Saturday, January 29, 2011

Advance Estimate of GDP

I think lessons are easier to understand with real data. When a freshman geography student see this headline, hopefully they remember what GDP stands for and why it's important. No use waiting until a senior economics test. But I also hope that sociology students will evaluate news articles like this in light of the big picture.
Advance Estimate of GDP for the Fourth Quarter of 2010 | The White House

You Can Do Better

I teach a wide variety of classes. Sometimes they seem worlds apart. And other times, I can't help but chuckle at how certain skill sets are universal. I like to share ideas from Smashing Magazine with my Web Design students and occasionally share layout ideas with Journalism, but the following article flips that relationship by placing journalistic responsibility on the web designer.
We Can Do Better: The Overlooked Importance of Professional Journalism - Smashing Magazine

Immigration & Winning the Future | The White House

Isn't it great when life and curriculum converge? The very day we were to research the government's influence on immigration patterns the White House released the following article:
Immigration & Winning the Future | The White House

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Qwiki

I was just directed to Qwiki and after a couple searches, I was hooked. I know I'll be embedding several clips on the news section of my class pages. In fact, after embedding one for Sociology, I immediately emailed the entire school staff the link.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Great Design

Chicago Transit Tees has got it right. Let's see if I can figure out what it is I really like about this website's design.

First of all, it's Chicago...and the "El". That right there got my attention. I like how the single image dominates the page spread. I also appreciate how the typeface mirrors the actual transit system's default font. Navigation is simple.

I could see a similar series of page spreads in a yearbook, especially if they were taken at various locations. It's amazing how recognizable wall textures are or how they evoke particular moods.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Van Gogh Museum - Picasso in Paris, 1900-1907

If I were going on a trip to Europe, this is one place I would NOT want to miss: Van Gogh Museum - Picasso in Paris, 1900-1907

MDG Maps

Great resource for geography and sociology. I like how you can export the maps as pdf files for inclusion in a report. From the About Page...

MDG Maps is a geovisulization tool for the Millenium Development Goals.
It enables one to generate printable maps for the different indicators. Select an indicator and the data will be loaded and rendered. One can use the slider at the bottom of the map to select data for different years. One can customize the map by selecting different color schemes and background colors. To export the map to pdf click the button at the top of the map. Clicking on a country will zoom in to the selected country and display printable charts for that country.
This tool uses data from the Millenium Development Goals dataset at the World Bank Data Site  and Color Schemes from Cynthia Brewer at Color Brewer
Developed by Joshua Masiko, joshuamasiko@gmail.com

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Microsoft Mathematics 4.0

Download details: Microsoft Mathematics 4.0: "Microsoft Mathematics provides a graphing calculator that plots in 2D and 3D, step-by-step equation solving, and useful tools to help students with math and science studies."

Sunday, January 16, 2011

New Reporter, New Beat

New reporter will keep focus on education reform | The Indianapolis Star | IndyStar.com

The Star announced the hiring of a new reporter to cover an education beat. Editor Dennis Ryerson introduced Scott Elliott with a simple Q&A column but also paints a picture of the challenges a new reporter faces, especially developing a new beat.

The Star has been closely monitoring the current education debates here in Indiana, so it should be interesting to watch how Scott handles the strong opinions and outspoken readers. Since Scott is also on the board of the National Education Writers Association, I have a feeling he can handle the pressure.

One Reason to Learn Programming

The following article appeared in this Sunday's edition of the Star. Just another example of why programming skills are important. My students won't get these jobs right out of high school, but hopefully they will be inspired to pursue a field in computer technology at the collegiate level.

ExactTarget product development chief Ed Frederici has a computer science degree from Purdue. / Matt Detrich / The Star

In these times of economic uncertainty and joblessness, what happened to an ordinary tech guy like Ed Frederici seems, well, kind of extraordinary.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Yearbook Final

The yearbook staff chased down the
maintenance crew salting the sidewalks.
No, the book isn't finalized, we simply had the semester final. Rather than ask them to repeat a bunch of ideas about inverted pyramids and white space, I had the students create a page spread... from scratch... in just two hours. It was a lot of fun!

Deadlines are a big part of journalism and ours are usually weeks apart. I explained that we USUALLY refine a page for weeks, sometimes months, so I was not looking for that level of perfection. I wanted to see them work the process from beginning to end. Would they remember HOW to develop the angle, visually and verbally? Could they work efficiently?

It didn't help that the old SLR camera's shutter quit working and maintenance (the subject of the page spread) was difficult to find. But they persevered! I really appreciate the staff's dedication to QUALITY.

Not only did they work hard on fake page spreads for the final, but later in the day when they had study hall, the seniors returned to the computer lab and worked on additional page spreads. Come to think of it, they almost put in a full day's work just on yearbook. That's pretty sweet.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Bloomberg Boost

Check out this article on Bloomberg Businesweek reminding us that anybody can make a PowerPoint but few can do it well. That's good advice going into semester finals. Don't just get it done, but do your best.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Robotic Resources

The companion site for the book Mindstorms Made Easy has a list of basic robot designs with downloadable instructions and links to related sites. Look under the Other Resources tab.

I recognized most of the web addresses so its a good list to bookmark. While I don't own a copy of this book, the sample pages appear well thought out and easy to understand. I also appreciate the way they explain WHAT is happening, not just HOW to make it happen.

Places to Write

This morning one of my yearbook students declared that she wanted to start a blog. It was a happy moment. Of course, sustaining the drive to write can be tough, especially with a limited audience. So since connecting with readers is important, below are listed three good sites to start writing on.

Reposted from Mr. Byrne


Three Ways Independent Student Writers Can Reach a Bigger Audience


The obvious way that students can reach a bigger audience is to maintain their own personal blogs that they share with their family and friends. Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, Edublogs, are easy to use blogging tools that students can set up in minutes. Which platform students choose to use for their personal blogs isn't terribly important. What is important is that if they're serious about writing they keep writing and they may slowly grow an audience. To encourage the student in the story above, I shared the story of Chris Guillebeau's 279 Days to Overnight Success 

Teen Ink provides a forum for students to post their writings, get feedback from peers on their reading, and read the writing of other teens. Submissions on Teen Ink that are really outstanding are considered for inclusion in Teen Ink's print publications. 

Ink Pop is a site similar to Teen Ink that provides a place for teens to share their writings with each other. Teens can create profiles on Ink Pop and interact with each other. Ink Pop also offers writing contests for its members.

White House Tweets

Presidential Press Secretary Gibbs answers tweets following the President's statement announcing Gibbs would be stepping down. Another example of the tenuous relationship between mass media and workplace turnover. Read more on the White House Blog.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

See the World

Now you can "see the world" without leaving your own home, through Webcams.travel! There is also an app and a 3D version in Google Earth.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Floating Apples?

The Robo-Air Blower is a pretty sweet piece of programming. Read a full review at Wired Magazine. Just imagine one of those synced up with your Kinnect - virtual tennis could become REAL.

Fasten Your Seat Belts


India 4_ Don’t reveal the soles of your feet to other people. from 43 Films on Vimeo.

Fasten Seat Belts bills itself as a lighthearted approach to helping travelers navigate the subtle nuances of social norms - and with a downloadable app you really have no excuses. Each video is less than a minute long and searchable by topic or country.

Local Historic Byway

Historic designation for 270-mile stretch of Michigan Road takes a step forward
Several reasons I like this article:
Publications - nice example of an hourglass article with narrative features
Geography - it's a local example of the connection between topography, transportation and the migration of people.
Computer Applications - It also illustrates the lengthy process adults must go through presenting a project; no slapping together a clip art PowerPoint on this one.
Sociology - illustrates social values and how symbols can even be roads.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Programming Club

Club Compy is a cute, rudimentary introduction to programming. Reminds me of when I was teaching myself DOS and BASIC back in 1985. The ASCII and color codes are reminiscent of the C64 too. It is nice that you can play with the interface without creating an account.

Experience Our Changing World

FedEx has a really cool interactive map that changes the shape of countries based on data sets. What makes it fascinating is the way they grouped data sets. I liked how coffee imports was tied to cases of insomnia. I also appreciated that they provide their data sources. That really gives it credibility.
You can easily share and compare maps and if your interest is piqued, there are follow up articles and polls. They also have an augmented reality piece where you can use a webcam and special printable marker to highlight a 3D globe. I'll have to try that one at school since I don't have a webcam at home but it looked slick.