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 […]

Some Elementary Attempts

I’m working more closely with some of our elementary specialists this year. It’s been a good while since I worked with this age group. I’m pretty excited the potential to do some interesting things. Measurement is a big issue for our students in elementary. It spans math and science standards and kids are not connecting it with their lives. I’m playing around with some graphic ways to get students engaged. When I tried this out with my own kids (ages 9, 7, 5) they all really wanted to know how big the dog was. I realize it’s not the best sample but they aren’t shy if they don’t like things. I don’t know that will stick with an apple as the visual reference object. I’d like it to be something they have in their hands at the time and on a regular basis.1 I hope to encourage a lot of measuring against their own bodies. My kids like that- holding their hands up to where on their body the dog’s head would be. It might also be interesting to run a number line down the wall and have kids move to the numbers to indicate guesses, kid of a kinesthetic graphing exercise. I am pretty sure I saw that someplace. I’m attempting to imitate some of Dan Meyer’s three act […]


Like a Car Chase

This project was inspired by a Sklar brothers bit that I heard on the VA Beach AM comedy channel the other day. An edited and condensed version of track 16 is here. Now on to the assignment . . . Take any video.1 Add your voice over as if you were a local TV news anchor attempting to provide color commentary without stating anything as a fact or with certainty. Add all the hedge words and banalities that exemplify this kind of coverage. If you’re looking for the DS106 tag/aggregation for the assignment go here (AudioAssignments, AudioAssignments1085). The basic idea is this is almost the opposite of what we want students to do with writing. We want them to be specific, to eliminate hedge words, to make a strong argument, and to take a specific stance. In a class, I might flip it both ways. Have one understated version with no definite statements and then do another version which overstates things (like this Daily Show clip description which I may dig up the video for at some point). Or you could simply give them the option to either understate or overstate the commentary. This is a quick and dirty example where despite my efforts I accidentally say a few facts. For instance, there’s no way I could really know that […]

If You Give Bieber A Bike . . .

Mostly Nonsense A Bieber flavored over simplication on the fallacy of hardware creating change. Probably useless but it amused me for the presentation and the audience seemed to enjoy it. My 20 minute presentation ended up being a 90 minute conversation. If you give Bieber a bike will he get home more quickly? It seems like a straightforward question, an easy answer. Of course the bike will get him home faster. But we tend to make a number of assumptions. It could be you’re a Bieber fan and you know where Bieber is now and where his home/homes are, maybe you’re a Belieber and you even know which home he’s going to. Most people don’t. They don’t know where Bieber is nor where he’s going despite general agreement on the definition of “home.” Furthermore, I don’t know if Bieber can drive a motorcycle or if he can drive this motorcycle. If he can drive a motorcycle, how well can he do it? Does he have gas? Is a helmet required? Now if we give Bieber a bike and he can drive it, we have to think about the terrain between where he’s starting and where he wants to go. Maybe there’s a forest in between those two points. A forest without roads or gas stations. This street bike will actually […]


Colonial History Timeline

This was made with Timeline JS and is predominantly dates from the Virginia Standards of Learning USI5 and USI6 but I’m sure this is pretty standard fare for any US history course. I’ve got a fair amount more work to do but things are at least sketched out based on the “required knowledge.” My goal is to have a decent mix of primary source material, video, and links to places with fairly deep content. The difficult thing about making content like this for anyone other than yourself is that the ideas I have about how to use particular items aren’t easily seen by others. Adding a layer of “teacher directions” is fairly odious for me and unless done very, very well it will likely be ignored anyway. For example, I opted to use an image of the Geneva Bible to represent Massachusetts Bay. There’s the obvious ideas around how the colonists tried to use biblical elements to guide all aspects of their life. I was struck by this statement on the cover “With moste profitable annotations upon all the hard places, and other things of great importance as may appeare in the Epistle to the Reader.” The Geneva Bible was seen as the first “study bible” and had extensive margin notes, numbered verses, was likely used by Shakespeare as reference […]

Craig’s List Beat Poetry

I find the Craig’s List free stuff ads very entertaining. The combination of really odd items1 and unique writing choices lead to speculation about who wrote the ad and what they were thinking. I ran across the three beautiful ads pictured above last night and proceeded to force my wife to listen to me read them aloud (It was Valentine’s Day after all). The result was beautiful, poetic even, beat poetic even even. I scrounged around tonight for some jazz loops and produced the beautiful work of art below. No words were changed but I did leave off the phone numbers. Craig’s List Beat Poetry The best thing about this is it could morph into a real English lesson. Decide this author was intentional. Analyze it like you would any other work of poetry. A short sample follows. owner in left and gone, two beautifully dogs, golden retrieve, and Lab mix This poem is about escape from the oppression of everyday society. In a scant 13 words, the author manages to take a snapshot of everyday Americana and depict the chaos just beneath the surface. By juxtaposing an almost total lack of capitalization against the apparent order enforced by the repeated use of commas the reader is forced to consider the role of structure and order in our society. […]

Internet Culture as Digital Content: VSTE12 Presentation

This presentation is essentially a pitch for the idea that we ought to be looking at the world with open eyes and paying attention to the content that is exciting to ourselves and others- the things we read/watch/listen to without being coerced. The introduction it is a rehash of the RSS aggregator pitch that I’ve given off and on since 2002. I know Twitter is much cooler and RSS is pronounced dead on a regular basis but Twitter fills a very different niche for me and I think the RSS aggregator still has a lot of value. I also stressed the idea that you have to aggregate feeds you actually want to read. That’s very different than feeds you feel you ought to want to read. Make this unpleasant for yourself and you will never, ever, read them. Build feeds that rejuvenate and interest you and then bring that into your instruction.1 My goal was to point out the huge swathe of low hanging fruit waiting for the right teacher to look at it in the right way- essentially the antipode of most of the content we use in education. This is really more of a change in philosophy than anything else. I’m hoping people open their minds to a larger idea of what might qualify as digital content. I […]


Police Beat

I was listening to “Ain’t too Proud to Beg” coming to work this morning. I’m always surprised what songs actually say when you really listen to the lyrics. Essentially, a number of the things advised by songs can be highly questionable- even in innocent seeming songs from The Temptations. Given that and the predilection of stars to get in legal trouble I came up with this idea. 1 Essentially, identify an innocent seeming song that advocates some odd/criminal behavior and reformat it as a police report style article. My example based on “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” is below. 2 January, 22, 2012 – Resisting Arrest/Violation of a Restraining Order Eddie Kendricks, 46, was arrested at his former residence, 12 Jones street, at 4:37AM. Kendricks is accused of stalking and violating an order of protection filed by his former wife, Angela Berry, after their recent divorce. Kendricks is accused of sleeping on the doorstep of the residence they previously shared. Kendricks is also accused of actively preventing Ms. Berry from leaving her home. Witnesses report that Kendricks often appeared incoherent, at times sobbing and begging at the door of Ms. Berry’s residence for hours at a time. “At first, it was funny,” reported Berry’s neighbor, Ron Paxton. “We’d laugh at him, a grown man, behaving like that. But then he […]


Google Form as Choose Your Own Adventure Tool

Just a quick proof of concept for a session I’m doing at VSTE. I’m trying to show how you can use most things in all sorts of ways despite what they were intended to do. Apparently the example Google put out for this way back when actually used choose your own adventure to demo the concept. I promise I didn’t know that. Embedded below is a simple example of a choose your own adventure story using the branch logic options in Google forms. It’s a little hard to keep the pages straight at first but it gets easier as you go. Were I doing something large, I’d probably have to map it out first. Loading…



I’m not even sure this article warrants a response. I started to satirize it but it was already so far out there, it was hard to think of anything more ridiculous. If you want something useful, read elsewhere. If you like when I say mean things about poorly conceptualized ideas, this is for you. ____________________ 1. Digital portfolios for students. Imagine if all students were assigned a QR code at the beginning of the school year—or even the start of their educational career? Every year, instead of putting that student’s assignments or projects into a manila file folder that gets sent home (and oftentimes chucked in the trash) the teacher could upload a few examples of papers, projects, tests and quizzes to the QR code. The code could also include links to student videos, blog posts or other multimedia projects. That QR code-portfolio could then be printed on the student’s report card, so that the grade becomes about more than just one single letter. Imagine if you were talking about digital portfolios but kept pretending the way you got to the portfolio mattered more than the portfolio itself. Imagine if you could print1 a URL on a report card and get the exact same effect only you would not get to use the scanner app on your phone. 2. Connecting […]