Thursday, May 2, 2024

Croatia street
Photo by mali desha on Unsplash

We’ve reached the very nebulous time in the school year when end-of-year testing begins, my own doctoral courses have been completed, and I’m left as an instructional coach with a few days of, “What the heck am I supposed to be doing?” while I stay out of the way of testing.

Sure, I’m here to support however I can, but that usually just means giving someone a restroom break or contacting vendors for quotes on new tools for next school year.

It’s a very weird time of the year when I feel like I can be the very opposite of productive.

So, I spend my time as best as I can. I’m writing daily blog posts, catching up on some reading—OMG, Dan Simmons’s Hyperion is flippin’ incredible—and listening to a bunch of new music. I’m also searching for deals on physical media as I continue my war on the streaming gods.

If I sound a bit manic, it’s because I am. My usual frantic pace of writing papers and visiting classrooms has calmed down for the moment and will soon be completely stopped with summer break. But there’s still much to do, and I’ll keep sharing with you here.

And, if it all gets to be too much, you can always unfollow, unlike, and generally exercise your right as a human to tell me to go jump off a cliff.

Quote of the Day

"When everything feels urgent and important, everything seems equal. We become active and busy, but this doesn’t actually move us any closer to success. Activity is often unrelated to productivity, and busyness rarely takes care of business." (Gary Keller, Jay Papasan, The ONE Thing)

“When everything feels urgent and important, everything seems equal. We become active and busy, but this doesn’t actually move us any closer to success. Activity is often unrelated to productivity, and busyness rarely takes care of business.” (Gary Keller, Jay Papasan, The ONE Thing)

Indeed, being busy doesn’t necessarily equate to being productive. Filling your day with tasks may not get you any closer to achieving your objectives. Teachers confront this truth daily as they juggle multiple responsibilities. Many tasks, like grading student work and providing feedback, are indeed important, but do they always drive student learning forward?

Students genuinely desire feedback. However, could its impact be amplified if delivered in real time? Could teachers lighten their workload by completing feedback sessions before leaving school?

Consider altering the workflow. By providing more frequent feedback on smaller task segments and setting multiple “deadlines”, teachers can manage their tasks more efficiently. This approach, central to project-based learning, not only encourages active student participation but also facilitates quick formative assessments, which can be automatically scored with modern tech tools.

As students work on their projects, the teacher transitions into a supporting role as a coach. The need to grade work daily becomes redundant. This may contradict the expectations of some administrators and parents who believe regular grading is proof of teaching. However, it’s an opportunity to redefine teaching’s true essence, shifting the emphasis from grading to facilitating learning.

Musical Interlude

Sharing a bit of her creative process, Sara from Teagan & Sara shares this acoustic version of ‘Back in Your Head’ and talks about her guitar avoidance.

Long Read of the Day

In December 2020, as the pandemic kept demonstrating the “digital divide” that exists between socioeconomic classes and the availability of high-speed internet, the US Government created the Affordable Connectivity Program. While the program brought about many worthwhile societal benefits, it’s now running out of money.

Video of the Day

Here’s a collection of Phil Hartman’s host segments when the “Grinch” TV cartoon was screened in December 1994, including interviews with Dr. Seuss’ wife Audrey Geisel, animator Chuck Jones, songwriter Albert Hague, voice actor Thurl Ravenscroft, and superfans like Danny Elfman and Tim Burton.

I vividly remember watching this when it aired and thinking, “holy crap, this guy is hilarious.”

Final Thoughts

OK, my brain is pretty fried right now. Not much here for final thoughts. Keep creating new things, even if they suck, because they will get better. This newsletter is a prime example 🙂


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 1, 2024

Greetings Starfighters,

Among the treasures we discovered as we cleaned out my grandparents’ old home was a Hasselblad 500C/M camera. Some of you may know what that means, many of you likely don’t, just know that Ansel Adams used a Hasselblad 500 model at times in his career.

First, a word about my grandfather. The man was obsessed with gadgets, just like I am. He shelled out over $1200 for an early VCR, had every form of home video recording equipment, and even bought a light that was allegedly the same model used on the Space Shuttle to better stage our family Christmas movies. So, having a Hasselblad just sitting in the top of a closet collecting dust isn’t necessarily a surprise.

I’m playing around with it and hope to take some shots with it soon. I was a little surprised that you can still purchase film and even get it developed but I’m also watching some videos and looking for tools to develop at home if I need to.

Once more, the Internet proves that, with a little effort, you can find and learn how to do just about anything.

Quote of the Day

Without memory, it’s impossible to build the future. – Umberto Eco, A Library of the World

Musical Interlude

A number of years ago, Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates fame began a show recorded at his home studio with various guests. “Live from Daryl’s House” has had several homes over the years, but it seems they are uploading more and more to Daryl’s YouTube channel.

Here’s the episode with Lisa Loeb, including a great version of her classic, “Stay.”

Long Read of the Day

“In 1303 CE, a monstrous earthquake ripped through the Eastern Mediterranean. The trauma shook glittering casing stones loose from the Great Pyramid at Giza in Egypt—the most ancient of our Seven Wonders—and brought the remains of the youngest, the towering Pharos Lighthouse of Alexandria, crashing to the ground. The Great Pyramid embodied enormous effort for the sake of one, virtually omnipotent man. Alexandria’s Pharos Lighthouse had been a public beacon to keep travelers from four continents safe, and to announce a repository of all the knowledge that was possible for humankind to know.

But across that complex arc of experience, spanning nearly 4,000 years, from the vision of a single, almighty human to a network of human minds, no human-made Wonder could prove a match for the might of Mother Earth.”

What Makes a Wonder? On the Human Need to Map Out Monumental Greatness

Video of the Day

Final Thoughts

May 1 means that it’s very nearly Star Wars Day. If you haven’t heard, The Phantom Menace is returning to theatres this weekend. My kid and I have watched it I don’t know how many times here at home. Friday afternoon, we’ll catch it on the big screen. I was in the crowd on opening night 25 years ago, and I think I’m just as excited now as I was back then.


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!

The First World Wide Web Server

first www server

Yep, that’s it. The very first world wide web server, used by Sir Tim Berners-Lee in 1991.

Notice the large “DO NOT POWER DOWN!” sticker on the bottom of the machine. Thankfully, no one has touched that power button.

Yet.

Thanks to ArsTechnica for this little tidbit.


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!

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

woman riding a bicycle

Greetings Starfighters,

I’m sorting through my feelings about kids, social media, smartphones in schools, and dopamine. There’s quite a growing roar online about the time kids spend on social media and the number of notifications they get during the school day. Of course, leading the charge is Jonathan Haidt, who wants you to take away your kid’s phone.

I haven’t read his book yet and likely won’t for some time, but if we’re worried about notifications on phones (you can turn them off, and we can teach kids, and ourselves, responsible usage) and how much time kids are spending on social media and phones, we have more work to do than to take the phones away.

Bans don’t work, and the kids just model what they see adults doing. Also, I remember a time when the old folks said that kids shouldn’t spend all their time playing video games (also getting dopamine hits) or watching TV, and there’s an awful lot of us that turned out just fine.

Quote of the Day

reality is broken quote

“The research proves what gamers already know: within the limits of our own endurance, we would rather work hard than be entertained.” (Jane McGonigal, Reality Is Broken)

Musical Interlude

Yo-Yo Ma has traveled to several national parks, performing in beautiful environments. He performed inside Mammoth Cave last year (I’m still bummed I didn’t get to see the concert), and on Earth Day 2024, he performed in Alaska.

Long Read of the Day

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the pivotal “A Nation At Risk” report, an event that shaped educational discourse in the United States for decades. In a thought-provoking partnership, The 74 has joined forces with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution to launch the “A Nation At Risk +40” research initiative. This collaborative project delves into the wide-ranging impacts of forty years of educational reforms through a series of expert analyses, offering a critical look at how far we have come and the areas where we falter.

Despite the urgent tone of the original 1983 report, which revolutionized educational standards and accountability, it notably omitted discussions on the crucial aspects of funding and budgeting. Here is a chapter from the new research on school finance and education funding priorities.

Final Thoughts

It’s Derby Week here in Kentucky, and I can’t help but wonder what state our public schools would be in if our state leaders were as concerned with education as they are with a horse race.


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!

Monday assorted links

  1. Aaron Sorkin Is Writing Some Kind of ‘Social Network’ Sequel Because ‘I Blame Facebook For January 6’ Riot at the U.S. Capitol
  2. The Student-Led Protests Aren’t Perfect. That Doesn’t Mean They’re Not Right.
  3. Shaping the Future of Learning: The Role of AI in Education 4.0
  4. For philosophy newbs: five thinkers to follow today.
  5. Survey Finds Many Gen Zers Say School Lacks a ‘Sense of Purpose’
  6. Bukowski Reads Bukowski: Watch a 1975 Documentary Featuring Charles Bukowski at the Height of His Powers

A bit of techno typing

What happens when you give kids support and an open playground?

Austin Kleon’s son, Owen, dropped his latest SoundCloud album.

He’s 11.

My favorite track, Typing, is embedded here. It’s a banger of creativity. And heavily influenced by Kraftwerk and Daft Punk, just like I am.

Oh, the possibilities.


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!

NASA, Voyager, and long-term project-based learning

voyager 1 probe

The premise for the first Star Trek film featuring the original series cast proposes that a probe from Earth, Voyager 6, traveled so far and accumulated so much information as it traveled the cosmos that it achieved sentience. And when it did, it wanted to return to “The Creator” and deliver all that information.

Trust me, that first Star Trek movie is the most “sci-fi” of the entire series, except maybe Star Trek: Beyond.

While no probe named Voyager 6 ever launched, the idea of a probe transmitting data back home after traveling billions of miles is still very much a reality and not science fiction.

However, you may have heard that Voyager 1, launched nearly 50 years ago, began transmitting gibberish back to NASA a few months ago. Many feared the worst. Voyager kept transmitting data, signifying it was alive, but something happened to the data transmissions.

After five months of work, the Voyager team worked some coding magic to restore the code and restart regular transmissions.

“When the time came to get the signal, we could clearly see all of a sudden, boom, we had data, and there were tears and smiles and high fives… Everyone was very happy and very excited to see that, hey, we’re back in communication again with Voyager 1. We’re going to see the status of the spacecraft, the health of the spacecraft, for the first time in five months.”

Linda Spilker, project scientist for NASA’s two Voyager spacecraft at JPL

Talk about project-based learning at work…

Perhaps there’s no better example of the importance of project-based learning in schools than a story like this. When has anyone tried to change the code on an object over 15 billion miles from the Earth?

Never. There’s no guidebook for a project like this, no curriculum to refer to, no content standards. Just a group of experts trying everything they know to solve a problem.

And this project has been going for nearly 50 years. Share that with your students when they think they’ve been working on a project for too long.


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!

Creating Creative Creations

colorful toothed wheels
Photo by Digital Buggu on Pexels.com

Greetings Starfighters,

I crossed an auspicious milestone this week. I’ve been using Readwise to collect highlights and notes from almost everything I read, whether a book, an ebook, a research article, or an online article. I get a recap daily of 10 different highlights to review.

Of course, I can review more, but that daily reminder is a nice way to remember things I’ve read and thought were important – heck, many blog posts and articles are inspired by those passages.

More in this week’s newsletter…

The Meta-Diaries of Marion Milner: Prescribing Creativity

MARION MILNER, SUMMER BEECHES.
MARION MILNER, SUMMER BEECHES.

Marion Milner’s unique approach to self-discovery involved using her creative explorations in literature and art as a therapeutic project. Through her meta-diaries, she abandoned preconceived goals and embraced free writing to uncover hidden thoughts and dark instincts. Milner’s focus on creativity influenced her self-discovery and guided her therapeutic practice with patients like Simon, emphasizing the importance of creative expression for maintaining a sense of the future.

Since 1926, Milner had been writing diaries in which she recorded her impressions of life in ways that seem ordinary enough. She would, for example, note seeing “a little boy in a sailor suit dancing and skipping by himself on his way to look at the sea lions,” or reflect, “I realized how untrustworthy I am in personal relationships … always agreeing with the person present.” But in the thirties Milner turned her diaries, as a sort of raw material, into her first books, which were published as essayistic reflections about her diaries: A Life of One’s Own (1934) and An Experiment in Leisure (1937). In them she invented something new and a genre of her own: a diary about a diary, or what the critic Hugh Haughton has called a “meta-diary.” Contemporaries like W. H. Auden responded with enthusiasm.


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!

20 Minutes of Charles Schulz Drawing Peanuts Comics

Pardon me as I date myself, but I have loved and always will love the Peanuts comic strips. The cartoons were staples of my childhood, and I have no plans to stop watching them anytime soon.

I love to see creators create, so this 20-minute video of Charles Schulz creating his famous characters is a delight.

If you need more inspiration, here’s a video of Chuck Jones demonstrating how to draw Bugs Bunny and other characters.


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!