Pete Reilly (tagged by Miguel Guhlin, who was tagged by Brian from Bump on the Log) tagged me with the “How do you write?” meme. It’s been a long time since I’ve been involved in one of these (May 24, 2005 to be exact). I’d say I write based on glimpses I see of possibilities- mainly ways to make aspects of learning fun and interesting that I’ve seen taught (or have taught) in ways that bored both the students and teacher. I get them from boingboing, podcasts, rap songs just about anything. While I don’t have Pete’s eloquence, why I do this might be a little more interesting. That’s what these memes are really about after all, a deeper look at all these people who are your friends, collaborators and colleagues but who you often know surprisingly little about. I have a decent IQ. I test pretty well. There were lots of reasons I should have excelled at school. I didn’t. I did middle of the road work and took middle of the road classes. In high school I mostly slept. My mother was constantly asking me why I didn’t take more advanced courses if everything was so boring and easy. My reply was that I was not in the market for a greater quantity of boring work and that […]
Jim’s finally found a home for his kind of organization I am a swine. I can say this because my mother regularly told me I was “living in a pig sty.” I have struggled to reform myself. Dayrunner (in the bottom of a dusty box). Elaborate Note-Taking Systems (codes never seemed intuitive enough to stick). A Handspring (I think I left it in a library–we never met again). My biggest victory in my (I kid you not) 15-year quest to feel some sense of organization in my life is a Moleskin. A year ago I forced myself to start carrying one everwhere. It has been a blessing. When I came across a post about hacking a moleskin, I was intrigued. This was my ingress into Getting Things Done (GTD), an organization system created by David Allen. I followed the rabbit and discovered KinklessGTD and The HipsterPDA. Kinkless is intriguing, but that fact that I don’t carry a PDA around would mean trying to compensate with my phone or other awkward hacks. Having already established my moleskin routine, the hipster seemed the more logical choice. I considered DIY Planner’s 3.0 Edition as a mod, but there were so many cards that didn’t fit my life as teacher, technophile, and truthseeker. I became frustrated and did what we all do in our […]
Attractors A fun way to get kids thinking about orbits, gravitational pull on comets, electrons around the nucleus etc. It is also strangely addicting so remember you’ll have to get them off by force. Even if you have no use for it educationally it’s worth playing with.
My wife and I were talking about personal responsibility last night. It was the age-old debate about who to blame for the state of the world. More specifically, the state of children (we are both teachers). We both recognized that there are companies actively marketing products, services, and entertainment to teenagers that is clearly inappropriate for their age. As most of these conversations go, we both agreed that in a free-market based economy, the people still have the power (whether they use it or not). We can always vote with our money and time. Parents have the added burden of keeping tabs on their children and the choice they make. I encountered IMSafer a couple weeks ago and, to be honest with you, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. The site/software monitors chats and notifies you via email if something fishy seems to be going on. I worry about parents who keep such a tight grip on their children that the kids end up more deviant. IMSafer has the potential of being used in an abusive way. I suppose it would depend on how you went about using it. Looking at the product information, the site claims to have talked with law enforcement officials about how inappropriate relationships are initiated and maintained. The monitor can even pick up […]
RSOE HAVARIA Want that certain student motivated and interested in exploring the globe while learning about some interesting current events? This looks like just the right thing to spark some interest in some students I know. A map covering all sorts of unpleasant real time events (natural disasters, disease outbreaks, etc) from the National Association of Radio-Distress Signaling and Info-communications. It’s got a RSS feed and daily downloads for Google Earth. You’ve got lots of options regarding researching certain areas and disasters as well as graphing the data itself. How many disasters occurred in Asia compared to Canada over the last week? That type of thing. Via BoingBoing.net
Geni.com is neat. A great option for dealing with complicated family relationships in history or novels (Richard III for instance). Have your students plot out the family tree and upload pictures all for free in a very easy ajaxy environment. You can move around and zoom in and out to get the big picture. It allows multiple authors so it’s great for group projects and it also has a list view which might be better for some learners. It’s also searchable and you can easily add pictures. The negatives seem to be that you need to have an email address to use it and to invite others in as well. I can’t figure out a way to share a link with non-invited users as of yet either. All in all really cool and I heard about it on Net@Night.
A great idea and great project type for kids. You could do this with any number of fairly dry historical documents and while it would take quite a while the level of comprehension, analysis and retention the creators would get from this project would be incredible. The movie itself makes for a nice resource if you’re covering Communism. via BoingBoing some time ago
From Tobold’s MMORPG Blog: How big is Azeroth? To measure a square mile, you first need to define what a mile is. As “a mile” doesn’t even have the same length on different places on our earth, that isn’t trivial. The basic definition of a mile is coming from Roman times, defining a mile a 1000 double steps of a marching legion. The soldiers had to walk through all of Europe anyway, so you just needed to count their steps and had the place all measured up with few extra effort. Clever guys, these Romans. But on Azeroth “steps” aren’t that easy to count, and the length of legs between the different races varies widely. But interestingly all races move at the same running speed, so it makes sense to define the mile by the time it takes to run it. On earth, a marathon runner has a running speed of about 12 miles per hour. As everybody on Azeroth is a hero, lets just define the Azerothian running speed as 12 mph as well. This effectively defines an Azerothian mile as “the distance you can run in 5 minutes”, without using any speed enhancing items of course. So this guy took the time and expended the effort to do this. Why? Because it interested him. It’s a fairly difficult […]
I’m teaching my students how to post to a blog this week (so far they have only commented). Tom showed me OmniDazzle last spring, which makes guiding my students to specific links or pages unbelievably easy. OmniDazzle has plenty of plug-ins that create highlighted windows, flashlight focal points, and other fun attention-getters at the tip of your pointer. As I was thinking of my first day of working with The Outsiders Blog, I realized I would need to walk them through step by step. “But how will I make sure the kid who doesn’t know how copy and paste keeps up with the class?” I asked myself last night, and followed up with this thought: “If only I could display keystrokes on my screen.” Enter KeyCastr. A simple program that places a small translucent screen on your desktop that displays every key you hit. So, you want to teach someone how to take a screen shot? Start up KeyCastr, take a screenshot, and the keystroke combo is displayed for all to see. I used the OmniDazzle/KeyCastr combo today with amazing success. Both programs are for Mac. Sorry PCers, but if you use something comperable, please share!
Defective Yeti (a very funny blog which has nothing to do with yetis or defects) had the following post- Of course, the problem with cliches is that they are just so darned … you know. Cliche. That’s why I am initiating the Cliche Rotation Project, to replace our current set of cliches with new ones of equivalent meaning. For example: Old & Busted New Hotness Made a mountain out of a molehill Saw a duck and shouted “dragon!” Quiet as a church mouse Silent as a shadow’s whisper Ready and willing On it like a bonnet Wore his heart on his sleeve Flew his feelings from a flagpole I’d love to do that in an English class. It could be done to reinforce the ideas of cliches (and avoiding them). You could use it as way to approach vocabulary (each “New Hottness” cliche has to use one of our vocabulary words). I think it’d even work well with a poetry unit. You could also have them illustrate their cliches. They’d make good journal or story prompts. (Draw three new cliches out of the hat and include them in your story) All in all just a great way to get kids having fun with words and focusing on language. He’s inviting submissions through comments on the post. Why not try your […]