My most useful web tool

I've a new blog post on the OSC IB Blogs site about using "My most useful web tool" - RSS.  

Click through to the site, check out my post, and explore the other blogs there, too.

Codeacademy (Review)

One of the Middle School students at ISOCS sent me this review of Codeacademy  using Pages for iCloud sharing:

Screen shot http://www.codecademy.com/learn

Codeacademy is a website part of Khan Academy,  where you can program things by code. it also has another subject, which is math. When you have completed  a specific task, you get a badge, these are transferred into energy points.  The more energy points you get, the better you will be at everything.  
Pros and cons:
  • is organised
  • has great format
  • is helpful
  • and fun

Cons: NONE!!!! 

So to sum it up, try Codeacademy, and see if you like it.  by G.

Digital Native? Immigrant? Visitor? Resident?

Another PBS Idea Channel video to share:

Published on Dec 11, 2013
Is there such a thing as a "DIGITAL NATIVE"? Some experts have suggested a clear divide between "digital native" (the Millennial tech experts) and "digital immigrant" (older generations introduced to technology later in life). The young NATIVES have had technology change the way they think and the way their brain works, while older folk are stuck playing catch-up. But is that fair? Can someone innately understand technology? Is it even a good idea to define people as natives vs immigrants? Watch the episode and find out!

Read Marc Prensky's articles and essays if you're interested.

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by OllieBray

If you'd like to think further, watch this video:


Do you think that the video below, from Dave White,  might be a better description of the spectrum of technology users? 

Published on May 31, 2013
Understanding how individuals engage with the web. 
Embedded in this blog post: http://tallblog.conted.ox.ac.uk/index... 

At the end of the video, Mr. White says 

"So, that’s the Visitor-Resident Principle. And I think what I’d say, overall, about it, is that it’s not about academic or technical skills; it’s about culture and motivation. And, to me, that is a much healthier emphasis than maybe we’ve seen over previous years, where we’re not focusing primarily on the technology, but we’re looking at how people approach the technology; and, as I say, not in a skills basis and not in an age basis, either, but in terms of their motivation. And I’d ask whether we’re moving into a kind of a post-digital, post-technical space, because the technology itself is working quite well and there’s an awful lot of it; and most of the really substantive challenges that we face, appear to be socio-cultural rather than, particularly, technological.

"And this brings into question what things like digital literacy and digital skills might actually mean. Obviously, at one level, you do need to know how to just literally engage with the technology and which buttons to press; but perhaps that shouldn’t be our primary focus in terms of the way people engage with online spaces or online tools, depending on whether you’re a visitor or a resident." (source)

Deleting files isn't as simple as it sounds

Two very interesting videos from the BBC you should see, if you're thinking of changing computers.  What will you do with your old one?

Published on Nov 22, 2013
Dallas Campbell finds out why deleting files isn't as simple as it sounds. Jem lends a hand in destroying some hard ware as the boys test what can be retrieved from some seriously damaged hard drives.
(Having trouble seeing this video?  Click here to go to YouTube.)

Published on Nov 29, 2013
The Data Recovery Masters set to work on recovering the data on the hard drives that Dallas got medieval with.
(Having trouble seeing this video?  Click here to go to YouTube.)

Sieve of Eratosthenes

The Sieve of Eratosthenes is an method for efficiently finding all prime numbers up to a number, 120 in this case, by eliminating (colouring in) all multiples of successive primes. It uses the common optimisation of starting at p2 for each prime p, as all non-primes (composites) up to p2 were found in previous passes. Because of this it needs only consider primes up to 7, because the square of the next prime 11 is 121, larger than any number here.

A Tweet from @davidwees this morning brought this image to my attention.  I found its source on this Wikipedia page. The Sieve of Eratosthenes is a simple algorithm that finds the prime numbers up to a given integer. (If you need to brush up on prime numbers, see this definition of prime number.)

"Eratosthenes (276-194 B.C.) was the third librarian of the famous library in Alexandria and an outstanding scholar all around. He is remembered by his measurement of the circumference of the Earth, estimates of the distances to the sun and the moon, and, in mathematics, for the invention of an algorithm for collecting prime numbers. The algorithm is known as the Sieve of Eratosthenes." (Source)

Swiss Art to Go

On Issuu.com I "follow" Swiss Heimatschutz/Patrimoine publications. In the new volume (4/2013) p. 31, there is a story about a mobile app, Swiss Art To Go.  On the app's web page, there is this very interesting video, from its YouTube channel:

Published on Oct 16, 2013
Swiss Art To Go, the encyclopedia of swiss architecture, is an application of the Society for Swiss History of art. Swiss Art To Go (SATG) is available in german, french and italian on the App Store, the Google Play Store and the Windows Store.

We've long been interested in morphing videos (Van Gogh self-portraits), Faces of Women, etc.) - there's something magical about  one thing changing magically into another, "before our very eyes".  I'd never seen the process applied to buildings.

Posting about Flipboard

I've a new blog post on the OSC IB Blogs site about using Flipboard as a web content curation tool.

"As you begin to imagine how Flipboard could serve your own teaching or learning, think of its “pushme-pullyou” possibilities."

Click through to the site, and explore the other blogs there, too.

Education's Death Valley

My friend Tanja Galetti (Librarian at Hong Kong Academy) tweeted this Ken Robinson video a few hours ago.  It's relatively new, and needs to be seen!

FILMED APR 2013 • POSTED MAY 2013 • TED Talks Education
"Sir Ken Robinson outlines 3 principles crucial for the human mind to flourish -- and how current education culture works against them. In a funny, stirring talk he tells us how to get out of the educational "death valley" we now face, and how to nurture our youngest generations with a climate of possibility."

Homer Simpson vs Pierre de Fermat, and Andrew Wiles

New video today from Numberphile:

Published on Sep 29, 2013
Author Simon Singh on Fermat's Last Theorem in popular culture, especially The Simpsons.

If you're a Simpson's fan, and you're not sure about being a Maths fan, watch this video.

Then, in the best "if you give a mouse a cookie" mode, you'll want to investigate Fermat's Last Theorem itself, to see what Simon Singh is talking about.

Uploaded on Jan 24, 2011
BBC Horizon programme. Simon Singh's moving documentary of Andrew Wiles' extraordinary search for the most elusive proof in number theory.

(You can read about the Theorem, too, on Wikipedia and on the Wolfram Mathworld site.)

Thank you Simon (and Homer) for pushing me to watch the second video (Fermat's Last Theorem) all the way through. 

It isn't a video I would have chosen to watch from a YouTube list without the Homer Simpson link. I urge you to watch it, too. all the way through.  In it, you'll see all sorts of amazing learning, teaching, sharing, understanding - in short, most of the IB Learner Profile in action - and, oh yes, some very interesting mathematics (and a superb example of digital storytelling)!

Maps & Mapping, Time and Place

It seems as though every teacher I know is heading into a unit of inquiry which at least touches on maps, if it's not totally focused on maps and mapping, or geography in general. I've been looking for resources for various ages and approaches, and have tried to pull them together here because of  Richard Byrne, who posted recently about 3 excellent sites for finding historic maps: The amazing David Rumsey Historical Collection, Old Maps Online, and Historic Map Works.  (Click through to Richard's post to read about each of these sites.)  

Historic Map Works is not as visually exciting as the other two, when you first open the page, but if you click on "Browse", choose an area, and then choose "Gallery View", you will find a lot to explore visually (which may be useful if you don't know what you're looking for by name)!

Screen shot of http://www.historicmapworks.com/Browse/antique.php?c=World

Our Primary classes looking at "Here and There" have used this wiki as a resource. Last time it was used, the central idea was "Maps are visual representations of place and help us locate where we are in relation to other places." and the lines of inquiry were:
  • How we create maps and share information
  • Maps of place through time
  • The relationship of our location to other parts of the world
A wiki for a Year 9 MYP Humanities unit, "Renaissance, Exploraion and Wealth" includes some maps for study, 14th century maps, and resources about map making.  Another wiki for a DP HL History Route 1  (Medieval History) course has a map page.

There's a YouTube playlist for Mapping our World,  Pinterest Boards Maps and Mapping and Maps for Swiss History.

All the mapping websites used in our various wikis, sites, blogs, etc., are bookmarked to this list on Diigo.

One of the aspects of collecting, or curating these resources which continually fascinates me is the many ways they can be shared, for different purposes and different audiences. We try to present them as text, as image, as video when possible, and to find resources for different levels of understanding, as well as language use.

The History of Reading and the Literate Life

Having to do with International Literacy Day, I share this TEDc talk with you, well worth your consideration.

Professor Seth Lerer is Dean of Arts and Humanities and Distinguished Professor of Literature at the University of California at San Diego. He had previously...

You'll find a quick biography of Prof. Lerer's on his Wikipedia page, and a full list of his published work on his UCSD website.

An interesting man, with interesting ideas. Here's an older video of an interview with him:

Uploaded on Apr 9, 2007
An interview with Stanford Professor Seth Lerer, discussing his new book, Inventing English.

Search for "Seth Lerer" on YouTube, and you'll find many interesting videos.
Here's one more:

Published on May 10, 2012
(Visit: http://www.uctv.tv/ ) Seth Lerer, the dean of Arts and Humanities at UC San Diego, presents how language, the written word and the recognition of the passage of time have led to the modern conception of self and the individual in this series exploring what it means to be human. Lerer's lecture is part of the "To Be Human" series sponsored by the Making of the Modern World program at Eleanor Roosevelt College at UC San Diego.

Prof. Lerer is introduced at 5:12, and begins to speak at 8:21

Is Google Knowledge? | Idea Channel

Published on Aug 21, 2013
"Google it" seems to be the quick and easy answer for every question we could possibly ask, but is finding facts the same thing as KNOWING? Having billions of facts at the tips of your typing fingertips may not necessarily be making us any smarter. Some people even think it's making us more stupid and lazy. Whatever way we process the vast sea of data available, the question remains: is the act of googling the same as knowledge? What the episode and find out!

Read the comments below this video on its YouTube page.  Most are thoughtful and interesting.  Some are, as usual, not worth the space they occupy.

Doodling Dragons

Another great video from Vihart, a YouTube channel well worth subscribing to.

Published on Aug 19, 2013
You can totally draw fractals freehand, yo. Tomorrow's class will be in approximately three weeks.
Things to look up if you want: Dragon Curve, Sierpinski's Triangle, L-systems, fractals, space-filling curves.

What's in a (geographical) name?

I've been using Scoop.it, Paper.li, Pinterest, Flipboard and other web curating tools recently much more than my bookmarking sites to share resources.

Today I saw a "Scoop" on Seth Dixon's Geography page which I want to share with the classes that will be investigating "Here and There" in Year 4,  and Primary Historical resources in Year 9.

What's in a Name?

Screen shot

We've often looked at how position on a map gives importance to a place, but how often have we investigated the power of naming?

"Urban Bus Races" and Data Visualization

A post in Google Maps Mania this morning set me off on a bit of Internet exploring.  The post is about "...Urban Bus Races ... a particularly interesting visualisation. Using actual transit data from San Francisco, Zurich and Geneva, Urban Bus Races measures and compares bus route performance in the three cities...." Since I ride public transport in Geneva and Zurich, I was curious, and decided to have a look at the Bus Races.

I clicked through to the source of the challenge, Urban Prototyping, which headed me off on an unexpected side trip, down an unknown path in the Internet Forest, to Visualizing.org  I used tineye to look for the source of this image, used on the Urban Protoyping page.  (The City of Geneva used it, too, on the web page describing their participation in the Urban Bus Races project.)

In the same Visualizing pages, I found the Geneva project, Ville Vivante,  and  a project about the Bern Train station that caught my interest (embedded below).


Back to the main path through the forest.  If you are interested in data visualization, public transport, urban design, or Geneva, Zurich or San Francisco, I urge you to spend some time playing with all the projects linked below.  They were all derived from the same data sets, but each is uniquely creative.

I explored all the winners, deciding to focus on Geneva when I had to make a choice among the cities, because I know it's transport system best.

I found the Urban Bus Races most interesting by setting it up to run 3 bus routes in Geneva. Be sure to scroll down so that you can see the maps and the statistics below each one, at the same time, and then going to Dots on the Bus to watch the same information in a different presentation.

"Buses, trams, bicycles, pedestrians, and cars zoom about modern cities like blood pulsing through the body. But with urban growth comes challenges—one of them is how to improve transportation. Luckily, advances in technology combined with active open data and open source movements mean the citizenry can increasingly become part of the solution. Unclog the arteries, stimulate circulation.
"The Urban Data Challenge seeks to harvest the innovative and creative power of communities around the world to explore urban data sets through visualization.
"Designers, programmers, data scientists, and artists alike are invited to take up the challenge: merge and compare mobility data sets from three cities—San Francisco, Geneva, and Zurich—and draw meaningful insights. Winning projects will showcase the power of open governmental data and facilitate the knowledge exchange between cities. Juried prizes include round-trip airfare to one of the participating cities and funding from Fusepool, the European / Swiss Datapool, for developing the project into an app.
"The Urban Data Challenge ran from February 6th through March 31, 2013 with events in San Francisco, Geneva and Zurich." (link)
Grand Prize
Dots on the Bus 
Be sure to click on the "About" link in the lower right corner of the map:
"Sometimes bus riding can feel intimidating, but this visualization proves it: everybody's doing it. Pick a route off the map and watch a day in the life of the line. Buses speed by, passengers jumping on and off. Some lines are slow, some are hopping, and rush hour is often hilarious."

"Transit performance is often solely measured by speed and efficiency. But how well do transit systems actually serve the diverse populations in a city? Do people of different economic classes experience different quality of service and access? By overlaying transit data with income levels, these maps visualize the equity impacts of transit service."
"Frustration Index shows the Level of Service (or Frustration) for transit services in San Francisco, Geneva, and Zurich. Our web application visualizes frustration factors (capacity or crowdedness, delay, and speed) for one day in October 2012 across the three cities. More background information can be found on the project’s about page."

Third Prizes
A City’s Heartbeat
"A dynamic and interactive visualization of the public transportation network in Geneva. A playback of tram movements over a 2 day period allows us tofeel the pulse of the city.
Feel free to pan around the map and use the controls on the right to adjust the playback speed."
"TransitVis is an iPad app that lets users examine transit ridership data from public agencies. Given a properly formatted data set, a user can see various statistics over a selected time period. Users can tap on individual stops to drill down into the data or zoom out to see overall trends. The app provides a map layer underneath the data and the ability to move around in 3D to see how things relate to each other."
"Urban Bus Races indicates the location of buses operating on the routes selected, during the date and hour selected (local time). The size of the grey circles along the routes represent the number of passengers waiting at the stop. When a bus, represented by a small white circle, arrives at a stop, all waiting passengers board the bus and the grey circle shrinks to show that the passenger queue has been served. This allows users to quickly visualize areas of the city where large queues are forming, by time of day. Large queues may be an indication that reliability needs to be improved to reduce gaps between buses or that service frequencies need to be increased to satisfy demand. The background maps are color-graduated according to the corresponding Walk Score®, to highlight areas of the city with more accessible destinations within walking distance of a transit stop."

Honorable Mentions
"A single day of transportation data is played back in 3 minutes. The visualisation shows the bare minimum, e.g. transportation lines, stations and buses moving between those stations. At any time during this process, the viewer has the opportunity to become active and interact with the data by interfering with the traffic. The moment he starts adding new informations to the visualisation, he creates a parallel reality where each of his action has consequences, good or bad. The original data sets, based on public transports information from San Francisco, Geneva or Zurich on October 4th, 2012, are then changed and the outcome of this day of experimentation is different than what happened on this day in reality."
"This visualization seeks to expose:
- Which are the busiest routes at different times of the day
- Congestion analysis – a particular stretch of road may be busy because there are multiple bus services travelling along that same road."
"MetroMapperSF utilizes the real-time data of all SF transit vehicles to draw out a map of the cities metro network.
Every 10 seconds [API delay allowance] the data is updated, plotting the latest location of up to 650+ vehicles during peak time.
Their given speed and heading are shown in read, pushed to an extreme speed, in order to map out an alternative grid of prediction."
"This map is a simulation based on the timetables of the TPG Genève public transport network."
"This project presents a few visualizations to compare and contrast between San Francisco, Geneva, and Zurich to see which city does a better job overall as well as particular routes and time of day where they can be further analyzed or improved. The plots show that San Francisco performs the worst in terms of reliability and over-capacity. In terms of peak riderships, Geneva has especially high peak loads during the morning, lunchtime, and evening commute compared to other times of the weekday. San Francisco also experiences some peak loads during the morning and afternoon commutes, but there were not as prominent compared to Geneva."
"Ridership is an identifier for how cities are utilized—whether they are centralized, decentralized or have multiple focal points, whether activity concentrates during rush hour as people are entering or leaving the city center(s), or whether activity is spread out over time. As the transit passenger data suggests, Geneva is centralized while Zurich appears to have multiple centers, and activity is concentrated during rush hours. Activity in San Francisco on the other hand is more evenly spread out, both spatially and over the course of the day. These insights are not only useful for city planners and transit authorities, who can get a sense of what areas see high and low ridership and understand what areas are underserved by public transit."
"I wanted to build a tool that analyzes public transit information and visualizes realtime arrival data for every minute of the day — showing the current load on the transit system, the current delays, where passengers are boarding, and more. My goal is to help understand when and where problems (i.e. delays) occur in public transit systems.

I also wanted to provide comparisons between the three cities, Geneva, San Francisco, and Zurich, so we can all see which city has the best public transit system., and it looks like Zurich is the clear winner with both the least delays per trip and the most passengers handled per day."

If you live in one of these cities, and experience transport problems, do these visualizations confirm your experience?  If you were trying to improve their transportation systems, how would these help?
And if you were trying to build a transportation system for a city which doesn't have one, what would these visualizations tell you?  How do you think the project creators personal experience might have influenced their approach to their creations?

Macaw - a web design tool

If you're interested in web design, and are even a little familiar with DreamWeaver and Photoshop, you should watch this video, and then visit the Macaw web page.

Macaw Sneak Peek from Macaw on Vimeo.
The first public demonstration of Macaw! Watch @attasi walk through a sample project – from blank canvas to spiffy code.

 I liked watching Tom Giannattasio create the sample webpage, and listening to his dialogue - design specific vocabulary, concise explanations of process, and reasoning behind decisions. Useful if you actually want to design a page, and useful if you only want to learn the lingo, and understand the mechanics.

There's an interesting interview at .net this week with the co-creators of the tool. Last question is:
".net: When will the app launch and on what platforms?G&C: We don't have a date set in stone, but we'll let everyone know as soon as we do. We'll launch on OS X ,but we already have a game plan for Windows."
You can leave your email to be notified of developments and launch dates.

Cesar Milan on Trust

One of my long time favorite blogs is Presentation Zen.  This morning I read a post by Gar Reynolds, who writes Presentation Zen, that includes the video shared below of Brian Eliot   interviewing Ceasar Milan, of Dog Whisperer fame.

Reynolds writes "...So much of what he says about leading a successful business life and personal life resonates with me. I think it will resonate with you as well. Great stuff."

Although they're talking about business, I hear a lot of ideas that are useful in teaching, education, schools, and just in general dealing with people (and dogs).  Watch this video with the IB Learner Profile in mind.

Published on Jun 19, 2013

In this video, you also see Brian Eliot demonstrating an excellent interview technique.

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

Sonder [2:39] from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, written by John Koenig.

sonder - n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.


"You are the main character—the protagonist—the star at the center of your own unfolding story. 

You're surrounded by your supporting cast: friends and family hanging in your immediate orbit. 

Scattered a little further out, a network of acquaintances who drift in and out of contact over the years. 

But there in the background, faint and out of focus, are the extras. The random passersby. Each living a life as vivid and complex as your own. 

They carry on invisibly around you, bearing the accumulated weight of their own ambitions, friends, routines, mistakes, worries, triumphs and inherited craziness. 

When your life moves on to the next scene, theirs flickers in place, wrapped in a cloud of backstory and inside jokes and characters strung together with countless other stories you'll never be able to see. That you'll never know exists. 

In which you might appear only once. As an extra sipping coffee in the background. As a blur of traffic passing on the highway. As a lighted window at dusk."

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is a blog, but the posts are definitions of made-up words. Or, as the author describes it much more poetically,

"A compendium of the aches, demons, vibes, joys and urges that roam the wilderness of the psychological interior. The author’s mission is to harpoon, bag and tag wild sorrows, then release them gently back into the subconscious.

Copyright © 2013 John Koenig. All content is original and is intended to be read at night. "

The author is John Koenig, a freelance graphic designer who lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.

After you have read back through several years worth of posts, read the FAQ page.

Although the  ninth and last Commander of Moonbase Alpha  is also named John Koenig ( a fictional character from the television series Space: 1999),  the artist who writes The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is a real person. You can see his portfolio here

How the Internet Is Changing ...Education?

Uploaded on Jul 1, 2009
Epipheo Studios presents "How the Internet is Changing Advertising", a short history of communication and how the internet is a new medium that has thrown out the old rules of communication.

The ASIDE (The AMerican Society for Inovation Design in Education) blog shared this video this morning. Click the link and read their post.  It concludes with
"We like the message about have an illuminating discovery to think differently about things. In doing so, be media savvy. Check the source, look to see if it’s an advertisement, and don’t be fooled by the creativity. We’ve moved from being passive viewers of information to wanting to communicate what we encounter with others. That’s okay; just take a minute to evaluate it."

But also, take a minute and imagine how you could use internet media described in the video, in education, in your classes, or your presentations.  

When there is a correct answer...

Shared by Scott McLeod  on his Dangerously Irrelevant blog:

Published on May 9, 2013
A correct answer kills the creativity. See what happens when third grade students think there is a correct answer.I would be thankful if other teachers from other Countries will repeat this exercise and send me the results, I will publish these results in YouTube

A Song of Our Warming Planet

A Song of Our Warming Planet from Ensia on Vimeo.
"When faced with the challenge of sharing the latest climate change discoveries, scientists often rely on data graphics and technical illustrations. University of Minnesota undergrad Daniel Crawford came up with a completely different approach. He’s using his cello to communicate the latest climate science through music.

Thermometer measurements show the average global temperature has risen about 1.4 °F (0.8 °C) since 1880. Typically, this warming is illustrated visually with line plots or maps showing year-by-year changes in annual temperatures. As an alternative, Crawford used an approach called data sonification to convert global temperature records into a series of musical notes.

The final result, “A Song of Our Warming Planet,” came about following a conversation Crawford had with geography professor Scott St. George during an internship. St. George asked Crawford about the possibility of turning a set of data into music.

“Data visualizations are effective for some people, but they aren’t the best way to reach everyone,” says St. George. “Instead of giving people something to look at, Dan’s performance gives them something they can feel.”

Crawford based his composition on surface temperature data from NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies. The temperature data were mapped over a range of three octaves, with the coldest year on record (–0.47 °C in 1909) set to the lowest note on the cello (open C). Each ascending halftone is equal to roughly 0.03°C of planetary warming.

In Crawford’s composition, each note represents a year, ordered from 1880 to 2012. The pitch reflects the average temperature of the planet relative to the 1951–80 base line. Low notes represent relatively cool years, while high notes signify relatively warm ones.

The result is a haunting sequence that traces the warming of our planet year by year since the late 19th century. During a run of cold years between the late 1800s and early 20th century, the cello is pushed towards the lower limit of its range. The piece moves into the mid-register to track the modest warming that occurred during the 1940s. As the sequence approaches the present, the cello reaches higher and higher notes, reflecting the string of warm years in the 1990s and 2000s.

Crawford hopes other researchers and artists will use or adapt his composition to support science outreach, and has released the score and sound files under a Creative Commons license.

“Climate scientists have a standard toolbox to communicate their data,” says Crawford. “We’re trying to add another tool to that toolbox, another way to communicate these ideas to people who might get more out of music than maps, graphs and numbers.”

The video ends with a stark message: Scientists predict the planet will warm by another 1.8 degrees Celsius (3.2 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of this century. This additional warming would produce a series of notes beyond the range of human hearing."


Support for this project was provided by the Institute on the Environment, the College of Liberal Arts, the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program and the School of Music at the University of Minnesota.

Video production by Elizabeth Giorgi.

Sound recording and engineering by Michael Duffy.


I'm changing directions: I seem to be using Scoop.it, Paper.li, and Pinterest more often, and will be writing blog posts for OSC IB Blogs beginning in August.  Use the tabs on this page to explore other ways I share "my" web.

cc licensed ( BY ND ) flickr photo shared by Lalit Shahane  via Compfight cc

Interactive Storytelling Using Twine

The Middle School students have been writing "Alternative Ending" or "Choose your own adventure" stories.
I recently read about Twine, on Ruben R. Puentedura's Weblog.  Twine is free software for Mac and Windows, which "lets you organize your story graphically with a map that you can re-arrange as you work. Links automatically appear on the map as you add them to your passages, and passages with broken links are apparent at a glance."

On the Twine web page, there are several intro videos, which I've embedded here, so you can get an idea of how it works, and decide whether or not you would like to add this software tool to your computer.

Creating A Simple Story from Chris Klimas on Vimeo.
A quick intro to creating a simple, nonlinear story using the free application Twine.

Formatting a Story from Chris Klimas on Vimeo.
How to customize your story's appearance in Twine.

Finishing Touches from Chris Klimas on Vimeo.
Wrapping up work on a story in Twine.

The links below are on Dr. Puentedura's page:
"The slides for my presentation at the 10th Annual MLTI Student Conference are now online: Oh What A Tangled Web We Weave: Interactive Storytelling Using Twine
The Twine tutorial game described in the slides can be played here, and downloaded here."
Maybe one of our Middle Schoolers will spend this rainy holiday weekend transferring a story into Twine :-)

There and Back Again: A Packet’s Tale

From the World Science Festival web page:


"The video lets you ride shotgun with a packet of data—one of trillions involved in the trillions of Internet interactions that happen every second. Look deep beneath the surface of the most basic Internet transaction, and follow the packet as it flows from your fingertips, through circuits, wires, and cables, to a host server, and then back again, all in less than a second."(link)

This video explains the Internet in very easy to grasp illustrations, with great analogies and metaphors.

Relevance With Problem-Solving Challenges

Bob Sprankle shared this video with us:


Published on May 6, 2013
"Special correspondent John Tulenko of Leaning Matters reports on a public middle school in Portland, Maine that is taking a different approach to teaching students. Teachers have swapped traditional curriculum for an unusually comprehensive science curriculum that emphasizes problem-solving, with a little help from some robots."

You can "see inside" the King Middle School in Portland Maine at its web site.  Click on the Expedition link in the left side bar, to read about other projects, or "Expeditions", like the one featured in the video above.

Changing habits is a game

Interesting post this morning at the BigFish Games blog. A look at the headers will give you an idea of what it's about:
  • Gamers are experts at making and breaking habits: "You enjoy playing games, right? It can be effortless to pick up a game and get addicted. If you play games, you’re already good at what it takes to change a habit."
  • Crash course on game mechanics: "Think about your favorite game. What keeps you going back? Which game mechanics are at play to keep you returning?"
  • How habits are formed: "Habits – both good and bad – are the product of repetition and reinforcement. We do something, we see and like the results (a rush of dopamine), and we do it again. We do this over and over, forming deep pathways in our brain that become harder to change as time goes on."
  • Changing habits is a game: "Behavior = Motivation + Trigger + Ability"
  • One tooth a night: "... it’s easy to think about flossing one tooth. But you can’t floss just one tooth when you start!"
  • Changing the worst habits: "Start by removing at least one of the variables. "
  • Let’s go on a quest: Random Rewards: "Set reasonable goals:"
  • More ways to break a bad habit
Read the whole post to get the full pictures of how to analyze the game mechanics in your life.  

And while you're there, admire the way the writer has used CC images from Flickr with proper attribution.  She had help from a site called Comflight  (http://compfight.com/) which helps you search the Creative Commons licensed photos on Flickr, and gives you the attribution text to use with the image. (Watch out for the NOT free images which will appear at the top of the screen.)

cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by Jonathan_W

Note to Self: Artist Chuck Close

A blog post by the always inspirational David Gran (The Carrot Revolution) introduced me to a video I hadn't seen before.

Note to Self: Artist Chuck Close from grant doug on Vimeo.
Chuck Close gives advice to his 14-year old self.

You will, I hope, want to know more about Chuck Close.  Check out the WIkipedia page about him, and this page at ArtsNet  about his painting.

Chuck Close on Creativity (link):
"Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work. And the belief that things will grow out of the activity itself and that you will — through work — bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would never have dreamt of if you were just sitting around looking for a great ‘art ida.’ And the belief that process, in a sense, is liberating and that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every day. Today, you know what you’ll do, you could be doing what you were doing yesterday, and tomorrow you are gonna do what you didid today, and at least for a certain period of time you can just work. If you hang in there, you will get somewhere.
and from a page at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
"Some people wonder whether what I do is inspired by a computer and whether or not that kind of imaging is a part of what makes this work contemporary. I absolutely hate technology, and I'm computer illiterate, and I never use any labor-saving devices although I'm not convinced that a computer is a labor-saving device."

Visiting CERN (with a hard-hat and Glass)

On Andrew Vanden Heuvel's blog, you can read about his visit to CERN.
"I’m the first person who has ever taught a science class from inside the LHC tunnel. Seeing just a small portion of the whole loop, I was overwhelmed by the size of it all. The fact that I was able to share this experience with students, even answering their questions in real-time, is simply mind-blowing."
Watch the video to see what Google Glass can do, and to see inside CERN, and to read about a very interesting Physics teacher.

And if you haven't been to CERN, be sure to visit  before you leave Switzerland - it's only a few hours train ride  or drive from ISOCS:

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