Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Thinking in Mind

Any day you find a new blogger focusing on history and digital media is a great day. So yesterday was a lot of fun unpacking Thinking in Mind, a history and digital media blog from Neil Stephenson. Neil is a grade 6 and 7 teacher in Calgary, Alberta.

It's wonderful to have a Canadian example of the great work that can be done with History and new media. Please take a look at the Cigar Box Project his students are working on which sounds like lots of fun. I also really liked this program Glogster. You can find Neil's assignment for using it to create historical timelines.

Really fun work and enjoyed learning about these projects a lot. I've added Thinking in Mind to my blog roll and the famous history teachers who blog section.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Finally discovering Twitter

I tried to twitter a few months ago. I really did and it just didn't work out and I let it go. But I find I'm running into it more and more often and so this week I went back and tried it again. Just a quick note that we all struggle at times with picking up a new tech.

Twitter is a micro-blog - everything you can say in only 140 words (see the common craft video for the full explanation). For all those things that you want to ask but aren't worth creating an email for. My second go around has been a bit more successful and I'm not following a handful of educators that I also follow through blogs. The main reason for my success if downloading and installing Twhirl so that I can get updates from people I follow right as they come in.

I actually think Twitter could be of real value in the classroom but it will take brave teachers to put it to good use. There are already some great posts about using Twitter in the Classroom. But one thing that I would be really interested to see is giving students the opportunity to run a discussion during a lecture. If you have ever attended an online workshop, there is usually a comments or questions bar at the side with running commentary.

Why not run a Twitter feed that students can watch. If you were really brave you could even project it at the front of the class so students could follow along. If you were less brave you could simply have one student or assistant monitor the feed for key questions and thoughts. It's another way to add participation which is always needed.

I can see why Twitter wouldn't necessarily function well for teachers - it's hard to follow a feed while you are teaching, but a great way to keep in touch with students and larger community of educators. I'm going to keep playing around and working on it here.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Tar Sands meet the Uranium Mine

A bit of storm this week has developed around National Geographic Magazine's article, photo's and (online) video of the Alberta Oil Sands development. For many people these are the first images of the Tar Sands that have been readily published and made available.

What I thought was interesting is that the entire piece reminded me of one of my favorite Beaver Magazines articles - Uranium for Atomic Power. The article, from the June 1953 issue of The Beaver, looks at what early uranium mining was like. It's a surprisingly revealing piece into the life of the workers who developed Canada's early uranium mines.

In a classroom the two articles would be really interesting to compare, in particular how reporting and media about environmental issues have changed over the past 55 years. The Beaver was far more optimistic back in the day, and I would assume their press access was probably a bit different. Compare, contrast, and learn away!