Part 1: Bringing Science and Language Alive with Dance and Art

This term, my College of Ed. class is looking at the importance of using hand on activities, realia, manipulatives, visuals, etc. to make abstract concepts and new vocabulary more tangible.  They are discussing the importance of connecting learning to real life experiences and things that their K-12 students can relate to.   Recent topics have spun around making concepts in math and science accessible to English language learners in ways that build upon language development and differentiate by level.

Below are some related videos for bringing science alive in ways that have the potential of connecting to language and the student's lives.  (Stay tuned for an upcoming post highlighting some in math.)  Watch them with your own learning process and classes in mind if you are a teacher.

Watch John Bohannon: Dance vs. Powerpoint a Modest Proposal (11  min).  This has become one of my favorite TED Talks, which is not an easy feat since I am a big fan.

Here’s one for the young learners and those of us who just like to watch colors combine.  Watch Sesame Street: OK Go-- Three Primary Colors.

Minute Physics has RSA like “Cool physics and other sweet science- all in a minute!”   Weigh a Million Dollars With Your Mind caught my attention with this question:  A million dollars is a ton of money-- but how much does it weigh?

Met Ed (Application Questions):  How can you use some of the concepts in one of these videos to bring science alive, make it accessible to a variety of learners, and build on language development?  What approaches do you take to accomplish these in your classes?

Happy lesson planning TCE students!


For the Love of a Book

Warning.  Once you start reading, you may not be able to stop thinking.  TheFantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is an extraordinary video that I will revisit many, many times.   Like a favorite tattered book, I can see gaining something new from it each time one watches it.  My kiddo and I have watched it several times, pausing and making connections each time we see it.  I can’t wait to connect it to one of my classes!

Can you spot some of my favorites in the video?  My further investigations have turned many of my long held opinions into mush!  The many and varied points of view I have encountered do not confuse, but enrich.  I laugh.  I cry.  I seldom understand things but…  I go round and round the mulberry bush.  Why does the weasel go “pop”?  Does it matter?  If life is enjoyed, does it have to make sense?

And what a gorgeous baby grand piano.  I’m fairly certain it is the same one my grandma plays in her living room!  My grandparents are after all two of the people who encouraged my love for books and writing and embracing the unknowns in life.  If you don’t know what I’m rambling about, begin by watching this video.  And then for the love of a book, pick one up and experience it!  Digital ones do count ;- )  Here’s a link to the app.

How does TheFantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore touch you? Those of us who love literature, writing, flying words that buzz in silence, just can’t stop.  Watch The Joy of Books and then read, share, and read!

This relates to my past post What’s a Book?  Is This a Book? I’m fairly certain it will relate to a future one.

Happy reading and writing!  (Happy birthday Grandpa!)


You Are Your Words, Right?

The American Heritage Dictionary has a fun, simple site called You Are Your Words that allows you to create a self-portrait with your own words. Upload a picture or use your computer's camera to snap one, copy and paste something you write, and then share it by downloading it to your computer or sending it to Facebook or Twitter.  Be forewarned though that your creations may appear in the public gallery on the website.  I didn't see any statement saying this was a possibility, which brings up an important connection to the concept of digital footprints.   We need to have ongoing discussions with our students about this idea.

For fun, I uploaded a picture of my puppy and copy/pasted an upcoming post I wrote.  The picture on the left is the result.

Met Ed (application):  I see multiple benefits of integrating art into writing and the use of typography!

a.  I could have my adult students do this as an optional assignment.  I wouldn't require it due to the sharing feature on the gallery and could offer word clouds as an alternative. (See my earlier post about word clouds.)  It would be fun to have each student write an introduction on my online classes and then use it to create a word self-portrait to share.  

After creating these, powerful discussions could arise about the topic you are our own words.

b. The site seems to work okay with animals as well.  A class could write something about a class pet or animal they study and make a word portrait of it.  The concept of you are our own words could be extended to animal rights and asking questions surrounding giving voices to animals.

How could you use You Are Our Own Words site or the basic concept in your class?  Feel free to share if you have similar sites or apps that work for you.  I also use a similar free app called aTypoPicture-- Amazing Typographic Picture (a wordfoto).  

Happy creating!  (You know you love typography in education, even if you say you don't. Wait, you are your own words, right?)

Update: Aug 2012 A reader notified me that the site was not currently working.  I hope they get it functioning again.  It's a fun site.

Here are a few related previous posts:


Duolingo and Luis von Ahn's Ted Talk

I recently came across the Duolingo site which is in beta.  It sounded interesting enough to pursue getting a beta invite, but it wasn’t until I watched Luis von Ahn, a creator of that mildly annoying CAPTCHA and reCAPTCHA anti-spam image that requires us to type what we see in order to prove we are people, that my attention was peaked.
Luis’s description of the background and his role in CAPTCHA and reCAPTCHA  are noteworthy.   It’s remarkable that this process helps digitize books.   Beyond that factoid, what caught my attention are his reasons for creating Duolingo and his belief in its potential to harness crowd sourcing to get 100 million people to translate the web in all major languages—not a small undertaking.  This endeavor is worthy of discussion when looked at from a linguistic and second language acquisition perspective, a social networking perspective, and in light of the topic of motivation.

Watch the 17 minute TED Talks with Luis von Ahn entitled Massive Scale Online Collaboration below.  Also, check out the creativity of CAPTCHA art!  I like the humor of this one.  You will not want to miss the CAPTCH Vimeo which resembles Jabberwocky!  It's worth watching.
What do you think?