all these years, when I printed the links to Jon Carroll cat columns,
none of you were clicking on them. Maybe all of you were. Alas, a pay
wall is about to fall in front of the content of the San Francisco Chronicle,
including that of Carroll, the very best daily newspaper columnist in
America. If you are a Chronicle
subscriber, you have free access. Otherwise, pay up or move along
buddy. So, I won't be printing those links any more. I do believe
journalists should be paid for their work, and I recognize that the
traditional model of advertising support has collapsed in the Internet
age. That doesn't mean I have to be happy about it. I am fairly sure
out of the national conversation, joining a lot of other papers who
have taken the same step. Information want to be free, but it doesn't
really matter what information wants.
3.5 stars out of 5
right out of the box, Tina Fey. She's on my phone book list, the list
of actors whose films I would attend, even if they were only reading
the phonebook. Lily Tomlin, also in this film, is also on that list.
Paul Rudd, the romantic lead, not so much. But it was clever, funny,
well-written and entertaining. As a suburban parent, it hit awfully
close to home, but fortunately my college admission days are behind
both me and my daughters. Director Paul Weitz made a lovely film from
Karen Croner's script, based on Jean Hanff Korelitz's novel.
Too long by a half hourat 117 minutes, but worth a trip.
1 star out of 5
was just discussing my lack of taste/judgment when it comes to movies
with my family when, as part of a Sunday of two films, I was put in the
presence of this turkey. At last, a film I didn't like. I
just for starters, how do you, or why would you, sneak a Morgan Freeman
film into theaters without ever showing anyone a preview? If it is a
stinker, that's how. When the
British papers print the names of pedophiles, they call it "name and
shame." So, shame on you director Antoine Fuqua and
Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt. You don't go to a film like
this expecting Citizen
but you also don't go expecting a dog's breakfast. Frankly, when
Quentin Tarrantino does this ultra violence, I actually find it
amusing. This is as close to a slasher film as I ever expect
mainstream film to be. I am currently reading a book on Hollywood story
tropes, and it mentions that most movies had deadlines. This has
several. Poking holes in the plot of this turkey would be like kicking
someone when they were down. And on top of everything else, it was two
hours long! I can't wait for the director's cut--if it is 70 minutes.
4 stars out of 5
I am an avid movie goer,
and yet my time available for movie-going seems to come in spurts. This
week was a spurt. I saw the lovely animated feature The Croods,
which topped the box office last weekend (I would have seen it if it
had grossed 1 million dollars on a thousand screens, but that's just
me). The delightful trailer actually does the film some justice; it is
cute, light and entertaining. I guess we're beyond the point of
commenting on the CGI in computer animated films, but the heroine's red
hair--phew! Not to mention fire and water--a trifecta of excellent
animation. The production design was impressive--I've never seen
anything like the creatures (one of which looks like an homage to
Maurice Sendak, or is that just my imagination). It seems as though
someone has spent some time working on eyes; I was struck by how good
they were. Realistic humans still fall into the "uncanny valley," but
these near-human creatures were good enough that you could sometimes
get lost in the illusion. I cried at the end, but as the father of two
daughters witnessing a father-daughter moment, what else could I do?
A friend of mine was watching the documentary Side by Side
on Netflix. It is about the rise of digital film-making. At about
30:15, he informed me, I appear in a brief cameo. It's true! There is
about 15 seconds of footage from The
a PBS program I appeared on during the 1980s. I'd say the footage is
circa 1987. It comes from one of my one-minute software reviews. I am
holding up an 8-inch floppy disk. Wow, that was a long time ago.
I am merely visual wallpaper, illustrating a point about
Of course, someday someone is going to give me my 15-minutes of fame by
more widely distributing my pan of
(it appears about 25 minutes in) which appeared on PBS soon
the computer came to market. I compared it (and not favorably) to a Big
Mac. Every few years, my students discover it and have a big laugh. But
I'll tell you what I tell them and what I told a blogger/interviewer
I wouldn't change a word of that commentary. Just because it is
successful doesn't mean it is a better machine, just a more popular one
Count me in! I have been a fan of educational technology since I was a
member of the AV club in grade school, showing 16mm films and changing
projector bulbs. I don't know if I could throw a sound loop now, but I
could back then. In high school, I worked at KBPS, a 250-watt radio
station that broadcast in-school programs during the day. The
technology wasn't particularly educational, but at MIT I was a regular
MULTICS user, and anchored the first MITV news broadcast.
I have been teaching for 10 years. When I started, we showed VHS movies
on wall-mounted television sets. Since then, I am certain that we have
improved student learning outcomes with every technological advance.
We've had two computer labs at my school since I started, as well as
several computers in each classroom (by "rescuing" elderly computers on
their way to retirement, I have my room up to six computers, although
one is for my fellow teacher and the other me). That's enough for an
occasional computer-based project, but you can't always get access.
This year, I can't get access for all three of my periods ever, because
during 7th period, both labs are booked every day. So, we have two
portable computer labs, AKA Cows (computers on wheel), you can check
out. Except if someone has used them in the morning, the batteries
start dying in the afternoon. In short, we could use technology more if
it was more reliably available.
About five years ago, we bought special-purpose Jeopardy game consoles,
which allow us to play Jeopardy by giving out students wireless
buzzers. The students are excited and enthusiastic, and study much
harder for a Jeopardy game than a test. After all, achievement on a
test is private, but correctly answering a tough Jeopardy question (and
helping your team win) is a much more exciting process.
This process was helped along by the next stage of technology, digital
projectors, which arrived at about the same time as DVD players. Just
as teachers had now-useless stocks of 16mm films when I arrived a
decade ago, I now have a nearly useless stock of VHS tapes. I managed
to get a two sided player for my last upgrade, but it was hard to find
and I doubt there are many left at a reasonable price. The digital
projects are much easier for students to watch than the TV mounted in
the front corner of the room, and have a better sound system as well.
Then came touch-sensitive electronic whiteboards. The tricky thing is
programming them, but over time you can build up a pile of "flipcharts"
which can be used to increase student engagement and offer alternative
visual presentations of material.
Next was an "iPad Lab," a rolling cart of 30 iPads (which is
a class set at our school), for which wireless has been extended to
every room. Alas, they have their limits; no flash movies, and you can
edit Google Docs, but not Google Presentations on an Ipad.. I give
tests on the iPads using the Google Docs survey function.
Combined with a free script called Flubaroo, it makes test grading
Finally, just this year, we created school Google Docs accounts for all
our students. We don't want them using their personal accounts, because
we have turned off email. Also, with a school account, we can see what
is going on and reset their passwords if need be. We have done two
Google Docs assignments in two weeks; the first was a Fakebook page (a
fake Facebook page), made for a general or politician active during the
Civil war. The students had a hoot doing those, as they did in
preparing, with a partner, a 15-slide presentation centered around a
300-word first person account of a civil war battle. Definitely
increases student engagement and eases collaboration.
But how should we use technology? In the classroom, there is
Bloom's Taxonomy. Bloom goes from remembering (trivial) through
understanding, applying, analyzing and evaluating to creating (the top
rung). Of course, standardized testing (which I've already discussed),
forces us to spend most of our time on the bottom rung, since the
California STAR test does not test any of those other skills.
There is a similar taxonomy for the use of technology, which runs from
substitution through augmentation, modification and redefinition. Most
of my assignments are now at substitution or augmentation, but I have
my sights set higher. Also, since the State of California doesn't really
care about history, there is no history STAR test--no standardized test
of any kind for history--for the next several years. This means I can
get off the bottom rung of Bloom's Taxonomy, and maybe off the bottom
rung of the technology taxonomy as well.