More Mockery

USA Today’s Dumbest Article (Today, that is) It appears that desperation breeds sensationalism. USA Today attempts to stave off irrelevancy by publishing nonsense. Modified article below. As usual, footnotes and italics are mine. Some minor deletions of original article may also occur. _______________________________________________ Original Article By Erin Thompson, USA TODAY Teens and young adults are more likely in their free time to check their Facebook page than read a book. And they are dumber for it. “If you examine history closely, you’ll see that the only free time option since the dawn of time has been reading books. Now we have one other option, that monstrosity, that corrupter of youth, that Facebook. I think you can see why we’re doomed.” That is Mark Bauerlein’s contention in The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, How to Sound Arrogant and Make Money Off Bitter Old People), recently released in paperback (Tarcher/Penguin, 236 pp.) Bauerlein, an English professor at Emory University in Atlanta, says Generation Y, ages 16-29, has been shaped by exposure to computer technology since elementary school. Those individuals who are 30 were lucky enough to escape this tragedy entirely and have normal levels of intelligence. The cost, he says, outweighs the convenience. Kids are writing more than ever online or in text […]


Student Brainwashing Proves Effective

Here’s a slightly modified/mockified version of a recent Chronicle article. Some deletions. My additions in italics. College students were given the chance to ditch a traditional classroom for an online virtual world. Fourteen out of fifteen declined. The fifteenth student was required to return to K12 education to have the rest of the curiosity and spirit beaten out of her. “We’ve taken great steps to make sure all that spirit is gone by 12th grade.” Lamented Ms. Demeanor, a local principal. “I don’t know what could have happened. We failed her. There’s nothing else I can say.” When Catheryn Cheal, assistant vice president of e-learning and instructional support at Oakland University, was designing a course on learning in virtual worlds, she thought the best way to research the topic would be to immerse her class into one such world. Her thought was that the “motivating factors identified in games, such as challenge, curiosity, control, and identity presentation” would help the course along. “Of course she wasn’t thinking,” writes Ms. Demeanor. “How could they adapt to such an environment when we’ve spent so many painstaking years doing just the opposite? Where were the tests? Where were the lectures? She could have killed them.” While the interactive style could be fun, Ms. Cheal’s students worried they were having too much fun. Students […]


Killing People with Bronze Axes

Bronze Age Orientation The “lessons” in the video are funny because they’re true (I think I’m quoting Homer Simpson)- don’t be a pompous ass (period, but especially not when advocating for a major change) positive version – Be humble. You don’t know everything and your way is not the only way. don’t make change a threat or tie it to a threat (the tribes with the bronze axes will kill you, the kids won’t learn etc.) positive version – Tie the change to positive outcomes for those involved. Focus on how it will improve their life. Why is it worthwhile for them? don’t put down the old ways (and then they’ll throw away your stone axes because they’re rubbish) positive version – Honor the past*. Even if you hate the old way, insulting it will tend to increase resistance to change. In education, the focus should be on adding tools and exploring options rather than in taking them away. The bronze shoes and window are also pretty similar to the “must use twitter based podcasts wikis” in class mentality too often seen in EduBlogosphere Land. Tools are tools and each has its place. This video shows the hypothetical meeting held to discuss changing from stone age technology to bronze age technology. You’ve got the reluctance you normally see (funny but […]

Minx Graphic Novels: Girl-Positive Comics

Minx Comics, published by DC Comics, focuses on girl-positive themes and images.  As a life-long comic book collector (boxes, bags, and the whole nine yards), it has worried me the way women in comics have become hyper-sexualized.  It’s difficult to find a female character who doesn’t seem to be popping out of her costume.  Minx offers a wonderful alternative to the modern super-heroine.  Pass this one onto your librarians! via BoingBoing

A Future Intro

I made this so we could talk to our staff about the TIP Chart (our technology integration progress rubric- which is pretty good). It’d work well for parents as well. It’s pretty interactive and fun in the beginning with a number of pretty funny questions mocking our ability to predict the future. The intro slide sets the tone. I basically say “Where is my jet pack?” Then I try to get people talking about what they expected to have in the “future” that hasn’t materialized. I then pose this question and then invite guesses from the audience as to why this eminent scientist believed high speed train travel would be impossible. After a while I show them the answer. The key is that it gets people engaged at the beginning and it’s pretty funny- yet it is amazing how quickly things change. The presentation then segues into what’s going on now. Since we can’t predict the future very well, we might as well show the “futuristic” things going on now. I showed brief selections from a few TED videos that I thought were cool and relevant to the topic. We hit parts of – Do schools kill creativity? Hans Rosling on poverty – both to touch on globalization and to show how the data is presented Will Wright’s Spore It’d […]


Rap for English

I’ve been playing around with the idea of doing a blog for my middle school focusing on using rap lyrics to get at daily oral language and to build vocabulary. I think the potential is definitely there. I’m worried about two things. Can I come up with material consistently enough to make it worthwhile for the students? Secondly, can/should I use an appropriate portion from an inappropriate song? These are middle school students so it gets a little iffy and the county I’m in is pretty conservative. That being said they are having a Souljah Boy dance party at our school and played a clip from the song today on the intercom. So maybe I could pull this off. I’d love to use lyrics like the ones below from TI’s “You Don’t Know Me” You gone make me bring da chevy to a real slow creep My Partner hangin out the window, mouth fulla gold teeth When the guns start poppin, wonder when its gonna cease choppa hitchu on the side and create a slow leak We can end the speculation cuz today we gone see What’s the future of a sucka who be hatin on me i don’t care about the feds investigation on me I don’t care they at my shows and they waitin on me Ima keep […]

Exhibit and Data Visualization

The kind and brilliant folks at MIT have come out with a new Exhibit API that allows for more flexibility and power. The bonus is that it looks good doing it. I’ve now revised my Google spreadsheet fed history example to use some of the new power. It’s here if you’re interested. In the end I opted to mimic their new presidents layout (much like I mimicked their old presidents layout). This time I had a better reason than pure ignorance of the API (I now have impure ignorance after all). Their new layout is really right in line with what I’d like to focus on this year- data visualization/interaction. The new layout has the map right their with the time line. I like that. Time and location on one easy interactive page. Add in their option to sort and hide/expand sets based on the data you define and you’ve got something really powerful that will help students make connections. A simple example is if I restrict my set to show only “explorers” then suddenly in the map and the time line things change. I notice explorers were mainly earlier and than none were born in the Americas (obvious to you and I but maybe the spark some kids need). Then I switch map views and I see that explorers […]

The Director’s Bureau Special Projects Idea Generator

So The Director’s Bureau Special Projects Idea Generator generates fairly random three word idea strings like the one above – Do-it-yourself levitating animal. This is one of those things that I’d love to use in the classroom because it’s so simple and fun. It’s also flexible in terms of how big or small you’d like it to be. It could kill 10 minutes or be part of a whole unit. This particular generator isn’t really fit for student use because it’ll throw in “erotic” and some other iffy stuff but the teacher could spin the wheel a few times and come up with a great phrase for each week. I’d probably screen grab it or make something visual for the word results- as the packaging does matter. It can then be use for a variety of things. It’d be pretty cool right off as a creative writing or journal prompt but where things would be neat would be in tweaking it to focus on what you’re covering at the time. For instance- Describe the do-it-yourself levitating animal kit using every word from this week’s vocabulary list Write an ad for the do-it-yourself levitating animal creation kit using the bandwagon technique Write two responses to seeing an ad for the do-it-yourself levitating animal kit. In the first one respond in the […]