USCCB Declares January 2017 as “Poverty Awareness Month”

If I don’t frequently visit the excellent and continually expanding United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website I’m likely to miss an important announcement. The other day I discovered that January 2017 is “Poverty Awareness Month” for the U.S. Catholic Church

There are some excellent resources, including the calendar (pictured above) which includes daily information and weblinks. An expanded version of the resources linked on the calendar is found here.

I’m planning on an activity with my classes tomorrow using the “quiz” found at this link listed for January 2nd:

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And USCCB.org also has resources for National Migration Week, beginning on Monday, January 8th. More on this later….

 

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Happy 2017! A New Year and a New Look

As a Catholic and a teacher, January 1st isn’t as important as either the first Sunday of Advent or the first day of school. While I celebrate today with the rest of the world, I’ve already welcomed 2017 and 2016-2017.

Culturally it feels like there’s both a sense of relief that 2016 is done, yet trepidation with what 2017 will bring – especially with a new U.S. President in twenty days.

So, I share with you three things today..

First, I chose the image above as it reminds me of a favorite quote:

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I think I’ll use this as a prayer or mantra over the next 365 days.

Second, I’ve changed the look of this blog. I felt it was time to freshen things up and to allow more posts to be viewed simultaneously. Note that the items which were on the side bars are now at the bottom. Please let me know what you think this new format.

Finally, I offer the list of Pope Francis’ prayer intentions for this coming year. I hope you’ll pray with the Holy Father, the Universal Church, my classes and me for these great needs for our planet.

And, as we face the unknown of what 2017 will bring, may we follow Pope Francis and his invitation for all of us:

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Back to School and Back to Blogging

In the words of The Cars, “Hello, hello again.”

I hope you had a good Summer of 2016. I did. Even though I wrote in my last post that I planned to post here during the summer, it turns out that this didn’t happen.

Turns out that during the summer I wasn’t in a writing mode, but more of a reading mood. You see I really enjoy reading novels, but unfortunately doing this is often one of my lowest priorities during the school year. So I caught up with a vengeance by reading, Lovecraft Country, Underground Airlines, Before the Fall, The Selloutand a couple of David Baldacci books as well (because I heard him speak at the Columbus Library  in June.)

Full classes begin for us on Wednesday, so I’m in full back to school mode and thinking about how and what I’m going to teach this school year. I don’t have a list of new back to school ideas. Instead, please see what I posted this time last year by clicking here, here, here, here and also here. Also, I encourage you to check out what Jared has to share over at his The Religion Teacher site.

So, I’ll wrap this reintroduction up by inviting you to check out the Sunday lectionary gospel which I’ll post before each school week. And I have a new week-daily feature which I’ll be introducing very soon.

May Christ bless you during this school year of 2016-2017!

Sun(Fun)day Night: Lots O’ Links on the Future of Tech

It’s another Sunday night and if you’re like me – YOU DON’T HAVE SCHOOL TOMORROW! Sorry to “shout” there, but it’s always nice to enjoy a Sunday night without the preoccupation of having to prepare to teach on Monday morning.

Rather than just offer one funny  or thought-provoking Sun(Fun)day Night link, I’m offering a whole list of them. I’ve been saving these up and now seems like as good a time as any to share them here.

Enjoy these links and take a look into the crystal ball to see the future of technology:

“Mechanical Trees Become ‘Power Plants’ When They Sway in the Breeze”

“3D Touch Opens a New Dimension of User Interaction”

“Battery Research Claims 10x Gain”

“This Samsung Patent Lets Smartwatches Recognize You by Your Veins”

“Insane Ways of Making Energy You May Not Know”

“The Mobile Phone of the Future Will Be Planted in Your Head”

“Dissolvable Devices Keep Tabs on The Brain”

“Autonomous Robots are Changing the Way We Build and Move Products Around the World”

“Hop, Skip, Drive: Uber, But For Kids”

“Scientists Can Now Predict Intelligence From Brain Activity”

“Fiction’s Newest Frontier: Literary Geocaching”

“Wearable Sensors Could Translate Sign Language Into English”

“New Foam Batteries Promise Fast Charging, Higher Capacity”

“Artificially Intelligent Software is Replacing the Textbook and Reshaping American Education”

“How Your Device Knows Your Life Through Images”

“Meet Kangaroo: A $99 Windows 10 Desktop PC as Small as a Smartphone”

“You Are Your Smartphone”

“Do Robots Need a Human-Like Sense of Touch”

“This Guy Wants Us to Commute in Autonomous On-Demand Pods” 

“Why Hearables May Be the Next Big Thing in Tech”

“Mind Controlled Robot Suits Help the Paralyzed Move Again”

“Salt-Based Batteries Could Make Your Next Mobile Device Cheaper and Greener”

“7 Unexpected Virtual Reality Use Cases”

“Microsoft’s 2016 Predictions: Expect the Year of Machine Aided Wit”

“Yahoo Labs Develops Biometric Authentication Method for Touchscreens”

“2016 Will Be the Year Wearables Disappear”

“Google Testing a Feature to Eliminate the Password”

“Future of Messaging Apps Spells the End of Google as We Know It”

“OrCam’s MyMe Wearable Will Watch and Decode the World For You”

 

 

Web Link Clearance – Best of 2015 Lists

On this first day of the second month of 2016 I offer you a chance to celebrate: National Girls and Women in Sports Day; Change Your Password Day; Car Insurance Day; G.I. Joe Day; and Decorating with Candy Day by enjoying this list of “Best of 2015 Lists”

Why, you may ask, am I sharing these a month and a day after the start of 2016? A simple answer: these links were in my queue for posting by year’s end – and it never happened. Rather than just delete them and move on, I thought there is still value in looking back to find quality books, music, apps, etc from last year. Hence, this “web link clearance” today.

Besides: Do you write 2016 every time you put down the date or do you still sometimes write 2015 by mistake?

The Only 9 Apps Released in 2015 We’re Still Actually Using

50 Best Albums of 2015

Longreads Best Stories of 2015

Apple Names the Best iOS Apps of 2015

10 Most Popular Podcasts of 2015  (“How to Listen to Podcasts”)

Top Illustrated Science Books of 2015

The Best Novels of 2015

Overdrive’s Best Books of 2015 [This is the excellent online portal for ebooks and audiobooks that both of our local library systems use)

NY Times 10 Best Books of 2015

 

 

Friday FunPost – Using Games and Virtual Reality to Teach Compassion

Today’s Friday FunPost is less “ha ha” funny and more of a thoughtful, potentially inspiring type of fun. I’m chaperoning our Freshman Retreat today and in a more reflective space than on most Friday afternoons.

The other morning this word and reflection arrived in my inbox from the good brothers of the Society of St. John the Evangelist:

Suffering

“The prevailing reason why Jesus did what he did and said what he said was his compassion for others. Compassion, which literally means “to suffer with” another person. Compassion is not just to observe suffering, but actually entering the suffering of another.” -Br. Curtis Almquist

I shared this with my students that day as another reminder of how compassion is one of the core values essential for one who follows Jesus the Christ. We’ve been talking a lot about compassion and empathy lately in class. This essential conversation, accompanied by prayer, is a clear antidote to the widespread fear, scapegoating, nativism, racism, and generalized hostility in our social and political conversations these days.

Today I read about two tech facilitated ways to help others grow in compassion and empathy. First, Tech Crunch offers a solid overview of how Virtual Reality is expanding classroom learning in a variety of ways. After describing how VR has been and continues to be used for mainly for simulations – especially scientific and historical ones – the author suggests this creative and constructive usage:

Perhaps the most utopian application of this technology will be seen in terms of bridging cultures and fostering understanding among young students, as it will soon be possible for a third-grade class in the U.S. to participate in a virtual trip with a third-grade class in India or Mexico.

This may sound simplistic and minor, but I think it’s only a beginning of how we will soon be able to leverage VR for a wide variety of educational outcomes. We often assume that we can only use VR from our own exclusive perspective to explore myriad locations, time periods, simulations, etc. After all, everything I see with my eye-brain connection is filtered through only my own reality. The true power of VR is that it will allow me to see what the world looks like from others’ perspectives. And if the simulation is created with thoughtful skill this could engender greater empathy in me.

For example, what if the VR headset caused me to see all writing as a dyslexic person does every day? Or maybe it could show me the hallucinations and “voices” that plague a schizophrenic in his or her daily life. At the very least, it will allow us to take on the persona of someone quite different than ourselves and see, first-hand, the world through their eyes.

Even before VR becomes widely available in our classrooms, a growing genre of video games exist which allow us to experience life from a different perspective. In an article glibly titled “Video Game Psych 101:Empathy Games” we learn how:

Biofeedback video games feed off players’ physiological responses, impacting gameplay in new and interesting ways. But what happens when developers create games designed to evoke a specific emotional or psychological response?

Empathy games attempt to answer that question. These video games aspire to enhance a player’s understanding of an outside perspective, particularly those pertaining to real-world struggles and inequalities, through interactive experiences.

This genre includes the groundbreaking game from a few years ago – Dsy4ia. While this particular simulation engenders empathy towards a specific life experience, this type of game could be created to illustrate any number of situations. And, combined with the increasing power of VR, the possibilities for tech facilitated education for compassion and empathy is limited only by our imaginations.

 

Coming Attractions…Wash Your Cell Phone w/Soap & Water

It’s Monday and we are looking forward to the new workweek ahead. Thus, it’s a auspicious time to launch a new feature I’m calling “Coming Attractions…” The tech we have today is pretty amazing. How much of it could we imagine even three or five years ago?

To get ready for what’s coming next in the world of technology, look for this feature here at Ed Tech Emergent.

It’s the germy season and wisdom tells us to frequently wash our hands and frequently touched items. Electronics are always on those lists of The 8 Germiest Items in Your Home. Sure, you can run an alcohol wipe over your microscopically filthy remotes, keyboards, and cell phones. But wouldn’t it be nice to get those items really clean using old fashioned soap and water?

Well now you can – with your cell phone at least.

Don’t believe it? Check out this promotional video (I hope you can understand Japanese):

2015 – Best Things – An Amazing Calendar and More

I’d planned to make this post before 2015 ended, but it obviously didn’t happen. These links, especially to the calendar pictured above are too good to miss. So, let’s pretend it’s a few days ago and we’re looking back at 2015 before (and not after) 2016 has begun.

This calendar from Slate is pretty amazing. Certainly horrible things happened in 2015 – some (the Paris and San Bernadino terrorist attacks) in the final few weeks. Yet, there were far more good things – in fact at least one per day in 2015.

Do check out the calendar. Click on a day and you’ll get more info on what happened that is deemed “good” (at least by the creators at Slate). What if you don’t think something is good on a certain date? Well, you can rate the event on a scale from “Great!” to “meh.”

Here’s, for your perusal, some other “best of lists” and “looks back” from 2015:

The Year in Review in Catholicism (from Crux)

The Best Books We Read in 2015 (from The Week)

The Best Songs We Heard in 2015 (from the Week)

These 14 Characters Stole the Show in 2015 Movies (from the Washington Post)

The Crux 2015 Christmas Book and DVD List

The 13 Funniest TV Shows of 2015

I have some more lists from 2015 to share, but I’ll do so in another post…

 

 

Stuff You Should Know – Winter 2015-2016 Predictions

Hi, my name is Rick and I’m a weather junkie. And I’m embarrassed to say exactly how many weather apps I have on my iPad and smartphone

Yet, for your perusal and edification, here’s one of the best infographics I’ve seen which shows a prediction for this winter’s weather. I’ll try to find another one in April 2016 which shows how the winter actually was. It will surely be interesting to see.