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.

28

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 […]

25

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 […]

23

Dog Earns M.B.A. Online: Fires Former Coworkers

Unmuzzling Diploma Mills: Dog Earns M.B.A. Online Original Article By Marc Parry (as always italics and footnotes by me) How’s this for “hounding” diploma mills? GetEducated.com, an online-learning consumer group, managed to purchase an online M.B.A. for its mascot, a dog named Chester Ludlow. Things then took an unexpected turn when Chester was hired as the group’s leader based, in part, on his newly acquired credentials. The Vermont pug earned his tassles by pawing over $499 to Rochville University, which offers “distance learning degrees based on life and career experience,” according to a news release from GetEducated. He got back a package from a post-office box in Dubai that contained a diploma and transcripts, plus a certificate of distinction in finance and another purporting to show membership in the student council. “It was the diploma itself that drove our decision to hire Chester” explained Brian Groom, President of GetEducated.com. “Granted, we’d rather have promoted one of the GetEducated staff. They have so much more experience and demonstrated skill but they just didn’t have the right degrees. You know how it is.” Sadly, Chester was forced to fire the very people responsible for his new degree and subsequent new position. It seems the GetEducated.com crew misused time and company resources during the very stunt that resulted in Chester’s degree. GetEducated.com believes […]

The dark side of George Washington

So I was inspired by this post and came up with the following idea. 1 Basically, you research a historical hero, one of those unimpeachable people students have been forced to memorize facts about since kindergarten. Only this time you’re researching the figure as if you were a reporter for a semi-sleazy tabloid. Let’s keep it semi-sleazy so there’s a core of fact to anything reported. Like Washington marrying for money, in the example, may be true. No real facts either way but some innuendo and some sources I could cite. You could do something simple like creating the cover or make it much deeper and have the class construct a whole magazine analyzing an individual or period. The concept has some depth to it. One, students are analyzing and imitating the writing and design style used in tabloid magazines. Two, they’re researching the historical figure and seeing them as much more of a human. Historical figures tend to become caricatures which are then referred to with great longing and nostalgia. I think it’s really healthy to see these people as having flaws and compare how the media of the day treated them to how we see them now. This goes for whole eras, not just individuals. It opens up a lot of conversations about the media today as well. […]

Why I loathe Portaportal

The following is an attack on an idea and a structure. I am in no way trying to attack you if you use Portaportal but I would like to change your mind. I encourage you blasting back in the comments but if you call me names, I’ll likely cry. Sure, I get a lot of dirty looks from educators when I loathe Portaportal1. Portaportal is, after all, the educators friend. “Look how easy it is!” “I can share links with my students!” “It’s free!” Yes, yes and yes but just about everything is easy and shareable these days. I have two2 main problems with Portaportal. Round One – The Surface I’ll deal with the minor stuff (relatively) first. The thing is hideous. It is appallingly unattractive- everything from the color schemes to the jagged icons. Who in their right mind comes up with a flesh tone and pink color scheme? “But,” I can hear the rebukes, “Craigslist is ugly and look how popular it is.” or “I don’t care what it looks like as long as it does what I want.” First of all, Craigslist is ugly but it’s taking you to free things you actually want. Portaportal, especially in an educational context, is taking you to something you’ve been told you want. That’s a big difference. I’ll put up […]