Bering land bridge in autumn

September 23, 2013

World and U.S. history classes should be long past this point, but the photo just recently surfaced:

Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, Department of Interior

From America’s Outdoors: Bering Land Bridge National Preserve – Gone are the shockingly bright pinks, yellows and purples of summer, replaced by deeper and darker reds, yellows, greens and the beginnings of brown, all of equal vibrancy and beauty. And soon, as the 34 degree weather and diminishing daylight would lead us to believe, a blanket of white will fall upon the landscape. Enjoy the change of seasons wherever you may be!

Bering Land Bridge National Preserve? Did you even know there was such a thing?  Part of our public lands, your tax dollars at work.

Not a place for a Sunday drive.  There are no roads to get to the place.  For students, this site offers a lot of photos and interesting stuff for projects in history (human migrations) and geography (land forms, lava flows, migration routes, wilderness).

More:

Tors of Serpentine, in the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, Alaska - NPS photo

Tors of Serpentine, in the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, Alaska – NPS photo


WWII veterans tell their stories – Central Florida WWII Museum

November 1, 2010

Part of the Veterans History Project, a museum in Florida interviews World War II veterans, and much of the material shows up on YouTube.

These interviews offer great resources for student projects, and are simply a grand way to capture history.

See this story about “Flying the Hump,” transporting war materiel over the Himalayas into China; it’s an interview with E. W. “Bill” Cutler, one of the fliers who survived:

This interview caught my attention for a personal reason.  My uncle, Bruce Davis, died flying the route.  His aircraft and remains were recovered more than 30 years later — someone stumbled on the wreckage accidentally.  When an aircraft went down for any reason (usually weather), the crews passed into a limbo that comprised a special hell for their families.  It was almost impossible that anyone would survive, as Cutler details.  But, with no wreckage and no remains, there were always questions.

Update: Brother Dwight informed me his father-in-law served at the last base before the airplanes went over the mountains.  We have more family Himalayan connections than I knew.

This interview has a mere 152 views as of this posting — pass it around, let’s bump the viewing total up, and get the story out.  At YouTube, the Central Florida WWII Museum has its own channel, listing several similar interviews.

I could see each student assigned to one interview, to tell the story of the interview to the class, to research the background of the theatre of war discussed, the battle, the incident, the armaments, the nations and people involved — to make a history narrative out of the interview, in other words.    What other uses do you see?

Here’s the rest of the story:  The museum has not yet been built.  This project, the video interviews, is a place-holder, a way to communicate while raising the money to build an edifice to honor the veterans more appropriately.  It’s a virtual museum — one your students may browse from the classroom.  How cool is that?


Texas poet: Edit out all the unwanted words . . . newspaper blackout

September 19, 2010

Great story about a Texas poet, Austin Kleon — and wouldn’t this be an interesting project for poetry study?  The method is called “newspaper blackout” in the story; a new genre of poetry?

From PBS’s Newshour, September 14, 2010 (transcript here):

I am reminded of the story of the sculptor who, when asked how he made such wonderful statues, said he merely chipped away from the stone everything that wasn’t the sculpture he wanted.  Who was that?

PBS Newshour provides the best coverage of literature and poetry of any major television news operation, another good reason to keep PBS well-funded.


Compare and Contrast assignment: Martin Luther King, Jr., and Glenn Beck

August 29, 2010

From The Other 98%:

MLK's and Glenn Beck's achievements compared - from The Other 98%

Which one would you choose to follow? Which one would you choose to emulate?

Teachers, don’t you wish a student would turn in something like this from time to time?

Tip of the old scrub brush to Earthaid3.


Watch my presentation or I’ll shoot this dog . . .

May 20, 2010

National Lampoon once ran a cover of a nice, spotted mutt, tongue out, looking sideways at a pistol pointing at its head.  There was a sort of a caption:  “If you don’t buy this magazine, we’ll kill this dog.”

That’s one way to try to boost circulation!  I first saw the magazine on the rack in a small pharmacy in Colorado Springs, across the street from Colorado College, between rounds of the Colorado College Invitational Debate Tournament.  Being short of cash and in sore need of eye drops, I looked at the magazine but put it back on the rack.  The woman at the cash register watched me carefully.  When I got to the register, she said, “You know, they’ll do it, too!  They’re just the sort of people who will kill that poor dog!”

(I imagine that woman has led Colorado Springs’ dramatic move to the right in politics.)

The publishers got that woman’s attention, didn’t they?

Cartoon by Mark Goetz, on the failure to heed Edward Tufte

Comes an article in The Scientist, “Pimp your PowerPoint.” It’s a news story based on a book by Michael Alley.

In the middle of the 19th century blackboards were all the rage. According to Pennsylvania State University engineering communication professor Michael Alley, it was common for universities and research institutions to proudly advertise that they had the only slate writing board in a 100-mile radius. Scientific lectures became more engaging than they’d ever been.

More than 150 years later, there’s still room for improvement. “People are not anywhere close to tapping the potential that a PowerPoint presentation offers,” Alley says. “We have a tool that can do an incredible amount, and people just waste it.” Who hasn’t been lulled into a somnolent state by some well-intentioned scientist presenting his research to a captive audience by reading a seemingly endless stream of bullet points?

Any media, done well, can be wonderful.  P. Z. Myers’ paean to Prof. Snider and his color chalk artworks reminds us that even a chalkboard can be a place of art, in the eye and hands of someone who gives thought to the work and practices the skills necessary to communicate well.  Looking around my classroom today, I note that better than half the whiteboard space features paper maps held to the board with magnets (which the kids like to steal).

Sometimes a flipchart is all you have, and sometimes a flipchart is all you really need — again, with thought to the ideas to be presented and a bit of polishing of the skills.

The piece in The Scientist relates useful ideas to help somebody who wants to make a better, less sleep-inducing, communicative PowerPoint (or better, maybe, KeyNote) presentation.

Unplug, think, and write
According to Galloway, using PowerPoint to make a great presentation starts with powering down the laptops and writing out an outline on index cards or a legal pad. “People have to shut off their computer and go away as they’re writing their PowerPoint presentation,” he says.

Establish your assertion
Alley says that he starts planning each slide by writing down a single sentence stating the idea he wants the audience to take away. “You have defined what it is you need to support that statement,” he says. “That’s where it starts.” Alley adds that the sentence should only take one or two lines, should consist of only 8–14 words, and should appear in 28-point font when inserted in the final PowerPoint presentation.

Assemble the visual evidence
Let the assertion sentence for each slide guide your decision as to which visuals should accompany it. Use “explanatory images”—not decorative or descriptive images—to support each assertion, says Joanna Garner, assistant professor of psychology at Pennsylvania State University. When describing the context or methods of your research, photos and movies are ideal pieces of evidence; when presenting your results, elements like graphs, tables, or charts (appropriately highlighted to emphasize key points) will do the trick.

Read more: Pimp your PowerPoint – The Scientist – Magazine of the Life Sciences http://www.the-scientist.com/templates/trackable/display/article1.jsp?type=article&o_url=article/display/57186&id=57186#ixzz0oSXiXCT6

Two things you gotta have first:  Something to say, and a desire to say it well.

Resources:

The Craft of Scientific Presentations: Critical Steps to Succeed and Critical Errors to Avoid, by Michael Alley, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 2003. $39.95.

Presentation Zen Design: Simple Design Principles and Techniques to Enhance Your Presentations, by Garr Reynolds, New Riders Publishing, 2010. $31.49.

slide:ology, by Nancy Duarte, O’Reilly Media, Sebastopol, Calif., 2008. $34.99. (She’s got a blog, too.)

The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, by Edward Tufte, Graphics Press, Cheshire, Conn., 1983. $40.00.


Look at the past: A class project?

January 30, 2010

Look at this stuff, at Pillar Post.  Could your students do something like this for your town?

image by Bu Yourself, at Pillar Post

image by Bu Yourself, at Pillar Post

Students would have to find the old photos at the library, or at your local historical association or museum.  Most of your students already have the electronic photo equipment though . . .

Just an idea.

Resources, and more:


Bill of Rights Institute cosponsors prize for National History Day

January 21, 2010

I get e-mail:

THE BILL OF RIGHTS INSTITUTE SPONSORS NATIONAL HISTORY DAY PRIZE
Students nationwide can compete for the Constitutional Rights in History prize

The Bill of Rights Institute announced their collaboration with National History Day (NHD) today. The Institute is sponsoring the Constitutional Rights in History prize, awarded to an outstanding entry in any category from both the senior and junior divisions which documents and analyzes how individuals have exercised their constitutional rights throughout American history.

The 2010 theme for National History Day is “Innovation In History: Impact and Change.” Students must demonstrate through their project how their chosen individual’s actions had an impact on history.

Each year more than half a million students, encouraged by thousands of teachers nationwide, participate in the NHD contest. Students choose historical topics related to a theme and conduct extensive primary and secondary research through libraries, archives, museums, oral history interviews and historic sites. The Bill of Rights Institute’s prize will be awarded at the National Finals held in June 2010 in College Park, Maryland.

For more information about History Day, go to http://www.nationalhistoryday.org/.

© 2010 Bill of Rights Institute
200 North Glebe Road, Ste 200
Arlington, VA 22203


Sources: Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, and Trial

November 28, 2009

More than just as tribute to the victims, more than just a disaster story, the Triangle Shirtwaist Co. fire, and the following events including the trial of the company owners, lay out issues students can see clearly.  I think the event is extremely well documented and adapted for student projects.  In general classroom use, however, the event lays a foundation for student understanding.

A couple of good websites crossed my browser recently, and I hope you know of them.

Cartoon about 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, New York Evening Journal, March 31

1911 cartoon from a New York paper shows the owners dressed in dollar bills, holding shut the door that barred the safe exit of so many women during the fire. Courtesy UMKC Famous Trials site; New York Evening Journal, March 31, 1911

Events around the fire illuminate so much of American history, and of government (which Texas students take in their senior year):

  • Labor issues are obvious to us; the incident provides a dramatic backdrop for the explanation of what unions sought, why workers joined unions, and a sterling example of a company’s clumsy and destructive resistance to resolving the workers’ issues.
  • How many Progressive Era principles were advanced as a result of the aftermath of the fire, and the trial?
  • Effective municipal government, responsive to voters and public opinion, can be discerned in the actions of the City of New York in new fire codes, and action of other governments is clear in the changes to labor laws that resulted.
  • The case provides a dramatic introduction to the workings and, sometimes, misfirings of the justice system.
  • With the writings from the Cornell site, students can climb into the events and put themselves on the site, in the courtroom, and in the minds of the people involved.
  • Newspaper clippings from the period demonstrate the lurid nature of stories, used to sell newspapers — a working example of yellow journalism.
  • Newspapers also provide a glimpse into the workings of the Muckrakers, in the editorial calls for reform.
  • Overall, the stories, the photos, the cartoons, demonstrate the workings of the mass culture mechanisms of the time.

Use the sites in good education, and good health.


Gilded Age project

October 27, 2009

I really like this project, and I wish I’d come across it about a month ago:

The Gilded Age Class Documentary Project

The Gilded Age – Class Documentary Project

Instructors:  Rachel Duffy, Marc Ducharme

May, 2005

Adapted from:  The Gilded Age WebQuest – Documenting Industrialization in America

By: Thomas Caswell and Joshua DeLorenzo

What do you think?


Quick assist for students doing papers on climate change

October 14, 2009

So, you’re a student doing a paper on climate change, and you need help limiting the topic, or finding information about related topics.

Hot Topic has just the thing:  Interactive “debate maps.

Hot Topic is a website dedicated to the issue climate change in New Zealand — after the book by the same name.

Does anyone know where similar maps might exist for other social studies topics?


I’d give the kid a good grade, I think

July 22, 2009

Can any teacher recognize genius in the classroom?  Especially when I taught in alternative programs, I was frequently astounded by the great work students did that was just enough off the mark of the assignment that it might have gotten a zero were it not so brilliant, and had I not had a few extra minutes to grade (thanks to smaller classes).

Wee Mousie’s Cinema Burlesque — what do you do with stuff like that?

This is the stuff Creative Commons is made for, by the way.


National History Day film on DDT

March 8, 2009

Student production from 2008:

The film’s credits say it was done by Michael Seltzer — it’s rather obviously a student production, but there is also a Dr. Michael Seltzer active in environmental protection.  Are they related?

Best I can tell is that this documentary didn’t win any national awards If the non-winners are this good, I wonder what the winners look like?

Why aren’t all the winners posted on the website of the National History Day organization, or on YouTube?


Mapping Africa

February 25, 2009

Here’s a great tool for geography study of Africa.

AfricaMap is based on the Harvard University Geospatial Infrastructure (HUG) platform, and was developed by the Center for Geographic Analysis to make spatial data on Africa easier for researchers to discover and explore.

Harvards Africa Map, sample image, via Google Maps Mania

Harvard's Africa Map, sample image, via Google Maps Mania

It’s an interactive tool.  You can capture images (another add-on might be necessary) — but look at all the different layers you can use, live, on your computer.

Good source for student projects, no?

Tip of the old scrub brush to Google Maps Mania.


Economics: Tracking layoffs

January 28, 2009

Economics students doing reports or projects on employment or unemployment rates?

Need something depressing?

Check out Layoff Daily.

Let’s hope they run out of news, very, very soon.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Californian in Texas.


Typewriter of the moment: Sheryl Oring, and “the next president”

December 14, 2008

Sheryl Oring at her typewriter, collecting messages from Americans to the next president.

Sheryl Oring at her typewriter, collecting messages from Americans "to the next president."

Remember Sheryl Oring?  In the spring of 2008 she was wandering the nation with her typewriter and portable table in tow, typing out postcards to “the next president” from people she found in public spaces willing to share their hopes for the next presidential administration.

Five weeks away from the inauguration of Barack Obama, I wonder what Oring’s postcards could tell us?  Where is she now?

Check out her website, I Wish to Say.  Maybe your classroom could support a similar project from your students.  What do these cards tell us about Americans?  What do they tell us about our electoral process?  What do they tell us about our hopes and fears?  DBQ, anyone?

One of several thousand postcards from Americans, collected by Sheryl Oring (and typed by her) to send to the next president -- who we now know will be Barack Obama.

Two of several hundred postcards from Americans, collected by Sheryl Oring (and typed by her) to send to "the next president" -- who we now know will be Barack Obama.

Many of the postcards will be on display through January 25, 2009, at the McCormick Foundation‘s Freedom Museum in Chicago.  Admission is free.

In comments, tell us what you would have told Oring to put on a postcard from you.

Resources:


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