Here's a suggestion for high school teachers. Postpone a lesson you had planned for next week and use the time to explore the cacophonous infosphere spawned by the apprehension of the suspects in the Boston bombings. If that media circus tells us anything, it's that we need a lesson in digital hygiene and responsible use.
It's also a good chance for students to hone their close reading skills. The events should be fresh in everyone's mind. Ask students to reflect back on network news and social media coverage of the manhunt using these three critical thinking prompts:
- What did it say?
- How did it say it?
- What's it mean to me?
To kick off the discussion, you might ask students to read James Gleick's powerful New York Magazine piece “Total Noise,” Only Louder. He observes:
The Boston bombings, shootings, car chase, and manhunt found the ecosystem of information in a strange and unstable state: Twitter on the rise, cable TV in disarray, Internet vigilantes bleeding into the FBI’s staggeringly complex (and triumphant) crash program of forensic video analysis. If there ever was a dividing line between cyberspace and what we used to call the “real world,” it vanished last week. … We need to get smarter about the vectors of time and information flow. … It starts to feel as though we’re Pavlov’s dogs—subjects in a vast experiment in operant conditioning. The craving for information leads to behaviors that are alternately rewarded and punished. If instantaneity is what we want, television cannot compete with cyberspace. Nor does the hive mind wait for officialdom. While the FBI watched and tagged and coded thousands of images from surveillance cameras and cell phones, users on Reddit and 4chan went to work, too, marking up photos with yellow arrows and red circles: “1: ALONE 2: BROWN 3: Black backpack 4: Not watching.” Virtually everything these sleuths discovered was wrong. Their best customer was the New York Post, which fronted a giant photo of two “Bag Men”—who, of course, turned out to be a high-school kid and his friend, guilty of nothing but brown skin. If the watchword Wednesday was crowd-source, by Thursday it was witchhunt. Total Noise.
If anyone asks you why you're deviating from your lesson plans, tell them you're getting a head start on Common Core Standards such as:
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.8 Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
Image source / FBI
This morning, Twitter broke the story of the events in Watertown MA. Following the hashtags #Watertown and #MITShooting, I selected a few of the early tweets for a Storify. Twitter scooped the major news organizations, but are we ready to curate our own news?
Our goal was a practical hands-on workshop that fused technology, critical thinking, and strategies for students to be the “historian in the classroom.” We were focused on ways to use iPads for content creation, feedback and reflection. Plus we showcased a variety of other critical thinking digital tools for the classroom – iBooks Author, Haiku Deck, Evernote, nGram Viewer and GapMinder.
I’m prepping for an “iPad in the Classroom” workshop and I thought I’d try Haiku Deck – a free presentation app for the iPad. It’s an impressive and easy to use tool for creating a knock-out presentation on the iPad – a great way for teachers and students to quickly share their ideas with the classroom and the digital world beyond. Here’s a deck I created in a few minutes.
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.
Two years ago, three junior high teachers were thinking about how to better motivate their social studies students. They decided one way to get kids more excited about learning was to get rid of their traditional textbooks. Here’s a guest post on how these teachers teamed with their school and district leadership to create their own textbook.
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
I had a great time recording a podcast with Mark Hofer and David Carpenter for their series Ed Tech Co-Op.
Mark led off by asking me to reflect back on my some of the driving themes in my career. I confessed that as a novice teacher, I mimicked my experience as a high school student and taught primarily via lecture mixed with an occasional “guess what the teacher is thinking” whole-group discussion.
But I recalled an “aha” moment after repeated visits to the art class in the classroom next door. I realized that if the art teacher taught art, the way I taught history, his students would be sitting there watching him paint.
I enjoyed watching the first 2012 Presidential debates. Here’s three word clouds – from President Obama, Governor Romney and debate moderator, Jim Lehrer. Each word cloud represents the 30 most frequently used words, with the frequency represented by font size. For all three, I removed names and titles from consideration. Interesting that “47″ never turned up.
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.