Cartoons keep speaking to me

These are not the voices you want reminding you of where education is headed. Centralized pacing guides, centrally created lesson plans and myriad of other choices are moving teachers into the role of trained chickens with little choice and less say about what happens in their classrooms. Standardization is great for planning and scaling but haven’t we proven over and over again that learning should be individualized? If we can’t trust teachers to pace their own classes, to make their own lesson plans then there’s a serious problem with the people we’re hiring as teachers. Providing all the processes and structures in the world won’t fix that.

Perspective by HBO

This is a pretty interesting video tool from HBO. It’s an interactive 3d framework that shows a story from 4 distinct perspectives. Each one gives you a different amount of information. In order to really understand what’s going on you have to see the story from these different perspectives and then combine the results into a “big picture” kind of understanding. You can watch two perspectives at the same time, which is interesting1. The key here is that you can’t understand the full story from just one of the views. It really takes some processing to figure these stories out in their entirety. It extrapolates nicely to the idea of perspective in terms of personal bias, both historically and in writing2. Questions like . . . How does perspective change a story? How does perspective impact history? Can you write a narrative without perspective? There are ton of stories to browse through. They’re short but some, of the few, I’ve been through would be questionable for some classrooms. Lots of possibilities for student projects on perspective branching off of this using text, images or video. 1 It’d make for an interesting multitasking test. 2 Science could be worked in there I think, in terms of the limits of observation.

Pop Culture Omnibus II

A hodgepodge of links that inspired me and rough ideas on how I’d use them in class. Wondermark1 What is it? It’s a poster that lets you build your own story by picking component pieces- think MadLibs but for story construction. What I’d do with it- This would be a really interesting culminating activity after studying a genera, author, poet or historical era. The students have to figure out the basic elements that are present in the author’s works or major people/conflicts/geography of the era. They then build a similar poster. It’d be hard to figure out which elements would be the variables and which would be consistent. Lots of thinking involved. Thinking about it, it might be a fun thing to build in Google forms using the new branching options. The Shadow2 What is it? An artist who’s envisioning a boy with a monstrous shadow. What I’d do with it- It’d be fun to depict the inner-selves of historical and literary figures as their shadows. So you’d have students analyzing the characters or historical figures and then drawing representative shadows. The key would be in how they explain what the shadow represents and how they explain the difference between the public persona and the inner-self. It could represent their hidden dark side, kind of like what I did with […]

05

Glorified Hamster Wheels

Bart Gets a Z The whole episode is worth watching on Hulu, or if that’s not available, the title is “Bart gets a Z.” Remember, it’s the Simpsons; just a cartoon, just an amusing cartoon- no reality here. Browse along. Nothing to see here.

03

Columbus?

Jim “The Doubter” Groom’s1 comments made me want to clarify the validity of bothering to impugn Christopher Columbus’s name. The results are below. It’s interesting to see how early and, as a result, how simply Columbus is covered. It’s no wonder so many people (other than the people Jim seems to hang out with) end up with a very one dimensional view of Columbus as a pure hero2 Here are the VA SOLs for old Christopher Columbus. First Grade 1.3 The student will discuss the lives of people associated with Presidents’ Day, Columbus Day, and the events of Independence Day (Fourth of July). Third Grade 3.3 The student will study the exploration of the Americas by a) describing the accomplishments3 of Christopher Columbus, Juan Ponce de León, Jacques Cartier, and Christopher Newport; 3.5 The student will develop map skills by d) locating the regions in the Americas explored by Christopher Columbus (San Salvador in the Bahamas), Juan Ponce de León (near St. Augustine, Florida), Jacques Cartier (near Quebec, Canada), and Christopher Newport (Jamestown, Virginia); Florida SS.5.A.3.2 Investigate (nationality, sponsoring country, motives, dates and routes of travel, accomplishments) the European explorers. Social Studies 5 American History Exploration and Settlement of North America Texas §113.5. Social Studies, Grade 3. (C) describe how individuals such as Christopher Columbus and Meriwether Lewis and William […]

Heroes?

Want to get some students interested in Columbus? Give this a shot. It’s amazingly easy to find out some really dark things about people we have set up as pretty one-dimensional heroes. Remember this guy was arrested for excessive cruelty during the SPANISH INQUISITION. He did some really twisted things. Wild to think that people want him canonized. I learned quite a bit researching the information to make this. Students would too.

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Compounded Stupidity

So I found this via lblanken on twitter that Obama is disappointing me further. I read these articles and they really beg for satire. So, I am forced to oblige. (italics and footnotes are mine, I removed some portions for brevity, everything else is from the original at this link) ____________________________________________________________ Original By LIBBY QUAID, AP Education Writer Libby Quaid, Ap Education Writer – Sun Sep 27, 3:29 pm ET WASHINGTON – Students beware: The summer vacation you just enjoyed could be sharply curtailed if President Barack Obama, KIPP, and standardized test makers get their way. Obama says American kids spend too little time in school, putting them at a disadvantage with other students around the globe. “Now, I know longer school days and school years are not wildly popular ideas,” the president said earlier this year. “Not with Malia and Sasha, not in my family, and probably not in yours. But the challenges of a new century demand more time in the classroom. After all what will better prepare you for a future we can’t predict than sitting silently in a room doing worksheets in preparation for multiple choice tests?” The president, who has a sixth-grader and a third-grader, wants schools to add time to classes, to stay open late and to let kids in on weekends so they […]

Wolverine poems and other gifts from the Internet

Picture CC from DuneChaser Four people got to this blog today searching for “wolverine poems.” I hate to leave people disappointed. I’m not sure which wolverine they’re looking for so I’m covering my bases. Wolverine: The Haiku Wolverine is the man with adamantium bones and sharp claws. Wolverine: The Animal Carcajou, skunk bear, you glutton! I call you out as a big weasel. This did inspire me but it also got me thinking about how many fun sources for poetry/writing prompts that are out there just begging to be used. I’d love to do things with Google Trends. Take today’s (at around 9-10 PM Eastern) trending topics- No. 1 with a bullet is “applebees menu1.” I would also be forced to use #44 “goonies 2” Then it’s on to #64 “agent cody banks” and finish it off with #47 “19 pound indonesian baby” and #48 “sycophants definition.” I consulted the Applebee’s menu yet again. It had answers, but not the ones I wanted. I was hungry . . . for knowledge. “Is Goonies 2 an actual possibility? Am I getting my hopes up for an inevitable disappointment?” I wondered again. My mind tends to drift when I am stressed. I tried to relax. I knew Agent Cody Banks was on the case. I had no way of knowing that a […]

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New(ish?) Exhibit 2.2 API is Sick Fast

OK, the new1 Exhibit API is crazy fast. It still takes a second or so to load but once it’s up and running the selection speed is dramatically improved. DRAMATICALLY2. I’ve been pitching the Simile project3, especially Exhibit, for quite a while for all sorts of educational uses. It really is fairly simple and allows you to create the kind of powerful data-driven interactive websites that would simply be impossible if you aren’t able to write code. You need to create these kind of interactive database sites because they are interactive and allow students to manipulate data and see it in a variety of contexts. That enables, and encourages, all sorts of processing and helps students see connections. David Huynh and the rest of the people who are working on this BSD licensed project have really made some incredible speed improvements. To change to the new API, just replace the original API reference in the header of your page (http://static.simile.mit.edu/exhibit/api-2.0/exhibit-api.js) with http://api.simile-widgets.org/exhibit/2.2.0/exhibit-api.js = instant speed jump4. As a way to force myself to do it, I’m going to take this pretty new API and attach it to this interesting data set on X Box games5. Why? Well, because I can and it’s awesome. 1 How new, I’m not sure. Allison C. from UR mentioned it in relation to the Confinder […]