6 Frame Comic Summaries

We’re asking you to take your favourite film and re-imagine it for us in the form of a comic, within a six-frame panel (download template files). That’s the whole film, condensed into six frames. This is another beautiful, reductionist way to analyze a book, historical figure, era, epoch or movement. I don’t see much use for math but I could also see some science possibilities. You could pair up with an art teacher or just do it on your own. I’d have a stable of activities1 similar to these and allow students the option to choose between them at various points. Keep in mind, they don’t have to be drawn. Let them use photographs. They could even take their own pictures. The concept/framework is simple but don’t let it box you in. This is the stuff I really like in history and English. It’s low work on the teacher, high processing on the students. Deciding what elements are essential is a task that requires a lot of understanding and critical thinking, then representing those ideas graphically is another level of processing. I’m working on a history example but it’s taking too much time (and thought) to do well immediately. 1 Of the condense and remix type. I’ve posted a few in the past.

Snow Days Don’t Stop Assessment

This wouldn’t be worth of mocking except for the fact that it was retweeted time and time again by the Blackboard Twitter fanboy crowd and when I finally read it I couldn’t get the taste of bile out of my mouth. This is the garbage they celebrate as a success. So the following post is an attempt at purging my system. Original article here. Italics and footnotes, as always, are mine. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ The snow led to more than 300 local closings and delays today — but if a district uses too many snow days, there’s less time to test. No one wants that. One local school figured out a way to have the best of both worlds -students at home *and*1 a full day of testing. Joe Webb says it works through technology -insert dramatic music here. The kids at Taft Elementary will lose a day of class because they’re at home. McAuley High School has figured out a way to reach out to its students and have them in class at home. At Beechwood Elementary, Miss Burns’ fourth grade class beat the elements and had a school not a snow day. But in 2010 this is truly old school.2 McAuley sophomore Sam Rack kicked it new school3 today at home but taking all her regular classes online. It counts […]

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 […]

Top 100?

I got an email today passing on “The Top 100 Tools for Learning 2009” list. I know I should have left when some people chose Animoto as their number one choice but I didn’t. I wanted to see what the compiled list from 278 people looked like1. In order to look at it in a more interactive way, threw the data into Exhibit. It’s interesting to click around and see the data grouped in different ways. Mostly it makes me think that asking for a top 10 is about 5 items too many. I also wonder a good bit about what people think of when they list “tools for learning.” Photoshop made it to #35 this year. 1 There are a number of problems I have with the way the whole collection of items works but we’ll ignore that for now.

Sharing Ed. Content In Ways That Don’t Suck

I work in a decent sized school system. We have 69 schools and about 50,000 students. That means we have a lot of teachers, a lot of teachers teaching the same content, a lot of teachers struggling with the same problems, a lot of teachers re-doing work that’s already been done. At a district level we spend untold hours and untold amounts of money trying to provide support for teachers and trying to promote best practice. We have teachers who exemplify the concepts we’re trying to share but they are, too often, unknown outside their school, or their grade, or their subject, or their classroom. So our current goal is to end anonymity, to effectively publicize best practice on a global level. One of the ways that we’d like that to happen is through online content distribution and building conversation around that content. The ability to put multimedia content online is nothing new. What has changed is the facility with which it can be done and the ability to easily have conversations1 around very specific pieces of media. Changing the concept It’s important to look at how educational content sharing has failed in the past and present if you’re going to try to get it right. I looked at as many different online sharing options as I could find.2 I’ve […]


Progress on 21st century skills?

I’ve got to deliver a 15 minute presentation tomorrow on what we’re doing in good ol’ HCPS with regard to 21st century skills1. The audience is high level people from other local school districts. My goal is to let them see where we made some errors and hope they’ll then be able to avoid them. In a perfect world, I might also inspire them to try similar projects in the future with the goal of sharing both resources and expertise. Vision Step one, will be to discuss how we’ve tried to set a vision for what a 21st century classroom looks like. That’ll basically cover the evolution of the TIPc chart which I’ve already done here. The focus will be on the movement towards simplicity, student focus etc. I also intend to bring up the effectiveness of the TPCK model in having this discussion with teachers and administrators. It really seems to clarify things. It’ll also be worth noting that this is now our mission statement. Henrico County Public Schools, in partnership with the community, will inspire, empower, and educate every student to be prepared for success in the 21st century. There are some interesting things you can read into that if you want to. Sharing Step two, will cover how we’ve tried to share best practice and lessons. In […]


We build a lot of great “doors” in education and then wonder why no one uses them.

Harken, ye anti-texting dogs

I Profe{|s|s}e to teach thee, that art vtterly ignorant, to reade perfe{ct}ly, to write truly, and with iudgement to vnder­ {|st}and the rea|son of our Engli{|sh} tongue with great expedition, ea|se , and plea­|sure. from the English School Maister Clearly Langvich, like Arithmeticke, doth naught chan-geth. Language is your servant. Language is not your master. Too many people seem to think language is in charge. English is the bastard child of any number of languages and times. What we have now is a confusing, ever shifting and evolving, mess. One squiggly line means the number two and three other line arrangements represents the word for the number 2. We have three words pronounced too but meaning three different things. On the other hand, we have the word lead which is spelled the same but pronounced differently and with an entirely different meaning determined only by context. We just accept that. Words also change in meaning and spelling over time, right? If enough people say a word means something for long enough, no matter the word’s original meaning, that becomes what the word means. It’s kind of like evolution mixed with democracy. I’ve actually listened to teachers brag that they never abbreviate when texting and that they used full and complete punctuation. That pretty much says to me, “The arbitrary ‘rules’ […]