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Worldview Projects Were A Great Success

November 4, 2013 Leave a comment

LJHS 8th grade students did an outstanding job on their Worldview Projects, demonstrating both creativity of design and mastery of unit concepts. The Projects are on display in the IMC and will be availble for parents to look at during parent-teacher conference night on Wednesday.

Teaching and Learning: High Conceptual Thinkers

August 30, 2012 Leave a comment

The Eide Neurolearning Blog run by Drs. Brock and Fernette Eide, has long been one of my favorite blogs – here’s an example of why:

Gifted Big Picture / High Conceptual Thinkers

High Conceptual Thinkers are often…

– Omnivorous Learners: The world may be their oyster. Because of their quest for the “interesting”, they may love the Internet, read entire encyclopedias, or incessantly question adults about the real world, and so learn a little bit about everything. They may not hit ceiling scores on the conceptual knowledge IQ subtests because their omnivorous approach to figuring out the world around them.

– New is the Thing: HCTs prefer novelty (this is how they develop new conceptual categories) and are tickled by unconventional viewpoints or discoveries.

– Big Picture, Not Little Details: HCTs don’t always transition well to the “precision years” of late elementary, middle school, or beyond.

– Boredom is Death: Although using the ‘b’ word is notoriously a “no-no” word when talking to teachers, these kids rebel against what they see as boredom. Boredom may really seem like death to young HCTs.

If young HCTs seem “driven by a motor”, it’s intellectual restlessness and it can be a blessing as well as a burden.Not surprisingly, these kids often find classroom learning unsatisfying. After all, much of early education is focused on mastering basic skills or established facts, this is not what these kids are about. They’d rather be finding new worlds to conquer.

Although these kids are challenging to teach and parent, they are also a delight, and Dan Pink and others have suggested that the Conceptual Age is upon us and this pattern of thinking should be what we should be encouraging.

“High conceptual thinkers” – those with an insatiable intellectual curiosity, who see meta-level patterns and excel at constructing paradigms, extrapolation, synthesis and consilience are probably not a large percentage of the population and, most likely, they include eccentrics and cranks as well as highly accomplished individuals like E.O. Wilson, Buckminster Fuller, Freeman Dyson, Nikola Tesla, Richard Feynman and probably figures like Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Sir Richard Francis Burton, Winston Churchill, Robert Hooke, Leonardo Da Vinci and numerous others.There seems to be some congruency between HCTs and the category of people known as polymaths, which raises the question of whether HCT are born or can be encouraged to develop such a cognitive profile from education and life experience.

The Eides offered a list of techniques for teaching children recognized as HCTs, but to my mind, these would also benefit a fairly broad section of students:

Teaching Big Picture / High Conceptual Thinkers

– Sky’s the Limit: If an idea or a lesson would be interesting to a wonky tech-y post-college 20-something, then it’s fine for the HCT. If a story or thing could be written about in Wired, Fast Company, or Mental Floss, then you’re probably on the right track. Sky should be the limit. Even some generally excellent gifted programs we’ve seen may grossly underestimate an HCT’s ability to think about advanced concepts. Also because HCTs develop their ideas through pattern recognition, they may want to see many examples and permutations, and complex presentations in order to help organize their ideas into simpler concepts.

– Play with Ideas: Conceptual thinkers like and need to play with ideas. Play expands ideas, creating a new opening for associations. Play means not micromanaging learning experiences – allowing some dabbling, and taking away some of the “high stakes every time” routine (e.g. not everything should be graded).

– Argue with Ideas We think many educational curricula wait way to long before they allow young HCTs to consider different viewpoints, learn how to frame arguments or actually debate, but this is often what HCTs love. If they don’t get it at school, make sure they get it home…maybe at the dinner table? Half of the 400 eminent men and women profiled in the Goertzels’ Cradles of Eminence came from “opinionated” families: “It is these homes that produce most of the scientists, humanitarians, and reformers.”

Compare these recommendations with the advice offered by nanotechnologist Dr. Eric Drexler of Metamodern:

Studying to learn about everything

To intellectually ambitious students I recommend investing a lot of time in a mode of study that may feel wrong. An implicit lesson of classroom education is that successful study leads to good test scores, but this pattern of study is radically different. It cultivates understanding of a kind that won’t help pass tests – the classroom kind, that is.

  1. Read and skim journals and textbooks that (at the moment) you only half understand. Include Science and Nature.
  2. Don’t halt, dig a hole, and study a particular subject as if you had to pass a test on it.
  3. Don’t avoid a subject because it seems beyond you – instead, read other half-understandable journals and textbooks to absorb more vocabulary, perspective, and context, then circle back.
  4. Notice that concepts make more sense when you revisit a topic.
  5. Notice which topics link in all directions, and provide keys to many others. Consider taking a class.
  6. Continue until almost everything you encounter in Science and Nature makes sense as a contribution to a field you know something about.

Intellectual curiosity would seem to be the axis that would make these approaches work effectively, and possibly, that’s what these techniques stimulate.

What I am Reading

August 27, 2012 2 comments

Reading is an enjoyable and important part of life.  A person who never is seen carrying a book is likely to have a head as empty as their hands. Teddy Roosevelt claimed that he read a book a day and Thomas Jefferson, whose personal collection became the foundation of The Library of Congress, said “I cannot live without books”.

Here is what I have been reading in the past few weeks:

 

Here is what I am starting to read in addition:

 

What are you reading?

Categories: Books, Fun, Learning

Pretty Good Books – Extra Credit Option

January 5, 2012 Leave a comment

In an effort to encourage students to engage in the reading of meaningful books – and to throw some help to students who have struggled recently with the concept of deadlines 🙂 – I am starting the Pretty Good Books Extra Credit Option for 8th grade Social Studies.

Students will be eligible, if they so choose, to read up to two (2) books and produce reports ( they will have several options as to format) for 30 points of extra credit per book.

`Here it is (More books and categories will be added in the future):

Pretty Good Books – Extra Credit Option

Objective: To earn rare extra credit by reading a pretty good book and doing a report that demonstrates that you

a) Read the book

b) Understood the book, or at least some of it

c) Have evaluated the book and formed a reasoned opinion

The Book List: Is drawn from a range of sources including Dr.Roger Taylor’s “Reading list for the college bound student”, ED Hirsh’s Core Knowledge and bibliographic material relevant to Illinois Learning Standards, Common Core standards and Social Studies curriculum at LJHS and District # 99.

The Extra Credit Option: Is voluntary. No specific book is recommended for all students and students should choose a book in line with their reading level and interests and with parental guidance if needed. While the books are all “serious” in that they have important ideas, they are of varying lengths and levels of difficulty. The list includes fiction and non-fiction, history, biography, literature, social science and science.

Books are organized loosely by general topic with author (*) denotes “Non-fiction”

ANCIENT WORLD:

The Iliad – Homer        Rubicon – Tom Holland *              The Virtues of War – Steven Pressfield

The Odyssey – Homer       Persian Fire – Tom Holland *        Tales of Ancient Egypt – Roger Green

The Aeneid – Virgil          Cicero – Anthony Everitt*                Alexander the Great – Paul Cartledge*

The Histories – Herodotus *         Augustus – Athony Everitt *            Tales of the Greek Heroes – Roger Green

The Persian Expedition – Xenophon *          Gates of Fire – Steven Pressfield

The Epic of Gilgamesh                 A War Like No Other – Victor Davis Hanson*

AMERICA (General):

Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin*                      Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass*

Founding Brothers-Joseph Ellis*                                   Autobiography of Theodore Roosevelt*

Autobiography of Malcom X*                                            Patriarch – Richard Norton*

Battle Cry of Freedom – James McPherson*           The Red Badge of Courage- Stephen Crane

Last of the Mohicans – James Fennimore Cooper       Johnny Tremain – Esther Forbes

Abraham Lincoln – James McPherson*        Tom Sawyer – Mark Twain

Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain      The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Little Women – Louisa May Alcott         Crazy Horse and Custer – Stephen Ambrose*

Babbitt – Lewis Sinclair          The Jungle – Upton Sinclair

White Fang – Jack London        Call of the Wild – Jack London

The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck     Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

SCI-FI and other FICTION:

Enders Game – Orson Scott Card     Farenheit 451 –Ray Bradbury    Foundation – Isaac Asimov

The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand    Frankenstein – Mary Shelley    Dracula – Bram Stoker

Animal Farm – George Orwell    1984- George Orwell     Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

Darkness at Noon- Arthur Koestler     The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson

Kim – Rudyard Kipling    Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift    The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien     The Lord of the Flies – William Golding     The Trial –Franz Kafka

The Three Musketeers – Dumas    Brave New World –Aldous Huxley     Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn     Starship Troopers –Robert Heinlein

WAR:

Art of War – Sun Tzu      Carnage and Culture – Victor Davis Hanson *    Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut

All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque     Band of Brothers –Stephen Ambrose*

Homage to Catalonia – George Orwell*     Catch-22 – Joseph Heller    About Face – David Hackworth*

The Greatest Generation – Tom Brokaw*     Rough Riders – Theodore Roosevelt*     Fiasco –Thomas Ricks*

The Peloponnesian War –Thucydides*    Hiroshima- John Hersey      The Profession –Steven Pressfield

The Quiet American – Graham Greene     Flags of Our Fathers –James Bradley*     Senator’s Son – Luke Larsen

SOCIAL SCIENCE and SCIENCE (all non-fiction)

Nonzero – Robert Wright    Guns, Germs and Steel -Jared Diamond    Freakonomics – Levitt & Dubner

Faster – James Gleich     Emergence – Stephen Johnson    The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell

The Lexus and the Olive Tree – Thomas Friedman     A History of Knowledge – Charles van Doren

Growing Up Digital: Rise of the Net Generation – Don Tapscott     Here Comes Everybody –Clay Shirky

Einstein –Walter Isaacson      Surely You Must be Joking, Mr. Feynman – Richard Feynman

The Making of the Atomic Bomb – Richard Rhodes     Reality is Broken –Jane McGonigal

Options for your report will be given after a book is read.

Total value : 30 points

8th Grade Worldview Project

September 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Students are working on a worldview project this week and next in Social Studies that will culminate in a poster or 3-D object that illustrates and explains the 8th grade LJHS worldview.

Time has also been allotted in class for purposes of planning and coordinating among group members, designing the project, checking for progress, using computers and other collaboration.

Students have exchanged contact information and received the first of many handouts and will be given daily group task lists in order to stay on track.

The project is dueMonday, October 3rd and is worth 100 points.

Perception vs. Reality

September 12, 2011 Leave a comment

The students were introduced to two concepts in the last two weeks – that Perception and Reality can be very different and that Western Civilization has two basic and opposing Worldviews on the nature of Reality itself (going back to Plato vs. Aristotle). Characters from the sci-fi movie, The Matrix, were used to illustrate the point.

After viewing material and discussion, questions were asked:

And now, simply for fun !:

RSA Animate with Sir Ken Robinson: Changing Educational Paradigms

October 29, 2010 Leave a comment

A great animated overview of how public education is changing/needs to change in the 21st century: