David Warlick Ryann Warlick Martin Warlick
Shakabuku Infographics Video

Are We Missing the Point?

Coding super power
Coding Super Power

The title of this article is a question, because I admit my ignorance of the answer.  I’ve not been paying much attention to THE conversation, since I have finally accepted my status as retired. Wahoo!  But I am working on another book, so my mind is still in our righteous endeavor, even though my PLN has evolved.

The book I am working on will be a history of technology in education, as I have witnessed it – so programming is on my mind.  You see, that’s what we called it back in the 1982, programming.  So I was struck by a sense of déjà vu when I saw so much of the edtech discussion, at the recent Raleigh NCTIES conference, devoted to coding.

But are we (and I’m asking this question seriously) missing the point of a skill that has been so important to me, not to mention a pure personal joy?  You see, what has made coding so important is not necessarily its practicality, though I have been able to support the educational endeavors of many teachers with my tools.  It’s not even the bread it has put on my table, though I am enormously appreciative of that.

I often tell the story that on that first afternoon, after spending my first couple of hours teaching myself how to program (uh, code), I got on my hands and knees and I thanked every algebra teacher I had ever had.  There was finally a practical use for those mystical techniques for manipulating numbers.

But there was a major difference between how I was using Math and how I was taught Math – and it is a difference that strikes right at the heart of what we’re doing wrong in education.  You see, I immediately understood, though I may not have been able to express it, that I was using Algebra as a language, in order to instruct the digital environment (Radio Shack TRS-80 computer) to behave in the way that I wanted.  If you can communicate with a computer, then you can use it to learn and express.

We learned Reading so that we could read our textbooks and other more authentic sources of knowledge.  We learned to Write so that we could articulate our growing knowledge.  Maybe we should learn Coding in order to learn the language of numbers, so that we can learn from our own thoughts and express our ideas in endlessly creative ways.

..instead of teaching Math and teaching Coding.

Of course, I’m not the first to suggest such a radical idea.  It was during those earliest years that some very smart people (Seymour Papert & my friend, Gary Stager for two) were already suggesting and putting into action this very idea with the Logo programming language.

Image Attribute – Coding: It May be the Closest Thing We Have to a Superpower [Digital Graphic]. (2016). Retrieved from http://sfmstechapps.org/2016/02/lets-code/coding-super-power/ From the web site of Spring Forest Middle School Tech Apps Activities

If no NCLB, then what?

So What!I have decided to elevate my response to Benjamin Meyers’ recent comment to a blog post.  He mostly agreed with my sentiments over the demise of No Child Left Behind, with his personal experience of test-prepping high school students for the ACT.  It was his first teaching job and it was what he was hired to do.

I certainly found incredible resistance and boredom from the students. It seemed like the harder I tried to teach the test to my students, the more they hated the subject of science. Indeed, high stakes’ testing has a nasty way of creating negative feelings toward school in students.

Indeed, it seems that the more we seem to care about our children knowing the answers, the less they seem to care about the questions.

But then, Meyers put forth a relevant challenge,

NCLB was created for a reason. Our schools seem to be lagging behind in performance compared to the rest of the world. This in spite of the amount of money that we spend on education and the number of hours that our students spend in the school building. If we are not going to improve education through legislation such as NCLB, then what is the best policy adjustment that our country can make that will actually make a difference?

But were our schools lagging behind?  The scientific research that we never saw was the proof that a generation who could pass tests could, as a result, prosper in a world and time of rapid change.

Were the the countries that were out performing us on tests, also out performing us in the real world?

Of the 32 countries who topped us in the Science PISA test, in 2012, only 7 ranked above the U.S. in the “World Happiness Report,” compiled regularly by an international team of economists, neuroscientists and statisticians.  They were Finland, Canada, Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland and Denmark.1

I’m not saying that our schools were good enough in 1999.  They weren’t, and they left many, many children behind.  But to improve education in the U.S., we need to rethink what it is to be educated.  Being an educated person is no long based on what you know, as much as it is what you can resourcefully learn and what you can inventively do with what you can learn.  The job of the science teacher is to help students learn to think like scientists and to care about science – and even want to become scientists.  The same for other disciplines.

Once we understand what we need to be doing for our children, as a society, then we need to pay for the very best ways of accomplishing it.  Personally, I don’t think we’re paying enough to our teachers and for the infrastructure required to prepare our children for their future.  I also do not believe that our children need to spend as much time in classrooms as they do.  Learning is not as place-based as it use to be.

Four hours in school a day and redefine homework.

1 Brodwin, E. (2015, April 23). The happiest countries in the world, according to neuroscientists, statisticians and economists. Business Insider. Retrieved December 18, 2015, from http://www.businessinsider.com/new-world-happiness-report-2015-2015-4

Why Tolerance?

The Kadam family leaves India for France where they open a restaurant directly across the road from Madame Mallory's Michelin-starred eatery.

My wife and I watched and enjoyed The Hundred-Foot Journey the other night.  If you have not seen it, you should.  If nothing else, Helen Mirren’s portrayal of a posh restaurant madam is an interesting contrast to that of a conscienceless hired killer in RED.

I posted a comment about the movie in Facebook, earning a healthy number of likes and an even more impressive number of comments.  Many of the statements suggested that watching the film would be a good way to teach tolerance – and I agree.

But, as I’ve thought about this and the movie, I think that it’s not tolerance that is being illustrated by the characters, nearly as much as it is finding the human value of each other.

If we were in the habit of looking for the human value of each other, instead of taking offense to the perceived differences, then tolerance becomes passé.

It seems to me that teaching the value of people as the objective would be easier than teaching tolerance.

N’es pas?

What if it happened before the Internet?

One of the challenges of writing a history of educational technology is that so much of it happened before the Internet. I have been surprised and disappointed at how much of it, that I barely remember, has never been reported on the now ubiquitous World Wide Web.

As a result, I’ve had to be resourceful in my research, and one of the tools that I’ve found myself going to again and again is Google’s Ngram viewer.  Here’s the situation.  I’m writing about happenings just after I left the NC Department of Public Instruction and discovering that my future is going to be in training and presenting, instead of Web design and development.  I believe that it was during this time when the term “Integrate technology’ was being adopted by ed tech advocates.  But I’m not sure.  How do I determine, on a timeline, the growing use and abuse of the term.

Click to Enlarge

Enter Ngram Viewer.  The default terms are Albert Einstein, Sherlock Holmes and Frankenstein.  The viewer presents a line chart, illustrating the number of Google digitized books that mention the term by year, from 1500 to 2008.  The default shows the gradual growth of Frankenstein from just after the publishing of Mary Shelley’s book (1818), and then a more rapid rise of Sherlock Holmes starting in the final years of the 19th century.  Occurrences of Albert Einstein started in the second quarter of the 20th century and then Frankenstein, again, overtakes and surges well above, starting in the 1960s – possibly as a result of television’s re-running of Frankenstein movies released in the 1930s and ‘40s.

Entering the term, “integrate technology into the classroom,” into Ngram Viewer, I learn that, although the term started to appear in the late 1980s, its popular use started to rise in the mid-1990s, as we left the growing number of education technology conferences with our new mantra, “Integrate Technology! Integrate Technology!  Integrate Technology!”


Mom and Dad: How they Spend their Weekdays (1965 and 2011)

image28This is an interesting infographic showing the way the average American mom and dad spent their weekdays in 1965 and 2011. This is a great infographic to use as an example for how to create infographics.

First, it’s a great example of a bar chart. This type of chart can be used as a comparison between any two of the same ideas. It also shows how to compare two like items. In this case, years of significance for moms and dads. The data may only be available as late as 2011, but why 1965, what events were occurring in 1965 that make this a good date to compare to 2011?

Blog: http://goo.gl/4u8Q1K

10 Years of iMusic

10-years-of-imusic_539f0c508dad0Technology changes with time. As one piece of technology becomes superior, another becomes inferior. This infographic portrays something interesting, iPod sales and iTunes songs purchased increased together until the mid and late 2000s, but by 2010, iPod sales were decreasing while iTunes sales continued to increase. What could have caused this?

Discuss with your students other things that occurred during this time. Could it be related to other technology, such as the iPhone that became increasingly available. There could also be the issue of the economic crisis, and people buying music just to listen on computers.

What other technology has affected the sales of other items. For instance, the record player and the record, the 8track player and the 8track, the tape player and the tape, and so on. Did any of these follow any similar trends. What could be the next technology that makes the iPod obsolete?

Blog: http://visual.ly/10-years-imusic

8 Great Things to do in London

Traveling is a lot of fun. Especially when one travels to another country or even just to another part of America, one is able to learn about another culture and different people. London may be one of the best cities in which to learn about a variety of cultures. One thing that threw me off when I visited was the small amount of British culture to be seen in London. But one could walk down nearly any street in the city and see someone from almost every country, many of whom may reside in London. And fortunately for those interested in seeing British culture, trains are easy to navigate to cities in the country, each has something different to offer, and the country is rather small in size, compared to the US, and so going from one end to the other doesn’t take nearly as much time as one would expect.

If you were to visit a new city, it is important to make a list of what you want to see. Look on travel sites, and one of my favorites is to search the city on Pinterest. What are your interests. Especially in large cities, it would be difficult to see everything in even several days, so plan accordingly. Also, create a budget and do research. Most tourist attraction are expensive, but some are free. Transportation is also expensive in the city, and I know in London the taxi rates increase during certain hours. Look into mass transit and even walking.

Blog: http://visual.ly/8-great-things-do-london

America’s Birthday by the Numbers

americas-birthday-by-the-numbers_502915e2e9c9cEvery year Americans celebrates their independence in a variety of ways, as this infographic shows. My family used to go to join my mom’s family by a lake for a picnic and then watch fireworks across the lake. My cousins would go early in the morning to get a spot right on the lake. I remember seeing people putting watermelons in the water to keep them cool for later. We would usually bring in food from home or a fast food restaurant. There would be bands and lots of celebrations.

According to this infographic, this is a typical experience for most Americans. Most Americans cook out, although I know many who do it in their backyard, watch fireworks, and/or go see a parade. What do you suppose is the reason behind most of these celebrations. Fireworks are most likely related to the remembrance of war and bombs, cooking out may be related to older cooking habits, or simply the fact that cooking out is common in America in the summer. Parades were often used to increase moral during war times, and a way to say a last goodbye to soldiers shipping out or a first hello to soldiers coming home.

How do your students families celebrate? Do you have any students who are not US citizens or were born elsewhere? What was their first impression of these festivities? Most countries have patriotic holidays, what do they entail?

Blog: http://visual.ly/americas-birthday-numbers

How Long Will It Take to Watch

how-long-will-it-take-to-watch_5362b20ca13faSadly, binge watching television shows has become the pastime where binge reading once was. However, this is an interesting portrayal of information. Beginning with Sherlock and going down to 24, this infographic shares how long it would take to watch a series of popular tv shows without a break (although hopefully in that time you do eat and shower).

But it does give a simple portrayal of time. Each circle stands for a day, each shaded portion stands for that portion of a day. So two fully shaded circles and one half shaded circle signifies two and a half days. How else can this time frame be used: the amount of time people of different ages use the internet, use their cell phones, and for what? How else could this shaded portrayal be used? As people, or as other objects significant to the infographic?

Blog: http://visual.ly/how-long-will-it-take-watch

The most important developments in human history

the-most-important-developments-in-human-history_52c8bb69a19a8_w1500.pngThere are a lot of developments here. Some of them we don’t appear to use anymore. However, without all of these developments, we would not be where we are today. Try to find scientists and poll them as to what are the most important developments, and then poll your students. After all the of the information is compiled, share with your students what the scientists said.

Go through each development, or assign developments to groups of students. Why is each development important. What could not have happened without each development. Speculate where we would be without said development.

Blog: http://visual.ly/most-important-developments-human-history

keep looking »

Photo taken by Ewan McIntosh in a Taxi in Shanghai

RSS Subscribe



Books Written

Cultivating Your Personal Learning Network
2nd Edition (2012)

Redefining Literacy 2.0 (2008)
Classroom Blogging
(2007) • Lulu
• Amazon
Raw Materials for the Mind

Flickr Photos
Tagged with travel

David Warlick's items tagged with travel More of David Warlick's stuff tagged with travel
  • What I’m Reading

    MIT inventor unleashes hundreds of self-assembling cube swarmbots | KurzweilAI: MIT inventor unleash [...]

    Scientists test new archeological plane over Peru - Updated News: Scientists Test New Archeological [...]

    AMERICAS - In Peru, drones used for agriculture, archeology: In Peru, drones used for agriculture, a [...]

    Plutocrats vs. Populists - NYTimes.com: Plutocrats vs. Populists By CHRYSTIA FREELAND November 1, 20 [...]

    According to Newzoo’s 2013 Global Games Market Report, game revenues will grow to $70.4 billion worl [...]