Archive for the ‘Video’ category

Being the new kid in the classroom – a short film

July 7, 2010

Do you have 10 minutes to spare?

The video below, New Boy, is ten minutes of wonderful story-telling and pure craft.  Based on a short story by one of my favourite authors, Roddy Doyle, the film brings the anxiety of being the new kid in the class to a whole new level.  I love how the teacher unwittingly and unintentionally becomes the solution to the conflict.  The film won many awards including the Best Narrative Short Film at the 2008 Tribeca film festival.

Ten minutes – you won’t be disappointed.

Standardized testing: trying to measure the unmeasurable

June 21, 2010

Okay, I’m not one to tell the Queen of England who she should and should bestow knighthoods upon, but when Kylie Minogue and Pierce Brosnan are knighted, I begin to question if the honour has become a bit diluted.  I do, however, commend the Queen on her choice of honouring educator and author Ken Robinson.

Robinson is a great supporter of the arts and its inclusion in public education.  He believes that creativity in schools is being strangled and he points to rigid bureaucratic systems (and standardized testing in particular) as the culprits.  Much of what he says is out of vogue with education pundits as he champions soft concepts such as creativity and imagination . . . things that are difficult to standardize and measure.  He  has delivered a wonderful TED lecture where he passionately asks that schools not be treated like fast food joints.

Take a quick look at this five-minute clip from the Bonnie Hunt Show to hear him speak on standardized testing:

Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.

-Albert Einstein

Canadian Education Press Association

June 17, 2010

I was away from the blog for the past week as I attended the 50th annual meeting of the Canadian Educational Press Association.

Although it is always great to get together in this relatively exclusive club of communication specialists from the professional education community, for me the highlight of the event was our keynote speaker Jesse Hirsh.  Many of you will probably have heard of Jesse as he is a regular contributor to CBC radio where he discusses issues of emerging technology and culture.  The man is very bright and brings a sharp and philosophical perspective to how technology affects us.  I think Jesse defines what he does best when he contrasts himself against other tech-commentators: “They tend to idolize new technology and gadgets rather than analyzing their political and cultural impact.” (I am paraphrasing here).

Aside from his intelligence and his ability to critically analyze technology, Jesse is an amazing speaker whose voice captures the attention of everyone within earshot.  So, in the spirit of Plato’s Republic, I nominate Jesse Hirsh for King of the Internet — a position I am sure he would refuse because he seems so content to analyze our digital world that I doubt that, even if given the chance, he would want to rule it.

I found a great clip of Jesse waxing philosophical on anarchy on the internet.  Enjoy!

How do you teach poetry?

June 13, 2010

Teaching poetry was probably the toughest gig I ever had.  How do you “teach” poetry?  You can’t.  You don’t.  You can talk about words and sounds and meaning . . . and you can read poems and discuss them, but after that you have to have faith that the way you have presented the material was interesting enough that the students begin to catch on.

When I was in grade ten, I decided that I should learn about poetry.  I walked into the school library, went over to the shelf labelled “Canadian Poetry” and randomly pulled out a book and flipped it open.  I looked down and read the first poem I saw, Leonard Cohen’s For Anne.

With Annie gone,
whose eyes to compare
with the morning sun?

Not that Idid compare,
But I do compare
Now that she’s gone.

I     was     hooked.  Then and there I became a reader (and soon a writer) of poetry.

As a teacher, I loved to have my students read John Ciardi‘s How a Poem Means – an essay which, although outdated and somewhat stuffy, clearly dispelled the myth of a poem as something to be deciphered and wrought of meaning.  I would also share with my students the poem, Ars Poetica by Archibald MacLeish and which contains the beautiful and educational lines, “A poem should not mean/But be”.

I guess I am always impressed with anyone who can comment on the nature of art within their own art.  This is probably why I was gobsmacked the first time I heard Tanya Davis’ song Art on the CBC Radio2 show Drive.  I can say that without a doubt these are the cleverest, most beautiful words I have heard uttered about art, the urge to produce it, and the hesitation to do so.

I was lucky enough to see Tanya perform last night at the tiny Silver Bean room by the shore of the Otonabee River in Peterborough.  I have never purchased a concert ticket before that has printed on it “14/30”.  That’s right, 30 seats.  Tanya Davis is a wonderful songwriter, storyteller and – yes – poet.  Listen.

Getting students out of their desks to learn

June 13, 2010

As a teacher you quickly learn that that developing lessons that get your students out of their desks and engaged in a relevant activities is a great way to not only teach, but it helps foster a love a learning.  A colleague and I used to take our grade 11 English students to a local forest to act out scenes from Macbeth.  Students came dressed in costumes (armour, swords and shields) and the day included a real feast during the scene in which Macbeth is visited by the ghost of Banquo.

The video below shows a teacher who brings science alive and has his students students create their own paper gliders to demonstrate some principles of the properties of air.  Listen to how encouraging the teacher is!  Look at the students’ faces.  What a great event.

I especially like this because it reminds me of a year when I was teaching a small group of unmotivated high school students to improve their reading skills and their ability to follow instructions.  I went to the school library and dug out an old book on making paper apirplanes.  For two weeks we practiced the steps of making different types of paper airplanes and we concluded each day’s lesson in the gymnasium giving test flights.

How that car thingee works . . .

May 19, 2010

Whenever I am stopped at a red light, sitthing behind some jacked-up car or truck, I can’t help but staring at the large round piece across the rear axle (I now know it’s called a differential gear cover).  I knew that the engine at the front of the vehicle turns the drive shaft down the center ofthe chassis, but I could never figure out how it made the axle, which is perpendicular to it, turn.

Well I stumbled across an excellent tutorial that must predate WWII.  All that I can remember from my high school Auto Shop class is how to clean a spark plug.  Suddenly I feel like I understand something about how my car works.

Remarkable.

Crazy good music

May 15, 2010

Ida Maria is a  great Norwegian singer and “Oh my God” is a crazy good song.  That’s all.  I just wanted to share.