Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Home Learning: An Experiment in Chaos

Whether you talk to ISU parents, teachers, or students, most will agree that the school's closing due to "swine flu" (H1N1) was an unfortunate event and that keeping up with lessons from home has been near impossible! We teachers actually thought we'd have some free time to catch up on work we've been unable to devote time to, yet we've found ourselves without a free minute.

In between preparing lessons for home that were originally designed for the classroom, grading work coming in via email and hand delivery all on different days and at different times, and answering a flood of communications (email, phone, text, chat, message board posts, Facebook messages, and occasional face-to-face meetings), we had Parent-Teacher Conference day yesterday! (I talked to 23 parents about 25 students with hardly a moment to spare.)

A common sentiment among parents, too, was that they are overwhelmed with or simply bored by having to school their children at home. As busy as we are, there are students we still haven't heard from yet. To say that we've all gained a new respect for distance teachers is an understatement! In the words of one 7th grader, "Everything is so confusing!"

The official word is that schools are supposed to reopen on November 17th, assuming that there are no more deaths or sudden upswings in the cases of H1N1 in Ulaanbaatar before then. In the meantime, we will slog away at our desks, wishing for classrooms full of noisy kids (never thought I would say that!).

Thursday, November 5, 2009

infomercials for the planet

Hello grade 8,

Here is the list of websites that will help you to complete your homework for this project:

The Heat Over Global Warming
Interview with the producer of “An Inconvenient Truth” along with related links

God and Global Warming
Explores the effects of global warming on the Alaska and our moral responsibility to the planet

Robert Redford: Business Warming Up to Environment
Robert Redford interview discussing the advantages of businesses going “green”

Senator Jeff Bingaman on America’s Energy Policy
Discussion of America’s energy policy related to global warming

Emission Impossible?
Looks at how California is legislating auto emissions and taking steps to save the environment on the state level

Stepping Up on Climate Control
Profiles “Step it Up” and the national campaign to combat global warming

Interview with Bill McKibben: National Day of Climate Action
Interview with Bill McKibben discussing the National Day of Climate Action and what he believes we must do to combat global warming

Climate Change and the Media Senate Hearings
Examines the role of the media and expert claims that the dangers of global warming are exaggerated by the media

Home Grown
Profiles the use of biodiesel and Willie Nelson’s role in its development

Five Questions with Environmental Writer Tom Philpott
Philpott answers five questions about alternative energy sources

Oil, Politics & Bribes
Examines the role of oil lobbyists and their influence on energy policy