Tech Salad

With Crunchy Bits and Bytes

Month: April 2011

PLEASE Back Up

We are all very excited about the new computer deployment, right? Please make sure you have a RECENT, COMPLETE backup when we collect your machine. Here is a video to make sure nobody has problems. Plug your backup drive to your laptop and follow along with the video.

If you have any problems, please contact Ms. Nichols or myself here at GMS/GHS, or see your Media Specialist at your school.

The World Peace Game

Can fourth grade kids solve the problems of the world? Apparently so.

In this great TED Talk, John Hunter from Albemarle County tells us how he invented the World Peace Game and gives us examples of what he and his students have learned over the years.

Yes, I know Mr. Hunter’s game is not a computer simulation, and it would be very hard for a computer game to achieve what Mr. Hunter has. Still, we can attempt to teach our students critical thinking, collaboration, and global awareness in a smaller scale, within our own time constraints. Take a look at Games For Change and see if you can find something that fits your classroom.

To Be and To Have

Être et avoir (IMDB link) is a French documentary I watched over spring break, and I can’t stop thinking about it. The documentary is not new, and there was some bad publicity that came with success, but I think it is a must-see for teachers.

Over the span of a year, Nicholas Philibert and his crew filmed in and around a one-room school in rural France. The teacher, Georges Lopez, is amazing in his dedication and boundless patience. He does everything, from lesson planning to groundskeeping. He manages all academic and disciplinary issues without ever raising his voice or threatening consequences. He holds the school and all the kids in his hands; it is clear he loves what he does and the kids love him back.

You have to watch till the end to really understand. It starts off slowly, but as you get to know the kids, you are drawn in. And, if you are from Goochland, you will spend the first half of the film rethinking snow days.

Thanks to John Hendron for recommending the film.

A Google a Day

A friend let me know today about a Google a Day, and it is fun! Each day there is a different question, and you can find the answer by searching on Google. Since so many people are playing, Google has created a “wormhole” so users don’t find answers posted by those who have already found them.

What a great warm-up activity, isn’t it? Have the kids race to find the answer, and in the process, practice selecting the most appropriate search terms.

Screen shot 2011-04-12 at 6.40.43 PM

I Am the Ninot!

Today the World Languages department held their annual fair. The Spanish students in Ms. Exum’s class taught us about the celebration of Las Fallas. An important part of this festival is the ninot. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the ninot.

The ninots and their falles are developed according to an agreed upon theme that was, and continues to be a satirical jab at anything or anyone unlucky enough to draw the attention of the critical eyes of the fallers — the celebrants themselves. (…) crews of artists and artisans, sculptors, painters, and many others all spend months producing elaborate constructions, richly absurd paper and wax, wood and styrofoam tableaux towering up to five stories, composed of fanciful figures in outrageous poses arranged in gravity-defying architecture, each produced at the direction of the many individual neighbourhood Casals faller who vie with each to attract the best artists, and then to create the most outrageous monument to their target.

The students selected me as their target. The issue was going to unauthorized websites at school. They were worried I’d be mad. I am flattered to be thought of as a celebrity, kind of.

Here’s my ninot, which has been “pardoned” in the Fallera tradition for being the best one. Instead of burning the ninot, the students presented it to me to be displayed in my office.

ninot 021

The Children’s Machine

A while ago, John Hendron brought me his copy of Seymour Papert’s book, The Children’s Machine. I have heard the book discussed numerous times, know the premise and much of what is discussed in it, but I’ve never read it. I’m trying, but I keep restarting. I can’t get over that first chapter describing how neat the future will be when we have acces to the great “Knowledge Machine” that will give us immediate access to whatever we want to learn.

Children who grow up with the opportunity to explore the jungles and the cities and the deep oceans and ancient myths and outer space will be even less likely than the players of video games to sit quietly through anything even vaguely resembling the elementary-school curriculum as we have known it up to now!

This was written twenty years ago. Wow. Think about that for a moment.

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