Tuesday, July 1, 2008

News: Kids: Don't #$%@! Try This On Your Exam

I've seen this reported elsewhere, but the AJC has an article about that British kid who got credit for only writing an obscenity on his exam:
It would be wicked to give it zero because it does show some very basic skills we are looking for, like conveying some meaning and some spelling," Buckroyd was quoted as saying. "It's better than someone that doesn't write anything at all."

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Shake Girl, The Graphic Novel

A creative writing class at Stanford got together and created Shake Girl, a graphic novel.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

mental_floss: 10 Questions from an 1895 eighth-grade final exam

mental_floss has posted questions from an 1895 eighth-grade final. I wonder how many of our current students would be able to correctly answer these?
Orthography (Time, one hour)
9. What is meant by the following: alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, and syllabication.

Only three of those words make sense to me...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mental_floss: Punctuation Quiz

ALA Store: READ posters

The American Library Association has celebrity READ posters for sale. Even better: they feature a diverse range of actors, musicians, and athletes. I plan on getting a few when I move into my new classroom next year.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Science News: Music Has Its Own Geometry

From Science News: three music professors have come up with a way to categorize and analyze music from a mathematical point of view.
Writing in the April 18 issue of Science, the trio has outlined a method called "geometrical music theory" that translates the language of musical theory into that of contemporary geometry. They take sequences of notes, like chords, rhythms and scales, and categorize them so they can be grouped into "families." They have found a way to assign mathematical structure to these families, so they can then be represented by points in complex geometrical spaces, much the way "x" and "y" coordinates, in the simpler system of high school algebra, correspond to points on a two-dimensional plane.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

News: Newborn Planet is Youngest Ever Found

National Geographic News has an interesting article about a newly formed planet:
The embryonic planet may only be a few hundred years old, providing a unique look at how planets are made, according to a team of astronomers led by Jane Greaves of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
"We were amazed when we found it," Greaves said, noting that the next youngest confirmed planet is ten million years old.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


3trillion.org allows users to go on a $3 trillion shopping spree. Although it could be viewed as liberal propaganda, students might have a better understanding of the cost of the war after playing on the site.

Mental_floss: 14 Sentences about 14 Shakespeare Comedies

14 Sentences about 14 Shakespeare Comedies features shortened summaries of Shakespeare's comedies, along with a few of the phrases he coined.
The Winter’s Tale – Set it Bohemia, this play features a character named Hermione (see also, Harry Potter), the oracle of Delphi, a magical resurrection, and Shakespeare’s most famous stage direction: “Exit, pursued by a bear.”

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Boing Boing: Dyslexia in alphabetical languages "evaporates" when learning Chinese for some people

via Boing Boing:
People suffering from dyslexia may find that their problems evaporate when they learn a new language, especially one that works with symbols very different from their native one. A study released yesterday reveals that brain abnormalities in English-speakers with dyslexia are quite different from those in people who speak Chinese. So it's very possible that a person who is dyslexic in Chinese wouldn't be in English, and vice versa.

Not necessarily education-related, but interesting nonetheless.

Monday, April 7, 2008

NotCot: Stefanie Posavec "On the Map"

NotCot has a post up about Stefanie Posavec, an artist who created maps representing patterns in literary works for a gallery exhibit entitled "On the Map."
The pieces featured in On the Map focused on Kerouac’s On the Road. The maps visually represent the rhythm and structure of Kerouac’s literary space, creating works that are not only gorgeous from the point of view of graphic design, but also exhibit scientific rigor and precision in their formulation: meticulous scouring the surface of the text, highlighting and noting sentence length, prosody and themes, Posavec’s approach to the text is not unlike that of a surveyor. And similarly, the act is near reverential in its approach and the results are stunning graphical displays of the nature of the subject. The literary organism, rhythm textures and sentence drawings are truly gorgeous pieces.

There are high-res pictures after the article. They're really impressive!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Poetry Archive: Historic Recordings

The Poetry Archive has a collection of historic poetry recordings, including Robert Browning, Roald Dahl, and others.

Thanks to Dana for the link!

PBS: Jazz

PBS has a website dedicated to JAZZ - the music and the Ken Burns film.
Welcome! The resources offered here are designed to help you use the PBS JAZZ video series and companion Web site in music, social studies, math, and language arts classes. JAZZ may be taped off-air and used for up to a year following broadcast, or you may choose to purchase it through Shop PBS for Teachers. The lesson plans may also be adapted for use as stand-alone resources.

Includes lesson ideas and related links.

Thanks to Dana for the link!

ARTSEDGE: Drop Me Off in Harlem

ARTSEDGE (a division of The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts) has a website dedicated to the Harlem Renaissance.
Discover the themes and works that emerged when creative and intellectual voices intersected during the Harlem Renaissance.

Includes an interactive map of Harlem, biographies of prominent figures of the movement, themes and variations, and classroom connections.

Thanks to Dana for the link!

Website: Shakespearean Tragedy Lecture notes

This site has a great lesson on Shakespearean tragedy, including the tragic hero and the tragic pattern within the plays. A great resource for studying Shakespeare and drama in general.

Thanks to Dana for the link!

National Geographic: Salem Witch Hysteria

National Geographic has an interactive Salem witch trial. Excellent for studying (obviously) the Salem witch trials, McCarthyism, The Crucible, etc.

Thanks to Dana for the link!

Monday, March 31, 2008

SocyBerty: 10 Things They Didn't Teach You at School

I actually learned quite a few of these, but SocyBerty has a list of 10 Things They Didn't Teach You at School.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Don't Tase Me, Bro!: 8th Grade Honor Student Removed from Office as Class Vice-President

What does it take for a school to suspend an eighth-grader, bar his attendance from an honors dinner, and strip him of his post as class Vice President? If you guessed drugs, alcohol, or a firearm, think again. A bag of candy is reason enough. This week a Connecticut school levied thse very punishments on an honor student with no history of misconduct, just for buying a bag of Skittles from his classmate. School officials are hiding behind their Wellness Policy--which prohibits bake sales, classroom pizza parties, and the sale of candy--as justification for the harsh disciplinary action.

Via Don't Tase Me, Bro!, a new-ish blog devoted to the state of civil liberties and personal freedom.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

Believe it or not, that subject is actually a complete sentence. mental_floss explains it here. Not terribly educational (who's going to use buffalo as a verb, really?), but could still be interesting for students.

Picture: All the water and air on earth gathered into spheres and compared to Earth

Also via BoingBoing - click on the link to get an idea of how all the water and all the air on earth compares to the size of the planet. Very interesting, and could probably be good for discussion in Science classes.

Free book for high school newspapers

From Cory Doctorow over at BoingBoing:
My next novel, Little Brother, is coming out in about six weeks, on April 29. It's a book for young adults, about freedom, surveillance, and how technology can be used to free you or to lock you up. It's about a gang of hacker/gamer kids in San Francisco who use technology to restore freedom to America, despite the damndest efforts of the Department of Homeland Security to take it away in the name of fighting terrorism.

Since this book is intended for high-school-age kids, my publisher has agreed to send 200 advance review copies of the book to school newspaper reviewers, along with the same press-kit that gets sent to "real" papers like the New York Times and the Washington Post (actually, the school kit has even more stuff -- it also includes a signed personal letter explaining why I wrote this book and why I hope kids will read it).

Sounds like a great opportunity for high schoolers. Unfortunately, I'm student teaching at a middle school. Somebody, please take advantage of this!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Article: Math explains the "beer goggles" effect

Mental_floss has an article about the mathematical equation some UK researchers created to explain "beer goggles.":
The formula can work out a final score, ranging from less than one - where there is no beer goggle effect - to more than 100. A rating between 1 and 50 would mean you’re likely to find someone you’re not attracted to less, shall we say, visually offensive than in other situations. If you’re scoring between 51 and 100, it might be time to call it a night; unappealing people are looking very good to you.

Probably not appropriate for middle or high school students, but still interesting to know nonetheless.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Article: Babies See Pure Color, but Adults Peer Through Prism of Language

Does language affect how we see color? That's what one study suggests, according to this article on Wired.com.
"As an adult, color categorization is influenced by linguistic categories. It differs as the language differs," said Kay, who is renowned for his studies on the ways that different cultures classify colors. He cited recent research on the ability of Russian speakers to detect shades of blue that English speakers classify as a single color.

Could make for interesting discussion in an Art or Language Arts classroom.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Website: pi10k

pi10k is an amazing website that combines music and math:
This experiment attempts to convert the first 10,000 digits of pi into a musical sequence.

Select ten notes, and your corresponding selection translates into an integer. The first not you select will equal "1", the second will equal "2", and so on. As your computer cycles through the digits of pi, the corresponding note will "play."

A great multidisciplinary tool, or a fun way to get students interested in pi.

Article: Math on Display

Science News' article Math on Display: Visualizations of mathematics create remarkable artwork is an interesting look at how some mathematicians use geometry (I think? I'm not that great at math) to make beautiful works of art. Probably a bit advanced for basic math, but students would probably enjoy using patterns, fractals, and tessellations to make art.

Monday, February 18, 2008

BoingBoing: Multi-play Mario game video as Many Worlds quantum tutorial

Probably not something most teachers need to get into, but BoingBoing has an interesting link to another blog that explains quantum events using hacked versions of Mario World. There's even a video!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Author Blog: Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is a great writer for young adults. He frequently posts about the writing process, revising, and any difficulties he encounters with his work. It can be encouraging for students to learn that even a professional writer sometimes has to start over or change the direction of a story, because so many seem to think that they have to get it right the first time.

Website: NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Similar to FAWM, it is a yearly novel-writing challenge. From the site:
What: Writing one 50,000-word novel from scratch in a month's time.

Who: You! We can't do this unless we have some other people trying it as well. Let's write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together.

Why: The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era's most enchanting art forms! To write without having to obsess over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties. To be able to mock real novelists who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work.

When: You can sign up anytime to add your name to the roster and browse the forums. Writing begins November 1. To be added to the official list of winners, you must reach the 50,000-word mark by November 30 at midnight. Once your novel has been verified by our web-based team of robotic word counters, the partying begins.

There's a section for Young Writers, and teachers who sign their classes up for the challenge receive a "Classroom Starter Kit."

Website: BookCrossing

BookCrossing is a community where members register books, then leave them "in the wild" for others to find. They even have a helpful PDF about BookCrossing in the Classroom, to give you ideas.

Website: The Atlas of Fiction

The Atlas of Fiction uses Google Maps to give a visual representation of locations in famous fictional works. It's not comprehensive (there are only about 20 authors to search), and it focuses mainly on the UK and the US, but students may find it interesting. It could also be useful for interdisciplinary units or serve as a starting point/inspiration for class projects.

Website: FAWM

FAWM stands for February Album Writing Month, a yearly songwriting challenge. From the site:
Can you write 14 songs in 28 days? What are you waiting for... inspiration?

"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club." — Jack London

For songwriters, this is the club. FAWM.ORG forges a collaborative community each February, where musicians of all walks and skill levels write an album's worth of material in the shortest month of the year (roughly one tune every other day). So many quality works so quickly is challenging, but healthy and doable, even with a full-time job not related to music. We began in 2004 with a mere four "fawmers," and grew to over 800 hopefuls in 2007. Fawmers are a mix of music professionals, students, homemakers, and folks who work dayjobs but rock nightclubs. It's a great experience for everyone.

It could be good for Musical/Rhythmic students, or for lessons incorporating music and poetry.

Neatorama: The Origin of Everyday Punctuation Marks

The Origin of Everyday Punctuation Marks gives the history of symbols like $, &, #, !, ?, and others. May be a good starting point for an interdisciplinary unit.

Neatorama: 5 Nastiest Presidential Elections in History

The 5 Nastiest Presidential Elections in History shows that scandal and mudslinging are not new political phenomenons.

Website: The Comic Book Periodic Table of Elements

The Comic Book Periodic Table of Elements is a great way to get students interested in chemistry. Each element has a link to comic book pages involving that element, along with an explanation. Even Rhodium gets a mention!

Website: ReadWriteThink

ReadWriteThink, a part of the National Council of Teachers of English website, has lesson plans, web resources, and student materials. For all grades.