Changing Plans and The Future of This Site

low angle photography of metal building on grayscale
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Pexels.com

As I’ve mentioned previously, this site in one form or another has existed since 2006. Through multiple platform changes and changes in focus, I’ve shared thoughts and insights here for the past decade and a half.

As we all know, change is the only constant. With my job responsibilities and beginning my doctoral work, I knew I needed to find a better way to share my thoughts and things I find of interest that you might enjoy.

So, here’s my plan:

On Mondays and Fridays, I will share posts with links to things I’ve found that you may also find useful.

Tuesday – Thursday, I’ll be sharing links with my own commentary and hopefully making some connections with other sources. I may even have multiple posts these days.

I’m doing my best to build an online database of connected topics and thoughts that, I hope, will help me better formulate my own thinking around different subjects I’m passionate about.

Sometimes it will be education, sometimes technology, sometimes life. Whatever I find interesting is game for this blog.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll build something you’ll enjoy.


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!

Assorted Links for Monday, May 16, 2022

  1. Free sound effects for you to use in school projects from the fine folks at the BBC
  2. Explordle – watch a video clip and guess where the video was taken. Great for identifying context clues and environments
  3. Relationship Building with Dialogue Journals
  4. Three videos about the black hole at the center of the Milky Way

Assorted Links for Friday, May 13, 2022

  1. This Is Spinal Tap Will Get a Sequel 40 Years Later, Reuniting Rob Reiner, Michael McKean, Christopher Guest & Harry Shearer
  2. The Rolling Stones released Paint it Black on May 13, 1966
  3. How to Enter a ‘Flow State’ on Command: Peak Performance Mind Hack Explained in 7 Minutes
  4. Smithsonian, with first exhibition, previews planned National Latino museum
  5. A timeline of the past two years of COVID-19 deaths
  6. Seven health insurance CEOs raked in a record $283 million for 2021
  7. 90s jazz design: cups, controversy, and nostalgia
  8. Cultivating Digital Literacy through Real-World Learning

New Google Glasses Provide Subtitles for the Real World

Source

In one demo, a Google product manager tells someone wearing the glasses, “You should be seeing what I’m saying, just transcribed for you in real time — kind of like subtitles for the world.” Later, the video shows what you might see if you’re wearing the glasses: with the speaker in front of you, the translated language appears in real time in your line of sight.

I’m sure we all remember Google’s first foray into connected eyewear with a little fondness. They were ugly and didn’t work very well.

But we thought they were cool.

However, if this new model ever becomes a real product, how helpful could it be if you got real-time translation while someone was speaking with you in another language?

Or if you had hearing issues, you’d have subtitles to help.

The real question will be what Google does with the data they gather from all the eyeballs.

Oh, and then there’s the whole “why is that creeper continuing to stare at me with those weird glasses” issue that I’m sure will come up in a courtroom somewhere.

More from The Verge

Pike Mall Tech: 12 May 2022

Today’s Links

No Butts About It

Source

In case you haven’t heard, an assistant principal was recently fired because he chose to read the children’s book “I Need a New Butt” to a group of students.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2022/03/11/toby-price-principal-fired-childrens-book/

Toby Price found out that, even though this is the dumbest reason for firing anyone in the history of ever, he still isn’t getting his job back.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/comics/2022/05/11/toby-price-butt-book-school/

Toby has shared his thoughts on this announcement in a thread of Tweets, posted here for your enjoyment.

I’ll just say this right now: with the content of most children’s books out there, to fire someone over a book about butts requires a special kind of an asshole.

There is a spot reserved in hell for administrators, parents, and members of the general public who think it’s ok to fire a teacher over reading a wildly popular children’s book that is available everywhere books are sold.

I would rant more on this but I can’t. It’s just dumb.

We’ll Ban All the Books, Even the Digital Ones

source: Wikimedia Commons

Public education is facing an unprecedented level of hatred from conservative Americans right now. New laws are being crafted to punish teachers for teaching content that is not “approved” by parent groups or might be offensive and entire curricula and books are being banned.

https://www.edweek.org/policy-politics/heres-the-long-list-of-topics-republicans-want-banned-from-the-classroom/2022/02

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-anti-critical-race-theory-bills-are-taking-aim-at-teachers/

https://www.npr.org/2022/04/18/1093277449/florida-mathematics-textbooks

Now, some schools are banning access to digital books from repositories like Overdrive and Epic, removing thousands of resources from the hands of students and families.

https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/library-apps-book-ban-schools-conservative-parents-rcna26103

Thousands of schools and public libraries use these services to provide a much wider array of books than they could within the limits of the physical space in their buildings. During the COVID-19 pandemic, families easily accessed books from home comfort to keep their kids engaged and learning while sheltering.

Enter the fear mongers.

With new laws in place requiring that any book used in a school be reviewed and chosen by a faculty member, the number of books available will drastically decrease.

With over two million titles, trying to get someone to review every book in Overdrive is not only an impossible request, it’s downright foolish.

No one could review all that content and approve it for student usage.

How much longer will we abide by such unsubstantiated fear and hatred?

“That was but a prelude; where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people also”

Heinrich Heine

Colophon

colophon example
Latine non loquor

Currently writing:

  • Volume 1: The Heretic Chronicles – a fantasy story about a girl, her sword, and extreme fundamentalist religion (WC: 15,457)
  • Untitled Sci-Fi novel – a group of students race across the stars, avoiding an evil empire (WC: 275)
  • Sci-fi short story – earth as a farm for aliens (WC: 492)

Currently reading:

Upcoming Events:


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. That means you can use it any way you like, including commercially, provided that you attribute it to me, Mike Paul, and include a link to pikemall.tech.

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Quotations and images are not included in this license; they are included either under a limitation or exception to copyright or on the basis of a separate license. Please exercise caution.

Cory Doctorow’s work at Pluralistic inspired the layout, focus, and work displayed here. Hat tip to Cory for all his fine work.


How to get Pike Mall Tech:

Blog (no tracking, or data collection):

PikeMall.tech

Newsletter:

https://mikepaul.substack.com/

Medium (no ads, paywalled):

https://mikepaul.medium.com/

Twitter (mass-scale, unrestricted, third-party surveillance and advertising):

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I Have a Book Problem and I’m Not Afraid to Admit It

Photo by Ugur Akdemir on Unsplash

OK, this is a total brain dump post as I just need to get some thoughts down. My mind is racing with ideas and I just need to write. But I’m going to share this with you because… reasons…

I love reading. However, I’ve not always been the most dedicated reader. Far too often I have relied on moving pictures in one form or another to keep me entertained and/or intellectually engaged. I love movies and tv shows. I love documentaries.

But I really love the worlds I can transport to within the pages of a book. Fiction, non-fiction, I don’t care.

As I said, I haven’t always been the best reader. It was far easier to just sit on my computer, watch the TV, or stare at my smartphone.

Then, about two years ago, I committed to reading more. I felt that I had missed so many opportunities to read great books that I couldn’t waste any more time. After all, I’m 45 as I’m writing this and, statistically, I’m about halfway done with my time on this pale blue dot.

So I started reading more. Consequently, I started buying more books.

Like, a ton of books. Seriously. I just had six show up at my house today.

And not just little books. Big books. BIG f’n books.

Here’s the list that showed up today (all Amazon links):

Last month, I ordered ten physical books (most in the fantasy genre) and 10-12 ebooks (I have a Kindle Unlimited account, too).

Yes, I have a problem. I’m trying to play catch up for years of not really reading books. And I’ll never reach my goal.

My Goodreads “to be read” list is almost 1,500 books long. And growing.

Why do I have a problem? Because I have become insatiably curious and full of fanciful dreams. I didn’t explore my passions for too long because I was concerned about what other people thought about me.

I’ll write that off as having spent my time in a fundamentalist, controlling, right-wing, bible-thumping church from the ages of 11 to 25. Oh, well.

Now, I’m running after learning about the things that excite me. And enjoying the things I love.

So I have a book problem. Do you?

Pike Mall Tech: 11 May 2022

recess
Photo by Aedrian on Unsplash

Today’s Links

Rethinking the Honor Roll

It’s time for educators to make honor a core value in schools. It’s time to build honor into our curriculums and establish it as one of the primary social and emotional learning goals we work to help students achieve.

Thomas Guskey

Full disclosure: I am a reformed honor roll student. I made that list all the freaking time, save for my middle school years.

Why not in middle school? Because I refused to do homework. It was pointless for me. I didn’t need the work and did just fine on any and all exams. But my middle school teachers insisted on grading homework, of which there was more than a metric ton each night.

I had better things to do, like read comics. Or watch Jeopardy. Or Star Trek reruns.

So, like many other students, I missed out on the perks of being on the “honor roll” that many of my friends were enjoying. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure I lost some friends because I wasn’t on the honor roll.

Personally, the idea of the honor roll disgusts me. And it’s probably time we get rid of it.

https://nchscourant.com/its-time-we-say-goodbye-to-the-honor-roll/

Students don’t make the honor roll for any number of reasons. Whether it’s because they simply don’t care about getting the grades because they realize for most people the grade they got in 10th-grade geometry is no indicator of success in life or because their life away from school isn’t set up to support a great learning environment, many students just don’t care about the honor roll.

https://www.amle.org/honor-roll-really/

Let’s also think about the lengths that some students are willing to go to earn a spot on the honor roll. Yes, some will cheat. I’d venture to say that a student’s desire to cheat is directly proportional to their pressure to get good grades.

And how many students will lose precious sleep to stay up and cram information so they can “brain dump” on a test to get the grade?

Trust me, folks, sleep is way more important than a high GPA.

https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/how-honor-roll-cheats-students-and-divides-schools/

https://manvillehoofprints.org/1702/opinion/the-downfalls-of-honor-roll/

Perhaps it’s time we either get rid of the honor roll altogether or rethink the purpose it serves. Maybe we should focus on teaching students what honor really is and how to do work that is worthy of honor, not just a grade.

https://tguskey.com/isnt-it-time-we-redefine-honor-roll-2/

Stop Cancelling Recess

I admit I have taken recess time away from students. OK, maybe not recess time since we didn’t have recess in my middle school but we certainly incentivized certain achievements with a “recess reward”.

Yes, we even used recess as a reward for students who achieve our version of the honor roll.

What a horrible policy. Kids need time to play, at every age level. And using the excuse of placing them in an “activity” class doesn’t cut it.

They need time to decompress and just goof off. I’m 45 and I need time to do that every day.

Recess is an essential part of childhood (and adulthood) and we have to stop taking it away. Some states are moving to create laws to protect that time.

Which is pretty awesome.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/teachers-cancel-recess-punishment-state-laws-rcna27531

Linkus Randomus

Colophon

colophon example
Latine non loquor

Currently writing:

  • Volume 1: The Heretic Chronicles – a fantasy story about a girl, her sword, and extreme fundamentalist religion (WC: 15,457)
  • Untitled Sci-Fi novel – a group of students race across the stars, avoiding an evil empire (WC: 275)
  • Sci-fi short story – earth as a farm for aliens (WC: 492)

Currently reading:

Upcoming Events:


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. That means you can use it any way you like, including commercially, provided that you attribute it to me, Mike Paul, and include a link to pikemall.tech.

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Quotations and images are not included in this license; they are included either under a limitation or exception to copyright or on the basis of a separate license. Please exercise caution.

Cory Doctorow’s work at Pluralistic inspired the layout, focus, and work displayed here. Hat tip to Cory for all his fine work.


How to get Pike Mall Tech:

Blog (no tracking, or data collection):

PikeMall.tech

Newsletter:

https://mikepaul.substack.com/

Medium (no ads, paywalled):

https://mikepaul.medium.com/

Twitter (mass-scale, unrestricted, third-party surveillance and advertising):

https://twitter.com/mikepaul

Tumblr (mass-scale, unrestricted, third-party surveillance and advertising):

https://pikemalltech.tumblr.com/tagged/pikemalltech

Pike Mall Tech: 10 May 2022

Photo by Ryland Dean on Unsplash

Today’s Links

How I would learn to code (if I could start over)

I was a computer science major back in the early part of this new millennia in another life. Somehow, I managed to leverage that into getting a job writing computer science standards for the state of Kentucky.

I still don’t know how that happened. Weird.

Anyway, the first coding language I learned was Java. It’s a beast with a very steep learning curve that intimidates most people. And it’s a horrible language to tackle when you’re first starting out.

If I had it to do all over again, I might go this route.

Service-learning isn’t just for after school clubs

I love service projects organized by students. Clothing drives, food drives, clean-up days, and many others are great ways to engage students in their communities.

But we shouldn’t just leave service projects to after-school clubs.

What if we made them part of the learning process in core content classes?

Tom Holman, board chair of the Search Institute, told me that their research shows one of the three most positive indicators (predictors) of future success among young people is their belief that “what they do makes a difference” (searchinstitute.org). He also recommends the Multiplying Good organization, which can be found at minnesota.multiplyinggood.org.

Producing More Successful Students Like Grant

Personalized certificates with The Google

It’s near the end of the school year for most places in the US and that often means certificates.

Whether you’re handing out certificates to students or teachers (hello PD), there are options for you if you’re using The Google.

How to Create and Send Personalized Certificates in Google Workspace

Linkus Randomus

Colophon

colophon example
Latine non loquor

Currently writing:

  • Volume 1: The Heretic Chronicles – a fantasy story about a girl, her sword, and extreme fundamentalist religion (WC: 15,457)
  • Untitled Sci-Fi novel – a group of students race across the stars, avoiding an evil empire (WC: 275)
  • Sci-fi short story – earth as a farm for aliens (WC: 492)

Currently reading:

Upcoming Events:


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. That means you can use it any way you like, including commercially, provided that you attribute it to me, Mike Paul, and include a link to pikemall.tech.

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Quotations and images are not included in this license; they are included either under a limitation or exception to copyright or on the basis of a separate license. Please exercise caution.

Cory Doctorow’s work at Pluralistic inspired the layout, focus, and work displayed here. Hat tip to Cory for all his fine work.


How to get Pike Mall Tech:

Blog (no tracking, or data collection):

PikeMall.tech

Newsletter:

https://mikepaul.substack.com/

Medium (no ads, paywalled):

https://mikepaul.medium.com/

Twitter (mass-scale, unrestricted, third-party surveillance and advertising):

https://twitter.com/mikepaul

Tumblr (mass-scale, unrestricted, third-party surveillance and advertising):

https://pikemalltech.tumblr.com/tagged/pikemalltech

Crafting a Digital Commonplace Book

commonplace book
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

One of the most fulfilling tasks I do on a regular basis is updating my commonplace book. What’s a commonplace book? Simple: it’s a place to store all those quotes, lyrics, poems, passages, etc. that mean something to you.

It’s a way to store all the things you read, regardless of their format, in one place so that you can access it any time you want. The concept isn’t new by any means; people across history have kept some form of a commonplace book. Marcus Aurelius had one that would later be published. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Mark Twain, and Virginia Woolfe all had one.

Modern authors like Austin Kleon and Ryan Holiday keep one. The formats change based on the person but they all serve the same purpose: a way to keep track of things that mean something to you.

Ryan Holiday has famously used his note card system as the basis for writing his books, something he picked up while working for Robert Greene.

If you want to dive deeper into this system of note-taking, writing, and organizing, read up on the Zettelkasten Method.

Personally, I keep a daily journal and I’ve been using my own version of the notecard system for the past couple of years. However, as I’m heading into my doctoral work this fall as I write, I’m attempting to update my commonplace system.

While I agree there is tremendous benefit in writing things down on paper – I write in my journal by hand in cursive daily – the real power of keeping a record of all the things in your commonplace book is when you can make connections between different entries.

I’ve tried making those connections with my note cards, but it hasn’t worked for me. So I needed to come up with something better. Something digital.

I’ve come up with a two-pronged approach. One of those prongs is this blog you are reading now.

For too many years, I tried to take blogging far too seriously. Always trying to write something meaningful and important while sharing things that I found or learned with the world.

My anxiety (which turns out to be pretty crippling and only in the last year have I really begun to get a handle on it) wouldn’t let me craft those perfect blog posts.

But, I can create short posts that I can share quickly with the world and store on this blog while organizing it pretty quickly into different topics.

The inspiration for this shift comes from Cory Doctorow. He refers to it as “The Memex Method” and many writers use it to create a commonplace book that doubles as a public database.

memex method
Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash

Enter the Memex

Vannevar Bush famously described the memex as “an enlarged intimate supplement to one’s memory.”

Cory’s link blog is here.

Longstanding tech columnist John Naughton has one here. And I’m sure there are many others out there you could look through.

This blog that has been in existence in one form or another for 16 years is now becoming my public memex, my online database of things I learn, like, and use regularly.

Using WordPress tags, I can quickly filter posts into multiple topics and save them for later reference. And so can any of my readers. Of course, building this will take time and input data on a daily basis.

The second prong of this memex is my personal database, powered by Evernote. I’ve had an Evernote account since March of 2008 while it was still in beta, I think. But I’ve never used it very well.

Now, I have one notebook in my Evernote account. But a bajillion tags. I’m still working through all my existing notes and adding tags which will take some time but I’m feeling good about that progress and excited for the results.

I’m also taking all my existing note cards and scanning them into Evernote for tagging. The tags will sort and connect the ideas from various notes, giving me lots of sources for new articles and possibly even books.

As Robert Greene has said, “Everything is material.”

I just had to find a way to keep my material organized. I’ll keep you updated here on my progress.

Why is this important for educators?

I don’t know. Maybe it isn’t. If you’re a researcher, I can’t help but think it would be useful to have a very organized and connected system for your research.

But for the classroom teacher or administrator, how helpful would it be to connect the threads of all your work over the years? Likely, very helpful. And think of what you could share with your colleagues or future students.

On Dealing with Fake News in Education

fake news
Photo by Nijwam Swargiary on Unsplash

Fake news. Disinformation. Misinformation. We see it all and so do our students.

We can choose to ignore it or we, as educators, can help students see what is real, what is fake, and what is somewhere in-between.

Kimberly Rues writes as she tries to get a better understanding of fake news herself:

Eating the proverbial elephant one bite at a time seems like a great place to begin, but which bite to take first? I would propose that we might begin by steeping ourselves in definitions that allow us to speak with clarity in regards to the types of misleading information. Developing a common vocabulary, if you will.

In my quest to deeply understand the elephant on the menu, I dug into this infographic from the European Association for Viewers Interests which took me on a tour of ten types of misleading news—propaganda, clickbait, sponsored content, satire and hoax, error, partisan, conspiracy theory, pseudoscience, misinformation and bogus information. Of course, I recognized those terms, but it allowed me to more clearly articulate the similarities and differences in text and images that fit these descriptions.

My first instinct is to keep bringing us all back to the subject of digital citizenship (which is just good citizenship in a digital world) but I know I’m still a small voice in a big world.

Also: here’s one of my favorite tools to help recognize media bias.