Thursday, February 28, 2013

#viznotes at HTHS

Inspired by the sketch noting commonly found at TED conferences, the freshmen at HTHS have been learning about visual note-taking  this week.  Visual notes have been proven to help the brain make meaning when traditional note taking doesn't work.  Students watched Tom Wujec: 3 ways the brain creates meaning and then chose a TED talk that interested them to try for homework.

The next day, students shared some of their first sketch notes and compared them to sketch notes made at various conferences.  After browsing some of the images uploaded to the TED News Pinterest page, students tried their hand at collaborative sketch notes, using the visual alphabet, frames, connectors, and colors.

9th graders at HTHS collaborating on visual notes for Nina Tandon's "Could tissue engineering mean personalized medicine?"

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

IB vs. AP?

As you may know, students at Biotechnology High School are IB Diploma candidates. The IB curriculum has become somewhat controversial in America, and students here at Biotech often question our decision to require that all BTHS graduates go through this rigorous process.

The IB mission statement is:

The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.
 To this end the organization works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment.
These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.
BTHS junior Shawn S. is quite familiar with the IB program now that he's almost finished with his first year in it. Read his thoughts in this insightful blog post about different opinions about IB.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Pride & Prejudice comic strips

Biotech juniors Nirali P. and Maura M. create comic strips to demonstrate their understanding of Pride and Prejudice through a critical literary theory. The comic pictured here will analyze P&P through a feminist lens. Other lenses include psychological, Marxist, archetypal, formalist, and historical.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Godkin Saves the World Again

In this Flash game created by CHS Senior David Miele in the Java Programming course, Steve Godkin, Physics Teacher and Super Hero saves the world from robots, zombies, and spacemen.


Click the image to play.

Guerison: a Java Game

Every year, the CHS java class creates text based games with static images. Junior Kevin Gibson's game "Guerison" is by far the most complex and enjoyable of those produced this year. Download the .jar file here, then doubleclick the file to run.

CHS Social Media Plans

The final project in the New Media class is a comprehensive social media plan for a local business. This marking period, Top Tomato Superstore was selected as the organization students analyzed then create a promotional plan using social media websites for presentation to the client. Students were given the option of a report or an infographic; the first file is an infographic, the other 3 are reports.

Click on the image to see the infographic or read the document. Note that the PDFs may take a few moments to load:

Monday, February 4, 2013

MCVSD Students Quoted in New York Times Learning Network Blog

Congratulations to Biotech and High Tech freshmen for their excellent discussion of "Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek"! Many BTHS and HTHS freshmen posted comments on the NYTimes Learning Network blog as part of their English class. We are extremely proud of all who participated and excited that so many of our students got shout-outs. Nearly every comment mentioned in this blog post is from an MCVSD student. Way to go, everyone!

The source text ("Snow Fall") is being hailed as the future of web journalism. It's worth taking the time to experience it if you haven't already.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Rant on Mainstream Music

Congratulations to Nick C., a freshman at High Tech! A blog post he wrote as part of his class blogging assignment helped him get a writing job!  Nick will be reviewing concerts in the tri-state area for a major music blog over the next few months.  His awesome blog post, which caught the attention of the music blog, is reproduced below:

IF YOU ARE IN LOVE WITH ANY OF THE FOLLOWING, PLEASE STOP READING! Adam Levine, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Ke$ha, Katy Perry, Chris Daughtry, One Direction, and (this one's for you, Greg) Eminem. 
    There's no dancing around it... I hate pop music. All of it. It's terrible. The only reason Daughtry is on that list is because he is JUST popular enough and his lyrics are JUST meaningless enough for me to hate him too. Don't get me wrong, I hate all modern pop, rap, and rock songs that lack substance equally, I just picked these talent-less hacks because they were the first ones that came into my head.
     Let's see, where do I start... Oh yeah! Adam Levine! I have a few questions for him and all of his fans. Adam, dude, "I try to tell you no, but my body keeps on telling you yes," seriously?? Did you ever graduate middle school? Or are those preteen hormones still rushing through your veins in a pointless loop like cars on a Nascar track? (By the way I'll rant on Nascar some other time.) First of all, any seventh grader with a crush could have written the lyrics to that song, second, you have literally no singing ability whatsoever and even with whatever machinery/software goes into making your pathetic excuses for songs, your voice still sounds as weak as an Alvin and the Chipmunks version of Joan Rivers.
     Moving on. Rihanna. Oh, darling, where do I even begin? Your lack of talent smacked me in the face harder than a tire iron shot out of a cannon as soon as I heard Diamonds. It didn't even need a whole verse to convince me that I never wanted to hear you sing again. I don't think I've ever heard more repetitive lyrics. Was it really necessary to repeat the phrase, "Shine bright like a diamond," THAT many times? Or is every single copy of that song a broken record? Was it your intention to sing only four or five different notes throughout the whole song and have the most basic chord progression that anyone who has ever used GarageBand can throw together? Come on now, we all know you can do better than GarageBand, as it must take some pretty amazing software to get your voice to the barely tolerable stage.
     Next up, Taylor Swift. Now, I'm not going to bash her as hard as I have the others because, I admit, SOME of her songs may be considered halfway decent at very low volumes. But lately you have been going downhill faster than a snowboarder that just plummeted down an alpine cliff. At first I didn't actually believe that the title of the song about never getting back together was, in fact, we are never ever getting back together. I was hoping you would give it a title that was a little... BETTER but given your track record of literally just copying the most memorable line of your chorus and using it as a title, I should have expected to be let down. Ya know, I just have a problem with that song in general, but I can't quite put my finger on it. Is it the fact that the lyrics are redundant with no substance and could be written by anyone that has enough of a hatred for their ex? Or the general lack of effort clearly present in the making of the song? Not really sure.
     Ke$ha and Katy Perry are awful for obviously awful for many reasons. Neither can sing at all and get by on their excessive makeup and lack of brains. And I don't think either has ever sung live in front of an audience. The lyrics are typical, clubs, drugs, love, all that stupid stuff you two clearly did not grow out of when you turned 20. I think it's pretty safe to say I don't need to spend any more time on these two.
     Chris Daughtry is awful for the same reason Rihanna and Adam Levine are, his music just features an electric guitar to distract you from his monotonous, boring voice, which I actually appreciate. I say monotonous and boring because all his songs are the same. They are more identical than every song on a Nickleback album. Plus, the songs all have that sad, feel-sorry-for-me, sob-story tone and it just gets annoying. This guy complains more about life in these songs than Lindsay Lohan and Brittany Spears put together. I'm really tired of hearing him cry to the tune of an electric guitar and a drum beat so simple I could probably learn it (I've never played a drum set in my life).
     Do I need to go into One Direction? I doubt it, but its the same, different British boy band. They just modernized the 'appeal to American girls by telling them they're pretty' technique used by more British boy bands than there are obese people in Texas. They sing about how amazing you are and you love them for it, yeah, I get it. But can you honestly tell me that their songs are good? Can you actually tell me the lyrics have meaning? Or are they a bigger waste of time and paper than most of the bills Congress has written in the past few years?
     I hate all rap music, but Greg thought it would be a great idea to force me to listen to a few Eminem songs, so this guy will be taking the heat today. I really hope most of you out there hare rap music as well and agree that you cant understand a single word these tone deaf, stuttering idiots are saying, the songs (if you take the time to translate them into English) promote the kind of drug abuse and violence that drags so many people in this country down, and rappers themselves portray an image of disgustingly baggy clothes, not having a care in the world for the rest of society, and have a generally negative impact on the human race. Eminem in particular has a song called... *sigh* ... Drips, I think (is that right?) and if you've ever heard the song, you will know why it made me want to throw Greg's phone across the room, but I refrained, and instead threw his earbud across the table. Can this even be called music? Eminem just can't sing. I don't care how many words you can fit into one breath or how fast you can mumble, and if I were paid to listen to that whole song, I still don't think I could pull it off.
     While I hate the style of music, some pop singers at least put thought into their lyrics. Namely, Lady GaGa. While I don't like the style, I can say that, despite how much hate she gets, her lyrics actually mean something, much more than I can say for Levine, Rihanna, etc, etc. If you are really into the whole lyrical thing Rihanna desperately tries to pull off, please, just listen to ONE Adele song, just one. The Lumineers and Of Monsters and Men are 1000 times better than Harry Styles and friends could ever be, and First Aid Kit triumphs Katy Perry and Ke$ha in every respect known to the human species. I rest my case. 

The Voice of an Introvert

BTHS junior Melissa Dong voices her opinions about being an introvert. Her insightful post serves as an excellent reminder that students don't need to be loud to be smart!

Click here to read her post!