Friday, March 26, 2010

Earth Hour

Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia when 2.2 million homes and businesses turned their lights off for one hour to make their stand against climate change. Only a year later and Earth Hour had become a global sustainability movement with more than 50 million people across 35 countries participating. Earth Hour 2010 takes place on Saturday 27 March at 8.30pm (local time) and is a global call to action to every individual, every business and every community throughout the world. It is a call to stand up, to take responsibility, to get involved and lead the way towards a sustainable future.
"Millions of buildings around the globe will be dark for an hour on Saturday, March 28 as the third Earth Hour takes place. The event is organized by the World Wildlife Fund. It started in 2007 as a way of drawing attention to the dangers of climate change. The Earth Hour website says: “For the first time in history, people of all ages, nationalities, race and background have the opportunity to use their light switch as their vote – Switching off your lights is a vote for Earth, or leaving them on is a vote for global warming.” Organizers hope their message will reach a billion people. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Earth Hour promises to be “the largest demonstration of public concern about climate change ever attempted”."
The best websites to learn more about Earth Hour:  picked by educator Larry Ferlazzo:

World Prepares To Save Energy Tor An Hour. It’s designed for English Language Learners, and audio support is provided for the text.
Here’s a similar slideshow from the Reuters News Agency.
Reuters also has a video about events that happened on this day last year.
Earth Hour 2008 Around The World is a slideshow from the Boston Globe.
This is a short promotional video for the event that demonstrates its purpose pretty vividly.
Earth Hour Kids has a ton of online activities accessible to English Language Learners, and also has lessons plans for teachers.
Here’s an online video from MSNBC about Earth Hour events around the globe last year.
Earth Hour Around The World is another MSNBC slideshow — this time about events in 2009.
Earth Hour 2009 is from the Boston Globe’s Big Picture.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Story of Bottled Water

Plastic bottles are an environmental nightmare! Annie Leonard from The Story of Stuff is taking on the bottled water industry with her newest video, The Story of Bottled Water:

The Story of Bottled Water, released on March 22, 2010 (World Water Day) employs the Story of Stuff style to tell the story of manufactured demand—how you get Americans to buy more than half a billion bottles of water every week when it already flows from the tap. Over five minutes, the film explores the bottled water industrys attacks on tap water and its use of seductive, environmental-themed advertising to cover up the mountains of plastic waste it produces. The film concludes with a call to take back the tap, not only by making a personal commitment to avoid bottled water, but by supporting investments in clean, available tap water for all.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Art and Water

Guest speaker Michael Finnegan, artist explains to us how art is not static. Art is very liberating...often defined by its container.  It's up to the artist to define what art is.

Finnegan's art is based on color, fluid motion and light.  The basic idea for this work was a crashing wave.

"My aim was to create an intense and enjoyable visual experience while overriding the predictable nature of the repetitive structure."
See this and other works at the Noyes Art/Cultural Center in Evanston, IL. Now through May 5th.

World Water Day

The international observance of World Water Day is an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro. Water and sanitation are critical factors to alleviate poverty and hunger, for sustainable development, for environmental integrity, and for human health.

In 2005, the UN launched a Water for Life decade of initiatives to promote action to ensure that the poorest people have access to clean water and safe sanitation. See a list of events today across the world.

Did you Know:
•Over half of the world's illnesses are due to diseases caused by unsafe water.
•One billion people on the planet don't have access to clean drinking water.
•By 2025, this number could be 1.8 billion, unless we act.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Internet of Things Explained...A System of Systems

Will we have a smarter planet? New insights? Is the planet an information system?
..heavy stuff, clearly aimed to fostering positive and substantial cultural change through technology - by opening up a new plane of options for humanity.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

True Grit

Today's post, Reality Check by Will Richardson on how some parents respond to an innovative energized classroom is sobering.

Parents who know nothing other than the stand and deliver approach to education from their youth want the security of knowing "what's going on". They fear what they don't know and don't understand, as evidenced by this statement: “Our students don’t need to be a part of a classroom experiment with all this technology stuff. They need to have a real teacher with real textbooks and real tests.”

I love the comment from teacher-librarian Dianne McKenzie from Hong Kong who "translates" the parent statement for us:

“Our students don’t need to be engaged in their learning with all this technology stuff. They need to have a really boring teacher with really boring textbooks and really bad tests that do not help to demonstrate learning has taken place.”

Who will be the first to complain when they leave school that the students were not prepared for the real world?

McKenzie's blog is called Library Grits. She chose 'grits' because it is 'suggestive of being plural rather than singular - reflective of the multitasking and thinking we need to do'.

Dianne also includes the synonyms for the noun Grit: Courage, determination, backbone, daring, doggedness, fortitude, guts, hardihood, intestinal fortitude, mettle, moxie, nerve, perseverance, pluck, resolution, spine, spirit, spunk, steadfastness, tenacity, toughness, bravery and firmness. These are surely the qualities we need as educators to move forward.

Thankfully, our large public high school was able to push on and successfully implement an integrated studies program without textbooks, using classroom technologies, collaborative learning, and social media to prepare students for the real-world. See our "Integrated Global Studies" school-within-a-school, as a model of what can be done with enough spunk and grit. Kudos to teachers Colby Vargas, Jeff Markham, and Tracy Smith for bringing our vision into reality.

New Trier Organic Garden