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Honda’s Musical Road

The Santa Monica ad agency RPA cut half-inch grooves into a quarter-mile stretch of Avenue K, in the exurban L.A. desert city of Lancaster. The grooves were synched in such a way that driving over them at precisely 55mph caused Rossini’s “William Tell Overture” — a.k.a. the Lone Ranger theme — to echo in the air around you. –VSL So how cool would this be for physics, science and math? Lots of concepts to explore in a simple entertaining little Youtube clip. Wonder what it’d take to make your own version? Not necessarily with a real car- maybe a remote controlled model?

Passive Aggressive Learning and Other Drivel

These things are less techy and more inspired by pop culture once again but I thought they were worth remembering. Scion Crest Generator – While the choices aren’t unlimited, this nice flash interface will help you make a lot of different crests. The real power would be in requiring logic for the various choices and in that way the restrictions almost work for you- less time in building and more time spent on why your choices make sense. You could do this with just about any character or historical figure. The really nice thing is the image sizes are really good- up to 2048×1536 so you could print them out and do other things with them or just use them as a starting point in Photoshop or some other image editor. For instance, I made the crest above for this blog. The wrenches on the left to represent the DIY ethic of much of the stuff I like. The circuit board patter on the right to represent the technology. Then the broadcasting icon represented RSS to me and the fire is for igniting a passion for learning. The wolf is because I like to bite people. I just liked the wolf, a little gritty and banged up from the real world. Corny, I know, but you get the idea. It’d […]

Pop Culture and Education Omnibus

A few odd educational goodies from today’s RSS soup. I lay them out here for your dining pleasure. Mental Floss serves up Monte Python clips referencing all sorts of classic literature. References include- Proust, Wordsworth, Shakespeare, Dickens and others. A great way to start of a class or provide a little levity when things are rough reading. They’re linked through on YouTube for your use but if that’s blocked don’t forget about Vixy.net to download them. Boston.com’s “How to Nap” infographic would be a great way to re-think a project or report. Check out just how much information is crammed in there. You want some deep processing? Get your students creating something this dense in a way that’s visually pleasing and doesn’t feel oppressive. The Pi Crop Circle via the Uri’s Eso Garden Blog makes for some really interesting math related conversations and possible activities. Give them the image and tell them it is a code for pi and see who can figure it out. You could make one about pi or any other significant number or date. There would be lots of hands on measurement (angles, lines etc.) and thought involved (use chalk on the parking lot if you’re fresh out of local barley fields or maybe you’ve got a local field of tall grass).

BattleDecks- Presentation Ninjitsu

I found these beautiful notes from SXSW via Boing Boing where I saw Battledecks which led to this summary. credit Mike Rohde Powerpoint meets Karaoke in this battle of wits. Watch your favorite speakers craft an off-the-cuff presentation using slides they’ve never seen before. Eight competitors will have five minutes to complete their presentation. Three judges will score the participants based on their use of jargon, gesturing and credibility. Who will take home the trophy and who will totally choke? Come see for yourself! Two things came to mind for me. 1. Battledecks with your class. You set up a serious of slides that deal with your topic. Divide the class into groups and give out the deck. They’ve got X minutes to come up with the content to match the slides. Points are awarded for relevancy, creativity/entertainment, jargon etc. For English, this could get really creative. It’d be an awesome way to do work with vocabulary words or story structure. They could pitch a story Hollywood style using as many vocabulary words as possible while working the story through the basic steps (rising action, etc). You could add difficulty by forcing genres on the students (nice way to review those elements as well). Now, this won’t work at all if you’re giving them traditional bullet point slide decks to […]

15

More Limited Communication Purity

Apparently, I really like the idea cutting down communication to it’s purest form. (that’s really pompous sounding)- I like short writing. I like the idea that you have to pack as much as possible in just a few words. Boing Boing has come through again by finding a book dealing with 6 word memoirs by a variety of writers. My two favorites are below. Yes, you can edit my biography. — Jimmy Wales Must remember: people, gadgets. That order. — Brian Lam I might simplify the idea for students and make them obituaries- it also avoids any of their work getting sucked into the Oprah memoir furor (nothing worse than having to apologize to Oprah on national TV). Give them bonus points for working in vocabulary words etc. Here a more academic example that I took a shot at (I listened to this Tesla podcast recently- interesting stuff). Eccentric Serb electrifies science. Dies poor. — Nikolai Tesla I guess it all boils down to- well, boiling things down. There’s a lot of processing and thinking that goes into trying to sum up a life or period in just a few words. In the end it’ll help everyone. Have them vote on the best sentence. Post them individually in a blog and install the star rating plugin. Make your life painless […]

Rome Built in a Day (Serious Fun)

The Machine Project, a gallery in LA, hosted the “24 Hour Roman Reconstruction Project” last month. The group had a ton of cardboard and “building supplies”, did some research to figure out the layout of the city and pulled together all the images they could for modeling the buildings, put together a building schedule, and went to town. The results are inspiring. Imagine your class reconstructing a great city of civilization past, a series of chemical compounds, or some other seemingly insurmountable task that requires little skill, a good chunk of knowledge, and a great amount of energy and enthusiasm. BoingBoingTV Video Project Description monkyatomc’s flickr set (photo credit) selfconstruct’s flickr set

Meet the World – Information and Graphics

Grand Reportagem magazine (can’t find a link- it’s from Portugal) has an interesting series of info graphics (you can see them here) that illustrating fairly disturbing facts about countries- using the flags of the countries. Interesting idea- using symbols of pride to criticize/inform. You could also do something similar with many logos (companies, sports, universities). If you wanted to go fairly abstract there’s also book/video/cd covers or even caricatures. Here a quick mock up with an old Apple logo- Stat Source – please excuse gross visual misrepresentation of the stats but I don’t have the time/willingness to actually work it out. This would make a really interesting co-curricular project between a math and history/sociology type of class (throw in art as well if you’d like). The math required to calculate the proper area to factually represent the statistics would be fairly decent (especially with more complex shapes and area calculations) and figuring out which statistics about the country/company/person to contrast would require quite a bit of research and processing. I think it’s hook a number of students and in the end you’re teaching them far more than stats or facts. You’re teaching them how to think and how to convey that thinking in a way that’s visually compelling. All the great ideas in the world mean nothing if you can’t […]

The Cat In The Hat Experiment- A Literary Remix

The Litlab: J. Robert Lennon: The Cat Text I have to say one thing here: it is not fun to be with me. I like books and things. Tame: that is I. I get no kicks, fly no kites, play no games. Hops and pot are not my things. If you are here, I want you to go away. So what should this dish, this fox want out of me? I sat and picked at the fish and looked at those hands, so white. J. Robert Lennon has created a whole alternate story using just words from The Cat In The Hat. This would be a great English lesson. You could remix other things as well- AP news articles, poems, song lyrics etc. It’d be fun to have students use each other’s work. Jill would remix Dre’s paper and they’d talk about the different choices they made. That type of thing. The creativity comes out as a result of the restrictions. from Kottke.org photo credit chinkychongka

19

Using Wikipedia and EVIL to Further Education

So a really smart guy, Virgil Griffith, came up with a way to scan the anonymous edits to Wikipedia articles and tie the IP addresses of various companies and government entities etc. to those edits. He then built a searchable database using the information so you can search by companies, locations or page titles. Wired even has a digg style “best of” list of edits. That’s all relatively old news but it does open some interesting writing and history options for teachers. You could assign different novel or historical characters and then the student’s goal is to figure out which article they’d edit/create and why. You could go as far as having the students do the writing/editing as the character (on their own wiki or document of course). Give everyone the same entry and then see who can make the greatest change in message with the least number of changes. The history version would be to create an entry on a historical even that is entirely factual but slants things entirely towards one side of the conflict. That’d be a great way to show how much things can be slanted while still being “just the facts.” It opens up all sorts of civics options depending on the topics you’re focusing on. You’d discuss motivations and the edits made. The fact […]

WordPress Tutorial

This WordPress tutorial is aimed at teachers (or anyone else) who is just starting out with some server space and Fantastico support. It covers a lot of the basic installation questions and gets into how to add themes and plugins to the blog. Most everything is done in video format. I made it for our ITRTs who are mainly using LunarPages for their server space. It also covers the basic blog usage questions regarding activating plugins, changing themes and doing all the other normal stuff. We also get into some of the settings we use to make sure comments are moderated etc. There are also some tutorial on what plugins etc. I used to create different projects (like the Byrd Books audio blog) It’s a solid intro into the world of assisted WordPress installation and administration.