Tuesday, May 21, 2024

summer

Greetings Starfighters,

I’ve just spent the morning with a wonderful group of educators. For the first part of the day, I talked with two different groups about making small shifts in our existing lessons to create deeper learning experiences. Of course, this allowed me to share the 4 Shifts protocol with another group of teachers.

To say they were excited would be an understatement.

Then, I saw some great examples of student work guided by our graduate profile competencies. The most exciting work I saw came from freshmen Spanish students who created different guides for new ELL students, helping them acclimate to their new school.

Such important work will reap huge rewards in the coming years.

I’m so excited by the work our teachers have done this year and can’t wait to share more great things they do next school year.

Quote of the Day

"Teams need to believe that their work is important. Teams need to feel their work is personally meaningful. Teams need clear goals and defined roles. Team members need to know they can depend on one another. But, most important, teams need psychological safety." (Charles Duhigg, Smarter Faster Better)

“Teams need to believe that their work is important. Teams need to feel their work is personally meaningful. Teams need clear goals and defined roles. Team members need to know they can depend on one another. But, most importantly, teams need psychological safety.” (Charles Duhigg, Smarter Faster Better)

Musical Interlude

I’ve talked about Choir! Choir! Choir! before, but they just released a new video. This time, over 500 people sing the Leonard Cohen classic “Hallelujah,” and it is amazing.

Long Read of the Day

Education increases voting rates, particularly for students attending charter schools in Boston. The study suggests that gains in noncognitive skills, such as grit and self-control, are crucial in boosting civic participation. Female charter school students show significant increases in voting likelihood compared to their male counterparts.

We look at five possible explanations of why education may increase voting: development of cognitive skills, civic skills, social networks, the degree to which charter attendance politicizes students, and noncognitive skills. Our finding of a gender gap in voting allows us to identify proxies for these mechanisms and test the impact of each one. If the gender gap we find in voting is also present on a proxy measure, that mechanism is the most likely to explain increased civic participation among female charter school graduates.

Education Next

Video of the Day

Ever wonder how a microchip is made?

Final Thoughts

It’s primary election day here in Kentucky. If you’re here, please head to your polling place. Every vote matters, every time.


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ETS and Mastery Transcript Consortium (MTC) Join Forces to Scale Skills Transcript

mastery transcript consortium

ETS and MTC have joined forces to enhance skills assessment and learning records for learners.

The ETS & MTC partnership aims to shift focus from courses and grades to personalized learning experiences and skills transcripts for all learners. This collaboration is a significant step towards capturing and communicating capabilities more descriptively at scale. It provides a pathway to replace traditional transcripts with competency-based records for learners applying to colleges and jobs.

Microsoft’s AI Push Imperils Climate Goal as Carbon Emissions Jump 30%

ai power usage

Microsoft’s ambitious climate goal is at risk due to its focus on artificial intelligence. The company’s carbon emissions have increased by 30%, making it harder to reach its carbon-negative target by 2030. Microsoft plans to invest in green technologies to balance the environmental impact of its AI expansion.

Read more from Bloomberg News

Google Sheets’ new formatting feature has Excel switchers excited

google sheets

Google Sheets now offers one-click tables for easier data formatting, a feature Excel users have long enjoyed. Users can quickly convert data into organized tables with filters and sorting options. The update includes pre-set formatting options and group-by-views for efficient data management.

What Google has created here looks a little bit like the AI-generated tables from its I/O developer conference this week but perhaps a little more power user-focused, and you don’t need its Gemini integration. If the new feature has hit your account already, you can try it by selecting a block of data and clicking Format > Convert to table.

The Verge

Google unveils Veo, a high-definition AI video generator that may rival Sora

Google Veo generated images

Google introduced Veo, an AI video generator, at Google I/O 2024, capable of creating HD videos from text prompts like OpenAI’s Sora. Veo can edit videos from written instructions and generate cinematic effects, but it’s not widely available yet. Google plans to integrate Veo’s features into YouTube Shorts and other products, emphasizing responsible content creation with watermarking and safety filters.

Google says that Veo builds upon the company’s previous video-generation models, including Generative Query Network (GQN), DVD-GAN, Imagen-VideoPhenaki, WALT, VideoPoet, and Lumiere. To enhance quality and efficiency, Veo’s training data includes more detailed video captions, and it utilizes compressed “latent” video representations. To improve Veo’s video-generation quality, Google included more detailed captions for the videos used to train Veo, allowing the AI to interpret prompts more accurately.

Veo also seems notable in that it supports filmmaking commands: “When given both an input video and editing command, like adding kayaks to an aerial shot of a coastline, Veo can apply this command to the initial video and create a new, edited video,” the company says.


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Open Education and Innovations in Teaching and Learning: Future Directions

Panelists:

  • Steven Downes from the Digital Technologies Research Centre of the National Research Council of Canada.
  • Dr. Valerie Irvine from the University of Victoria.
  • Brian Lamb, Director of Learning Technologies at Thompson Rivers University.
  • Dr. David Wiley, Chief Academic Officer at Lumen Learning.

Key Topics and Insights

Current State of Open Education

Steven Downes kicked off the discussion by emphasizing the influence of artificial intelligence (AI) on open education. He argued that generative AI has the potential to create and enhance open educational resources (OER), moving beyond traditional static resources to dynamic, AI-generated content that can adapt and respond to student needs in real time.

Challenges and Opportunities

Valerie Irvine highlighted the significant challenge of institutional culture change. She stressed that despite the proven benefits of open education, widespread adoption requires a concerted effort to shift mindsets at administrative and faculty levels. She also pointed out the potential for open education to support social justice and equity in learning, advocating for open access to research and teaching resources to foster broader educational impacts.

Brian Lamb expressed concerns about the commercialization and centralization of digital platforms, which can stifle the creative and collaborative spirit of open education. He reminisced about the early days of the open web, where blogs and wikis fostered a rich exchange of ideas and resources. Brian emphasized the need to build capacity for open practices within educational institutions to reclaim some of that lost potential.

David Wiley provided a perspective from the U.S., discussing how generative AI could transform access to expertise. He noted that while the initial focus of open education was on access to materials, the future could see AI providing real-time, personalized support to learners, thereby expanding educational opportunities even further. He also touched on the importance of integrating open practices with AI to ensure that educational tools remain accessible and beneficial.

Future Directions

The panelists agreed that integrating AI into education presents both opportunities and challenges. They discussed the need for robust systems to ensure the accuracy and reliability of AI-generated content. Steven Downes pointed out that, while AI can be a powerful tool, it must be developed and used within ethical frameworks to avoid perpetuating existing biases and inequalities.

Institutional Support for Open Education

A key theme was the role of institutions in supporting open education. The panelists called for more institutional support for open educational practices, including funding, resources, and recognition of the value of openness. Valerie Irvine and Brian Lamb highlighted the successful models of BCcampus and eCampusOntario as examples of how institutional collaboration can drive the adoption of open education.

Conclusion

The session concluded with a call to action for educators, administrators, and policymakers to embrace the potential of open education and AI. The panelists urged a collective effort to foster a culture of openness, support innovative teaching practices, and ensure that the benefits of these advancements are accessible to all learners.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Thursday, May 16, 2024

desk stuff

Greetings Starfighters,

Earlier this week, Austin Kleon sent out a wonderful article about the things we love and live with, especially all the little things we keep around our workspaces and homes that help keep us sane.

I started thinking about all the trinkets I keep around me and realized that I keep a metric buttload of stuff, some of it useful, some of it for inspiration, and some of it just because.

For instance, on top of my desk at home, I have a number of themed Mr. Potato Heads because they make me smile. But amid them, there is a Batman action figure from the 1989 Tim Burton film.

Of all the toys I had in my younger days, that one has been with me through move after move, relationship after relationship. Sometimes a space doesn’t really feel like mine until I have Batman standing silent guard over all.

Pictures and drawings from my daughter and wife also hang around, as do several creations from former students.

Several versions of Iron Man lay scattered about, along with more pens, pencils, and markers than should be acceptable for someone in his late 40s.

I also keep several quotes taped up around me as reminders and inspiration. They include:

quote
quote
quote

I also have a copy of this print from Ryan Holiday featuring a great Hemingway quote hanging next to my desk at home.

quote

Oh, of course, there’s also my growing book collection (because I’m totally embracing the antilibrary theory).

Each item has some meaning for me, whether sentimental or silly and helps make my little areas of the world truly ‘mine.’

So, my question to you today is, “What do you keep around that makes a space truly yours?”

I’m opening up comments for this post on my Substack for everyone. Normally, only paid subscribers have access but let’s all get in on this bit of memory sharing, shall we?

Quote of the Day

“When we do the work for itself alone, our pursuit of a career (or a living or fame or wealth or notoriety) turns into something else, something loftier and nobler, which we may never even have thought about or aspired to at the beginning. It turns into a practice.” (Steven Pressfield, Turning Pro)

“When we do the work for itself alone, our pursuit of a career (or a living or fame or wealth or notoriety) turns into something else, something loftier and nobler, which we may never even have thought about or aspired to at the beginning. It turns into a practice.” (Steven Pressfield, Turning Pro)

Musical Interlude

Since my friend, John Nash, is in Las Vegas for the opening of Dead & Company at the Sphere, here’s a live performance of Sugaree from a few years ago.

Long Read of the Day

If you are holding a day job while you are writing your novel or poetry in the evenings after the kids have gone to sleep or the dishwasher has been unloaded or various tasks for the next morning have been completed, please do not be disheartened. Of course, writers need more space and support mechanisms of their own. This was clearly outlined by Virginia Woolf in her A Room of One’s Own. But my point is, if at this moment of your life, for whatever reason, you cannot completely dedicate your time to writing and have to do other things alongside, do not allow anyone make you feel like you are not a serious author.

We are storytellers. We are lovers of literature. We do not need labels or boxes. We are writers and that is all there is to it.

Amateur Writers vs Professional Authors

Video of the Day

If you haven’t heard, Francis Ford Coppola has a new movie he’s hoping to release soon. It looks bonkers. I hope someone picks it up and releases it because I want to see exactly how bonkers it is. I also hope Coppola is able to make some of his money back since he funded the film himself.

That’s dedication, folks.

Final Thoughts

What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?


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Pulitzer Prize in Fiction juror Michael Chabon – Three Books You Should Read

crop faceless woman reading book on bed
Photo by Koshevaya_k on Pexels.com

As a juror for the 2024 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. I read tons of novels & story collections (well, 100s of lbs of them, anyway). Beyond the winner and 2 runners-up, I want to shine a light on three excellent books, among the many nominees I deeply dug, by less well-known, less heralded writers. I’m doing this as a 4-part thread, in alphabetical order by author, so in case they get separated, please find and investigate all 3, each is terrific.

*The Ice Harp*, Norman Lock. A poignant, fascinating, thoroughly convincing, stream-of-consciousness novel about Ralph Waldo Emerson. Part of the author’s ongoing, fascinating “American Novels” sequence.

*After World*, Debbie Urbanski. A vividly imagined, quietly devastating tour-de-force of pre-, intra-, and—sneakily, thrillingly—post-apocalypse.

*Dearborn,* Ghassan Zeinnedine. Sly, straight-faced, tenderly wicked humor covers and uncovers histories of pain and loss among the precarious, proud, and fate-buffeted Arab-Americans of the titular Michigan city. A classic American short story collection, drawing back the curtain on a “hidden” subculture and community living in plain sight.

Michael Chabon on Threads

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

anthony bourdain israel

“It’s easily the most contentious piece of real estate in the world. And there’s no hope—none—of ever talking about it without pissing somebody, if not everybody, off. Maybe that’s why it took me so long to come here, a place where even the names of ordinary things are ferociously disputed. Where does falafel come from? Who makes the best hummus? Is it a fence or a wall? By the end of this episode, I’ll be seen by many as a terrorist sympathizer, a Zionist tool, a self-hating Jew, an apologist for American imperialism, an Orientalist, socialist, fascist, CIA agent, and worse. So here goes nothing.”

Anthony Bourdain, from the 2013 “Jerusalem” episode of Parts Unknown.

I was raised in a non-denominational church—that’s code for ‘we are Christians, but we don’t like the rules of any Christian sect, so we’ll make our own and also choose to be radical fundamentalists’—making my view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict quite skewed for a long, long time. We were taught that Israel was the Holy Land, the Promised Land, the Land of Milk and Honey, and that every true Christian should go there at least once in their lives to walk in the footsteps of the heroes of the faith.

Oddly, it sounds very similar to the Muslim Hajj, but I digress…

We were also taught that the Jews were the chosen people of God. To speak ill of the Jewish people or to not support Israel was akin to high crimes of treason against the church, unthinkable and unacceptable. Also, we were taught that Muslims and all Palestinians were the enemies of God and essentially the embodiment of Satan and his minions.

Oddly, this rhetoric is similar to any extremist religion, choosing enemies of a God and naming people it’s perfectly acceptable and encouraged to hate. Weird.

However, in the 20-ish years since I left that church and the misguided people in charge and in my ongoing struggle to come to terms with my own faith—plot twist: I think there’s some truth to be found in all religions, including the religion of not being religious—I’ve changed my mind on any number of things, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Of course, I don’t have an answer. People much smarter and more powerful than me have tried and haven’t come up with a winning solution yet. It’s an old, old problem, tied up in disparate beliefs that form the very core of many people. Emotions run wild on both sides of the battle, giving reason little space to maneuver.

I don’t know that the violence will ever stop. Here’s what I do know: Violence begets violence. If we can’t come to an agreement amongst all parties involved that, at the most basic level, everyone involved is connected on the most basic level of being human and inhabiting the only home we’ll likely ever know, then I see no hope in ending this ridiculous conflict.

Both sides are right, both sides are wrong.

And none of us are the better for it. This conflict represents one of many very difficult conversations we should have with our children and our students. We must have these conversations, make room to talk with disagreeing people, and try to come to some common understanding.

If not, we all lose.

Quote of the Day

"I hope to give my children the opportunity to find what they love to do, work to be great at it, pursue it, and do it. Rather than cover their eyes from ugly truths, I want to cover their eyes from fictional fantasies that will handicap their ability to negotiate tomorrow’s reality. I believe they can handle it." (Matthew McConaughey, Greenlights)

“I hope to give my children the opportunity to find what they love to do, work to be great at it, pursue it, and do it. Rather than cover their eyes from ugly truths, I want to cover their eyes from fictional fantasies that will handicap their ability to negotiate tomorrow’s reality. I believe they can handle it.” (Matthew McConaughey, Greenlights)

Sale
Greenlights
  • #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER Discover the life-changing memoir that has inspired millions of readers through the Academy Award–winning actor’s unflinching honesty, unconventional wisdom, and lessons learned the hard way about living with greater satisfaction.
  • Hardcover Book
  • McConaughey, Matthew (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 304 Pages – 10/20/2020 (Publication Date) – Crown (Publisher)

Musical Interlude

Having only recently discovered the Black Pumas, I loved this cover of the Otis Redding classic.

Long Read of the Day

On the eve of the 70th anniversary of Brown v. Board, scholars revealed racial and economic segregation in American public schools has steadily increased throughout the last few decades. 

The trend is unsurprising to lawyers and researchers familiar with the challenges of Brown’s implementation, who’ve sounded the alarm that the widespread practice of tying school assignment to childrens’ home addresses has  perpetuated segregation.

But one civil rights and education law expert maintains a sense of optimism, offering new ideas for how courts and state legislatures can take on integration efforts.

“There’s a whole lot that they could do if they wanted to,” said University of North Carolina law professor Erika Wilson, “but often states lack the political will.”

Racial and economic segregation in American public schools is increasing, despite efforts to desegregate. Civil rights lawyer Erika Wilson highlights the challenges in addressing segregation and advocates for racially and economically integrated schools for a healthy democracy. She suggests rethinking school district boundaries and the role of charter schools in promoting equity in education.

Video of the Day

Wes Anderson, known for his meticulous craftsmanship in filmmaking, was chosen to direct Montblanc’s commercial for their hundred-year-old Meisterstück writing tool. Filmed in Germany, the short features Anderson, Jason Schwartzman, and Rupert Friend, who portray mountain climbers inspired by Montblanc’s products. The ad transitions from the snowy Mont Blanc to a warm chalet, which required 50 takes. Anderson surprised Montblanc by presenting a prototype pen he designed, the Schreiberling, and requested its production. The company agreed to produce 1,969 pen copies, referencing Anderson’s birth year, 1969. Anderson’s career has evolved from his early days in Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums to influencing the film and luxury goods industries.

Final Thoughts

Three. More. Days.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Microschools Offer Montana Families Creative, Learner-centered Education Options

microschools

Montana families are choosing microschools for personalized, learner-centered education. Educators like Christa Hayes are creating small schools focused on outdoor learning and project-based academics. These microschools offer new educational options and a strong sense of community for students.

Covid was the catalyst. When her children’s schools shut down in the spring of 2020, and her college classes went online, Hayes began hearing from parents who wanted tutoring services. She also wanted to help her own three children stay on track academically, and find a way for them to have small, safe social interactions. 

In fall 2020, Hayes leased a gym downtown with large garage doors that opened wide, providing for maximum ventilation. She spaced children six feet apart, enabling them to meet in person while working through their remote public school curriculum. In addition, Hayes offered all kinds of enrichment activities, focused on project-based learning and frequent outside expeditions.

The Micro-School Builder’s Handbook: Personalized Learning for Your Child, and an Amazing Business for You
  • Linaberger, Mara (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 176 Pages – 04/08/2018 (Publication Date) – Independently published (Publisher)

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!