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Archive for September, 2009

He’s Back

TMAO, that is, a/k/a Kilian Betlach, Assistant Principal, Elmhurst Community Prep.

It’s awesome to see him back off the bench. If you don’t know why this is a big deal, here is the appreciation I wrote two years ago.

Tom Hoffman, summarizing his gonzo fortnight of investigative blogging, concluding that Common Core’s E/LA standards, adopted by all but Alaska and Texas, are woefully inadequate while overreaching scandalously:

My take on the situation is that as long as all stakeholders, including the states and federal Department of Education can agree that these are not internationally benchmarked English Language Arts standards, but cross-disciplinary literacy standards, and that they should not be seen as supplanting the English Language Arts standards and curriculum, and the various relevant memos and regulations can be updated to reflect that fact, then everything will be ok. Either that or they need to start over and write actual English Language Arts standards. Or we’re just setting the stage for the next crisis in American educational standards, when people suddenly discover circa 2012 that our English Language Arts standards are scandalously lower than our global competitors’.

Essential reading.

Bob Parker Nails It

Bob Parker, in the comments, re the speed of cash transactions vs. credit:

Credit can’t be slower then cash – Visa told me so. They told me I am a social pariah if I pay in cash.

I believe he refers to this ad spot:

Title: How To Save Math Education
Subtitle: (And A Tiny Piece Of The World Along With It)
Time: 10h00 PST
Duration: 60 minutes
Price: Free

It’s an overwrought title, sure, but it’s hard for me to overestimate the damage I did in my first five years teaching. I thought I was building up intellectually adventurous learners who would be patient with problems that didn’t resolve neatly or conform quickly to any of the example problems I’d already coached them through when, point of fact, I was doing the opposite. I don’t have any illusion that five hours of sturdy, problem-based math education each week will counteract the intellectual Novocaine our students consume throughout the other 163, but we can at least do no harm.

The timing of this session is unfortunate as it’s squarely in the middle of the North American school day. It would be nice to see some familiar names on the participant list, though, so if you’re able to attend, please register.

Update: I have embedded the presentation below.

Summer Cinema #2: Paperclip Challenge

Paperclip Challenge from Dan Meyer on Vimeo.

I’ve moved nearly a dozen times since I broke this record in 2004 and the tapes have followed me everywhere: 24 hours of non-stop monotonous paper clipping minus twelve gaps where one of my friends (probably Steve) changed the reels. Five minutes of this footage will make you sorry you ever spoke an unkind word about grass growing or paint drying, which are each several orders of magnitude more exciting than this.

So I compressed those 24 hours into three minutes, which meant transferring the footage from Hi-8 tapes to DV tapes (time cost: 24 hours) and then importing the DV tapes to Final Cut Pro (time cost: 24 hours). There were no shortcuts. The project took weeks.

I have only one creative note worth mentioning here, a footnote to my previous post, Don’t Let Your Students Use Music In Their Video Projects: the soundtrack is entirely ambient noise.

I worry about video teachers who would encourage the student to mute the ambient noise — the chaos, the laughter, the occasional grim silence, all of which is essential documentary detail — and instead apply a thick lacquer of Creative-Commons-licensed pop electronica. Something chosen carefully, no doubt. Something propulsive to match what passes for content here. But I’ll point out, again, that a) controlling ambient noise is its own necessary kind of skill, and b) laying a music track beneath a video track without worrying about how the two tracks play with each other — how the aural ebbs and flows with the visual — will strike certain segments of your audience as, artistically speaking, soulless.

This particular case is easy. If your audio track doesn’t shift gears or climax or do something at exactly one minute and 21 seconds into this video — when the sun rises — you’ve missed the moment and essentially filed for divorce on behalf of your audio and video track, citing irreconcilable differences.

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