The Scout Report
September 11, 2015 -- Volume 21, Number 35
A Publication of Internet Scout
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison
John Heeley's Masterclass
National Education Association: Teaching with Maps
National Science Foundation: Chemistry Now
The Song Dynasty in China
Institute of Physics: Education
Get Graphic: The World in Words and Pictures
Codecademy School Computer Science Curriculum
Penguin Books: Teacher Guides
Macro and Other Market Musings
Maps Are Territories
Nelson Mandela Foundation
NCDD Resource Center
Understanding September 11
Will the Discovery of 'Super-henge' Change the Way We Think About the World's Most Popular Neolithic Monument?
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Jonny Heeley, a British math teacher, has been featured in The Guardian, and recordings of his masterclasses can be found around the Internet. It's easy to see why he is so popular. Heeley's fast-paced, inclusive, and laid back style is both entertaining and educational. On this page from Teachers TV, readers will find seven of Heeley's masters math classes. The videos range from 15 to 30 minutes in length and topics range from averages to algebra to probability. Students are brought straight into the mix. For instance, in the Equations video, Heeley hands out tee shirts with numbers, letters, and operations symbols. Then he brings students up to form equations, and uses the momentum to teach increasingly complex ideas. For any math teacher looking for inspiration, or anyone who just loves to watch great teaching in action, this site is as worthwhile as it is fun. [CNH]
This resource list from retired middle school teacher Phil Nast is packed with links to map-related resources around the web. Here educators will find links to lesson plans about latitude and longitude, topographic maps, historical maps, and genomic maps. There is also an Activities & Games section, where readers may link to engaging activities like Galaxy Zoo, which invites students to learn about galaxies according to their shape, and ISS EarthKAM, in which students may take pictures of earth from a digital camera on the International Space Station. In addition, the Background Resources section includes map making guides for a number of different grade levels, and the Videos and Interactives section provides links engaging multimedia. For instance, in Mapping the Universe, viewers "fly backward through more than half a million galaxies and quasars." Educators will find much to celebrate on this resource-rich page. [CNH]
In 2011, the National Science Foundation (NSF) teamed with NBC Learn and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) to create Chemistry Now, a weekly, online video series that explored the science of "common, physical objects in our world and the changes they undergo every day." These videos, which numbered in the dozens, and can be found here on this site, covered such quotidian but engaging topics as the Chemistry of Salt (NaCl), the Chemistry of Ice, Chemistry of Fear and Fright, Chemistry of Changing Leaves, Cheeseburger Chemistry: Pickles, and many others. Video lengths range from just under four minutes to just over eight minutes in length. The soundtracks, graphics, and topics are designed to appeal to middle and high school students, and they are a perfect supplement for educators who are looking to enrich lessons plans on chemistry and related subjects. [CNH]
Between the 11th and 14th centuries, China was, by nearly all accounts, the most advanced civilization in the world. This site from Columbia University's Asia for Educators, profiles Song Dynasty China, starting with an exegesis of the Beijing Qingming Scroll, which has been called "China's Mona Lisa." From there, readers may peruse various topics. For instance, the Economic Revolution section presents six subsections: Population Boom, Commercialization, Paper Money, Iron and Steel, Textiles and Silk, and Ceramics. Other sections, such as Technology, Cities, Confucianism, and Outside World, are equally rich with information about this most complex and cultured of historical epochs. For educators introducing students to world history, this site is a welcome and fascinating resource. [CNH]
The Institute of Physics (IOP), which boasts a worldwide membership of over 50,000, has put together an excellent Education section on its website. Here readers will find curriculum development initiatives, professional development courses, and other helpful resources. Readers may like to start by choosing one of the categories on the landing page, which are broadly divided by career level or area of interest, e.g. I am a teacher or I am a student. Each section is loaded with helpful links and resources. For instance, under the I am new to teaching physics section, some readers may start with "I'm waiting to begin my teacher training." From there, a number of options are available, including What to read, Refresh your physics subject knowledge, and other topics. Likewise, under the Gender balance section, readers will find information about efforts to address gender imbalances in the field, systematically sorted into the subcategories of Reports and research, Resources and guidance for teachers, and Information on current projects. [CNH]
Rather than a genre, a graphic novel is a format. It can, according to this informative website, "be fiction, non-fiction, history, fantasy, or anything in-between." Interested readers may want to begin with the section, What is a Graphic Novel?, where they will learn about the major types, including Manga, Superhero Story, Personal Narratives ("Perzines"), and Non-fiction. The site also features a section for teachers as well as a section for librarians. Both are informative. For instance, the Teachers tab presents a number of graphic novel resources, including a Powerpoint presentation, teaching strategies, and a page dedicated to articles, books, and authors. The Get Graphic blog, which is updated monthly, reviews graphic novels, including an adaptation of Victor Hugo's, Les Miserables. [CNH]
Codecademy can be useful to educators in at least two ways. First, the site does a nice job of teaching beginners to code in HTML, Python, Java, and other languages. Even spending just an hour or two with the Web Fundamentals section, which explains the workings of HTML, can help educators of all kinds understand how web pages work - a knowledge base with wide implications for various lesson plans. Beyond that, the site can be useful for educators who would like to introduce students to coding languages and concepts. For instance, readers will find eight interactive lessons dedicated to HTML Basics, another eight explicating CSS, and a full 36 lessons orbiting the complexities of Python. The interactive style of the page makes learning accessible and engaging so students will be more likely to dive in and experiment themselves. [CNH]
Perhaps the most impressive thing about this list of Teacher Guides from Penguin Books is the sheer number of titles. There are 20 guides for Shakespeare's works alone, including exegeses on Antony and Cleopatra, Hamlet, King Lear, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. The other several dozen guides cover titles as diverse as George Orwell's 1984 and E.L. Doctorow's City of God. Along the way, educators will find guides to books by Jane Austen, Ayn Rand, Aristophanes, Frederick Douglas, and Khaled Hosseini among many others. The guides themselves are intellectually rigorous and visually attractive. For instance, a guide to H.G. Wells The Time Machine includes an introduction, a plot summary by chapter, an entire section dedicated to strategies to use before reading, a list of vocabulary words for each chapter, a possible reading schedule, and many other helpful resources. [CNH]
David Beckworth, associate professor of economics at Western Kentucky University, adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, and former economist at the U.S. Department of Treasury, has been writing a highly informed economics blog since 2007. While the posts assume a certain familiarity with macroeconomic theory, anyone who has taken a high school economics class will be able to follow the vast majority of Dr. Beckworth's musings. Recent entries have examined the Chinese economic crisis, offered critiques of the Fed, and pieced out recent declines in government spending. Postings have also been grouped into a number of thematic categories, such as Eurozone Crisis, Secular Stagnation, and What Caused the Great Recession? The blog can also easily be searched by readers' topic of interest. For instance, typing in "subprime" returns over a dozen articles from the past seven years. [CNH]
A.J. Jacobs has published a number of best selling books, including Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection, My Life as an Experiment: One Man's Humble Quest to Improve Himself, and The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to become the Smartest Person in the World. His work has been hailed as "hilarious" by Jon Stewart and "bright, funny, and even useful" by the New York Times. Jacobs' official site provides dozens of links to the author's entertaining articles featured in Esquire, the Guardian, BuzzFeed, and other outlets. There are also videos of Jacobs on Good Morning America, the Colbert Report, and the Today Show. Perhaps the most interesting tidbit, however, is the journalist's most recent TED talk, in which he outlines his newfound fascination with genealogy. He claims that the new genealogy, which relies on crowdsourced Internet family trees, has the potential to change the world due to its illumination of our own interconnectedness. [CNH]
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) works to help nations find "pragmatic solutions" to the world's most difficult environmental and developmental challenges. The organization's multimedia page is home to dozens of wonderful videos, photos, and audio content. Readers may want to start with the Video area, where they will find beautifully filmed productions shot around the world, such as "Berlin - the value of green spaces for sustainable future" and "Energy efficient housing in Palau." The Photos area is equally impressive. Here readers will find fascinating stills in four categories: People and Nature, Biodiversity, Nature's Benefits, and America's Cup Healthy Oceans Project. (One caveat, the categories link to Flickr sites, which can be a little slow to load.) Finally, Audio items include interviews, news reports, and other environment-related broadcasts. [CNH]
When Alfred Korzybski, the Russian scholar and semanticist coined his dictum, "the map is not the territory," he intended to point to the limits of human knowledge. And yet, as this site based on the work of three cross-cultural theorists points out, maps are, in themselves, a kind of territory. From the landing page, readers will want to first select "Begin reading..." From there, explore the Preface, which explicates some of the site's basic assumptions, such as the idea that "nature, in the experience of humanity, is not singular but manifold." Then, readers may want to select from the eleven exhibits under the Contents tab, each of which features a map of some kind, as well as a complex treatment of the work as symbolic artifact. This nuanced site is filled with insights for readers to explore. [CNH]
Nelson Mandela, who became South Africa's first post-Apartheid president and is widely credited with helping his country sidestep a possible civil war, led an eventful life. Born in 1918 in a small village, Mandela studied law and participated in revolutionary activities that led to his imprisonment on Robben Island for nearly two decades. Readers will find much to admire about this site, which features an excellent Timeline of Mandela's life, including images and quotes. In addition, the biography section links to iconic photographs, informative biographical information, and a 30-second audio clip of Mandela's famous "it is in your hands" speech. Finally, the Education Hub tab includes extra resources, such as a quiz, a comic book, and a coloring book.[CNH]
The National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) is "a hub, facilitative leader, and clearinghouse for a community of thousands of innovators." The site is packed with thousands of resources and covers best practices for the instigation of dialogue, deliberation, discussion, and the sharing of authentic ideas. The NCDD Beginner's Guide includes clarifying sections about what Dialogue and Deliberation (D&D) is, as well as a Quick Reference Glossary, and advice on how to run a D&D program, among other useful information. The Best-of-the-Best Resources tab narrows down the nearly 3,000 resources available on the site. From there, the search function (conveniently located under the phrase, "I'm Looking For...") allows readers to search the site by Resource Type (e.g. Assessment Tools, Big Picture Tools, Case Studies & Stories, Participatory Practices, and many others). Above all, these resources are designed to help people learn to facilitate meaningful discussion. [CNH]
What, exactly, is the difference between dark matter and dark energy? How about the difference between Growth and Development Economics? Or the difference between Wahabism and Salafism? For readers who are fascinated by questions like these, the highly erudite and entertaining site, Difference Between, will present a cornucopia of interesting answers. Readers will find much to appreciate in the categories of Technology, Objects, Science, Language, Business, and, of course, Miscellaneous. Additionally, each category features subcategories. For instance, Miscellaneous divides further into Religion, Culture, Politics, Entertainment, and several others. The Google-powered search function may be used to locate differences related to readers particular interests. For example, typing in "land grant" returns articles on the differences between public and private universities, differences between easements and rights of way, and differences between Nymphs and Fairies. [CNH]
The month of September has become synonymous with commemorations of the September 11th attacks, which were the largest attacks on American soil since Pearl Harbor. This site from Scholastic offers over 30 lessons plans, activities, news stories, videos, and book lists "to help students comprehend the 9/11 attacks and their lasting impact on the United States and the world." For instance, the lesson plan, "Encountering History," is designed for 6th to 8th graders, but includes an extension for grades nine through 12. The directions for the lesson plan outline nine clearly articulated steps, such as activating students' prior knowledge about the September 11th attacks and leading students through a series of steps that culminate in conducting an interview with a person who witnessed the attacks, either in person or on television. There are links to news items and first person accounts, among many other resources. [CNH]
The advantage of Instapaper, one of a number of read-later solutions currently available on the market, is that it is designed to be read. The visual field is streamlined and text-based. There are no frills, ads, or distractions. So, for readers who want a system to store articles for later reading, and who don't want the complications of some of the other read-later options, Instapaper is a good find. It is also free. Sign up requires no more than an email and password. Next, readers will receive an email with links to download a browser extension for either Google Chrome or Safari, as well as links to download the free app for iOS or Android devices. From there, simply tap a button to save articles and then read later. [CNH]
Microsoft's online Bing translator is free, easy, and getting better all the time. The service translates between 57 languages, including two varieties of Klingon (for the truly obsessed Trekkies out there), Yucatec Maya, and the more commonly used languages like Spanish, French, Russian, English, or Portuguese. To translate simply copy and paste a text into the left hand box. For instance, pasting the French phrase "Cette dame paie pour tout" into the text box returns the English translation "This lady pays for everything." One might also like to have that phrase in Arabic, Russian, or Hmong Daw, and all of this can be accomplished simply by changing the target language in the text box on the right. While debates have long continued on whether Bing Translator or Google Translates works better, most experts agree that the two are more or less equivalent. Readers might like to try both and simply see which one they like better. [CNH]
Move over, Stonehenge: Scientists just found a 'superhenge' next door
Will we ever actually get to see the 5,000-year-old Superhenge?
Romancing the Stones
The Neolithic Revolution
Neolithic Period of Prehistoric Art
When scientists working with the Stonehenge Hidden Landscape Project revealed this week that, using ground-penetrating radar, they had discovered a previously unknown amalgam of approximately 100 giant stones, the news made headlines around the world. The new, still-buried installations are thought to be nearly 5,000 years old, making them likely contemporaries to Stonehenge, the world's most popular Neolithic monument. Since researchers have long theorized inconclusively about what purpose Stonehenge served, the new discoveries may impact the way historians, anthropologists, and others think about the entire site. As Paul Garwood, an archaeologist on the project, put it, "Everything written previously about the Stonehenge landscape and the ancient monuments within it will need to be rewritten." [CNH]
The first two articles, from the Washington Post and the Guardian, respectively, provide an overview of the new discovery. Next, Laura Miller reports for the New Yorker on the modern day Druids who view Stonehenge as a sacred gathering place, while the fourth link navigates to a National Geographic article about Scotland's stone age ruins, a World Heritage Site called the Heart of Neolithic Orkney. The fifth link, from the Khan Academy, provides a six-part course on the subject of Neolithic art. Finally, readers will find the Metropolitan Museum of Art's page about Neolithic art, where readers may explore 10 thematic essays about different time periods and locations around the world, as well as view a few stunning examples of prehistoric art from India, Egypt, China, and other civilizations.
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