Monday, May 28, 2012

The simple brilliance...

I don't even know where to start. 

In the research science world, it is not uncommon to write articles, even whole books, that the authors fully expect maybe 30 people to read.  My seniors' research papers on capital punishment were read by more people than that.  They do it because it's important to increase the body of human knowledge.  And who knows?  It may turn out that your obsessive attention to mating strategies in prarie grass will be the thing that saves the earth from extinction; it's been the premise of many an action flick.

The Ig Nobel awards are given to scientists who make people laugh, then make people think.  In a world with titles that stretch on forever, giving precise summaries of the article to the few people who can understand them, it's easy to forget that the profound can also be funny. 

This is all a run-up to the most useful piece of self-improvement advice I've seen since Gimli's "Breathe" speech from Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.  The 2011 Ig Nobel award for Literature went to John Perry of Stanford University on his article, "How to procrastinate and still get things done."  (Chronicle of Higher Education 1996). In it, he lays out the principles of structured procrastination.  The key tenent of this idea, and the life-changing (or possibly life-reaffirming) concept, is simple: "the procrastinator can be motivated to do difficult, timely, and important tasks, as long as these tasks are a way of not doing something more important."

With nothing further to add, I will leave you to comtemplate the wisdom, as I go search for something less important to do.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Rome wasn't built in a day

So...this looks awesome.

"ORBIS is Stanford University's Geospatial Network Model of the Roman Empire."  It will help students understand the geography of the Roman Empire better than the Romans did.

h/t Free Technology for Teachers.  

Sunday, May 20, 2012

New dream

To drive the 30,000 miles on the Pan-American Highway, from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to Ushuaia, Argentina, or possibly in the other direction.

By dream, of course, I mean "thing I will never do, even if given the opportunity.  Because if given that opportunity, I will have much better opportunities available to me."

Thursday, May 17, 2012

An easier way of getting voice mails?

So I'd like to have my students do more one-way speaking.  In fact, that's one of my major pushes for tech development in my classroom.  Students have all of these cell phones and whatnot; can't I use them to have students leave me messages?

There are a variety of tools available, but for a variety of reasons, all of them are clunkier than I would like.  Maybe SpeakPipe is the answer.  One embeds the app into one's blog, and hey presto, one is collecting voice mails from people who visit the blog.

It doesn't look like it would work like a voice mail box, like I was thinking at the beginning of this post.  (Ah, I was so young and foolish then!)  But a computer with a mic would allow a student to leave a message.  Hmm...Now all I need is more mics.  As always.

h/t Free Tech for Teachers.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

I should be a game designer

Well, I shouldn't: as Carrie says, "You have no follow-through."  But the power of games to teach us complicated concepts, critical thinking skills, and cost-benefit analysis, to name three things, is amazing.  Check this out:

She designed a game to teach her mixed-heritage daughter about the slave trade.  And that's just the beginning.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

On change

I don't have the same job my teachers did.  Maybe I have the job they were supposed to have; I don't know.

I don't have the job I thought I would have when I finished my teaching internship and graduated from college, and I didn't have the same job leaving my internship that I had going into it.

I certainly don't have the job my university trained me for.  I don't know what to make of that fact.

I don't have the same job I had when I started this job.  I'm coming up on the end of my sixth year.  Every year still feels like the first year, because every year it's a different job.  Some of the work from previous years, I did well, and I can keep it.  But not as much as I thought at the time.

This isn't the job I signed up for.

It's much, much harder.  And much, MUCH better.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


A timesuck is an activity which I (and I suspect others) spend inordinate amounts of time unconsciously or semi-consciously doing, in spite of myself.  They're the little things that keep me from getting more tests graded, from getting enough sleep at night, from redesigning tomorrow's lesson plan, this time with added differentiation.  I list a few of them here in the hope that seeing them written down will make me more aware of them, and better able to ignore them when I need to.

*Reading just one more blog about educational technology
*Looking up acquaintances on Facebook
*Looking up acquaintances on Facebook whom I then don't friend
*Finding out more about the TV show I'm watching and the actors in it using IMDB
*Getting just a little bit further in whichever video game I'm playing on my iPad
*Vocabulary PowerPoint presentations--it seems I'm forever making vocabulary PowerPoint presentations, half of which I never use, because there are better ways to present the vocabulary than PowerPoint
*Researching fascinating, but not exceptionally relevant, bits of history trivia (Y'know why a space shuttle's solid rocket boosters are the size that they are?
*Writing reflective, self-deprecating lists on Blogger

Jeesh.  No wonder I never have any time.  I'm BUSY!