David Warlick Ryann Warlick Martin Warlick
Shakabuku Infographics Video

The deepest hole ever made

Progress in Google's self-driving car project.

This is the kind of stuff that really fascinates me, and I and no idea this thing even existed. It’s a miles deep hole that took over 20 years to dig and while technically they didn’t meet their goal, we were still able learn some interesting things about our planet that we didn’t know before.

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You’re Learning Something Important when It…

My son and I went to Charlotte on Monday to watch the Bobcats’ final game. It was game four of the playoff series with the Miami Heat. It was an unfortunate pairing. If Charlotte had come in 8th or 6th place in the conference, they would have been playing teams that they could beat. But the Heat? The generous predictions gave the Cats one game. But the Heat is just too strong. Monday night, I watched our team, which was outmatched in almost every way possible, keep up with last year’s NBA Champions, with what could only be described as pure and unbridled heart!

My point in writing about this here is to say that if you had handed me the above paragraph three years ago, and suggested that I’d write it in April 2014, I would have ask you for what you've been smoking.

I was a player when I was young, with some talent in baseball and football. I wasn’t exceptional, by most measures, but I won first place in the NFL’s Punt, Pass and Kick competition in my town two years straight and 3rd place after that. I loved playing football and baseball, but I never picked up basketball. I was never very fast and have always had difficulty getting both of my feet off the ground at the same time ;-)

That said, I was never a spectator. I’ve never enjoyed watching any sport and have never been interesting in the whole jockese, sports-talk experience. I followed NCAA college basketball off and on, but only to an extent necessary for anyone who lives this close to Duke, UNC and NC State – but I always thought of professional basketball as lumbering giants brut-forcing their way to baskets and championships.

This all changed about three years ago, when my wife and I found ourselves watching YouTube clips of NBA games, narrated expertly and compellingly by our son, Martin. Like me, he had never had any interest in sports as a topic. He played in the band, and at the high school he attended, it was the band-geeks who were the cool kids on campus, not the jocks.

But Martin has an amazing ability to take a topic of interest and very quickly master its facts and concepts and be able to talk about it with people who have been immeshed in the matter for years. He inspired us by sharing professional basketball’s sights and sounds, and more importantly, its personality.

He showed us

The magical slight-of-hand of Ricky Rubio,

The sublime grace of Kevin Durant,

The nearly unshakeable cool of James Harden,

The fierce tenacity of Nate Robinson,

The unassailable concentration of Tony Parker,

The passion that can be evoked from that too weird face of Chris Bosh,

And the superhuman athleticism of Lebron (king) James.

We became interested and then passionate, and finally increasingly knowledgable about professional basketball, because of what our son conjured up for us. I understand much of the world around me, because I can identify with what I see. I can mentally put myself in the shoes of people and surmise their perspective. But what I see in most NBA games, I can not feel in my own muscles and this is compelling to me.

Our son provoked us by exceeding our imaginations.

Software can’t do this!

Government standards can’t do this!

Corporate models and for-profit schools can’t do this!

Only a skilled and inspired teacher can do this!

Only the “art” of teaching can inspire us by exceeding our imaginations!

 

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

Progress in Google’s self-driving car project.

Progress in Google's self-driving car project.

Here’s a great look at how far Google has come with their self-driving car technology. I had a hard time thinking the car could do much more than follow lanes and look out for stop lights, but to see how it analyzes and identifies every object around it is pretty amazing. If they can make this technology completely flawless, there’s no question that our roads would ultimately be much safer. It’s just a matter of whether Google can develop something that is completely immune to technical glitches, which I imagine is the biggest problem they’ll face.

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The Beginning of Everything: The Big Bang

This infographic video goes through the the history of the Big Bang theory, both it’s discovery and how it worked. It is important to explain to your students that it is important to understand this theory, even if they do not believe it. It is important to appreciate and understand different theories.

Make sure your students understand the big, overall, stepping stones to the development of this theory. But how did Albert Einstein develop the theory of relativity? What was his thinking process, as far as we can understand? How can we apply his thinking process to our daily lives in order to make our own discoveries?

What do your students think will be the next discovery? Do research on what is being studied now? What is closest to a breakthrough? What has been disproved?

Blog: http://visual.ly/beginning-everything-–-big-bang 

Half the Teachers

A few days ago, I posted an article explaining “Why You Won’t See Me at ISTE ’14.”  In it I wrote,

I blame and accept the fact that experience that spans from TRS-80 to IOS has become a little less important compared to the creative energy of much younger educators…

This sentiment prompted an email exchange with an old friend, an educator whose years of experience span pretty much the same range of technological advancement as mine, “TRS-80 to iOS.”

Our discussion, however, had almost nothing to do with technology, but concerned the era in which we began teaching.

For me, it was a full 25 years before No Child Left Behind  standards-based teaching and punitive high-stakes tests stained the “art of teaching.”  Things were quite different in terms of the autonomy that teachers exercised in determining what and how their children learned – and some mediocre teachers, admittedly, took advantage of the freedom.  However, most, whom I came in contact with, used their academic freedom as a seedbed to create dynamic and effective learning experiences for their students.

For years I have felt that this-too-will-pass, that the arrogant belief that we can know and teach everything our children will need to know to be prepared for their future simply makes no sense, and that we would come to our senses.

Half of Teachers

But it occurred to me, during that email exchange, that more and more of the teachers in our classrooms today were trained to test-prep and have been indoctrinated to an education system based, more than ever before, on an industrial production model.

So I did some research and tinkering with a spreadsheet, and found that about half of the teachers in U.S. classrooms today have never worked in a school culture free from high-stakes testing.

To illustrate this, I made an infographic  that shows the decline in teachers who have experienced academic freedom and the rise in teachers who have always worked under the constraints of government/corporate standards.

To be sure, this does not mean that there aren’t young educators, today, who are courageously and creatively going beyond the regimentation that is the character of test-prep classes, nor that there aren’t older teachers who are happy to model their classrooms on mass production.  

But it does suggest a dramatic shift in the culture of our schools,

And perhaps,

An approaching point of no return.

About the Data:
I used a document from the National Center for Education Statistics  a part of the U.S. Department of Education (see below).  It featured demographic data about U.S. teachers, starting in 1987.  The table included gender, ethnicity, age, education, years of experience, and teaching levels and subjects.  I fairly easily imported the table into an OpenOffice spreadsheet and cropped it down to just the data on years of experience, starting with 1999.

To complicate things, the table included only data for every 4th year, 1999, 2003, 2007, and 2011, which was not enough to plot the level of accuracy that I wanted.  In addition, the years experience were grouped, i.e. less than 3 years, 3 to 9 years, etc.  I searched further, but could not find any more complete data at the national level.  If you know of such a document, please comment below.

To fill in the blank years, I worked my OO spreadsheet so that it calculated trends from the 4 years and the experience ranges, and filled in the blanks, across and down, based on those trends.  Not a perfect solution, but the point of my infographic was to illustrate a trend, not precisely measure a phenomena.

Having such a seemingly rich data set enticed me to plot for other trends and anomalies, such as specific rises or declines in teacher numbers, indicating times of sudden influx of new teachers, or increased retirements or, and I hate to suggest the possibility, mass resignations.  Alas, it would take more completely accurate information to do such a thing, not just calculated trends.

Number and percentage distribution of teachers in public and private elementary and secondary schools, by selected teacher characteristics: Selected years, 1987-88 through 2011-12. (n.d.). Digest of Education Statistics. Retrieved April 19, 2014, from http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_209.10.asp 

 

 

 

Public Education in North Carolina Deteriorates Further

My daughter just alerted me to a 10:42 AM article appearing on the WRAL.com web site, Lawmakers Propose Dumping Common Core Standards in NC.  

Not surprising.  

Sen. Jerry Tillman, c/o WRAL.com

The puppet-masters of the Tea party have effectively used the Common Core standards to create a flashpoint for generating emotional energy against government regulation.  North Carolina is not alone in struggling with the politics of CCSS, as several states have abandoned the Common Core – as a title.

But the arrogance of NC’s General Assembly demands that we go further.

Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, said that other states, such as Florida and Indiana, had merely renamed Common Core in their repeal bills. Indiana, he said, “didn’t totally devolve itself from Common Core. This bill does that.”*

The clincher, and what provoked me to write this article, was that the proposed bill assigns the writing of a new, North Carolina curriculum to an “Academic Standards Review Commission,” which would be part of the state’s Department of Administration  not the Department of Public Instruction.

In an effort to find any logic in this, I found, not without difficulty, an organizational chart for the N.C. Department of Administration. Its offices include:

Motor Fleet Management Purchase & Contract State Construction
State Property Office Historically Underutilized Businesses Mail Service Center
Surplus Property Facility Management State Parking
Council for Women Human Relations Commission Commission of Indian Affairs
Youth Advocacy & Involvement Office Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation  

And, here it is…

-> Non-Public Education <-

 

Binker, M. (2014, April 24). Lawmakers propose dumping common core standards in nc. WRAL.

The History of Opportunity

the-history-of-opportunity_517bd59389399_w1500-1.pngIn the opinion of you and your students, what was the biggest development that has led to our modern day life? The Gutenberg Press, the typewriter, electricity, the computer? How can your students harness this technology in order to take advantage of the opportunities this infographic claims there is?

Most importantly in preparing for tomorrow, your students must look to tomorrow, what are going to be the technological advances of tomorrow that will build the opportunities of tomorrow. Without knowing what they are, what can your students do to prepare for the technology of tomorrow. Better yet, what can your students do to create the technology of tomorrow.

Blog: http://visual.ly/history-opportunity

The History of Press (Printing)

the-history-of-press-printing_52544b78d401d_w1500.pngWe are taught that Johann Gutenberg created the first printing press. But this infographic goes back to an older printer in 618 AC. It also says that Gutenberg’s was the first movable type. So why are we (or at least I) taught that Gutenberg invented the first printing press, and before this it was all handwritten.

Regardless of what is taught, how did the printing press, both the Chinese version and Gutenberg’s, change things? How did this change literacy and lead to the Enlightenment and then the American Revolution, and other revolutions? What could have happened if the Europeans had a printing press before the dark ages? Could we be living like the Jetsons?

Now, look at newspapers from various centuries and after important developments in this infographic. How did the  appearance of the newspapers change? What is the most significant technological change? What about the most significant appearance change?

Blog: http://visual.ly/history-press-printing

30 Insane Facts About Sleep

30 Insane Facts About Sleep InfographicBegin this class on a survey of how your students sleep. What hours do your students sleep? How much sleep do your students get per night? How do your students personal habits affect sleep patterns?

Young adults may not realize the importance of sleep, or simply choose to ignore the necessity of it. With this infographic, go into the necessity of sleep. What can your students accomplish with more sleep?

Blog: http://visual.ly/30-insane-facts-about-sleep

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Photo taken by Ewan McIntosh in a Taxi in Shanghai

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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
(2005)

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