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  • When I first began to teach online, I bemoaned the loss of the spontaneity of the classroom. Online, I thought, I would never again enjoy the quick report of shots fired in dialogue across desks, in circles of chairs. The LMS, as I knew it, provided no opportunities to decide in the moment to take my class outside, to play hopscotch, to be daring. Courageous teaching took place in and outside of the on-ground classroom; and I worried that online learning would not look like learning at all.

     

    To an extent, it’s true that teaching online—especially in a learning management environment—requires planning so far in advance that a teacher doesn’t often know who her students will be. We are forced to design our class for the ghosts of students, or worse, for stereotypes of students. Designing a class this way is almost entirely about design, and very little about execution, primarily because once the course is designed and students get access, very little can change. The syllabus, which most people see as a contract between student and teacher, prevents improvisation as much as the constraints of design and planning do.

  • The internet has led to a renaissance in mapmaking, with thousands of interactive, illustrated, informational, or just plain silly maps being published on a daily basis. We’ve done a number of other pieces on some of the web’s interesting and weird maps, but there’s thousands more out there, and it can be hard to keep up. So here’s another installment, with 36 new maps we haven’t posted before.

  • The current structure of the school day is obsolete, most would agree. Created during the Industrial Age, the assembly line system we have in place now has little relevance to what we know kids actually need to thrive.

     

    Most of us know this, and yet making room for the huge shift in the system that’s necessary has been difficult, if not impossible because of fear of the unknown, says educator Madeline Levine, author of Teach Your Children Well.

     

    “People don’t like change, especially in times of great uncertainty,” she said. “People naturally go conservative and buckle down and don’t want to try something new. There are schools that are trying to do things differently, and although on the one hand they’re heralded as having terrific vision, they’re still seen as experimental.”

  • Schools around North America are trying to replace traditional report card grids of letters and numbers with descriptive feedback about students' mastery of topics. Rather than a series of cumulative scores in each subject based on a mashup of tests, homework, extra credit and behavior, schools are trying to show how well students understand core concepts -- and involve parents more in the process.

     

    In the education world, it's often called standards-based grading. It's become the norm at most elementary schools, and it's gaining momentum at the secondary level.

  • Good news! It’s easy to grow blueberries in containers on your deck or patio.

      

    That’s a boon for small-space gardeners—and it’s fun to have the berries to pick at the outdoor breakfast table even when you have a blueberry hedge elsewhere in your yard.

      

    Blueberries are at the top of the health-boosting hit parade and they’re popular with all ages. And species! Your dog may “pick” the ripe berries if you don’t watch out.

      

    VARIETIES THAT WILL LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER IN CONTAINERS

      

    Two blueberry varieties stay small and won’t need extensive pruning to thrive in your containers:

      

    *  Northern Highbush ‘Top Hat’ grows best in cool climates (USDA zones 3-7)

      

    *  Southern Highbush ‘Sunshine Blue’ is a surprise to many, as it does well in warm climates (USDA zones 5-10)

  • hy haven’t education reform efforts amounted to much? Because they start with the wrong problem, says John Abbott, director of the 21st Century Learning Initiative.

     

    Because disaffection with the education system reflects a much deeper societal malaise, it’s imperative that we first figure out what kind of world we really want: a world populated by responsible adults who thrive on interdependence and community, or a world of “customers” who feel dependent on products, services, and authority figures, and don’t take full responsibility for their actions? The answer, he says, will point to the changes needed in all three pillars of education — schools, families, and communities.

     

    This is one of Abbott’s primary takeaways from a career spanning more than two decades of teaching in England, followed by three decades at the helm of an international nonprofit (begun in the U.S. but now headquartered in England), whose mission is to promote fresh thinking based on the existing body of research about how children learn. Its findings have been synthesized into policy briefings, reports, and a book, “Overschooled but Undereducated: How the crisis in education is jeopardizing our adolescents.” It has also just published a distillation of its work, called “Battling for the Soul of Education.”

     

    As Abbott sees it, the need for reflection has never been greater. Spurred by technological advances, “civilization is on the cusp of a metamorphosis,” he says, that will lead either to societal collapse and chaos, or to a resurgence of liberty, community, and ethics. Either way, schools are stuck in the past: The emphasis has been on feeding children static information and rewarding them for doing only what they’re told, instead of helping them develop the transferable, higher-order skills they need to become life-long learners and thrive in an uncertain future.

  • The Museum Of Bad Art (MOBA) is the world's only museum dedicated to the collection, preservation, exhibition and celebration of bad art in all its forms.

  • Across the country, many school districts dropped cursive from their curricula years ago. The new Common Core State Standards now being implemented in most states never mention the word “cursive.” Given longhand’s waning popularity, lawmakers in several states, including Tennessee, are now trying to legislate a cursive comeback.

     

    The arguments in favor of cursive usually revolve around heritage or tradition. Some parents want their children to be able to read a letter from Grandma as well as our nation’s founding documents. Some cursive supporters also invoke science, arguing that learning cursive helps young brains grow more than learning basic printing does.

     

    Professor Amy Bastian, a motor neuroscientist at the Kennedy Krieger Institute at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, has dedicated her career to studying how the brain talks to the body. “The more variety of things you do in the fine motor domain, the more variety of hand movements you make, will improve your dexterity,” Bastian says.

     

  • It's easy to see the bad in people: They behave terribly, they're angry, they're dangerous ... on and on. But what if instead of defining students by their worst, we define them by their beautiful, fierce, resilient best?

  • One vintage ad warns women, “Don’t let them call you SKINNY!” while another promises that smoking cigarettes will keep one slender. If the task of morphing their bodies into the current desirable shape isn’t enough of a burden, women are also reminded that they stink.

     

    “You’re stuck at the party with a ripped stocking, and it’ll probably end your marriage.”

     

    In these vintage ads, a woman may be emitting a foul odor from any body part—her armpits, her mouth, her hair, her hands, her lady parts—but she never knows it until her husband is walking out the door, suitcase in hand. And what about her skin? According to such ads, she might drive that man away with her so-called coarse pores, old mouth, tan lines, zits, wrinkles, middle-age skin, hairy legs or lip, visible veins, or horror of all horrors, dishpan hands.

     

  • I’ve seen them; you’ve seen them—those gut-wrenching photos or videos of someone’s precious vintage guitar being crushed in the baggage carousel or launched across the tarmac by a malicious or careless baggage handler.

     

    You’ve argued with airline personnel at the ticket counter about your right to carry your guitar onto the plane, no extra baggage fee required.

     

    You’ve been told you have to buy an extra seat in order to bring your instrument aboard.

     

  • Static curriculum.  Generic learning content.  Strict timetables.  Depersonalized classrooms.  Droning lecturers.  Irrelevant, theoretical assignments.  Ridiculously exorbitant fees.

     

    For most of us, modern traditional education is quite simply a pain in the ass, one that lingers for a very long time (considering the level of debt it incurs).

  • Take a quick break on your NCCE tour to learn some tips and tricks that will put you on the road to success with Google Forms. See how you can go from simple to sizzling in 50 minutes with this easy-to-use tool in the Google Apps suite. Build surveys and quizzes, track important tasks and information, even interact with other Google Apps such as GMail, Drive and Calendar. Whether you're a seasoned veteran or a wide-eyed rookie, Google Forms offer new ways to gather, manage, and share information and you'll be back on the road full of new ideas in no time. 

08 Mar 14

@dogtrax Moved my music to SoundCloud: http://t.co/DWUI5iA4X7 Lots of new tunes...

04 Mar 14

Who says Eskimo? Thoughtful @storify slideshow by @banker_melissa http://t.co/bvEzamF3od

  • Why should digital narratives be limited to text on a page or be constrained by links?

      

    The web is filled with interesting and curious ways of presenting information. What opportunities for storytelling and discourse could this provide? And how should these techniques support the artists and writers that might use them?

     

    StrangeHypertexts.org aims to be a catalyst for the conversation around these questions. We are a loose collaboration of artists, designers, researchers and technical developers, who hope to come together and build strange hypertexts! Our first aim is to create a collection of creative hypertext work out there on the web that goes beyond pages and links, and to index the tools and architectures for producing strange presentations of narrative.

     

    Beyond this we want to establish a community of people who think differently about digital writing, art and music, and to foster connections with technical people who can help them develop their skills and realise their visions.

     

    May the future be Strange!

  • Socrative is a smart student response system that empowers teachers to engage their classrooms through a series of educational exercises and games via smartphones, laptops, and tablets.
24 Feb 14

@jodigirl131 That's really a question for Jane Monahan jmmonahnan(at)http://t.co/D9ZN8nPtwa

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