Sadly, the world lost David Foster Wallace, in 2008. Fortunately, his writings live on. Recently his thoughtful 2005 Kenyon College commencement address was given new life in "This is Water" a video by The Glossary.
Wallace concludes: It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over. This is water.
Read his full address here. Listen to his full address here.
CCSS offers an incentive for teachers to use historic documents to build literacy skills in a content area while empowering students to be the historian in the classroom. But document-based (DBQ) instruction in this context requires four key elements to be successful:
1. The right documents.
2. Knowing how to look at them.
3. Letting students discover their own patterns, then ask students to describe, compare and defend what they found.
4. Basing the task on enduring questions, the kind that students might actually want to answer.
My new multi-touch iBook – “Workers Win the War: Toil and Sacrifice on the US Homefront” – embodies that approach. Here’s how.
Here’s a TEDx video – The Future Will Not Be Multiple Choice – that showcases the power of a PBL / design-based approach to learning. While you watch it, try to think of a meaningful career that looks like filling out a worksheet.
With the 2013 inauguration nearly upon us, it’s interesting to look at the Official Souvenir program of President McKinley’s inauguration in 1901. Especially interesting is the two-page prediction of the Presidential Inauguration of 2001. The unnamed writer was caught up in visions of Manifest Destiny and technology – mechanical bands, a president from the state of Ontario, a flying parade of aerialautos, altering the flow of the Gulf Stream to effect climate chance, and an expanded US with 118 states and 91 territories extending into South America. Quite a contrast to the program ad claiming to provide “Fresh Air – No Cinders! No Smoke!” for rail cars of 1901. Here are some excerpts from the program
Publishing is an effective tool for getting students engaged and writing. The new book, Publishing with PowerPoint, walks the reader through a process of self-publishing that can be used in any classroom. PowerPoint is an effective book design software – it’s already on your computer and everyone know how to use it. Students find it easy to use PowerPoint templates and position a wide range of text and images on a PPT slide. Powerpoint slides can be quickly grouped and rearranged into book pages. Finally, converting PowerPoint slides into pdfs for publishing can be done with the “Save As” function. The teacher with a limited budget can print just one copy for the classroom. Parents can order their own copies online.
There’s a great new free iBook that I highly recommend as a source for project based learning and team building activities for middle school students through adults. “Innovation Challenges – Mind Workouts for Teams” is available – free at iTunes.
It tells the story of a great program at Saint Louis University, designed to promote creativity, innovation, and the entrepreneurial mindset through novel challenges. The book is a detailed how to for 22 challenges – team supplies, facilitator supplies, tips, learning outcomes and variations. It’s a treasure trove lavishly illustrated with photos and videos. Challenges run the gamut from STEM to marketing and sustainability. The iBook also details how to replicate the competition at your institution.
This clever and fast-paced 6-minute animation provides insights into how teenagers learn. An “insider’s guide” to the teenage brain, it answers the question – “If you were a teenage speaker brought in to address a crowd of teachers on the subject of how you and your peers learn best . . . what would you say?”
Done in hand-drawn whiteboard / voiceover format it sets out eight essentials for learning, including my favorite – reflection. Share it with your students and see if they concur or use it as a discussion starter for your next faculty meeting.
Too often teachers give students a Venn Diagram and ask them to compare. What looks like analysis on the surface is often no more than re-filling information from the source material into the Venn. Summarizing and comparisons are powerful ways to build content knowledge and critical thinking. But if students are going to master CCSS skills they need to design the model, find a way to express it to others, and have the opportunity self reflect on their product and feedback from peers. Here’s how to teach analyzing.
I will demonstrate how to meet these four keys to teaching analysis with FlipNLearn, a foldable that students design, print and share. It’s an innovative learning tool that students design on a computer, then print on special pre-formatted paper. FlipNLearn is a great way to give students a manageable design challenge that promotes teamwork, self-assessment and reflection. In 30 minutes, or less, they can produce tangible product that blends the best of PBL and CCSS skills in communication.
For years progressive educators have known the textbook was dead. Apple’s latest iPad Mini / iBooks Author event (October 23, 2012) suggests we are closing in on the tipping point that should hasten its demise. I’ll let others focus on the viability of the iPad as a textbook replacement in this era of shrinking budgets. Instead I’ll focus on three reasons why teaming iBooks Author (iBA) with the iPad can turn students from passive consumers of information, into active researchers, thinkers, designers and writers.
My iBook Why We Fight: WWII and the Art of Public Persuasion is now available at iBookstore. Designed as multi-touch student text, it focuses on the American response to WWII – especially the very active role played by government in shaping American behavior and attitudes.
It features 13 videos including rarely seen cartoons like “Herr Meets Hare” (1945) starring Bugs Bunny, government films “What To Do in a Gas Attack” (1943) and Hollywood wartime flicks like the “Spy Smasher” cliff hanger series (1942).
View naval deck logs detailing the attack on Pearl Harbor. Listen to FDR’s “Day of Infamy” speech while you read his handwritten notes on the first draft of the speech. Listen to man-in-the-street interviews recorded the day after the Pearl Harbor attack. Swipe through an interactive timeline map detailing early Axis victories of the war. Use an interactive guide to interpret over 40 wartime posters. Students can use an iPad-friendly historic document guide to analyze all the documents and share their observations with peers and teachers.
I am proud of my life-long career in public education - especially the 25 years I spent as a teacher. For over 20 years, I have worked with school districts, state DOEs, leading educational organizations and companies to improve the quality of teaching and learning. I provide training and consulting services across the United States and internationally.
Free DBQ iBook: Close Reading Plus Essential Question
Critique and Evaluate PRIMARY SOURCES / Guiding CCSS PROMPTS
Analyze Propaganda: Think Critically About Persuasive Multi-Media Sources