procedure for students to access their shared folders when they are using LAPTOPS. There is no change to the procedure when using desktop computers in labs or the LMC.

Please show this short video to your students to make sure they can get to their files.

Amazing Journey

This morning on NPR (yes, I know I blog a LOT about NPR) I listened to the third installment of a series about a journey down the Congo river. The series, so far, has been incredibly interesting.

What do our students in Virginia know about the Democratic Republic of Congo? Do they need to know anything about it for their SOL tests? I don’t know, but I am sure kids would be fascinated by the idea of traveling on a barge loaded with so many people, animals, and bundles. Listening to a snippet of any of the installments would make a great writing prompt.

Imagine traveling on the James River down from Goochland to Richmond over several days rather than zipping down Route 6, packed cheek by jowl on a barge with dozens of strangers, their families, and their pets. What does that feel like, smell like? Take a look at the image galleries and listen to the audio, and you’ll have a good idea of what it looks like and sounds like (minus the smoked monkey).

Take a look at other great series from NPR that bring the world to us. I especially liked the journey along the Grand Trunk Road in India and the “new” Canterbury Tales.

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