Weekly Web Harvest (weekly)

Australian floods lowered global sea levels (Wired UK) “The vast amounts of rain that fell during the Australian floods in 2010 and 2011 caused the world’s sea levels to drop by as much as 7mm, according to oceanographers. In 2010, sea levels mysteriously dropped by 7mm and stayed lower than expected for a year and a half. Oceanographers attempted to work out where the water had gone; they found it in Australia. In most places on the globe, rain falls on mountains, runs into rivers and flows out into the sea. But in Australia, something different tends to happen. Rain that falls in the outback never makes it to the coast — it tends to collect in shallow inland seas and evaporate instead.” tags: weekly rain water ocean math wcydwt australian floods sea levels A New Era of Biological Warfare › ScienceZest “Dilger’s footmen and allies used liquid bacterial cultures of B. mallei to infect equines just before they were shipped to European ports. This was no easy task. Glanders can be transmitted to humans and a number of men with boils all over their faces would not only be suspicious, it would also reduce the flow of volunteers. The deadly bacteria had to be packed so that an untrained man could handle them safely, pour them into fodder, or jab […]

Bicolored Beans and Dolch Refrigerator Poetry

I’m amusing myself with Javascript and I’m managing to make things. Last Friday I helped unpack some math manipulatives for our new elementary school. They had many, many things to count. Bicolored beans were one of the items I found particularly odd.1 In any case, given last weeks small foray into JavaScript I knew I could randomize images easily enough. I figured with some wandering I could make items drag-able based on something I saw once upon a time. I didn’t really have much passion for bicolor beans but I thought the things I learned with this simple example would be more broadly applicable and this would be a nice proof of concept. Initial wandering was based on a search for “HTML 5 drag drop list” or something like that. If I recall correctly, I found something that I was able to make work in about ten minutes but it wouldn’t work on touch devices. Given this was really a lower elementary tool (assuming anyone in County was going to use it at all) I needed to rethink things. I narrowed it down to something like “JavaScript drag drop.” That led me to back to my habitual Stackoverflow stomping grounds. I found something there associated with the Dojo JavaScript library. That lead to more searches for “Dojo library drag drop […]



This is probably too simple. My belief is that we (my colleagues and I) should make/find interesting things. We should publish them online in a way that integrates these interesting things into the frameworks that govern the lives of our teachers (pacing guides, curricular frameworks, state standards). Associated with each interesting thing should be the option to expand outward into the rationale behind its selection/construction and/or towards the tools of its construction. I think this does at least two interesting things. It forces a deliberate rationalization and explanation of what you’re building/linking in and a transparency for the user to see those thoughts and perhaps shape how they think about the media/tools/lesson plans. This framework also provides an example and the tools to make/manipulate what you see. It should be empowering- kind of a “if you like this . . . ” here are the tools to build your own. In both these cases, the instructional rationales and the tutorials on the tools should be fairly common between a wide range of media objects. I’m also hoping they’ll grow organically over time with people adding nuance and depth to various sections as needed. I’m not entirely clear on decent ways to have elements of this happen automatically- similar to the way associated posts occur on some sites. It may be […]


Weekly Web Harvest (weekly)

Presentation Zen: Can (and should) scientists become great presenters? “”People can only learn something new if they can relate it to something they already know. That’s the only way.” “When people like you [scientists & PhD students] talk about their research, half of the time even your peers don’t understand what the hell you are talking about, and when they do understand they find it boring. That’s the sad truth.” “Scientists cannot communicate very well with non-scientists, but in fact they cannot communicate well with other scientists either.” “If you are a PhD student, a post-Doc, or even a professor, where have you been all your life? In School! And school is the worst place where you could possibly learn communication.” “You see the problem here. We are learning to communicate by explaining things to people [professors] who all ready know [the material]. What kind of learning experience is that? It’s the wrong approach…..on top of that the purpose is being graded, which means we have to prove to those people grading us how clever we are.” “Find a simple way to explain something complex.”” tags: presentation zen scientists educators communication learning itrt weekly Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


Getting it together

This is an interesting time to attempt interesting things. There is a lot being documented at the moment1 that ought to be shaping how we think and what we do in K12. Mike Caulfield’s posts on distributed flips2 and the design of open materials for blended classrooms3 Jim Groom’s posts on creating open source learning environments. Alan Levine’s work with the #ds106 architecture and the idea of a “headless” #ds106 course Dan Meyer’s MakeoverMondays That’s just the tip of the iceberg but I think it’s representative of an interesting mixture of elements- creating/shaping content/media, creating context around that media, and workflows around sharing/authoring that contextualized media in a way that encourages communities that both reinforce and challenge ideas around how to teach. I don’t know if that makes any sense but I’ll try to show how it’s shaping what we’re trying to do in Henrico in the coming year. Needs More and better examples of just about everything – Currently our Henrico 21 site is meant to help show people interesting things to do that fit within our definition of blended/technology-enhanced learning. I think it serves a certain purpose and there are 900 or so lesson plans there but in the end, I don’t think it’s used in a way that justifies the amount of energy that goes into it. […]


weekly (weekly)

How Einstein Thought: Fostering Combinatorial Creativity and Unconscious Connections | Brain Pickings “Combinatory play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought.” tags: einstein thought creativity connections weekly School for poetic computation “school for poetic computation is an artist run school launching this fall in New York. A small group of students and faculty will work closely to explore the intersections of code, design, hardware and theory — focusing especially on artistic intervention. It’s a 10 week program, a hybrid of residency and research group, that will happen multiple times per year to be a powerboost for creativity. Our motto is: more poems less demos.” h/t Gardner Campbell tags: code poetry language beauty programming computer english weekly 10 Rules of Internet – Anil Dash “Most websites treat “I like it” and “This is good” as the same thing, leading to most people on the Internet refusing to distinguish between “I don’t like it” and “It’s not good”. When a company or industry is facing changes to its business due to technology, it will argue against the need for change based on the moral importance of its work, rather than trying to understand the social underpinnings. “ tags: rules internet society weekly Why Life in America Can Literally Drive You Insane | Alternet ” Many of us, sadly, are ashamed […]

Rebuses and Icons in English

I saw this in the August 2013 National Geographic. It reminded me of when I taught 6th grade English. I used rebuses quite a bit. It was a fun way to help reluctant readers and writers. The National Geographic article sparked a few new ideas though. First, using The Noun Project as a source gives you and your students a huge repository of icons to use for games like this.1 The portion of the article that got me interested was the idea of intentionally misinterpreting the rebuses or reading them from right to left so they tell a completely different story. It feels like there are some opportunities there. Take a series of icons and – summarize a book, article, or poem make a rebus palindrom make a rebus when read right to left means the opposite of the left to right reading (I can’t find the opposite of a palindrom) create a famous quote (bonus points for how fast your classmates figure it out) use them for simple writing prompts (add variables for student interpretation (e.g. look at this literally, read it left to write, interpret is like a surrealist). That way you and your students are not bored and they have a reason to read other students’ interpretations. At this moment in time, I’d build a random viewpoint […]

The Internet is my friend

This is another example of why I find the Internet so amazing. It’s nothing new. It’s just makes the kind of learning I find so attractive possible. Here’s the scenario. We were in a meeting an one of our new ITRTs, Rachel Toy, mentioned this Buck’s Institute Tool that’s meant to help shape driving questions. It’s meant to be printed out and then cut up and assembled. Even if you wanted to do it, it’d be hard to justify the construction time in most classrooms where you’d use this. Rachel also commented that building the paper version didn’t work all that well when she did it herself. For context, I know nothing about real programming or even sophisticated scripting. Over time and space, I’ve dabbled in AppleScript, FileMaker Pro scripting, and banging on WordPress themes. I did, however, cobble together some PHP scripts and make a single variable page that displayed a digital version of the Chinese fortune sticks I have from when I was a kid.1 I have long wanted to make something that shuffled through a variety of variables and displayed them for the user. Based on my past experience with the fortune sticks, I figured I might be able to manage adding some other variable to randomize. Turns out that wasn’t that hard. My original fortune sticks […]

Crustacean Estimation

I’m still messing around with engaging elementary students with measurement and estimation. My own kids seem pretty interested. I don’t know if that’s a good measure at all. It has been a new experience for me to see how the different ages are able to engage with the same media. It is interesting to have your own tiered test group at hand- no matter how biased. This particular structure was sparked by one of the elementary specialists commenting that the students would often guess similar weights for a lion and a cat. My idea is to present similar animals but of very different sizes. I see it going something like this. Solicit comments about what kids know. Have the students guess which one is bigger. How much bigger? I may need a child sized silhouette rather than an adult- probably a good idea to mix the gender as well. I don’t know if that opens up additional areas of confusion. This is a also where I might add a zoomed in slide that breaks things down by inches. I think it’d be important to have a scale grid on the wall for students to measure themselves against. If it had the silhouettes, on it all the better. Now we have a much larger scale. What unit of measurement do you […]


weekly (weekly)

Orthography – Futility Closet ““If the professors of English will complain to me that the students who come to the universities, after all those years of study, still cannot spell ‘friend,’ I say to them that something’s the matter with the way you spell friend.” — Richard Feynman This has always been my problem with English. It’s a broken system where we blame the user. Watching kids learn to speak shows you just how many illogical choices there are in the language. tags: weekly english spelling How GM makes a car sound like what a car is supposed to sound like — Thoughtful Design — Medium “In general, to improve fuel economy in a car, you want to reduce the engine’s RPM. Over the past few decades, the auto industry has been doing that. In the 90s, says Gordon, a 4c engine might be cruising at 3,400 RPM. Today, it’s below 2,000. But as you reduce the speed that the drive shaft is rotating, you lower the frequency of the sound it’s making. There comes a lower limit where the engine is making what Gordon calls “groan-y and moan-y” noises which people find unpleasant. The car sounds broken. So cars had to keep the engine’s RPM above a certain level, hurting their fuel efficiency, or risk alienating customers.” tags: car […]