Sunday, December 4, 2011

Iowa Rocks!

Iowa, Did You Know? - YouTube

History Education in a World of Information Surplus | Democratizing Knowledge

History Education in a World of Information Surplus | Democratizing Knowledge

So what should a 21st century education in history be?

Let me start by explaining how my recent inquiry has been motivated by three things. First, I’ve noticed over the last couple years that I rarely pull a History Primary Source Reader off the shelf for my students. Instead, I find excellent sources online. I just can’t find a Reader that gives my students all the relevant primary sources the World Wide Web can. Second, my department is engaged in a curriculum review process this year that has taken us to some very fundamental questions, like: should we attempt to cover the whole history of all human time between 7th and 11th grade (when our required courses end)? should we be focused on “coverage” or on “meaning-making”? what should students know and be able to do upon graduation? is it more important they know a lot of historical facts or that they can think like historians?

And thirdly, a couple week ago I ran across this excellent TEDx talk by Diana Laufenberg. She is a Social Studies teacher at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, PA, where the curriculum is inquiry-driven, project-based, and focused on 21st-century learning. Though her talk is ostensibly about learning from mistakes, I think she’s making an important point about history education. She begins by stating the obvious, but what most history education standards don’t yet acknowledge – students don’t need to come to school to find historical information:

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Common Core State Standards Initiative | Myths vs. Facts

Common Core State Standards Initiative | Myths vs. Facts

Myths About Content and Quality: General

Myth: Adopting common standards will bring all states’ standards down to the lowest common denominator, which means states with high standards, such as Massachusetts, will be taking a step backwards if they adopt the Standards.

Fact: The Standards are designed to build upon the most advanced current thinking about preparing all students for success in college and their careers. This will result in moving even the best state standards to the next level. In fact, since this work began, there has been an explicit agreement that no state would lower its standards. The Standards were informed by the best in the country, the highest international standards, and evidence and expertise about educational outcomes. We need college and career ready standards because even in high‐performing states – students are graduating and passing all the required tests and still require remediation in their postsecondary work.

Myth: The Standards are not internationally benchmarked.

Fact: International benchmarking played a significant role in both sets of standards. In fact, the college and career ready standards include an appendix listing the evidence that was consulted in drafting the standards and the international data consulted in the benchmarking process is included in this appendix. More evidence from international sources will be presented together with the final draft.

Myth: The Standards only include skills and do not address the importance of content knowledge.

Fact: The Standards recognize that both content and skills are important. ......

Biosemiotics/Introduction - Books

Biosemiotics/Introduction - Books

Peirce’s logical inference of abduction (Gk. μεταφέρω metafero – to carry; hence metaphor Gk. μεταφορά metafora – to carry away, via iconic signs, meaning from one place to another) is based on the iconicity of metaphor (and the primary ‘Universe of Firstness’ – see below). As I write in my own contribution to this Living Book, ‘Gregory Bateson and Biosemiotics’:

abduction is the only logic which introduces newness: induction merely confirms that something is so; deduction draws out further logical implications. But a genuinely new development (let us call it an ‘idea’ – whether natural or cultural) requires a mysterious and incalculable move. Peirce called it informed guessing, or a hunch or animal-like intuition: a semiotic operation, but hidden from view (Peirce, 1998a: 216-8). Bateson, working out of cybernetic understandings, thought about the problem of abduction in terms of systems consisting essentially of information as positive (excitatory) and negative (dampening) feedback. Biosemiotics, of which Bateson was an important precursor, recasts ‘information’ as semiosis in living systems. In biosemiotic thought, living systems are thus conceived as cybersemiotic systems, and this introduces a rather different sense of ‘mind’ and ‘idea’. A ‘mind’, as Bateson recognised, is something much more like an ecology in which ‘information’ (semiosis) circulates in a complex symphony of causes, feedback, and further effects (signs) (Wheeler, 2010: 41).

PLAYBACK: Tweeting History, Literature and Politics, and the Future of News | Spotlight on Digital Media and Learning

PLAYBACK: Tweeting History, Literature and Politics, and the Future of News | Spotlight on Digital Media and Learning:

Tweeting History: The New York Times covers historical reenactments on Twitter this week with a story about@RealTimeWWII, which has grown to more than 15,000 followers since it started this past August. Alwyn Collinson, a recent Oxford University history graduate, has been live tweeting the events of World War II as they unfold in real time.

Collinson tells the Times the idea is to let followers experience how the war felt to ordinary people:

“I still get dozens of tweets every day from people who say, ‘I forgot I was following World War II, and I suddenly thought the Germans were about to invade Holland,’ ” Collinson said. “That’s exactly the effect I want: to convey the fear, the uncertainty, the shock. That’s what it was like for the people who lived through it.”

We’ve written previously about using Twitter to bring history to life for students (see tweeting the Civil War), and the Times has a few other great examples, including @1948War, which tweets the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Educators may want to check out, whose tagline is, “Those who forget history are doomed to re-tweet it.” You can browse past re-enactments and get guidance on starting your own.

The Short Form: I wrote about Twitter’s burgeoning literary community when we covered the medium’s fifth anniversary earlier this year. The community is growing – from poets to social media theatrics. The National Writing Project has done a great job of highlighting uses of Twitter in the classroom specifically for teaching the art and craft of writing.

I like this new collection on its Digital Is site called The Short Form. Curated by Paul Oh, it demonstrates the value of learning to write 140 characters at a time.

In this resource post from Keri Franklin, director of the Ozarks Writing Project and assistant professor of English at Missouri State University, she equates learning to tweet with learning to write and to read. “I learned as much about audience, purpose, conventions, and handling writing apprehension as I have learned from writing much longer pieces,” she says.