I've been thinking about games a lot this week. Specifically, I've been wondering what motivates a 9th grader who thinks all my book suggestions are "boring" to spend an hour flipping water bottles and chasing dots around a computer screen. Games have a powerful ability to engage our minds, and the folks over at Edutopia recently took a look at game-based learning and ways teachers can harness elements of games in the classroom.
In this week's "Debate of the Week," Lisa Nielsen tackles the question of whether teachers should pay teachers, or share their materials freely.
And in big ideas, Katrina Schwartz of KQED profiles Luella High School in Georgia, where teachers address individual needs by allowing students to rotate between course sections.
Tools and Tech
Dustin Ford of Teachercast ranks his 9 Best Apps for Better Student-Teacher Relationships. You may already be familiar with some of these (I have personally used four of the nine), but others are probably new.
Do you use Google Drive? Do you find yourself writing the same comments over and over when you give students feedback? If so, you may be able to consolidate your efforts with a free add-on called JoeZoo Express.
And check out Richard Byrne's Introduction to SoundBible, a library of free sound effects for multimedia projects.
Current Events, Curriculum, and Other Cool Stuff
Interdisciplinary: Have you visited TED-Ed's YouTube channel lately? If not, I encourage you to do so. Their five-minute videos are engaging, and easy to use on a tight schedule. This week they reviewed Plato's best and worst ideas, and explained how Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" introduced the radical idea that music can convey visual imagery.
Biology: For the second time in 70 years, banana farmers are facing a looming extinction crisis due to their lack of attention to genetic diversity.
Economics: Labor exploitation is not the only factor giving Chinese factories a competitive advantage. They also benefit from an ethically-questionable, Darwinian, but undeniably efficient culture of open-source manufacturing, to which Western companies are resignedly beginning to adjust.
Government: Both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders exceeded analysts' expectations in part because their messages resonate with Americans who feel anxious about their role in the global economy. Peter Meilander, one of my former professors, envisions a world in which one major party goes all-in on a Trumpian nationalist/populist platform, while the other becomes a champion of "global governance." Needless to say the picture is not pretty.
Global Geography: On the lighter side of globalism, check out this amazing interactive map of every cargo ship in the world in 2012, which clearly illustrates the concepts of interdependence and choke points.
Career & Financial Management: A BuzzFeed reporter spent a month testing 11 popular money-saving hacks. Not surprisingly, she found that tactics designed to reign-in spending were more effective than schemes promising easy income.