Friday, August 29, 2014

Emoticons,Bernal Diaz del Castillo and Tenochtitlán

The Aztec people used glyphs to communicate. (Here is a great page that describes their writing system.) Why then would it not be appropriate for students to learn about the process of writing about an event in their history using our own modern glyphs, emoticons?

Today I will be reading experts of the excellent article Imperial City of the Aztecs: Mexico-Tenochtitlan by Inga Clendinnen to my students. (BTW if you don't know about Common-Place you definitely need to.) In it she describes Bernal Diaz del Castillo's astonishment at the magnificent of the Aztec capital city, Tenochtitlán. If you still have any misconceptions of the ability of the people in the America's abilities to create cities you will also be amazed.

The students will be place themselves in del Castillo's boots and write his story as if it were their own. Then they will transfer that story into emoticons. Students with phones or tablets can write them there and send them to me. Those without will do as the Aztecs did, write them by hand.

There is a myriad of things I am hoping my students learn. The students will have the opportunity to internalize the amazement of del Castillo. They will have the opportunity to use glyphs to write a story and reflect on the process of using pictures to convey specific meaning. They will be exposed to the idea of using emoticons in their daily interactions as well, if they aren't already doing so. There is also the bonus of students connecting today's technology with history, and for some of my Hispanic students it is really their history. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Why Audience Size Is Important

I was recently in a conversation on Twitter that helped me solidify some thoughts on the need for a large audience for student blog posts. Many students have passions or hobbies that simply are not shared by their peers locally. When a student is sharing what they love, the larger the audience the more likelihood there will be others who share that same interest. Boom! instant community. Simply put, students need a large audience to help build their own community.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Some Questions Don't Have Answers Yet: Ferguson Protests


Robert Dillon, @ideaguy42, did a Google Hangout into my classroom today to share with my students a little about the events taking place in Ferguson, Missouri.
One of my students asked, "Who is Michael Brown?"
I answered, "He was an 18 year old man that was shot by a policeman."
Another student asked. "Why did they shoot him?"
"We don't know yet." was my reply.
The story of the Ferguson protests is much larger and more nuanced than a couple tweets can manage. Watch the video and see if you don't gain a better picture about what is happening. Those of us who have been following the story have lots of questions. Some questions won't get answered, some will and some probably don't have even answers that are coherent. That doesn't mean we shouldn't be asking them.