David Warlick Ryann Warlick Martin Warlick
Shakabuku Infographics Video

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

Amazing Facts about the Human Body


18-amazing-facts-about-the-human-body_5239be637e7aaAnyone who has studied anatomy and physiology at all would agree that the human body is amazing. It is a machine that keeps us moving and creating, and recreates itself to keep itself healthy. It has defense mechanisms and the ability to reproduce, all while nourishing itself by using our environment. We could survive equally by breathing the air in the mountains and in the city (although many feel better in one or the other), and nutrition can be gained and processed by eating nearly anything. But there are some things beyond basic anatomy and physiology that will also blow your mind.

This infographic goes into everything from rejuvenation to strength. For instance, a femur is about four times stronger than concrete! If you know anyone who broke their femur, ask how, and you will learn how to break up concrete.

But how are each of these facts useful? Why do our bones have to be so strong? Why do our stomach contents have to be so acidic? Knowing these things is very fun, but knowing why is more fascinating.

Blog: http://visual.ly/18-amazing-facts-about-human-body

Vegan vs. Meat-eater

A health craze has seemed to take over this country, finally. With obesity at epidemic levels, and America being the least healthy developed country, it is about time we begin trying to take better care of ourselves. Meat is a staple in the diets of many Americans, and their social lives. The all American past time is centered around hot dogs. Most summer holidays involve a cook out. And there is an national debate as to what the best hot dog, hamburger, or barbecue is. Could this be the cause of our ill health?

According to this infographic, there are other ways to get the protein and Vitamin D necessary to sustain ourselves. Meat eaters also, on average, have higher cholesterol, and is a major cause of cancer. Raising the animals we use for meat also takes a lot of grain and water.

Have your students do research into various diet plans and try to create a meal plan for one day that follows this diet. This diet must give a person everything necessary to live, in a healthy way, with no excess. Have you students compare their diets with those they find.

Blog: http://visual.ly/vegan-vs-meat-eater?_from=homepage

How Do Germs Spread?

This infographic, brought to us by Pediatrics After Hours, is brightly designed to grab the attention of one group in particular, kids. Germs are gross, and kids get sick the most often. They are often too preoccupied to remember to do simple things, such as cover their mouths when they cough, or wash their hands before they eat. So it is important to pass along the information that tells them why they need to do these things.

This infographic shares the major ways germs are spread, through touching, eating, drinking, breathing, and bites. It is important to be careful with everything that you do, from cleaning your home regularly, to drinking clean water. One thing one teacher did once was to put glitter glue all over her hands, and we watched how many things she touched. Everywhere the glitter was, we could pass germs.

Post this infographic in bathrooms, by doors, and in eating areas. Make sure you get the word out so that your students can stay in the classroom and not constantly be out sick. Teach your students that we aren’t trying to waste their time by making them wash their hands, it is truly for their own good.

Blog: http://visual.ly/how-do-germs-spread

It’s the End of the World as they know it

I still remember the first time I heard the Mayan theory of the end of time. I was in middle school. I don’t remember what we were studying, I actually think it was one of those things that a teacher taught in one class and it spread throughout the school, kind of like what a wenis is. But I remember thinking, that’s within my lifetime, but still a long time off. That’s ok. Well it’s just a few months away now, and as the time grows closer, so does the hype. Today’s infographic shares just who believes the end of the world is near.

With all of these tv shows and movies about the end of the world over the past few years, it is surprising to me that more people don’t believe in the Mayan calendar “prediction.” One in seven believe it will in within their lifetime, but only one in ten believe it will end this year. And it is generally in other countries that this is believed. It is also generally believe by those under the age of 35 (low life experience), with a low income, and a low education.

Now how can you use this infographic in your classroom. Study the ways Americans believe the end of the world will come. Many say it will be a natural disaster, a human disaster, or some sort of combination (such as a pandemic). In science, discuss what sort of natural disaster would be necessary to bring down the entire United States. In history, look into historic events, such as the Spanish Flu after WWI, and see how something like this could affect the world as it is today. And finally, share with your students how to reasonably prepare for these events. Have an evacuation plan with your family, and tell them to wash their hands and take care of themselves!

Blog: http://goo.gl/xCAkl

Physics of Olympic Bodies

As the Olympic frenzy draws to a close, it is time to analyze the events, the records, and the athletes themselves. This infographic compares Olympians both past and present, and shares how the changes in their physical anatomy has allowed for records to be broken. Unfortunately, the benefits that they have include things like longer than average legs, and mostly an overall height advantage, as compared to their predecessors. They are things that we can only hope to develop at age 13, but cannot change once we are adults.

Where speed is desired, being tall and slim are advantageous. Where strength is desired, being tall and large are advantageous. Challenge your students to come up with other areas where these strengths are developed. For instance, sports cars are often long and slim. Meanwhile, machinery used for lifting heavy items are often larger all around.

Use experiments to figure out why certain attributes are advantageous. Use water projectiles to figure out why being lean is advantageous. In a tub of water, it is easier to see a large object being stopped and slowed down by the water. On the other hand, use legos to hold a certain mass. Build a tall slim, and a short fat object and place similar objects on both. Which one can hold it? Why?

Blog: http://goo.gl/XfaOw

Snake Oil?

This is an intriguing interactive infographic developed by superstar David McCandless in the area of health. It represents various dietary supplements as balloons that rise or fall based on the evidence that they actually have positive effects on various and selectable ailments and conditions.

McCandless says,

This image is a “balloon race”. The higher a bubble, the greater the evidence for its effectiveness. But the supplements are only effective for the conditions listed inside the bubble.

You might also see multiple bubbles for certain supps. These is because some supps affect a range of conditions, but the evidence quality varies from condition to condition. For example, there’s strong evidence that Green Tea is good for cholesterol levels. But evidence for its anti-cancer effects is conflicting. In these cases, we give a supp another bubble.

The backend data is stored and the graphic is generated out of this Google Doc. From here, new research can be added in, adapting the graphic. Source documents are included in this file.


Radiation Dose Chart

There is a lot of discussion these days about radiation links from the damaged nuclear reactors in Japan. Unfortunately, there is little mention of the amount of radiation and it’s danger. This infographic was shared by Randall Monroe through his XKCD blog.

From the Source:

Ellen, a friend of mine who’s a student at Reed and Senior Reactor Operator at the Reed Research Reactor, has been spending the last few days answering questions about radiation dosage virtually nonstop (I’ve actually seen her interrupt them with “brb, reactor”). She suggested a chart might help put different amounts of radiation into perspective, and so with her help, I put one together. She also made one of her own; it has fewer colors, but contains more information about what radiation exposure consists of and how it affects the body.

Note that there are different types of ionizing radiation; the “sievert” unit quantifies the degree to which each type (gamma rays, alpha particles, etc) affects the body. You can learn more from my sources list. If you’re looking for expert updates on the nuclear situation, try the MIT NSE Hub. Ellen’s page on radiation is here.

Instructional Suggestions:

This infographic will certainly provoke conversations about radiation, various radiation related health diagnoses and treatment.  There are also opportunities to integrate mathematics, asking learners to compute proportions.

Data Source(s):

List of source links

Water is Essential to Everyday Life

It is one of the most plentiful and crucial substances on the planet, water. It’s also one of the substances that we take very much for granted and spend little time thinking about. This information video effectively shares many enlightening facts about our world of water.

From the Original Blog Entry:

Water is essential to everyday life. In a day, Europeans use about 50 gallons (189 liters) of water. American use 100 gallons (379 liters). Those living in sub-Saharan Africa use 2-5 gallons per day. More than 25% of bottled water comes from the same place as tap water; a municipal water supply. Drinking 8 glasses of water a day from water bottles will cost up to $1,400 over a year. Drinking from the tap will cost about $0.50 per year.

We also learn that it takes: 10 gallons to make a single slice of bread, 713 gallons to produce a cotton t-shirt, 1,000 gallons to make 1 gallon of milk, and 634 gallons to produce 1 burger.


Photo taken by Ewan McIntosh in a Taxi in Shanghai

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Cultivating Your Personal Learning Network
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Redefining Literacy 2.0 (2008)
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