Sunday, January 27, 2008

NY Subway Art

Marine Mammal and the Giants Team Up

Student Assignment: Julien G.

The following is from the Marine Mammal Center. Write an article -- no less than 300 words -- about their day with the Giants.

Why are they doing it? Remember to include images, as well as the answers to the five W's (who, what, when where, why). Also, give an update to how the Giant's season is going.

You're invited to help celebrate Marine Mammal Day!

What is Marine Mammal Day, You Ask?

You know that the San Francisco Giants mascot is the world famous Lou Seal, but did you know that he has his own favorite charity? It's The Marine Mammal Center, of course! So Marine Mammal Day is Lou Seal's big chance to tell all his friends about how the Center helps out seals (and sea lions, whales and more!).

Marine Mammal Day 2009LOU SEAL reports: Because of my great-grandfather, the original San Francisco minor league baseball team was named the San Francisco Seals. As Grandpa told it, the original owner was walking along Pier 23 trying to think of a name for his team. A burst of wind came and blew his cap off his head and into the Bay. My great-grandfather retrieved it with his nose and gave it back to the man. From that moment on, they were called the San Francisco Seals!

So join us in celebrating marine mammals: buy your tickets for the 8th Annual Marine Mammal Day and help save seals in the process of having fun!

  • Watch the San Francisco Giants take on the Baltimore Orioles
  • Game Time is 12:45 pm Wednesday, June 16th at AT&T Park
  • A portion of ticket sales for this game will be donated to the Center when you purchase your tickets through this special link: click here

So please join us, and help spread the word about Marine Mammal Day! (This is our monthly members-only program for June,and anyone who has a ticket can attend!).

If you have trouble getting to the special link, paste this into your browser:

Our Bay: The (Mostly) Good and the Bad

Student Assignment: Rubina

The beaches of San Francisco have been graded. Write an article about all of the beaches in the area and how they rank. Also, include a paragraph or two explaining what this might mean to beach-goers and their dogs, as well as the animal wildlife in the areas. Which beaches in the area are worst? How to they compare to other states or counties?

Include at least one image and aim for at least 300 words in your story.

Nancy Pelosi: An Update

Student Assignment: Brigette

Irene reached out to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi earlier this week, to see if she could visit Hillwood. It would still be wonderful to have her come to the school for an interview with the upper-graders.

Write a news story explaining what she has been up to recently. The following links should be helpful in your research, and your big news hook is that President Barack Obama came to town on Tuesday to help Democratic candidates raise money for the upcoming campaign. The area (roads) around Hillwood were closed for his motor brigade.

Remember to include images and/or video in your post.

Assignments: May 27

Computer 1 [Ms. Moorhead's Mac 1]
The Marine Mammal Center Teams up with the Giants: Julien G.

Computer 2 [Ms. Moorhead's Mac 2]
Facebook and Your Privacy: Irene T.

Computer 3 [The Hillwood PC]
Speaker of the House Update (the President in town): Brigette W.

Computer 4 [Zach's Mac]
Howtunes: Zack O.
(If you have time, create an image from this website.)

Computer 5 [Ms. Moorhead's Mac 3]
Oil Disaster Update: Julian F.
(If you have time, create an image from this website.)

Computer 6 [Anya's PC]
Howtunes: Anya
(If you have time, create a new front-door survey and then a Wordle.)

Computer 7 [Anya's PC]
Do Our Local Beaches Make the Grade?: Rubina
(If you have time, create a holiday Worlde.)

Computer 8 [Mr. Grantz's PC]
Meat-eating Plants in SF!: Brandon W.
(If you have time, create an image from this website.)

Computer 9 [Lance's PC]
Facebook and Your Privacy: Lance Y.
(If you have time, create an image from this website.)

Computer 10 [Camryn's PC]

This Friday's Assignments

NOTE: If you are reading this prior to class and play an instrument (Zach, Brigette), please bring it TOMORROW. We will be recording ourselves for the upper-grader CD. Otherwise, please get your voices ready!

Click here for this week's assignments. Feel free to begin your assignment prior to class.

Also, you will be interviewing Tony Long, a Hillwood graduate from the 1960s, next week in class. The topic will be interviewing techniques, which we will hopefully use with Nancy Pelosi. As part of your assignment, come up with at least five questions for Tony. Also, find your previous questions for Nancy Pelosi.

You may also take a look at the first 15 pages of the Hillwood yearbook online:

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Howtunes: How Kids Can Hack Science

Student Assignment: Zach, Anya

Zach, if you liked MAKER's faire, you will probably like this science guru and his work. Write a visually driven feature story (about 300 words) about he and his work. Remember to include links. Consult the following websites for information:

The following comes from Flavor Pill, a local online magazine:
Billed as “the world’s greatest DIY comic website,” Howtoons combines the talents of a comic-book artist, inventor, and toy designer to present eye-popping instructions for turning everyday objects into cool contraptions.

Science guru Saul Griffith (along with partners Joost Bonsen and Nick and Ingrid Dragotta) makes narrative-driven comic strips that fuse the freewheeling adventure of Inspector Gadget with the nuts-and-bolts fundamentals of Mr. Wizard, teaching kids of all ages how to create homemade devices including speed demons, spring-loaded chopsticks, and robofingers.
Here's a video about what Saul is trying to do (he's local). Do not link to this video -- watch it to understand what his is trying to do. It's not completely appropriate for the little kids. You should link to a video from this page, however.

Doodle for Google

Student Assignment: Camryn

Write about the results of the Doodle for Google contest. You can read Google's blog post about the contest here.

Remember to answer the five W's of a good story (who, what, when, where, why) when you are writing your story (aim for about 300 words). Also, show (and tell) readers which images you like best and why.

You should also create an Animoto video that highlights all of your favorite designs from the contest.

Binary Code

Binary Code

To decode this weeks # goto:

Enter the number in the "Binary to decode..." box and click 'To Text' button at bottom of box.

Kodak 1922 Kodachrome Film Test

The clip after the jump features some of the earliest color motion pictures that you’ll ever see. Thanks to a “flicker” effect throughout, the beautiful actresses in these preserved tests have a strange, almost ghostly appearance. According to Kodak’s A Thousand Words blog, the reason is two-fold: “First, early cameras were hand cranked, or hand wound, to feed the film through. This could result in slight variations in speed. Second, there could be uneven densities in the film itself because of its age.” Click through and prepare to be mesmerized.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Your Life on the Web

Students: Julien and Julian

Watch this video and write a story about it. Include ten tips for sharing information on the web.

You will present your story to the class.

Digital Wasteland

Salvador Dali

Facebook Apologizes — and Why It Matters

Student Assignment: Irene and Lance

Write about the latest news with Facebook based on this article and this apology from the founder of Facebook. Link to this page, as a fun exercise for Hillwood Herald readers. Your article should be at least 300 questions. Read this article for background information and link to this chart and include a screen grab of an image showing statistics from April 2010.

Your article should answer the following questions:

• Who, what, when, where, why?
• What is Facebook?
• What are the privacy issues associated with it?
• What should students be especially careful of?

Be prepared to talk to the class about why privacy settings and issues are important online.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Monday, January 21, 2008

Threatened Historical Sites

Our Public Library Online

Our Earth in Pictures

Oil Spill Update

Student: Julian G.

Give readers an update about the oil spill. Read The New York Times for background and ideas. Include images and multimedia, if possible.

Also, read this article from NPR. Your story should be at least 300 words in length. Remember to include images, videos (if possible), and attribution credits.

Include information and link about what Google, NPR and people on the web are doing to help. Read this page for background.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Outdoor Exploratorium

Student: Irene

Since 1969, the Exploratorium has merged science and fun with its hands-on collection; now, it brings that curatorial savvy outdoors, with 20 interactive exhibits that investigate everything from water and wind to sound and light. Bridge Thermometer demonstrates how the Golden Gate can gauge temperature; Tasting the Tides creates a bayside water fountain; and Corrosion Wedge reveals the secret life of historic waterfront buildings. The exhibit has been two years in the making, and it's guaranteed to teach you a thing or two about the phenomena right before your eyes.

Write an article about its outdoor exhibit.

If you finish early, please write two additional stories (they can be short):
  • What happens in Hillwood in June.
  • A story about the yearbook (encourage students to buy one)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


President Obama's Kids Book

Monday, January 14, 2008

President Obama Gives His Back-to-School Speech

Student: Rubina

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama gave his back-to school speech to students. You can read his prepared delivery here, and you can search for the video of his talk here.

Write a story explaining what the president would like American school children to know. Also, who introduced the president this year?

Remember to answer the five W's of a good news story. Also, include images, sources, and -- if possible -- embedded video. Consider linking to web pages about the president, written by The New York Times (such as this timeline). Additionally, include a link to The Herald's 2009 story about the president's speech, written by Brigette.

Add the phrase "yearbook 2009-2010" to the "labels" of this story. Your coverage of the president's speech will almost certainly be included in the yearbook this school year.

Also, you have the top news story of the week — the president's address. As you watch the video, mark down the time of your favorite part or the most important part of the President's speech. You will share this portion with the class, along with your study tips from last week.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Constitution Contest — Here's How to Enter

Students: Erion and Jennifer

Today is an important day in U.S. history — the U.S. Constitution was created. To help celebrate the occasion, has a contest open to students. Go to the website, read about the contest, and tell Hillwood Herald readers about it. Answer the five W's: who, what, when, where, and why. Also, how many people entered the contest last year and how many were from California. Ask Ms. Moorhead to help you link to the contest entry form. Also, give at least two ideas for what a student could draw for the contest.

Remember to include links, sources, and images with your blog post.

The Constitution — What Happened on This Day in History?

Students: Jay and Alysen

On September 17 something big happened with the U.S. Constitution. Read this article first, and then watch the video clip below.

For your assignment, write what happened in history today for the U.S. Constitution. Remember to include your sources and to embed the video below. (Ms. Moorhead can show you how to do this.)

Congress Is Back in Session: Go to the Source

Student: Faryn

Watch the video below and then write an article that explains what "primary" documents students can use to research the start of Congress. Look at some of the primary materials, or documents, that the Library of Congress has scanned for the public to use. Here is another U.S. government resource. Ms. Moorhead will help you understand these in class.

Once you have a good sense of the video and one or two primary documents, write a news story highlighting the video, one or two primary sources, and why primary materials are better then, say, Wikipedia.

Summer Break Ends — for Congress, Too

Student: Anya

It's back to school — er, work — for Congress this week. Write a news story announcing that Congress is back at work and what does that mean? You will be answering the W's of a good news story through Congress:

  • Who: Congress (and "who" specifically for California?) Use the U.S. government's website for kids to write this story.
  • What: Congress — the 111th Congress, second session — is back to work this week. What does that mean? Hint: Read this article on Kids in the House for help in explaining what Congress does.
  • When: This week.
  • Where: Explain — and show — where. Use both words and pictures to do this.
  • Why: Again, use the U.S. government's website for kids to help you answer this portion of your story. What is the job of Congress?

Just for fun, link to this Congressional crossword puzzle on Kids in the House.

Also, embed the following videos:

First the iPad, and Now the Kno

Student: Zach

Last week, you played around with the iPad. Now, consider the Kno. While you will not have this device in the classroom (it's not publicly available yet), contemplate what it might mean for the realm of education.

Watch the video clip below, read the company website, and watch additional videos on the site (especially the clips with "student reactions"). Then read this article on TechCrunch, and write a news article about this device and what it might mean for your education. What would you like to see this device do? What features would you want? Think big -- and don't let what you know about today's technology hold you back. What would you do if you were an engineer or developer?

Kno Movie from Kno, Inc. on Vimeo.

Friday, January 11, 2008

In Plain English

privacy, etc

Google's Story Search

google's story search

Web 2.0: The Machine Is Using Us

Web 2.0: The Machine Is Using Us

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Forget Sorrow

Shanghai in San Francisco

This year marks the 30th anniversary of San Francisco having Shanghai as a sister city. To mark this occasion we’ve been given a very big statement of sibling loyalty and perhaps one-upmanship: the 26 foot, 15 ton, six-armed, three headed “Three Heads Six Arms,” which is currently being lowered gently onto Civic Center Plaza. Zhang Huan’s gigantic copper Buddha is not only impressive for its size – it has six hands and three heads, one head is the artist’s head + it has no legs. Wednesday is the official unveiling at 10 am and the artist will appear at the Asian Art Museum for a free talk at 7 pm. www.sfartscommission.org

Return of the Carnivorous Plants

Student Assignment: Brendon

Chomp 2! Return of the Carnivorous Plants opened earlier at the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers and runs thru October. You can see the world’s largest Venus Flytrap and Asian Pitcher Plants that grow large enough to eat a rat.

Write a story about this exhibit and include video. Use this link for information about the actual event. Your story should be about 500 words in length.

Animals Near Extinction Photos

Sketch Theater

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Radio Hillwood — Let's Rock

Student: Zach and Rubina

We now have Radio Hillwood, and you can play the roll of Hillwood_DJ. 

As great as the invention of the iPod has been, sometimes we forget just how pleasurable it is to listen to the radio. With the Web site Songza, you get to have the best of both worlds, as you can program your very own show, and listen to your friends’ stations, too—all for free.

It’s remarkably easy to set up: Simply sign in, and you can begin picking from Songza’s (rather impressive) 8,000,000 song choices. But if you are feeling a little bit more adventurous and ready to stray from your own playlist, you can collaborate or listen in with friends or co-workers or even strangers. The site suggests other people’s playlists , and, perhaps best of all, you can see what songs are queued up to play next, so unlike regular radio stations, there can be no disappointing surprises. (Source: VSL)

Let's talk about using this service in class -- it is a big responsibility, as we MUST only select music that is appropriate for the Hillwood community. What does that mean? Let's talk in class. You two will be the first two Hillwood DJs.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Hello World! A Lego Printer that Works

Student: Nikita

Watch the video below. The printer in the video was built from scratch by Squirrelfantasy, a member of the B3ta forums, which is a geeking engineering group online. Here’s his description from the YouTube page:
Lego felt tip 110″ printer connected to an Apple Mac. This is not a kit you can buy and does not use mindstorms. I designed/built/coded it all from scratch including analog motor electronics, sensors and printer driver, the USB interface uses a “wiring” board.
Use the above description to write a news story about this videoclip. Include information such as what do you like about it and what skills would be involved in building a printer with Legos. Also, tell readers what "Hello World" means. Hint: Consult this Wikipedia page for a definition. Remember to include the five W's of a news story: who, what, when, where, and why.

Embed the code for the video into your post. Ms. Moorhead can show you how.

Design Squad

Flower Power! Flower to the People

Students: Clara and Alysen

Not everyone can draw well—even with the aid of technology. But thanks to this Website, no matter what you do (or don’t do) you’ll find yourself the creator of beautiful floral patterns in no time at all.

Flower Power simply lets you play around—like with an Etch A Sketch, but with better results. One click of the cursor causes a colorful seed to bloom, and by experimenting with the settings, you can control the flower’s size, width and color, as well as the size of its petals. Enjoy! (Source: VSL)

Write a news story about this website. Remember to include the five W's of a good news story: who, what, when, where, and why. Also, add in links, labels, and include at least one image. Ms. Moorhead will show you how to take a screen grab of your artwork or illustration.

Save the Words

Student: Jennifer L.

Every year we chuckle when words like “staycation” or “unfriend” are admitted into our dictionaries. But we often forget about the other, venerable words that get bumped to make room. Feel bad? Fear not. Save the Words, a clever new Web site from Oxford University Press, is doing something about it.

The makers of the Oxford English Dictionary (which catalogs every word in English, ever) have developed the site based on the simple idea that a word won’t die if it gets used often enough. To that end, the site creatively displays a swath of at-risk words, each of which you may adopt by promising to use it at least once a day. This isn’t as easy as it might seem. Try, for instance, using “frutescent”—approaching the appearance of a shrub—or “archiloquy”—the first parts of a speech—naturally. But then, it may be better than speaking a language whose most interesting words come from clever rhymes and Facebook.

Write a news story about this website. Remember to include the five W's of a good news story: who, what, when, where, and why. Also, explain how someone can use this website. Add a link, at least one image, and several labels.

Also, include several of your favorite at risk words and their definitions.

Soda? Pop? Or Coke? It Depends Where You Live

Student: Faryn

Sugary, carbonated drinks have been the subject of some controversy lately, but there’s one soft-drink dispute that’s not new at all—what do you call them?

Check out Generic Names for Soft Drinks for an intricate map of America’s answers. Designed by Matthew Campbell, a cartography student at East Central University, and based on hundreds of thousands of responses collected at, the map is a testament to the Internet’s ability to easily gather data over wide areas. It’s amazing how much information is packed into this chart—it’s clickable, color-coded and divided into individual counties, providing a high-resolution picture of a strangely potent cultural indicator. Surprisingly, the results seem to follow rough political boundaries—residents of mostly coastal, liberal areas like New England and California prefer “soda,” while the Deep South likes “coke” and the Midwest chooses “pop.” Apparently, there’s more to these names than meets the ear. (Source: Very Short List)

Write a news story about this map. You can use some of the information above for ideas, but the words must be your own. Remember to include the five W's of a good news story: who, what, when, where, and why? Also, include links, sources, labels, and at least one infographic.

Also, answer the following questions:
  • What are infographics? Why are they important to include in our news stories and blog posts?
  • What is cartography?
  • If you finish early, work with Camryn to create a poll for students that asks how do they refer to soda/pop/coke.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Happy Birthday, Claude

Student: Angela V.

It's hard to believe that just 15 years ago, Claude was a tiny albino alligator poking his head out of an eggshell. From Sept. 8-15, people can visit the Naturalist Center to create an alligator-inspired birthday hat, or design a birthday cake for Claude in a special coloring activity. Then on Wednesday, Sept. 15 at 9:30 am, watch as aquarium staff present the reptilian star with cupcakes made of gator chow, and join fellow visitors in a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday."

Read more about this event on the Academy of Sciences website. Then, write a news story announcing the upcoming event. Include the five W's of a good news story: who, what, when, where, and why.

Include images, links, and labels in your story.

Free San Francisco Symphony Concert at Justin Herman Plaza

Student: Camryn

There is an upcoming free symphony concert on September 24, a Friday, at the Justin Herman Plaza (downtown). Write an informative news story about the event. Remember to include the who, what, where, when, and why — the five W's of a good news story.

The following information is from the San Francisco Symphony's website:
Join the San Francisco Symphony for an afternoon of music across from the Ferry Building at Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco’s financial district. Bring your lunch and enjoy a program of popular works while relaxing by the Bay.
Also, include images, links, and labels. You may even want to include the following video to highlight a musician who will be playing at the symphony around the time of the free concert.

Shakespeare in the Park

Student: Camryn

Write a news story about SF Shakes' free "Shakespeare in the Park," which happens in this weekend. Include the who, what, when, where, why and how of this play.
Saturday, Sept 11- 7:30 PM
Sunday, Sept 12 - 2:30 PM*
Saturday, Sept 18 - 7:30 PM
Sunday, Sept 19 - 2:30 PM
Saturday, Sept 25 - 7:30 PM
Sunday, Sept 26 - 2:30 PM
(*Pre-show Family Day activities for kids of all ages start at 1 pm)

September 10: Friday Assignments

  1. Zach O.: Play with the iPad; report on NASA's new, free app and get ready for your assignments next week: Radio Hillwood and the OK Go Remix Contest
  2. Rubina H.: How to Study and get ready for your assignment next week: Radio Hillwood
  3. Anya J.: Sheepherding as an extreme sport 
  4. Camryn P.: Free "Shakespeare in the Park" play this weekend; also, when you finish, please help Faryn create a graphic related to her newstory, Pop, Soda, or Coke? It Depends.... (Here's your assignment for next week.) 
  5. Nikita: Hello World: A Lego Printer
  6. Angela V.: Happy Birthday, Claude!
  7. Faryn D.: Pop, Soda, or Coke? It Depends...
  8. Erion H.: Make a Wordle
  9. Jay J.: Make a Wordle
  10. Jennifer L.: Save the Words
  11. Clara M.: Flower Power
  12. Alysen S.: Flower Power

Extreme Sheepherding with LED Lights

Student: Anya

As an occupation, shepherding seems like it might get a little dull. But not for these Welsh hill-farmers, who debut, in this Web video, a new kind of herding that’s more about art than agriculture.

With the help of some enthusiastic collies, these Welshmen have created a special kind of precision-herding in which the sheep, bearing by turns LED lights and dyed wool, are choreographed into large-scale patterns and photographed for stop-motion animation from a nearby hill. The results are surprising, emergent works of art—there’s a giant sheep taking a stroll, an epic game of Pong and, almost unbelievably, probably the strangest rendition of the Mona Lisa ever created. They’re also proof that our woolly friends can be put to better use than the manufacture of yarn for holiday sweaters.

Write a story about this video. Also, give some explanation about sheepherding and why this would be difficult to do. What skills do you think it involves? Any math? Any science? Also, explain words or elements like Pong. What is it?

Include several screen grabs to show the process of doing this extreme sheepherding.

Play with the iPad: NASA

Student: Zach

There are a lot of impressive looking apps for the iPad. But, sometimes you want an app that launches quickly, lets you show a bunch of screens that elicits oohs and ahs and then rush out the door for a quick meeting. Some of the impressive 3D animation apps like the Epic Citadel elicits oohs and ahs but takes a long time to fire up and get to a point where you can do something.

If time is of the essence and you want to quickly show something that brings out oohs and ahs, I recommend the new free:
NASA App HD 1.0 (iTunes App Store)

It provides thousands of stunning images, on demand NASA videos, live NASA TV, launch information, NASA's Twitter feed, maps to NASA centers and more. Yes, you could end up standing around a long time looking at all this stuff. But, you also have the option to fire it up quickly, demo it, and dash off.

Student Assignment: How to Study

Student: Rubina

The New York Times has a news story about how people — both adults and kids — study best.

Read the article, and write a news story about it (at least 250 words in length). Include a list of study tips for Herald readers.

Also, include links and at least one image that is related to your story. Do not forget to add "labels" for your story.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Make a Wordle About the U.S. Constitution

Assignment: Angela, Clara

Watch the video below — listen and write down 10 or so words that describe the U.S. Constitution.

Go to and look at the current Hillwood creation. Click on the word "Create" at the top of the page. You should see the following at the top of the page:

Type in 15 words that describe the U.S. Constitution. Once you are done, ask Ms. Moorhead to show you how to capture your Wordle image for The Herald