Calling E.T.

This is another one of those little things I love that the Internet brings me on a silver RSS platter1. From New Scientist As part of our special feature marking the 50th anniversary of the search for extraterrestrial life, we round up humanity’s radio messages to the stars. This is an awesome list of messages we’ve sent into outer space2 and leads to some potentially interesting English uses. Here are a few very rough ideas. Your Message – The standard idea would be “What message would you send into outer space? Write one paragraph etc. etc.” That’s OK but it doesn’t really do it for me. You need to add a lot of restrictions and bring to the forefront the things you need to consider when sending messages into outer space. I’d start by looking at the messages we’ve sent. What do they have in common? What assumptions are made about the recipients3? Then it’d be really interesting to start restricting the size of the message. How do you pack the most information into your message? The debates over what stays/goes would be really interesting as well as what type (text, images, number, video etc.) of communication is likely to succeed with unknown aliens. Looking at the Arecibo message would also spark some interesting ideas and discussions. You could also […]


21st Century Video Remix

I remixed1 this video for our new specialty center which is focusing on teaching. Once you pass Obama, there’s some decent video covering students working in groups with computers, Promethean boards 2, and digital probes. It might be useful to others. 1 I swear it does change. 2 AKA the giant, wall mounted mouse- my opinion of the IWBs, obviously, remains pretty low.

Weird Books

My favorite kind of edtech use- free, quick and slightly odd1. The Weird Book Room is, obviously, a collection of really odd book titles and covers2 This is prime fodder for all kinds of entertaining creative writing activities. Things I would want to try- Show the students three or four covers/titles. Their task is to pick one3 and write a Amazon style summary of the book totally based off the odd title and cover. The focus here would be on style, looking at how these reviews generate interest and what structural components they normally contain. Instead of a summary write a review of the book as if you’ve read it. Give it 1 or 5 starts and write your review accordingly. I’d put a heavy slant on opinion and bias on this one, encouraging students to put themselves in personality roles with strong opinions and assuming that voice. Use the titles in poetry. Students could just use the title as the first line, or they have to use X number of words from the provided titles. Lots of options. If you had the time, students could write the book or at least a pitch for the book. Have them generate a character list, plot summary, etc. As a frustrated art teacher, I’d give the titles and have students create the […]