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6th Grade

Earth Day Radio Project

posted Mar 11, 2013, 1:25 PM by   [ updated Apr 8, 2013, 1:47 PM ]

We live in an incredibly exciting time.  Every day, scientific advancements are being made that push the frontiers of what humans can do.  As we've learned in the past 50 years, those new technologies can have dire consequences.  While they've given us new ways to make energy, move around, interact, and live, they've also put us in conflict with the natural balance of our world.

For this project, you will evaluate a scientific innovation that has or will have an impact on the health of our planet.  You will look at how science and politics have interacted around a technology to impact climate, health, or the economy.  You will then create a podcast in the style of a radio news piece to describe what you have learned.

Choosing a topic

Create a Google Doc and name it: Your number - Your Topic
  • Identify an innovation that has had an impact on the environment.  It can be either a negative or positive impact.
  • Describe how that innovation has had or could have an impact on the environment in the future.  Innovations that "could have an impact" include old innovations that are not widely used.
  • Describe the reasons some people are in favor of the innovation and the reasons others are against it

Note-taking with Audio

It can be pretty hard to find something in an audio piece you've heard before.  Make sure you take good notes while you're listening!
You can use this template to help get organized:
  1. First, make a folder to keep all the audio for your project.  Anything you download should go in the folder.
  2. As you listen to audio clips, fill in the template for each clip you may want to use in your project.

Writing your Script

  • Script must have a minimum of three paragraphs, and include all the information from your project proposal.
    • Introduce your innovation.  What is it, what does it do?
    • Describe its environmental impact.
    • Describe the pros and cons.
  • Script should take 2-4 minutes to read (this will be the length of your radio story).
  • Script must using formal language and grammar
  • Script must include quotes from your audio sources.
    • Anything you are going to use must be transcribed into their script and introduced.  For example:
Professor Georgio, of Jimmy Jango University, thinks that Flubber could be the key to stopping climate change. "Flubber is cheap, abundant, and better than anything we've yet discovered at capturing carbon from the atmosphere."


"Flubber is cheap, abundant, and better than anything we've yet discovered at capturing carbon from the atmosphere." says  Professor Georgio, of Jimmy Jango University.  He thinks that Flubber could be the key to stopping climate change. 

Recording Audio that can't be downloaded

In class I explained using Soundflower to record audio.  Here's a video that walks you through the process*:

*Note: In the video, the presenter mentions that there is a Windows version.  This is not correct.  If you want to try this process on Windows, consult with Mr. Dreyfus-Pai.

Soundflower Download (for use at home)

Reviewing Fraction Topics

posted Feb 4, 2013, 1:58 PM by   [ updated Feb 4, 2013, 1:58 PM ]

Complete the following exercises in Khan Academy:

Book Club PSAs

posted Jan 30, 2013, 9:06 AM by   [ updated Jan 30, 2013, 11:45 AM ]

The books you're reading in Book Club all feature characters that face challenges, learn, and grow.  You're going to  adapt those stories into a Public Service Announcement, to share them with the school.

What is a PSA?

A Public Service Announcement is a short media piece, in our case a video, that spreads awareness about an issue. It could be a message about drug or alcohol abuse, bullying, adoption, or other concerns.  No matter what the focus, PSAs have a few things in common:
  • Length: they are designed to be commercials, so they fit in 30-60 second blocks
  • Message: they are designed to communicate a moral message.  Everyone watching should understand what that message is, and how the PSA writers want them to act.
  • Story: PSAs don't just say the message outright - they tell a story that has emotional appeal.
Many PSAs are made by the Ad Council.  Go to their site to watch a few examples.

Planning your PSA

Your PSAs are going to transform a message from your Book Club books into a story with a lesson.  This is a difficult task, so we're going to think about it in a few steps.  To start thinking about the lessons in your book, write a blog post responding to this prompt:

Each of your Book Club books features characters that struggle with a challenge and learn lessons.  Choose a character from your book.  Then describe the challenge he or she faces and the lesson he or she learns.  Explain why the character makes the decisions she or he does along the way.

Next, start thinking about how that lesson can be turned into a PSA.  Write a new post, responding to this prompt:

Identify a challenge, problem, or lesson from your book.  It should be a problem that everyone could face.  For example, surviving alone on an island is not a problem everyone could face, but feeling lonely or guilty is.  Describe the lesson you want other people to learn about that problem.  For example, you have to let go of your guilt to move forward in life.

Next, describe how you would present this problem or lesson as a Public Service Announcement starring a character from your book.  Don’t write a script; just describe an idea.  Show the character experiencing a challenge, or learning a lesson.  Make sure that the idea is closely tied to the characters, situations, or scenes from the book.  How will you move the audience to care about the lesson you want them to learn?

Now you're ready to write your script.  The script should include:
  • Dialogue: what the characters will say
  • Stage Directions: how they will say it and how they will move
  • Settings: where will you film?
  • Props/costumes: what do you need to make or bring in to be ready to film?
To help you plan correctly, take a look at the rubric that will be used to grade your PSAs:

Book PSA Rubric

Filming and Editing

Once the planning stage is complete, all that's left is to make your movie!  Here's some tips for filming with iPads:

For Directors:
  • Know your script before you start filming.
  • Instruct actors in where to go, what to say, and when to start.  You're in charge!
  • Keep it moving!  You have limited time.
For Actors:
    • Practice your lines before recording!
    • Wait 3 seconds after start of recording
    • Speak loudly and clearly
For Camerapeople:
    • Hold iPads with both hands firmly, and in "landscape" (widescreen)
    • Look at the screen on the iPad to block the shot correctly
    • Start recording a few seconds early
    • Point at the actors to let them know you're recording
    • Be silent!
    • Hold the camera as still and steady as possible
    • Wait a few seconds after the actors finish before you stop recording
For Everyone:
    • Be quiet while you're not recording so as not to disturb other groups
    • Press play to watch your video over and make sure you can hear and see everything

Edit your video in iMovie, adding appropriate transitions, effects, and music.  Remember:
  • Do not include credits: PSAs and commercials do not have credits.
    • Only if you have extra time, you may make a separate blooper reel.
  • Have a teacher check your video before you export.
  • Make sure your exported video is sized large
  • Give your video a descriptive name with all three group members' numbers
  • Don't forget to submit it to Mr. Dreyfus-Pai!

The Awful Egyptians

posted Nov 26, 2012, 3:00 PM by   [ updated Nov 26, 2012, 3:00 PM ]

Today we'll be learning about Ancient Egypt.  Let's check out BBC's

Terrible Treasures

After you watch the introduction, click on number 3: The Awful Egyptians.  Then play the game to collect all the map pieces.

The Great Pyramid / Exploring the Solar System

posted Nov 19, 2012, 1:57 PM by   [ updated Nov 19, 2012, 1:57 PM ]

Modeling the Great Pyramid in Sketchup

  1. Look up the dimensions of the Great Pyramid (Kufu's Pyramid) at Giza: length, width, and height.
  2. Draw a rectangle the exact size of the base
  3. Draw two diagonal lines across the rectangle.
  4. Use the MOVE tool to pull up the point at the intersection to the correct height.
  5. Download an image of the great Pyramid from Google maps and check the size of your pyramid.

Intro to Blogging

posted Nov 5, 2012, 2:34 PM by   [ updated Nov 5, 2012, 2:34 PM ]

Today we're going to set up our blogs that we'll be using throughout the year.  We'll be using Kidblog, and the address is

To set up your blog, follow these instructions:
  1. Go to
  2. Enter the code
  3. Click signup with Google
  4. Click new post to start blogging!

What's a bit? Intro to Binary

posted Oct 15, 2012, 10:41 PM by   [ updated Oct 15, 2012, 10:41 PM ]

In this lesson, we'll be introducing binary numbers, bits, and bytes.
Humans use what's called Base 10 arithmetic: we count from 1 to 10, restarting and adding a place value when we run out of fingers.  Computers don't have fingers though.  They have electricity!

An electrical current is either flowing, or not flowing: two states.  This can be represented by either a 1 (on) or a 0 (off).  Using ones and zeros, computers can write every number we use in Base 10.  Numbers that use only 1s and 0s are in Base 2, or binary.

Expanding Space and Math Concepts

posted Oct 12, 2012, 2:06 PM by   [ updated Oct 12, 2012, 2:06 PM ]

Here are three games on Brainpop that explore space topics.  Try them out!

Passwords and Security

posted Oct 1, 2012, 1:55 PM by   [ updated Mar 22, 2013, 12:44 PM ]

Today, we're going to go over what makes a password secure, and then go through the process of changing our own passwords.

First, read this comic about password strength.  It's kind of mathy, but you'll get the idea.

xkcd passwords

Read this one as well, about password reuse.

xkcd password reuse

The Third Way

There are three big ways that people can get your password.  The comics above cover two:
  1. Guess it using a lot of computer power.  This is called a brute force attack, and it's not very common for ordinary folks like us.
  2. Steal it...
    • from an existing database - a website you've signed up for that stores your password.  This is called hacking.
    • by tricking you into signing up for something.  This is called phishing.
The third is the MOST INSIDIOUS OF ALL!
3. You give it away to someone because you trust them.

This is one of the most common ways that people's passwords get passed around and cause harm!  Always keep your password secure from friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, BFFs, classmates, and students!

Setting Up Khan Academy

posted Sep 7, 2012, 10:00 AM by   [ updated Sep 7, 2012, 10:00 AM ]

This year we'll be using Khan Academy to practice our math skills.  To get set up, follow these directions:
  1. Go to
  2. Click Log In
  3. Click the  Button
  4. For email, enter your whole address
  5. For password, enter your email password
Now you're signed in to Khan Academy!  This will let you save your progress, earn badges, and review topics.  Use the steps above to log in from now on, even from home!  Next we're going to add me as your coach so I can see your results.

  1. Click on your username 
  2. Click Coaches
  3. Enter Mr. Dreyfus' email address and click Add Coach
Now I can see your results!  Let's get practicing!  Click on PRACTICE to check out the Exercise Dashboard.


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