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Introducing My Botanic Planet.com: Science Resource for K-5 Teachers and Students

My oldest daugher loves school. She comes home every day very excited to share what she's learned that day. No matter the subject, she's very "in to" school. Over the past few months, I've been telling her about a project I've been working on with a client of mine called TruGreen, a leader in the lawncare business. 

TruGreen is based in Memphis, TN and they have a relationship with a non-profit called Memphis Botanic Garden, which serves more than 43,000 school-aged children annually through organized education programs, offering them the opportunity to get outdoors and learn through hands-on activities and nature play.

Over the years, Memphis Botanic Garden has developed a curriculum that teaches kids about botany. They even created a couple of characters that bring the curriculum to life. 

With the help of my client TruGreen, today the two organizations launched a very cool site called My Botanic Planet:

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#140conf: Real-time Education

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One panel from the #140conf that I was very interested in was the one on how the real-time web can impact education.

In true 140 fashion, the panel was too short for a subject that I am very passionate and know a lot about (considering I've spent nearly seven years of my life working in education and another three or so representing education-focused clients).

You see, the education space is always behind the eight ball. It is always in need -- need of tools, technology, good teachers, content, students, active parents, etc. For such an important part of all of our lives, education (for the most part IMHO), doesn't get the attention it deserves in terms of the issues -- from the political end of things, technology issues, parental involvement, etc.

Education simple gets the shaft in my book.

 

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What a Difference a Year Makes

My kids walk to the front door of school. The youngest (left), missed her big sister terribly.Last year at this time, my oldest daughter was headed to Kindergarten. It was a scary thing. Here she was, an innocent, shy, caring girl that was going to be throw in the wolf den that is the public school system. I only call it the wolf den because it's the unknown. You're dealing with kids from all types of backgrounds, demeanors, education level, mannerisms, etc. Public schools are one big ass bowl of jambalaya.

My wife and I went through all the emotions of being a first time "big school" parent (pre-school was a sort of a cake-walk compared to a school where she was on the bottom of the food chain -- her school is k-8).

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Goodbye Kindergarten, Hello First Grade

The newest first graderMy oldest had her kindergarten spring concert this week, which brings her first year of school to a close (well, nine days short of the actually closing). 

She's grown so much over the past year. She's reading on her own. Writing things without copying the letters. She's asking a lot of questions. Overall, she's getting so big, so fast. 

We're lucky that she loves school and has gone when she wasn't feeling well. She didn't want to miss anything. I hope that attitude keeps up, especially as the school-work gets harder.

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Computer Time for Kids

It is no secret that I am a tech geek. I love all things technology. I enjoy testing out apps, tweaking hardware so it performs better and trying new things that a specific technology wasn't designed for.

When it comes to my kids, I try to expose them to as much technology as possible. I let them play with our old point and shoot cameras, try games on my iPod touch and spin around the web on both a PC or Mac. I do it mostly because I want them to be smarter than me when it comes to this stuff. I want them to be a cut above their classmates and co-workers. Basically, I want them to be the go to gals for their circle of friends, business associates, etc. when they get older. They will be going to college and working in a business environment that will be much more tech heavy than today. Additionally, most of the techies I know are males. Not to say that there aren't brilliant woman in the tech field, but in my experience it is heavily populated with guys.

How do you fuse technology into your kids lives?

The Social Education or Lackthereof

I was reading a story over at Inside Higher Ed about the use of Twitter in the classroom and thought to myself, why don't educators use social media more to engage their students? Yes, there is this thing about younger saavy web users NOT embracing microblogging services like Twitter, but don't you think that if their teachers were leveraging these tools that they'd have to engage?

Of course.

On the other hand, you don't want to force students into smething they don't want to do because then it'll become a chore and eerily similar to "homework."

As I got to thinking about this more, I thought about my own college experience. Other than my relatively small journalism classes (small being 25-35 students), my classrooms were 70-125 kids deep. There's no way you can build a relationships with a professor with that many students in the class even if you sit in the front row and continuously ask questions. However, if the content being discussed in class was augmented with the tools I use to connect with friends and family, I might have paid more attention in those accounting classes and became an accountant vs a PR guy.

Kayla Knows: DNA of a Book

One of my fellow blogger in arms is CC Chapman, who does a great video series with his daughter Emily. Using his segments as inspiration, combining them with the new discoveries my oldest daughter is experiencing during her first year of Kindergarten, I decided to create "Kayla Knows" -- video segments that show what Kayla has learned in school through her own words.

In the first installment, Kayla talks about the DNA of a book. It's sort of ironic that she's learning about the details of what make up a book in a society where we are so dependent on technology and not paper.

Kayla Knows 10-15-09 from Don Martelli on Vimeo.