Thursday, June 30, 2016

Today's Reads, Views, and Links

I am a huge Calvin and Hobbes fan.

Since the author isn't producing any more cartoons, this reinterpretation of Calvin and Hobbes will have to do.


I'm taking three graduate courses this summer to finish taking as many credits as I can according to our pay scale.

The first one, Understanding the Digital Generation, is blowing me away.  This course is like taking College Comp 2.  So many of the texts and authors we read are part of this course: Steven Johnson, Mark Bauerlein, Marc Prensky, and even my favorite, Seth Godin!

Here is a video from the second module that is really intriguing.

Here is an article, Digitalk: A new Literacy for a Digital Generation, that is also part of the second module.  Like the video, this too is quite thought provoking.  We have always known that language is fluid.  In fact, it wasn't until Gutenberg's printing press became standard that our language and spelling also became standard.

Technology, especially social media, is changing that now.  Right before our eyes.  What an amazing time to be alive and to be a teacher!


In my ALC Sci Fi class first summer session, we are exploring one of science fiction's most enduring themes: the dangers of technology.  First we watched The Island.  Then we read Judith Merril's "That Only a Mother."  Now we are watching the classic Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

Not only is T2 one of those rare sequels that surpasses the original, but many of my students haven't seen this before, so they are riveted, just like I was when I first saw it the summer before my senior year (1991).

Here are some of the best scenes that still hold up today.

This is one of James Cameron's best scenes.  Many of us had no idea that Arnold's character, the villain in the first Terminator, was now the good guy.  He throws us off even more by having the real bad guy, the T 2000, in the uniform of a police officer.

This scene was amazing.

This scene is one of the most effective from Terminator 2.  One thing I remember most vividly about the film is just how unrelenting the T 2000 is in his quest to terminator John Conner.  This scene is so intense, you almost need a break after it.


And, of course, who can forget the film's amazing climax.


Given that there are well over 100 published works that attempt to claim that the Holocaust of Nazi Germany didn't actually happen, I think this is an amazing idea.

As Bradbury wrote in Fahrenheit 451: sometimes we really need to be bothered about things . . . so they won't happen again.

Genocide is certainly one of them.


This TED x Talk by Will Richardson is one of my favorites.  I thought of it because of the grad class I'm taking on Diving into Digital: engaging the digital generation.

The authors of the text note that our students today have a "just-in-time" attitude to learning.  Because of their high-speed digital environment, they know they can learn almost anything when they actually need it.

My generation, though, didn't have that luxury.  My teachers had a "Just-in-case" approach to learning.  In other words, I had to learn things - just in case I actually ever needed to use it.

This talk begins with a great example.  Will's daughter - who is taking piano lessons from an instructor - is bored one day and uses her dad's laptop and internet connection to research how to play Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" on the piano.  She finds a Youtube video showing her how it is done and finds a copy of the sheet music on line.

She surprises her father with the song, and he is blown away.  She took initiative to learn a complicated song, which also showed grit, determination, and satisfaction in how proud she was in her own learning and drive.  This illustrates her "Just-in-time" attitude.  She was bored and decided to challenge herself.  She didn't need to know how to play the song until she really wanted to, and, as a result, she learned it on her own in a way that was highly engaging and effective for her.

A week later when her instructor came by for their lesson, Will proudly declared to her instructor that she could play a Journey song.  Her instructor, clearly adopting the "just-in-case" learning mindset said, "She can't do that.  She's not ready for that!"  In the instructor's mind, there were a number of progressions her students had to go through - just in case - they ever really wanted to learn how to play popular music.

This issue is at the heart of why so many students are bored and disengaged in school.

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