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Showing posts from June, 2013

Japanese Sex Scandal... And No Shades of Gray

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One of the steamiest, most widely read novels of love, scandal, sex, and betrayals in world history has nothing to do with shades of any color - not even gray.

In Heian Japan, court society placed a heavy weight on obedience to rules of behavior and class.  People who did not appreciate the value of life, beauty, and education were out of sync with their society.  In the midst of this world, the first ever novel was written - by a woman, for women - about living life in a way that is good while enjoying the pleasures that tempt evil.
The Tale of GenjiYou MUST watch the video at this link to catch a glimpse of the scandal, gossip, romance, and drama that unfolds in the novel.
How could I have ever taught the Heian Period in Japan without having my sex-crazed teenage students read excerpts of this novel?  I've certainly taught them that it existed and that it was read voraciously as an entertaining guide to court life.  But the text itself would undoubtedly hook them with its scanda…

Diving In

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The end of 8th grade is an important milestone.  It's a sign that adolescents are now teenagers, that they are ready to take on a more active role in their own educational experience, and that they have mastered the basic skills of reading, writing, reasoning, and mathematics.  In high school they will refine these skills and start their journey toward adulthood.  But, before they dive into the new challenges and opportunities that high school will offer, they deserve to dive into a few pools this summer.

I truly hope the 8th graders of Walter S. Parker Middle School, the intelligent, funny, and talented young adults I had the pleasure to spend each school day with this past year, will enjoy a well-deserved safe and fun summer.

Here's a short video of their last days in middle school.

#BYOD for Dummies (No, I'm not calling you a dummy)

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Smart phones and mobile devices are a seamless part of our children's lives.  Why shouldn't they be a seamless part of the school day?

I happened to have had lunch and recess duty today with the 8th graders at my middle school.  I brought my iPhone and started snapping pics of a few of the phones and devices that were either on the cafeteria tables or were being used casually by students as they ate.
These kids were doing nothing wrong and I had no reason to be suspicious of them.  Their devices are simply a part of the way they function.  Heck, my iPhone is a part of the way I function, as evidenced by my method of gathering information (taking pictures with my phone) and compiling it for this post (using a collage app called Pic Stitch).
In EdTech, a magazine dedicated to technology integration in K-12, a recent article claimed "Parents Agree Mobile Devices Can Make Learning Fun."  But I think that was only half the story.  Mobile devices should not just be used in…

Vine: A Sign of the Times

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Vine, an app that Twitter dropped on us mere months ago, is a massive success.
It's not clear that Vine is the answer to the social media video problem, but it does appear that the service has solved a number of obstacles inherent to video that have traditionally kept it from mainstream success... The genius with Vine is that you can upload only six seconds of footage.  Six seconds is nothing - more like an animated GIF. And Vine's editing process is stupidly simple. -Eliza Kern, GIGAOM  It is so easy to use and attractive to social media consumers that Vine posts to Twitter outpaced Instagram posts to Twitter last week.
On June 7, four days after Android released a version of Vine, Topsy Analytics, a San Francisco company that gathers and analyzes tweets, reported that the six-second video application had garnered 2.86 million shares on Twitter.  This number of Twitter shares surpassed those of Instagram, which had roughly 2.17 million shares. -Alana Abramson, ABC News Blog  …

Teens Tussle Tech-Style

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The Maya were an impressive people.
They built massive stone pyramids and temples throughout huge cities without the wheel or beasts of burden.They organized and conducted commerce via a complex system of roads throughout their geographical area of the Yucatan Peninsula and beyond. They used terracing, raised crop beds, and slash and burn to grow plentiful crops to feed a growing population in less than ideal agricultural conditions. The created a complex calendar that calculated the 365 day year and used a combination of math, astronomy and science to be more accurate than any civilization on Earth at the same time. They were the first to contemplate and use the concept of "zero" in their system of mathematics. But which achievement is the most remarkable?

Using the Document Based Question information from the DBQ Project and my own knowledge of technology, my students presented their arguments tech-style.

Each class was divided into 5 groups and each group was charged with a…