Sun(Fun)day Early Morning – Vending Machines for Short Stories

Although it’s not actually Sunday early morning yet, I have a few interesting items I hope to post on this pre-Post-Holiday Return Day. I figure we all need a bit of extra levity as we complete everything we planned to do over the long weekend.

How did you do with your Thanksgiving Reading? I resumed reading a novel (which I started a while ago) – The Bone Clocks – which was one of the top fiction picks of 2014. We’ll see how I do staying with it over the packed next three weeks before mid-terms and then Christmas Break.

I also started reading a short story collection by one of my favorite fantasy authors – Jeff Vandermeer – who wrote the mind-bogglingly singular and creepy Southern Reach trilogy. For obvious reasons, I find that reading a 15 to 20 minute short story is more manageable during my busy days and evenings.

What about reading a one, three, or five minute short story? And how about one that I could quickly print out as I prepared for a daily commute? What if it came out of a vending style machine?

Hand it to the French for creating an actual device to do all of this. Open Culture brought this to my attention and you can learn more about it via this short clip:

Interested in some of the details about how they pull this off? Open Culture tells us:

The Short Édition vending machines, currently only available in eight locations in Grenoble, France, draw from a database of 600 stories chosen by the community atShort Édition’s website, which counts 1,100 authors as members. Presumably, all these stories are in French.

While new, the machines have gathered enough media attention to attract inquiries from Italy and the United States. So look out, you might find one in your area soon.

As the title of the Open Culture post observes – it’s far better to feed your mind with short fiction than your body with empty junk food.

6-Month-Old Babies are Now Using Tablets & Smartphones

Wow! According to this recent study, by two years of age, most children have used a mobile device.

Perhaps even more significant is the amount of time quite young children are using these devices:

The amount of time the children spent using devices rose as they got older, with 26% of 2 year olds and 38% of 4 year olds using devices for at least an hour.

Imagine how tech savvy and tech demanding these children will be when the hit the middle and high school classrooms in a decade or so.


Every High School in the U.S. is Getting a Free Copy of Selma

Yes, this is a pretty awesome thing!  Another site mentions that this free mailing does indeed include both public and non-public schools.  No word though on when these DVD’s will be shipped.

Teachers can receive a free “companion study guide” upon request.  There are numerous sites such as this one by “Teaching for Change” with other support materials.

And, it is rated PG-13.  This is particularly good news for schools like mine where “R” rated films cannot be shown.

100th Post! A Gaggle of Google

It’s the First of April and the 100th post on Ed Tech Emergent!  And no, this is not a clever April Fool’s Joke like the one put forth today by Redbox in their introduction of the companion Petbox with videos and games for dogs and cats.

I’ve been collecting interesting, education-related links for more than six months and I have far too many I’ve not posted yet.  To celebrate one hundred posts, I share many (31 actually) links to tips, tricks, and devices all from the world of Google. Here goes:

Google’s Art Project Chrome Extention – A beautiful way to customize the “new tab.” In the midst of the wide range of art that appears, buttons to key funtions can be accessed. Here’s a couple of the artworks which came up for me today:

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11 Handy Chrome Extensions You Should Try Today

Google Sheets: Click Here to Tweet

Here’s a Good Way to Annotate and Grade Google Drive Files

Make the Most of Your Gmail With These Excellent Apps

Google Puts Chrome OS on Your TV With Its Own HDMI Stick – I first saw this exciting announcement today, so hopefully it’s not an April Fool’s Joke.  What it appears to be is a gum-packaged sized stick, dubbed the Chromebit, priced at about $100, which will essentially turn your TV into the functionality of a Chromebox (by adding a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard).

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Five Myths About Google

A Guide to Google Tools: Tips and Tricks You Can’t Live Without

8 Good YouTube Channels for Teachers – A pretty amazing and mysterious portal which I learned about from this article.  Here’s the link to the site itself. 

6 Good Chrome Notetaking Apps That Run Offline

Two Good Google Drive Templates to Create Fake Facebook Pages

15 Amazing Features in Google Apps You Probably Don’t Know About

7 Great Chrome Apps to Help Students Become Better Googlers

Create an HD Fly-Through Video Tour in Google Earth Pro – This is one that I’m hoping to try out during Easter Break.  If you’ve not yet downloaded your free copy of Google Earth Pro, do it now!

7 Great Google Forms for Teachers

10 of the Best Chrome Apps for Math Teachers

How School Admins Can Harness the Power of Google Drive

Google Offers These Powerful Storytelling Apps for Free

10 Google Slides Activities to Add Awesome to Class

5 Things Every Teacher Should Be Able to Do on YouTube

Everything Teachers Need to Know About Google Scholar Library

Interactive Learning Menus Using Google Docs

Excellent Speech to Text Tool Integrated with Google Drive

Chrome Extension Turns YouTube into a Serious Music Player

Using Google Spreadsheet for Creating Flashcards

Teacher’s Easy Guide to Creating Quiz Shows on Google Drive

5 Great Google Plus Communities for Teachers

11 Steps to Create a Google Plus Community for Your Class

Create a Badge with Google Drawing

Excellent Tutorials to Create Presentations on Google Drive





“Make Way for Generation Z”

I’ll admit it – I’m inordinately interested in generational generalizations and how they play out in society.  I can remember exactly when this curiosity started.  It was early 1998 and The Fourth Turning had just been released in hardcover. This turned me on to William Strauss and Neil Howe and their research on and theories about the interplay between generations. 

They’ve focused quite a bit recently on the generation which has been rising behind my (X’er) generation.  Dubbed Millennials or Gen Y, this is the generation which was born after the early 1980’s. It’s hard to believe that the oldest Y’ers are now close to 35 years old!

Since a generation typically spans about 20 years, it’s about time for the next generation to be rising.  But what to call them?

I smiled today when I found, in the NY Times, the first article I’ve seen which both names and attempts to describe this generation – born in the late 1990’s into the 2000’s. The name given to these present eighteen year-olds and younger is the logical, but not creative, Generation Z.

According to The Times, these high-schoolers down to grade-schoolers, can be characterized as such:

Gen Z is already out in the world, curious and driven, investigating how to obtain relevant professional experience before college. Despite their obvious technology proficiency, Gen Zers seem to prefer in­person to online interaction and are being schooled in emotional intelligence from a young age. Thanks to social media, they are accustomed to engaging with friends all over the world, so they are well prepared for a global business environment…

Good thoughts to ponder as both my son (born 2001) and daughter (b. 2003) are firmly Z’ers.  And of course so are the high school students that I teach (12th graders – b.1997; 9th graders – b.2000!).



Good News! Teachers Live Longer!

Well, sort of.  More and more scientific evidence is mounting that a sedentary life-style, especially in which one sits at a desk all (or most of) the day, can actually subtract years off of your life expectancy! 

This article does a nice job of summing up this research while offering recommendations.

The main take-aways from the article:

  • New research continues to mount that the more hours you spend sitting in a day, the shorter your lifespan may be – even if you engage in regular exercise
  • Women who sit for 10 or more hours a day have a significantly greater risk of developing heart disease than those who sit for five hours or less
  • The key to counteract the ill effects of sitting is to repeatedly interrupt your sitting; try setting a timer and standing up at least once every 20 minutes or at least 30-35 times (spread out) in a day
  • Correct posture and standing up 30 times per day may compensate for the damage that is done by long periods of sitting.

I don’t know about you, but I actually sit for less than two hours during my work day teaching.  And I imagine nearly 100% of teachers sit far less than the 10 hours a day that puts one into the “significantly greater risk” category.

And standing every 20 minutes?  How about if I try sitting for even a few minutes each hour?

What is actual teacher mortality rate compared to other professions? According to the study cited at this blog, teaching has the third lowest rate after religious clergy and accountants and is quite a bit lower than architects and engineers. So, I guess standing and being a “sage on the stage” is much better for you long term than hunching over a desk.

History is a Process, Not a Pile of Flashcard Facts

Here’s the first of a trio of quick posts of interesting and valuable items that I discovered in the past few days.

In light of the uproar over the AP U.S. History curriculum in Oklahoma, this article from The Conversation by a professor in OK, succinctly states why those who are outraged don’t really understand history education.

My favorite line in the piece, which I try to remember as I teach Salvation History to my Freshmen:

History is a living process, not a ‘thing’ to be memorized.

Dinner, PARCC Testing and Intentionally Losing a HS Basketball Game

Last night I enjoyed a fantastic dinner with former colleagues from a major educational publisher with whom I worked a few years ago.  The woman whom I sat next to had a similar career path as me – teaching few a few years, working as a consultant in educational publishing, and now returning to the classroom.  For me it’s high school teaching.  For her it’s third graders.

The topic of standardized testing came up, specifically the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) Assessments which are linked to the controversial Common Core Standards which have their outspoken supporters and detractors.

This third grade teacher rattled off the laundry list of standardized tests she will give to her nine year olds, including the PARCC Assessment.  We talked about the websites which encourage the growing number of parents who are choosing to opt out of the exam.  I shared about the test anxiety that my bright fifth grade daughter is feeling right now as she is preparing to take it.  And we laughed at how this daughter of mine is telling people that “PARCC is CCRAP spelled backwards.”

The issue of the efficacy of standardized testing, especially for young elementary students was discussed today on The Conversation website.  Jennifer Keys Adair, Professor of Early Childhood Education at the University of Texas, writes:

“Over time, it was seen that testing was not the best measure. Researchers at Stanford have, in fact, found that testing is a terrible, stand-alone measure of accountability. Other evidence against testing has been mounting as well. Earlier in 2015, teachers testifying to Congress emphasized the effects of standardized testing on teaching and learning from NCLB…”

“Testing emphasizes learning as “right and wrong answers”, which is not the way most kids learn. Kids have been shown to learn through trial and error as well as discovery. Testing values directions and achievement over creativity and a range of learning experiences.”

“As an early childhood teacher educator, I find myself sympathizing with teachers who, under pressure from administrators and policymakers, have to prepare young children to be successful on tests that begin in third grade.”

Learning as “right and wrong answers” is much like saying that the only value to playing a competitive basketball game is to win.  Anyone who has coached youth knows that there are myriad benefits to competition in organized sports just as there are many benefits to learning besides getting “right and wrong answers.

Also today, I saw this article in the Washington Post. 

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Both high school teams were tied in the standings going into the game.  Which ever team lost, would be seeded in a more advantageous spot in the post-season tournament bracket.  In the story published by the local Tennessee newspaper an official says of one of the coaches: “He [the coach] said he talked to them about bracketology,” [TSSAA executive director Bernard] Childress said. “He told them, ‘This is where we will be if we win, this is where we will be if we lose.’ “ 

Apparently the players of this coach understood the message and took the court with the intention to lose.  Once this team intentionally missed free throws, sought to turn the ball over, and allowed their opponent to score easily, it was clear they were seeking to lose.  Then the other team adopted some of the same tactics and the refs stopped the game b/c it was obvious neither team was playing to win.

To these teams and coaches the only value of the competition was the outcome, in this case losing and not winning.  I wonder how many youth who take myriad standardized tests in their educational careers have come to view learning as simply about the score-based outcome.  I wonder how many test-jaded students take the rebellious tactic, like my then seventh grade son did last year, of intentionally doing poorly on a standardized test.

Most of all, I wonder if and when the pendulum will swing backwards from standardized testing to other, more holistic based assessments of student learning.

One thing I do suspect in light of this spate of ridiculously record cold in Columbus (-11 F yesterday morning) is that God doesn’t like the PARCC test either as tests have been postponed or canceled both last week and this week due to so many school closings!

Most Significant YouTube Videos in the First Decade

OK, so I missed noting YouTube’s ten year anniversary last week.  If you’ve not seen this site listing the astounding numbers of the top ten most viewed videos, it’s worth a look.  It’s mind-blowing that the Gangnam Style K-Pop music video has received 2.2 billion views since it debuted on 7/15/12.  Compare this to the current estimated world population of 7.1 billion.

Those are the most viewed, but what are the most significant ones?  Business Insider answered the question with a Top Ten List of their own.  Number one on their list, is the first YouTube video ever: “Me at the Zoo”

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Of course, if you’re looking to supplement your income you could aim to become one of the twenty most popular YouTubers in the world, some of whom have actually made millions of dollars from their YouTube “channels.”

Exciting, Game Changing Tech News

I’d heard it was coming and now it’s here!  It’s Sling TV – a $20/month streaming service which offers some of the most desirable cable channels.  Today’s Washington Post article states:

“The streaming service by Dish Network doesn’t require a cable or satellite subscription, and for $20 a month it is seen as a disruptive force to the traditional paid television industry. Unlike the cable industry, the service doesn’t require long-term contracts or credit checks and can be canceled at any time.

Sling TV includes ESPN, ESPN 2, TNT, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel and CNN. At a later date, the basic package will include AMC, whose popular shows include “Walking Dead” and “Better Call Saul,” a premium channel that some analysts said was missing to make it a complete online offering.”

This is huge and a blow which could finally break cable’s – $70 a month, lots of channels no one wants, multiple year contracts- monopoly.  My family and I don’t pay anything to our cable company except about $50/month to get an above average speed of internet.  We have a $25 digital antenna which gets us the broadcast networks in excellent HD and we stream Netflix for $8 a month. I can’t wait to sign up and try out Sling TV.  I’ll let you know what I discover about it…

8 tracks, cassette tapes, Betamax, laser disc, corded phones, dial-up internet, green screen monitors, high-priced cable TVR.I.P.